The Wedding Invitation – Steps For Stress-Free Selection of the Perfect Invitation

The day has finally come…the proposal was made, the date is set, the place is chosen and now it is time to choose the invitation to spread the joy to all of your loved ones that you are getting married. With so many details to plan and so many choices of styles, colours, themes, etc with which to choose from, the process and ultimately, the final choice can be so overwhelming for some. The truth is, like the decision to unite your life with the one person you have decided to do so with, this too should be an easy decision. As with love, you cannot chose who you love, as your heart will decide that for you… the same applies to selecting an invitation, you will know it when you see it.

The following information will provide you with a step by step guide in choosing the best invitation that will not only say it best and share your joyous news, but it will also reflect your style, theme and overall ambiance of your wedding, not to mention your budget. Most information available discusses invitation etiquette alone, while this article is meant for a different purpose. Most couples have an image of what every detail will be like for their wedding day, but can’t quite put it all together to achieve exactly what it is they want. I have created a step by step guide to organize your thoughts, prepare you for invitation selection, inform you of potential options, all while respecting your budget. So get ready to learn and enjoy the process of choosing a pivotal element of your wedding day…your wedding invitation.

First, you need to in vision the type of mood you would like your wedding to encapsulate. Are you fun-loving and comical? Are you whimsical and want to be swept away into a fairytale? Are you modern and “seriously” in love? Are you captivated by moonlight on a wave stricken beach? Are you quiet and elegantly simple? Once you have established the mood of your wedding, you can easily establish the style of invitation that reflects that mood. Elements that reflect mood include the card stock, for example, vellum; a soft somewhat clear paper suggests bliss, romance and has softness in its tone that reflects elegance. A card stock that is thick and bold with sharp lines exemplifies a modern flair with class. A card embossed with characters or images may very well bring a comedic or humorous edge to your invitation. These are of course, just a few examples of card stock styles that are available to choose from. Fortunately, now that you have a starting point to mentally in vision the emotional setting, if you will, of your wedding day, the style of card stock or paper used will become very easy to choose once you begin viewing the many invitations available for purchase. The mood or genre of the invitation you view will leap off the card now that you know what to keep in mind. Remember, whatever the mood that best represents you as a couple, should definitely be brought forth through the visual and written expression of your wedding invitation.

Next, the colour scheme chosen for the special day is crucial to know when selecting a wedding invitation. Most often you have many choices in terms of which colour you want to use within your invitation, as well as elements within which to choose from to highlight your colour scheme. Usually, the colour chosen for the bridesmaids dresses, tuxedo vests, flowers, tablecloths and any other accent feature of the wedding, all coordinate together along with the invitation to unify the day and create a visual balance with what not only you, but also what your guests will be experiencing throughout your entire wedding day. As such, the special colour woven into the fabric of all of your wedding decor can easily be incorporated with your invitations through the design that exists right on the invitation card stock itself, the ink colour that will inform your guests of all of the very important details of the day, as well as a lined envelope with the colour of the day that can be used as an inner envelope (not the envelope you address) that adds a wealth of elegance and class to the overall appearance of your invitation package. The colour chosen also contributes and enhances the mood or tone of your wedding, which also supports what was previously discussed above.

Let’s imagine that you have completed the first two steps. If you have not already realized, you have now chosen the invitation itself, the colour within the invitation that will bring it to life and since you already know all of the details of the day including your ceremony site, your reception site, the date and time of one of the grandest events of your life, you are now ready to “write” the text of your invitation… which means you are half way to completing the process of selecting your perfect wedding invitation. The text or written element is by far the most important part of your wedding invitation. Here you will highlight all of the pertinent information your guests will need to know in order to be part of your special day. Therefore, it is crucial to confirm that the date, time and place are firmly booked and have no possible chance of changing before ever writing and/or ordering invitations.

The other important decision to make is to decide who is hosting your special day? Are parents involved? Are parents deceased, divorced, want to be mentioned, want to be excluded? Do you already have children that you would like to mention? There may also be so many other factors that need to be thought about, so think carefully about who is important to you and who deserves mentioning on your very special wedding invitation. Since the wording of your invitation is crucial, be sure to give it careful thought.

The other part of the text is your font or lettering style. The style you choose is but another key element in the overall mood of your wedding day. A very scriptive or cursive font exudes romance and softness, while a block style lettering often suggests a more serious, modern flair. Remember, the lettering itself will probably be the biggest element on the page, therefore, it will also be the biggest and first thing your guests will see once unveiling your invitation from its envelope, so think about the “statement” you want make with the lettering style to choose.

