Wedding Stationery Etiquette: A Complete Guide

Wedding stationery etiquette is a minefield!

At a time in life when you want to have everything just-so, it’s very easy to get your invitations wrong. And that isn’t just a matter of breaching etiquette; it can mean that guests aren’t sure when your wedding is or how to get to the ceremony. Or, it might mean that they don’t know the seating plan in advance.
Long story short, wedding stationery is more important than you realise… Until you actually have to organise a wedding! Read on below to find out everything you need to know.

What Is Wedding Stationery?

Wedding stationery is a catch-all term that refers to every piece of paper you’ll need to either send or give to your guests. The most important are the wedding invitations themselves, but the list also includes many more things (some of which you might not even have heard of).
For each item of stationery, the level of correct etiquette required varies. Take hen party invitations, for example. There’s really no need to observe correct etiquette with them (if you even feel like you need them at all). When it comes to making sure that your wording is correct, it’s the wedding invitations you have to worry about.

The guide below is about everything that’s included in a wedding stationery kit. But because there’s no real etiquette required for most of the items, the guide mostly focuses on the invitations themselves.

What’s Included in Wedding Stationery?

In a basic wedding, only a few items of stationery are necessary. The most important by far are the invitations. But there’s also the seating plan, menu and more that you have to think of. Here’s a complete list of wedding stationery that you might choose to include in your package:

• Engagement party invitations
• ‘Be my bridesmaid’ cards
• Hen party invitations
• Save the date cards
• Wedding invitations
• RSVP cards
• Direction information, i.e. a map to get to the wedding ceremony
• Ceremony invitations
• Events itinerary
• Order of service cards
• The wedding programme
• Seating plan
• Place cards
• Menu
• Thank You cards (for after the wedding)

Not all of these are strictly necessary. Which of them you need depends on the details of your ceremony. You may also want to combine some of them, e.g. the wedding invitation and the directions, or the seating plan and the place cards.

What Wedding Invitations Include

There are three main parts to the wedding invitations. They are the who, the when and the where.
• The who: who is getting married, and who is officially hosting (i.e. paying for) the wedding?
• The when: when is the wedding being held?
• The where: where is the wedding being held?

Informing guests of these three things is the purpose of wedding invitations. You can’t send one without this information.

You may also choose to include an RSVP card with your invitation, or on the invitation itself, along with the information on how to get in touch with you. If you send an RSVP card that you expect them to send back in the mail, the done thing is to pay for the postage yourself rather than have them do it.

What Wedding Invitations Should Say

The exact wording of a wedding invitation will differ depending on where the wedding is held, and who is hosting it. The point is so that the person getting the invite can tell what kind of venue the wedding will be held at just from the wording!

If the Wedding is Held at a Religious Venue

If your wedding is in a church or other religious venue, you can use standard wedding invitation wording.

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Susan Smith to Jacob Jones

The line in bold relates specifically to the venue. Everything else stays the same. You don’t have to refer specifically to whether the venue is a church or not, i.e. by saying at the church of St. Margaret. Everything is ‘coded’ into your wording.
If the Wedding is Held at a Non-Religious Venue
If the wedding is held at a secular venue, that bolded line will change. These invites should read:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Susan Smith to Jacob Jones
This is of course a very small difference: many recipients may not even notice! But these are the standard ways of wording your invite.
If you would prefer, you are free to word your invitation any way you like. For example, you could switch ‘request the pleasure of your company’ with ‘would love to see you’. The choice will always be yours, but if you want to observe proper etiquette, this is the proper way to do it.
Which Parents’ Names Should Be on Wedding Invitations?
The tradition of wedding invitations is that it’s the parents who are hosting and helping organise the wedding that are named on the invitations. If it’s the bride’s parents who are part of the organising process, then their names would be at the top.
If it’s the groom’s parents, their names would be at the top, displayed just the same. And instead of ‘at the marriage of their daughter’, you would write ‘at the marriage of their son’.
However, it’s no great breach of etiquette to include the names of both the parents of the bride and groom. The easiest way to do this is as follows:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Susan Smith to Jacob Jones
son of Mr. and Mrs. Jason Jones
If it’s simply the couple that are arranging and hosting the wedding, you omit the names of the parents entirely. The wording becomes simply The honour of your presence is requested at the marriage of…

Wedding Invitation Wording: Parents are Divorced

If your parents are divorced, there’s an easy workaround the wording above. The name of each parent is listed at the top of the invitation, each on a separate line. The mother’s name should come first, just as the bride’s name comes first. Use whatever name your mother currently uses (it’s best to ask), and Ms. if she hasn’t remarried.
If your parents divorced and remarried, things get more complicated. You’re free to either only put your parents’ names, or your parents’ and step-parents’ names. It depends on how close you are to them. You would still have your mother first, but here is how it would read:
Mr. and Mrs. John Jacobs
Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Smith
request the honour of your presence…

Where Is the Wedding Being Held?

