The Straight-Up Truth: 10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

April 25, 2012 § 3 Comments

So, we’re back…finally…

First, I think I owe everyone an explanation of why I disappeared for last 6 weeks or so (oh my gosh! how has it even been that long!?!).

Hip Ink is mostly a one-woman operation – while I have a few people who help out with assembly etc., I’m on the hook for everything else – and don’t get me wrong, generally I like it that way. And if you’re a frequent reader you know that I am fiercely committed to making this blog happen every week. But sometimes in chasing your dreams, you forget about the reality that comes along with them.

The reality is, that I have been nearly drowning in work – not necessarily something I should have the right to complain about, but nevertheless, it’s turned things a bit upside down lately. I’m thrilled to have so many couples wanting to work with us, and orders from our new collection, but it has been a juggling act to try to keep up the same standards when it comes to response time, delivering on schedule and most of all, quality.

As much as I love The Invitation Blog, I know that my commitment to my work and my clients has to always come first.

So…I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re still busy, but in a more manageable way now that the crazy rush for early summer weddings is over, and so it’s back to blogging for me!

Sort of.

Today I wanted to share with you guys something that is so well-written, so truthful, so brilliant (and something that I’m so jealous I didn’t write myself) that I actually bumped my very first Invitation Advisor post in weeks, just so I could post this instead.

It was written by the lovely and talented Melinda Morris, owner of the fabulous Lion In The Sun Paperie in Park Slope, Brooklyn and appeared in The Huffington Post Weddings section on April 20, 2012.

I think it’s important read for any couple embarking on the wedding stationery adventure, and I think it’s equally important to read the whole article in it’s native form, so rather than reproduce it here, I’m going to tease you with Melinda’s “10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer” and ask you to please, please follow the link below to read the full, amazing, article.

10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

1.  “They are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”

2. “It’s only paper, why is it so expensive?”

3. “I could do that myself on my home computer and print it on Day-Glo copy paper.”

4.  “Can you just make me one and I can just photocopy or email a scan of it to everyone?”

5. “I know I approved the proof, but we changed the time of the wedding.”

6. “But we only need eight more invitations.”

7. “I left the invitations in the trunk of my car and then went to the car wash” or “We were drinking red wine while assembling the invitations…”

8. “We’ve addressed all our envelopes already, but I mail-merged the guest list incorrectly and all the zip codes are incorrect, what do you mean you don’t check each of our guests’ zip codes for us?”

9. “I sealed the envelopes and I realized I forgot to stamp the reply cards” or “We just used regular postage and dropped them in the mailbox on the street.”

10.  “We would like to put ‘monetary gift only’ on the invitation.”


I’ve actually addressed many of these things on The Invitation Blog in the past, but it’s great to see them all in one place. At times it may sound like putting stuff like this together is just me (or whomever) preaching to couples out there to try to make my own life easier  – I can assure you that isn’t the case.

When my couples are happy, I’m happy. When a couple makes a mistake on their invite, when they need “just a few” more, when they use the incorrect postage etc., those things affect me as well. While there isn’t always anything I can do, and while often those issues aren’t my reponsibility, I still feel for couples who find themselves in those situations. So some of the above deserves to go in the “the more you know” category, because it will only help you to keep those things in mind when dealing with your wedding invitations.

The first four are more related to just being respectful of the stationer/designer you are meeting or working with. While I can understand why a couple might say some of those things, in reality it makes little sense to walk into a lovely stationery store or meeting with a stationery designer if you don’t understand or appreciate the value of what they do. If you feel that their invites are “too expensive”, if you think, “hey, they are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”, if you’re happy with printing your own invites on copy paper or photcopying or emailing your invites – to be perfectly honest, you’re in the wrong place.

As a stationer, I believe it’s every couples’ right to do whatever they want when it comes to their wedding invitations – whether or not I agree with it, like it, find it attractive or think it’s in good taste, the point is that it isn’t about me. It’s about you and your wedding and your guests. But when a couple comes in with an attitude that’s disrespectful towards how I make my living, towards my “art”, that makes me a little testy.

It’s a good lesson in general, to think about what you say to your vendors when meeting with them. By all means, ask questions – but make sure they understand that you are there because you respect what they do and their work, and you’ll find they’ll give you their best.

