Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Wording – How To Indicate Who Is Hosting

February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment


Among other things, this invite is completely missing a host line – if only that were the only issue…

I’m always looking for new topics to blog about, and after last week’s blog on how to properly use titles on an invitation or outer envelope it occurred to me that there are so many little things that I may have mentioned here or there on the blog that have never gotten their full due. So, I’m starting a bit of a series today on the small details when it comes to wedding invitation wording/etiquette – the details that I get the most questions about!

Wording is a big one, and while I’ve covered the topic broadly a few times, and provided a bunch of links (frankly, just ask Uncle Google to search for “wedding invitation wording” and you’ll come up with more resources than I could ever link on this blog!); but, I haven’t really looked at each part of a standard invitation individually. So…it’s about time, right?

And where do I always say is a good place to start? Why, the beginning, of course ūüėČ

Traditionally speaking, the first line of a wedding invitation is the “host” line ie. who is doing the inviting (and traditionally who is doing the paying). While certainly you may see some kind of opening quote or statement before the host line, it’s the first important part of the invitation, and the part that may cause some confusion for couples these days.

Why? To put it simply, because times have changed. It used to be that in 95% of cases a bride’s family would host, and therefore there was no wondering how the invitation should be worded – it always began, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the honour of your presence at the wedding of their daughter…”, or something very similar. These days, there are SO many different possibilities (bride’s parents hosting, groom’s parents hosting, bride and groom hosting, all of the above, divorced parents, step-parents – it goes on) that it can be a daunting task to figure out how to word this part of your wedding invitation.

Here’s a quick rundown of both traditional and modern methods of tackling this¬†conundrum…

Aside: As a bonus, I’ll throw in a quick discussion of ¬†what comes after the hosts names. Generally speaking “request the honour of your presence” should be used for ceremonies taking place in a house of worship (church, synagogue etc.), while “request the pleasure of your company” can be used for ceremonies taking place in secular locations (ie. everywhere else). That said, there are many other ways of asking your invitees to join you, so unless you are having a very formal wedding or want very traditional wording, feel free to use different wording entirely!

Traditional:

First and foremost, it’s important to note that traditionally formal etiquette dictates that the “hosts” are the ones who are paying for the wedding. Period. For example, if the bride’s parents are hosting, there is technically no requirement for them to even list the groom’s parents names (if listed, their names should only appear under the groom’s name ie. “son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson”, unless they are contributing to the wedding itself).

Here are some examples of traditional wording for different scenarios:

Bride’s parents hosting – Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Jane Marie to Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson…

Groom’s parents hosting – Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson¬†request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of Jane Marie Smith to Jeffrey James Johnson…

Bride and Groom’s families both hosting – Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson request the pleasure of your company and the marriage of their children Jane Marie and Jeffrey James…

Bride and Groom hosting with both families – Jane Marie Smith and Jeffrey James Johnson together with their parents Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson invite you to celebrate their marriage…

Bride and Groom hosting – Miss Jane Marie Smith and Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson invite you to share in the celebration of their wedding…

Bride’s divorced parents hosting – Mr. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Thompson invite you to share in the marriage of their daughter Jane Marie to Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson…

Bride and Groom’s divorced parents hosting –¬†Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Thompson together with¬†Mr. Jack Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. Mark Adams request the pleasure of your company and the marriage of their children Jane Marie and Jeffrey James…

Honouring a deceased parent – Jane Marie daughter of Tess Smith and the late John Smith requests the honour of your presence as she joins in marriage Mr. Jeffery James Johnson son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson…

Phew…getting woozy yet? I could probably go on because there are so many more scenarios out there, but hopefully this is a good start on what a traditional/formal invitation host line would look like.

Modern:

Because there has been such a renaissance in weddings in the past 15-20 years, these days anything goes when it comes to who is hosting. As more and more older couples are getting married, especially those who may already be living together and settled on their own, it has become much more common for couples to foot the bill for their own weddings, or to contribute towards it. And as mixed families are becoming more common as well, it becomes difficult to determine exactly who should be listed on the invitation – it’s not uncommon for four sets of parents to be involved in a wedding, and that can make for a very long and confusing invitation!

These days, I think that the idea that the host line needs to be very formal is relaxing a bit. I know with my own clients, many of them are hosting on their own or together with their families and this is often reflected in the wording of the invitation. Some have such complicated family dynamics that they feel it’s just much easier to say “together with their families” than to list each parent, step-parent etc.

As long as what you’re doing makes sense, feels right, and isn’t going to offend – then go for it!

Tip: Always ask all parents what they are most comfortable with when it comes to the invitation *before* finalizing your wording. I have had more than one frantic phone call from a couple after providing their final approval because their parents saw the invitation and were unhappy that they weren’t listed, how they were listed, where they were listed or…you get the idea.

Yes, it’s your wedding – but it’s a big day for your family too, so make sure you are being respectful of their feelings as well!

Okay, so we’ve talked about those first few lines – the host line, the request line – what’s next?

Why, more about names of course – too much to fit into this post, so next week we’ll talk about the bride and groom’s names as well as more about parent/host names and some of the pitfalls to avoid when wording your wedding invitation!

Oh, and before I forget, Happy Valentine’s Day ‚̧

§ One Response to Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Wording – How To Indicate Who Is Hosting

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