Immediately after specifying who is getting married you detail exactly where the wedding is being held. While the bride and groom will rightly be the centre of attention, it’s fine if you get the ‘who’ wording wrong… But if you get the ‘when’ and ‘where’ wrong, then your guests will miss your big day.
Here in the U.K., this part of the invitation is fairly simple. First you specify the venue, then the town, as follows:
At St. Anne’s Church, Bedford
Depending on where you’re getting married, you may need to specify the county, too. Some towns have doppelgangers elsewhere in the country, that have the same name. Your extended family and friends might not know exactly which town you’re referring to.
For big cities like London or Manchester, it would be best to specify the suburb or satellite town you’re getting married in. Putting St. Anne’s Church, London is a bad idea as there may be more than one church of that name. You should therefore write St. Anne’s Church, Greenwich instead.
If the wedding is being held abroad, then you will have to specify the country it’s being held in, too. So for example, St. Anne’s Church, Kingston, Jamaica.

When Is the Wedding Being Held?

The next part of the invitation details what time and date the wedding will be held. Alongside the ‘where’, this is the most important part of the invitation. The basic wording doesn’t change for the ‘when’ aspect of the invitation. Etiquette is as follows:
On Saturday, the tenth of July two thousand and twenty at half after seven o’clock
Some people believe it’s important that you spell out the time and date. That’s because it’s easy to make mistakes typing out digits, but not whole words. It also looks much more official, and much more formal. However, you can style the date and time in any way you like. In fact, this is often necessary depending on the design you choose.

There are a few other rules to observe when writing out the date and time:
• If the day of the month is between the 21st and 29th inclusive, or the wedding is held on the 31st, use a hyphen when you spell the words out i.e. thirty-first.
• You can choose whether to write ‘On Saturday’ or just ‘Saturday’. Both are fine.
If you prefer the way it looks or sounds, you can reverse the order of the when and the where. So instead of:
At St. Anne’s Church, Bedford
On Saturday, the tenth of July two thousand and twenty at half after seven o’clock
You could instead have:
On Saturday, the tenth of July two thousand and twenty at half after seven o’clock
At St. Anne’s Church, Bedford
Both are perfectly acceptable.

Where Is the Reception Being Held?

The next part of the invitation is to tell the recipient where the reception is being held. This is the simplest part of the wedding invitation. All that you need to put is:
And afterwards at Bedford Social Club
You could expand on the location of the reception if that’s necessary. So, for example:
And afterwards at Thompson’s Social Club, Bedford
If the location you’re holding the reception isn’t decided yet, that’s fine. You can simply put ‘Reception to follow’. However, this may make peoples’ plans more awkward so only do so advisedly. Guests might not know if they’ll be able to drive or take a taxi, for example—what if the reception is held out in the country where a person will have to stay the night, as they won’t be able to get a taxi?
If you do put ‘Reception to follow’, you should advise guests on where the reception is being held at some point between the date of the invitation and the wedding itself, preferably as soon as possible.

RSVP in a Wedding Invitation

The final part of the invitation is the RSVP. This part is simple too: all you need to include are the letters ‘R.S.V.P.’ and your address. RSVP stands for répondez s’il vous plait, which is French for ‘please respond’. So, the following notation is acceptable:

R.S.V.P.
1 Acorn Avenue
London
W2 7AA

Alternatively, you could include a little more information for the convenience of the recipient. This is also useful if you want to receive your RSVP by a certain date and time. So:
R.S.V.P. by 21 August to 1 Acorn Avenue, London, W2 7AA
The point is to ensure you receive your RSVPs early. This allows you to organise your reception, seating plan and more in good time.

Complete Wedding Invitation Template

With everything clarified, it’s time to put your wedding invitation template together. A basic invitation runs as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Susan Smith to Jacob Jones
At St. Anne’s Church, Bedford
On Saturday, the tenth of July two thousand and twenty at half after seven o’clock
And afterwards at Thompson’s Social Club, Bedford
R.S.V.P. by 21 August to 1 Acorn Avenue, London, W2 7AA

If you don’t like the sound of this template, feel free to consult with our customer service team for more information. They will be able to advise you on different formats that still adhere to basic etiquette.