Invitation Advisor: Tips for Venue and Reception Wording on Your Wedding Invitations

March 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

from Martha Stewart Collection by Crane & Co.

Whew! Have to admit I played hooky the last couple days of last week – too much excitement from the Hitched by Hip Ink launch!

But, today we’re back with a continuation of our in-depth series on invitation wording (using the word in-depth is awesome and makes things sound very important, like we’re on 60 Minutes!) – looking at how to word your venue information, as well as wording for receptions.

I’m sure you can’t handle the excitement, so let’s get to it 😉

While I will admit that venue wording isn’t as tricky or dramatic as some of the other things we’ve talked about, I do think it’s important to know how things are done traditionally, as well as what’s currently in favour.

I’m actually going to talk about venue and reception wording together, as one often has an impact on the other.

There are basically two options here: ceremony and reception at the same location, or ceremony and reception at different location. Yes, technically you could have a ceremony or reception-only invite, but for today’s purposes, we’ll just pretend that doesn’t exist to save me from getting carpal tunnel and you from eye strain. If you’re in the situation where you need to do a ceremony or reception-only invite, just as Uncle Google – he always knows how to help.

Ceremony and reception at the same location:

Traditionally speaking, you would usually see the following:

“Saturday, the ninth of June, two thousand twelve
at six o’clock in the evening

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Toronto, Ontario” 

Notice you don’t use the word “at”. You don’t need to say “at” Chuck E. Cheese on an invitation, just name the venue, and people will get the idea. Second, notice that the street address is missing. Traditionally, and formally, an invitation does not include a street address – simply the city and state/province. Back in the day the reason was that most people knew exactly where the venue was, because there weren’t many choices and most of them would be local anyway. These days, well – times have changed. There are tons of traditional and non-traditional wedding venues, and many, many guests are travelling and unfamiliar with the city where the venue may be located.

It is acceptable these days to put the venue’s address on your wedding invitation. I just think it’s unattractive and unnecessary – strictly personal opinion. I feel that the address doesn’t belong on your invite – that’s what a direction/guest info card or wedding website or GPS or the internet or whatever is for. I may be in the minority on this one, but I don’t think THAT much hand-holding is necessary for guests. I’m not saying that the address shouldn’t be somewhere in your invitation package (one reason I’m a fan of the catch-all Guest Information card), just that it doesn’t necessarily belong directly on your wedding invitation. That said, it’s not “wrong” to include the address at all.

As for the actual venue information, how should you word it? I have to say that because of my stance on not including the address, I think very specific and detailed wording is necessary for the name of your venue. I like to include exactly what the venue is, ie. St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Four Seasons Hotel, Carmen’s Banquet Centre, Spencer’s on the Waterfront Restaurant. If it’s a hotel or banquet hall that has multiple rooms, it’s also acceptable to include the specific room (ie. Main Ballroom, Vancouver Room etc.) – although that information can also appear elsewhere.

What if it’s not a place with a name? What if it’s your backyard or a public space or something similar? In that scenario, I do think you can include the address if you’d like, although again, it’s not 100% necessary on the invite if you’ve got it elsewhere as well.

And what about the reception?

If the reception is at the same venue/location, you can include reception wording directly on the invite (either as part of the main wording or as “corner copy”, meaning in smaller text in the lower right-hand corner of the invite).

You can use all sort sorts of wording, like:

“Reception immediately to follow”

“Dinner and dancing to follow at 6 o’clock”

“Join us for revelry and merriment after the ceremony”

…whatever “fits” with the tone of your celebration. Just remember that if the reception does not immediately follow the ceremony, that should be made clear by giving a start time for the reception itself – guests are much happier and more comfortable when they know what to expect. Also, I think it’s important to specify what type of reception guest should expect – ie. cocktails and hors d’oeuvre, dinner, light refreshments, whatever. If what you are doing is non-traditional in any way, give your guests a heads up to make sure your celebration runs smoothly.

Ceremony and reception at the same location:

Traditionally in this case you would use a separate Reception card, inviting guest to the reception. Again, the wording is fairly flexible – you might say something like the following:

“Please join us at a reception in honour of the new
Mr. and Mrs. Jingleheimer Shmidt  

at six o’clock in the evening
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Grand Ballroom
181 Wellington Street West, Toronto, Ontario”

You can pretty much word it in any way that communicates the information and fits with your invitation wording.

