Writing a meaningful greeting in a wedding card is a difficult art. Being concise but packing lots of meaning into your words is tough. Plus, there are all sorts of rules and regulations about what you can and can’t do at a wedding. So what should you write in a wedding card? Beginning with ‘Dear…’ is universally accepted and the card should be addressed to both the bride and the groom. You can be either formal or informal with your greeting, depending on the couple. ‘Best wishes’ and ‘Congratulations’ are both acceptable. If you know the couple well, you can write whatever you want.
To figure out exactly what to write, think of what the couple might like. Our ideas below can help by giving you inspiration or if you prefer, you can copy them entirely (don’t worry, they aren’t trademarked!)
Lots of things to do with weddings are dictated by etiquette. Etiquette is essentially a guide that helps people know what to do. So, for example, it’s customary for the bride to wear white and the timing of things like sending RSVPs, sending invites and so on is dictated by how things are ‘usually done’.
When you pick out the perfect card for the happy couple, you might be at a loss as to what to write in it. Don’t worry the same rules of etiquette don’t apply to wedding cards. If etiquette is important to you and the couple in question, then there are some rules you might want to abide by but don’t worry because there’s nothing complicated that you could easily get wrong.
What Card to Send for a Wedding
Before we figure out what you should write in the card, it’s worth spending a moment thinking about the card itself.
There are no established rules about what card to pick out for a wedding. That doesn’t mean you should pick the first card that takes your fancy, there are a few things to think of before plumping for a particular card.
The first is what kind of couple the card is for. An older couple will likely appreciate a more formal card, whereas a younger couple might like one with a joke inside. Of course, that’s a big generalisation but it illustrates how you have to put some thought into the card you pick.
If you’re not sure what kind of card the couple would like then play it safe. Pick out one that’s white, and that has a pleasant message on the front. It might not stick as long in the memory, but the couple will have enough to remember as it is!
How to Address the Bride and Groom (the Greeting)
There are two aspects to the greeting. Starting with ‘Dear…’ is fine, like you would with almost any card. It’s a little more formal than simply writing the pair’s names, although there’s no rule against that. You can also use ‘To…’, as in ‘To the happy couple’.
The second part of the equation is how you address the couple. There are two ways of doing so, using first names only, or using ‘Mr. and Mrs. Surname’. Again, both are valid.
The card should be addressed to the couple, not just to one person. Even if you don’t know, or God forbid, don’t like the person your family member or friend is marrying it would be rude not to include their name too.
‘Congratulations’ or No ‘Congratulations’?
This is one of the few places where there was a rule of etiquette, at least in the past. It’s long been held to be rude to write ‘Congratulations!’ in a wedding card. While you may not intend it that way, you could read ‘Congratulations!’ to imply a few different things:
• One of the couple is punching above their weight, so to speak
• You’re saying that you’re surprised that the person was able to marry
• Weddings take a lot of effort to organise, and ‘Congratulations!’ doesn’t quite recognise it
All that being said, this rule doesn’t apply any more. Almost any wedding card you’ll find will say ‘Congratulations!’ or something similar in it. But if you know that the couple care about their etiquette, then you may want to avoid that particular word.
What to Write in a Wedding Card (Formal vs. Informal)
There’s no limit to the things you could write in a wedding card. They’re intensely personal, after all; even if you hardly know the couple, each will ideally only be getting married once, and they may keep the cards they receive forever. And if you know one or both of them well, then of course you should write something memorable and personal.
But while there’s no limit to the variety of things you can write, they all broadly fall into one of two camps. These are the formal and the informal. Generally, you’ll want to use formal greetings for people you don’t know well, while informal greetings are best given to those closest to you.
Unfortunately, only some of us are born with a flair for poetry and prose. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are a few you could consider using.
Informal Greeting Ideas
Sometimes, the best greetings aren’t complicated. You don’t need to write something big and long; why would you have to when just a few words will do the trick? Nobody will think less of you for not showing off your flashy poetry skills.
By keeping it simple, you also remove any risk that the recipient won’t like it. And, of course, you’ll save yourself from agonising over how best to word what you’ll say. So, consider something time-honoured such as:
• Best wishes, Best wishes on your special day, or Best wishes for the future!
• Congratulations, Congratulations on your big day, or Congratulations on your wedding!
• Wishing you the best, Wishing you a happy life together, or Wishing you a long life and a happy marriage.
• Here’s to a long and happy marriage, Here’s to you on your big day/on this special day, or Here’s to the both of you!
These greetings tick every box. They’re simple, sweet, and definitely won’t offend anybody! The only issue is that they’re a little scripted, but that’s to be expected when you get lots of cards on a big occasion. The bride and groom won’t care; they’re busy stressing themselves senseless.
You could also consider going off the beaten track with a similar but different informal greeting, like:
• I’m so happy for you, or We’re so happy for you both
• I can already tell you’ll make a fantastic couple, or We’ve always thought you’d make a perfect married couple… How right we were!
• [If the card contains a monetary gift] Here’s a little something to start your life together.
And, of course, you could also go completely off the rails and put whatever you want. You could write a limerick, you could draw a picture, you could do whatever you wanted: today, far more depends on what kind of people the bride and groom are than what etiquette dictates.
So, if you don’t know the couple very well, stick to a formulaic but traditional greeting. If you know them well, you could consider writing anything you like!
Formal Greeting Ideas
Even better for people you don’t know are formal greetings. Weddings are, after all, formal occasions: everybody wears their best clothes and really makes an effort. If the wedding you’re heading to is going to be a formal affair, then a more respectful and dignified greeting might be in order, too.
These ideas aren’t strictly ‘posh’, as you might think of other formal things. They’re just a little more reserved, more polite, and in some cases older fashioned. So, for example:
• Heartfelt congratulations…
• Wishing you joy everlasting!
• May the love and happiness you feel today live on throughout the years to come.
• Warmest wishes…
A formal greeting doesn’t have to be simple, either. It could be something longer, like:
• God bless you both as you begin your journey through life together.
• It means the world to see you both together on this special day. Congratulations, and may your happiness last long into the future.
• Thanks to you both for inviting me to take part in your special day. It is an honour to share such an incredible occasion with you both.
• May the love you share today do nothing but grow.
These are just a few examples. But hopefully, they’ll give you inspiration and spur on your creativity. After all, the idea of a greeting in a wedding card is to say something meaningful, something lasting that the recipient will remember when they look back on their wedding day.