Tying the Knot: A Modern Guide to Wedding Invitation Etiquette

The tradition of sending wedding invitations dates back centuries, evolving from town criers in the 1400s, all the way to the e-vites of today. With the invention of the printing press, printed invitations became more widespread, and by the 19th century, they had become a staple of wedding planning.

Today, wedding invitations are more than just a request for someone’s presence at your celebration. They’re an expression of your personal style and a preview of your big day. But as much as we love the creativity that modern invitations allow, it’s essential to understand the etiquette that still surrounds them.

The Wording

The wording of your wedding invitation should reflect both your style and the formality of your wedding. Traditionally, the bride’s parents’ names appear first, but today, many couples choose to either list both sets of parents or omit them entirely. This choice should reflect who is technically hosting the wedding. If one set of parents has fronted the bill for the whole affair, they should be on your invitation. Remember to clearly state who is getting married, the date, time, and location of the ceremony.

The Addressing

When it comes to addressing your guests, there are a few rules to keep in mind. Use formal titles and full names for any wedding that requires cocktail-level attire and above. For casual weddings, first names are perfectly acceptable. If you’re inviting a plus one, address the envelope to “Your friend’s name and Guest.” If you are inviting children, address the envelope to “The [LAST NAME] Family.” Please note that anyone who receives an invitation will assume they are being invited to both your ceremony and your reception. If that is not the case, you need to specify either on the invitation or with a professionally-printed insert card.

Including Additional Information

In our digital age, many couples choose to provide the additional information typically found in insert cards, such as the reception address, dress code, and registry information, on a wedding website. However, the invitation or an insert card should provide the link (and password) to that site. Popular sites, such as Minted.com have started providing QR codes for couples to place on the backs of their invitations, so guests can easily scan. If you are not going to provide a QR code, it is courteous to ensure that the website address is easy to remember and to type.

Handling Sticky Situations

What happens when guests show up uninvited or fail to RSVP? It’s best to handle these situations with grace and understanding. For unexpected guests, try to accommodate them if possible. If guests haven’t responded, don’t be afraid to give them a polite nudge. It is acceptable to text or call guests to remind them to respond if they haven’t answered by the deadline.


Work backwards from your caterer’s deadline to figure out when to send your invitations. Traditionally, invitations are sent out 6-8 weeks in advance and guests are given about 3 weeks to respond. Nowadays, most of your guests are travelling to your wedding and may need more time than that. We recommend sending invitations out 10-12 weeks in advance, giving 4 weeks for guests to RSVP, and giving yourself two weeks to track down the non-responses.

Want help designing a stunning invitation suite? We can connect you to designers that know all of these rules like the backs of their hands!

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