These days, it’s becoming more rare to see reception cards, and I frequently have couples who ask for all of the wording to be on the main invitation. Again, I would say it’s totally acceptable to do so at this point, although I do think a reception card is still de rigueur for very formal events.

As for the rest, much of the above still applies; however, it’s important in this case that it’s completely clear that the ceremony and reception are at two different locales and the exact time that each starts. In many cases guests may have to amuse themselves in the break between the ceremony and reception, so make sure they know exactly how much time they will have to kill.

So, what’s left? Well, we do have a few odds and ends to talk about next week when we wrap up this series on invitation wording, and we may even have some juicy controversy, so do come back 😉

Invitation Advisor: By The Numbers – How To Write Dates And Times On Wedding Invitations

March 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Colours clock by Richard Shed

Back this week continuing our series on breaking down invitation wording and the etiquette behind it – and today, it’s by the numbers.

Well – dates and times at least!

Traditionally speaking, no numerals (numbers) would be present on an invitation at all. While certainly for very informal or modern weddings we do often now use numerals in place of words, most invitations these days still use very traditionally formatted versions of the date and time.

Which means that dates and times can be one of the trickiest parts of wedding invitation wording, because these days most people aren’t used to writing out formal dates and times – so format, capitalization and even spelling can be a challenge.

When’s the last time you wrote a friend an email and said, “Hey Bertha, can you meet me on Saturday, the twenty-seventh of March, two thousand thirteen at half past seven in the evening”? Probably never. In fact, those of us who aren’t old enough to have written cheques probably never spell out numbers higher than ten.

So, let’s look at how this info would traditionally appear on an invite:

the marriage of their children
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
Jane Ann Katz 

Saturday, the twenty-ninth of December
two thousand twelve
at seven o’clock in the evening

Believe it or not, those three little lines are full of opportunities to mess things up (from a traditional etiquette, format and spelling point of view) and also some controversy thrown in for good measure. Who knew?

The Date:

Let’s start with the date, shall we?

Notice that only the day of the week (Saturday) and the month (December) are capitalized – never the day of the month. Seems pretty easy right? Maybe. How good are you at spelling ordinals (technically that’s what days of the month are ie. first, second etc.)? No sweat right – tenth, eleventh, twe…uh…twelveth? twelvth? twelfeth? twelfth? And don’t forget those hyphens if it has two words. Wait. Is seventeen one word? Or is it seven-teen? Exactly my point. You can always check out the table of ordinal numbers here if you’re unsure.

And by the way, I’ve read a few resources that will tell you to put a comma after the date on a wedding invitation. I’m here to tell you they are clearly smoking crack. Punctuation (just like abbreviations) is most unwelcome in wedding invitations, unless absolutely necessary.

Okay, so maybe the date isn’t so bad. But what about the year?

The Year:

Ooooh, the drama here folks! First, let us give thanks that it is the 21st century, and we now do not have to write things like “nineteen hundred and ninety-six”. But, those pesky 2000s (and 2010s especially) do cause their own problems.

The question of the day is: do we write the date “two thousand twelve” or “two thousand and twelve”? Or is it actually “twenty twelve”?

I’ll save you searching on Uncle Google and give it to you straight. Who knows? It’s actually quite controversial (I know, really, right?). For every “authority” you will find that says one thing, you find someone equally important who says the other.

Technically speaking, there is no black and white answer – the British tend to use the “and” while here in North America we tend not to. Both “two thousand twelve” or “two thousand and twelve” are correct; but, while it’s easiest to say “twenty twelve”, it isn’t really the formal way of spelling the year (plus it just looks yucky on an invitation – it really does).

If it’s up to me, I tend to use “two thousand twelve” – looks cleaner, less wordy, that’s my preference. Just know the whichever you choose, you aren’t really wrong!

The Time:

This another example where we almost never write out the time with words, so certain elements may be tricky.

First, format-wise, again there is no capitalization, and it’s important to note that rather than using AM or PM, the time of day is included (ie. “in the morning”, “in the afternoon”, “in the evening”).

So while it’s not that complicated if your wedding is at 7 pm (that would be seven o’clock in the evening), what if it’s at 7:30 pm?

Again, I’ve read multiple different arguments on how to word this, but traditionally speaking, you would say “half past seven in the evening”, or “half past seven o’clock in the evening”. These days it’s most commonly written without the “o’clock” and I prefer it that way myself, as I think “o’clock” actually sounds awkward in that context. It’s also acceptable to say “half after seven in the evening” and more common in the UK, Australia etc. What you don’t want to say is “seven-thirty o’clock in the evening”.

Oh, and a tip – if your ceremony is at noon, or midnight, that’s exactly the way to write in. No need to say noon o’clock or noon in the afternoon. Just plain old noon will do, since that is a specific time of the day and is not repeated.

And while we’re on the subject, do you have to specific morning/afternoon/evening? Are people really going to think your wedding is at seven-thirty in the morning? While they won’t, formally the time should either include AM or PM, or the time of day written out. Since abbreviations of any kind are a no-no for formal invites, you should in fact include the time of day (and it just sounds nice).

Now on to controversy number two – when does afternoon end and evening begin?

Traditional speaking, afternoon would be considered noon until 6 pm, and then evening from 6 pm onwards. There are some that would say evening begins at 5pm – not sure where that comes from to be honest, but I’ve seen some serious internet throw-downs on this topic.

When it comes to invitations, most etiquette mavens will tell you that indeed, evening begins at 6 pm, so if your ceremony is at 5:30 pm, you’ll need to say “half past five in the afternoon” rather than “half past five in the evening”. Frankly, “half past five in the evening” just sounds really wrong to me somehow; but, that said, I don’t think you’ll be tarred and feathered if you feel it makes more sense to you.

And that brings me to…

Do I really have to follow this traditional/formal stuff anyway?

If you’re a frequent reader of The Invitation Blog, you know the answer already. No, you don’t. While I would say that most of our clients actually do place a lot of importance on their invitation being “correct”, we also do invitations often that bend or break the rules above, but there is one important thing that makes it work – it fits the event. Writing the time informally on your invite as “7:30 pm” is fine, if you are having a more casual wedding or have chosen a very modern invitation style. If you are having a huge formal affair – probably not appropriate.

You know what “fits” you and your event – if you’re throwing a backyard do and would never be caught dead saying “half past seven in the evening”, then go for whatever works for you.

So, did you know there was so much controversy and drama involved with dates and times?

Next week we’ll dial back on the drama and talk about something fairly straightforward(ish) – venues and reception wording!

Friday Rewind: What Are Your Invitations Saying About Your Wedding?

February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment


Happy Friday all – as a follow up to last week’s re-post of our video blog, I wanted to feature this post from last year, which addresses some of the same issues. Enjoy!

Before we begin – allow me to say the following, lest anyone misunderstand what I’m getting at here: There is no shame in having a modest budget for your wedding. None. This post isn’t about convincing you that you need to spend more – it is about convincing you that you need to allocate your budget to stationery accordingly, to avoid confusing your guests. I may be unpopular for putting this in print, but it doesn’t make it less true.

So, you’ve all probably heard it before…your invitation is the first impression your guests will have of your wedding. Stationers, designers, wedding planners – we throw that out there all the time, but what does it really mean?

Straight up? What it means is that your guests will make assumptions, come to conclusions, and judge your wedding based on the invitations you send out . It will affect the decisions they make – how to dress, what kind of gift to give, and sometimes whether or not to actually attend. I’d love to tell you that everyone is just so thrilled for you that your invitations don’t matter – but it just isn’t true.

Before everyone gets all defensive – be honest, and admit to yourself that you’ve been there. Everyone has done it, because it’s human nature – you receive an invitation and you automatically make assumptions about the kind of event it is going to be, about how much fun you think you are going to have, and sometimes about whether or not you really even want to go. If your invitation is inexpensive, the impression your guests will receive is that your wedding will be modest. Send out an expensive invitation and you set the expectation of an all-out event. If your invitation is casual, guests won’t be expecting a reception in a ballroom – and conversely, a formal invitation would be out-of-place for a barn reception. A fun, colourful invite suggests a party-type atmosphere, while a subdued monochromatic invite suggests a more serene and reserved affair. I could go on, but I won’t (for once).

First, the overall quality (which in most cases means price) of your invites – think about the message you are sending to your guests. I’ve said before that you should budget according to how important stationery is to you; however, the caveat is that if you are having a full-on formal wedding, but send out print-your-own invites from Big Box Craft-o-rama, it creates a disconnect between your guests expectations and your event. That’s just one example, but the lesson here is that you need to match the overall budget for your stationery to the overall budget of your wedding to some degree, or else risk your guests having lowered expectations about the type of event you are hosting, and having issues with everything from dress code to rsvps. The opposite is true – you may feel that stationery is a very important part of your wedding, but be having a more modest affair – make sure that your invitations don’t make promises that your event can’t live up to.

Next up, the tone or feeling of your invitations. Seems pretty straightforward: simple event=simple invitation, casual event=casual invitation, off-beat event=off-beat invitation, formal event=formal invitation etc. As obvious as it seems, I’ve definitely received invitations that, in hindsight, did not match the event itself. Remember that the invitation is sent out to your guests not only for you to request the pleasure of their company, but also to inform them – providing them with an invite that doesn’t match the style or tone of your event is just as bad as giving them the wrong address or the wrong date – it makes your guests uncomfortable on your wedding day. How would you feel if you received a very casual invitation to a wedding? You would likely assume it was a simple affair – you’d probably plan on wearing a less formal outfit. Would you feel really uncomfortable if you showed up in a sundress and everyone else was wearing a ballgown? It’s an extreme example, but it is the sort of thing that absolutely can happen.

Now, on to a very touchy subject…DIY. Yes, I know DIY is all the rage, and you know that I love my DIYers, but…what does a do-it-yourself invitation say about your wedding? If it’s well executed, it says that you care enough to do something personal to invite your guests, to share a part of you with them, to have a hand (literally) in creating their invitation. If it’s poorly executed…well…it says you’re cheap. I wish there was a kindler, gentler way to put it, but unfortunately, there really isn’t.

Don’t believe me? If you cooked your own wedding meal and it was terrible, would your guests think you were trying to personalize the experience for them, or just trying to save money on catering? If you decided to strictly play music from your 13-year-old cousin’s iPod at your reception and it was nothing but gangsta rap, would your guests think you were trying to be cutting edge, or you were trying to save money on a DJ? If you made your own wedding dress and it was falling apart as you walked down the aisle, would your guests think that you were trying to be unique, or that you were trying to save money on your attire? Exactly – so you see where I’m going here. DIY can be great – if you can make it look like you either know what you’re doing, or you didn’t do it yourself. Lookin’ handmade = personal, lookin’ homemade = cheap.

Here’s my best tip: When you are thinking about invitations – whether purchasing from a stationery store, a custom designer or creating your own, imagine what you want your guest to feel and think when they open that envelope. Write it down. Then put your invitation to the test – send it to yourself, put yourself in your guests’ shoes and write down your initial reactions, feelings, assumptions etc. Do they match what you originally wrote down? Then you’re golden. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your choice.

It’s not strictly about how much you spend – it’s about making sure you choose an invitation that is a true reflection of your big day. A well-chosen invitation is always bound to make the right impression.

Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Wording – What’s In A Name?

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Shakespeare thing will make sense eventually, I swear

Today I’m going to talk about something that can be a source of unexpected drama when it comes to wedding invitations: names. Your names, your parents names, step-parents names, family names – you name it (ok, yeah…that one was bad, I admit it).

Last week we talked about the host line on a wedding invitation, as well as a little blurb on that important line that actually extends the invitation to your guest (ie. traditionally “the honour of your presence is requested” or “the pleasure of your company is requested”).

We did talk about names to some degree last week – proper titles (in fact we’ve got a whole post on this too!), whose name should be included, how to list names etc. Today we’re picking up where that leaves off and talking about names specifically.

In the words of William Shakespeare (from the play my high school English teacher called “full of smut”, Romeo and Juliet), “What’s in a name? That which we call a roseBy any other name would smell as sweet.” Billy Shakes does have a point here, how important is a name really?


When it comes to wedding invitations, you may be surprised.

First, let’s start with *your* names (yes, you – brides and grooms) – here’s some important thing to consider when figuring out how you want to word your invitation:

How formal your invite/event is will likely dictate how many of your names you may want to include. Having a casual wedding with a small guest list? “John and Jane are getting hitched – come celebrate with us” would probably suffice. But if you’re having a grand formal affair, you probably want to use your full names, including middle names – more along the lines of “The honour of your presence is requested at the wedding of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt to Jane Ann Katz”.

As we discussed last week, this is important because who is hosting does have bearing (at least traditionally) on how your names would appear on the invitation. If your parents are hosting their names should appear on the invitation, which means that technically your last name does not need to appear (since it’s already there, and you would hope that your friends and family know who belongs to who). So, in most cases this means that you would use both your first and middle name in that situation. If instead you are hosting yourselves, you have the choice of including your last names or not. Again, a smaller affair and you can probably get away with last names – a larger guest list and it’s probably safer to include your full names, so everyone is clear on exactly who is getting hitched.

What do your friends and family actually call you? Is it different from your real name, or full name? That’s definitely a consideration when it comes to invites. Let’s say that our good friend John Jacob has been called by his middle name his whole life (for whatever reason, and there are many) – while it might be tempting considering his extra-long moniker to leave our his middle name, that would be foolish. Why? The last thing you want is your guests to receive an invitation and wonder who the heck it’s from! What if you go by a name that isn’t part of your actual name, for whatever reason. A little bit more tricky, but often you’ll see this listed in quotation marks, like Rocco “Bob” Spano – again, if no one knows your real name is Rocco, it’s important to include the name that everyone is familiar with on the invitation. And what if you are having a super-formal wedding but hate your middle name and will cry every time you see the invitation if “Sheila” is on there? Relax…do what makes you comfortable. Hate your middle name? Don’t include it – easy peasy.

This may strike you as strange, but as a custom designer I deal with it all the time. Certain invitation designs can not be created or do not look good with certain names (usually a result of the length); so, especially if you are working with a designer, they may suggest that you add in your middle names, or take away your last names or adjust them in some way if possible, to allow for more design options or to make your chosen design look better. As an example, our friends John and Jane up there in our first example would be a designer’s nightmare, since his name is at least three times as long as hers! If you can be flexible about it, that’s great, but again – you need to be happy and comfortable with the way your names appear. After all, it is *your* wedding!

Some other things to keep in mind?

– The bride’s name traditionally goes first (yes ladies, its true!) in the western world; however, in some cultures the groom’s name is listed first. What should you do if you’re unsure which format to use – go with what feels right…or, choose a custom design that balances things out, like placing both on one line. For same-sex couples, the general rule is that names should go in alphabetical order; however, this is also affected by factors like hosting. For example, if John Adams and Jacob Zane are getting married and the Zane family is paying – Jacob’s name should be listed first, under his parents.

– If you have ethnic names but go by anglicized versions, which should you use? Truthfully, whatever makes you most comfortable, but remember that if the ethnic and English versions aren’t similar, you may need to include both to ensure that there is no confusion amongst your guests.

– Check spelling before you submit your wording and proofread carefully. I’ve heard numerous stories of bride’s spelling their fiancé’s name wrong and not realizing ’till after the invites were printed.

– Check with your parents! They aren’t just necessarily picky about their own names; in fact, they may have views on yours as well. You should at least hear them out, even if they *really* want you to use “Sheila” on your invite. You owe them that much, right?

Speaking of parents, not only do you need to deal with your own names on the invite, but you may need to deal with your parents (and multiple sets of parents at that).

Do me (and yourselves) a big favour and swear the following:

If our parents’ names are to be listed on our wedding invitation we solemnly vow to ask them directly exactly how they want their names to appear and how to spell them if we are at all unsure.

Seriously, make sure you know this information, or run the risk of some major family drama. And there is already enough opportunity for that, right?

And with that admonishment, we wrap things up for the Invitation Advisor this week.

Next week, it’s a subject wrought with controversy: How to write the date and time on your invitation.

Really, don’t miss it! 😉

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 😉

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!


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.


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 ❤

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