Now you have all of the pieces of the puzzle; your invitation, the colour and the wording, thus, the invitation ensemble has been completed. However, if it has already entered your mind about how your guests will let you know if they can join you on the wedding day, then think no more. It is almost certain that most invitations you choose have an accompanying or accenting response card and envelope, which then provides a means for your guests to inform you of their ability to attend the wedding. Therefore, you are finished choosing your invitations, your guests will now be able to communicate to you whether or not they can attend; the only other question is, how many invitations do you need to order? Usually, one invitation is given per married couple and one invitation per single adult. Overall, I recommend that you also consider your own family traditions with the way in which an invitation to such an event would be customarily issued.

The final step includes the ever-famous budget. Realistically speaking, every couple needs to establish a budget when planning a venture as grand as a wedding. Big or small, finance needs to be part of the equation. In saying that, most of what I have touched on above, does include the involvement of a vendor who can link your requests to a printer who will make all of your thoughts a reality which may or may not meet your budget. Fortunately, I have many solutions for you. For those who can afford the card stock with professional printing but wish to have all of the extras that the budget won’t allow; do-it-yourself bows or other adhesives can easily be purchased and applied by you at a fraction of the cost. Add your own personal touch without comprising all of it. Another alternative is purchasing invitation kits that include a professional card stock where you would apply the text and printing aspect. In this case, you would gain an overall professional style invitation, but again at a fraction of the cost. Finally, for those that are fortunate enough to possess an endless budget or close to it, my ultimate advice would be to go for the gold; make all of your dreams come true and relish in the beauty of not only finding your perfect soul mate, but also enjoy the luxury of the elite invitations professionally printed and elaborate adornments affixed by professionals that can do it all for you. Whatever the situation, rest assured that by following these steps I am certain that you will happily complete the process of selecting the perfect wedding invitations.

In closing, I will leave you with one final thought about your wedding invitations. Be sure to think carefully through the many choices you have, enjoy the planning experience and remember, the keepsake factor of your written wedding invitation is enormous, as your invitation will be a tangible remembrance treasured forevermore by all who receive one.

Wedding Invitations Primer – Wording Samples, Etiquette, Trends and Costs

Wedding invitations are the focal point of your wedding stationery, providing the first glimpse into the style and formality of the wedding. While save-the-dates can be flirty and fun, your invitations will be a true reflection of your event. Plan your wedding invitations with care with my complete wedding invitation planning guide.

The Anatomy of a Wedding Invitation

Wedding Invitations can include a number of enclosures, depending on the nature of your wedding and your stationery budget. (obviously more enclosures means higher costs)

o Outer envelope: Holds all enclosures, formally addressed to the recipient.

o Inner envelope: Holds all contents of the formal, third-person invitation for protection during shipping.

o Reception card: Specifies where and when the reception will be held – usually included only if the ceremony and reception take place at different locations.

o Response card: On which your guests indicate acceptance or regrets. In self-addressed stamped envelope. Make sure to include an RSVP deadline.

o Map/Directional: Optional insertion to help guests navigate and arrange for accommodations

Cost & Budget Considerations

Before you go shopping, become familiar with the invitation printing process and lingo; this will help you determine your needs in advance and avoid unnecessary costs. Price is determined per invitation, so if your guest list is huge – be prepared to designate a significant portion of your budget to wedding invitations. Costs can range anywhere from $1-$50 each. Bulky papers, colored inks and unique graphics all increase the cost. Custom designs can also be pricey. Printing options also affect the cost.

Invitation Printing Options:

o Engraving – most formal and most expensive – results in raised print that is pressed through the back

o Thermography – less expensive than engraving – results in raised print that does not press through the back

o Lithography – less expensive than either engraving or theromography – results in print that is neither raised nor pressed through

o Laser printing – the least expensive option. – produced on a laser printer and results in print similar to that of lithography.

When factoring total costs, don’t forget to consider postage as part of your budget, including stamps for the response card envelopes. Looking for ways to save? Keep your design simple, sticking to one color. Use lighter weight papers and include less inserts. Use response postcards instead of cards with envelopes.


As with all other aspects of your wedding, your invitations give you an opportunity to reflect a particular color, theme, and/or season of your wedding. During the spring, include pressed flowers or a flower blossom motif featuring the colors of your wedding. Hot right now is Asian-inspired floral motifs or anything 3D that adds texture. For the fall, incorporate warm, colorful leaves. For a summer wedding, feature seashells and starfish with brilliant ocean-blues or sunset-orange/reds. And for the winter, incorporate snowflakes on a simple white invitation.

Other popular suggestions range from unique color combinations and patterns, to ribbons or other clever themed items such as bindings. Many couples are going back to the traditional, formal look and featuring both sets of initials as monograms on the cover, but what’s even hotter is a creative logo or historic family seal. Whatever you decide, make your invitations innovative and unique to your personal style and wedding.

Tips, Rules & Etiquette

o When to send them – send wedding invitations 6-8 weeks before the big day. (if you think your guests will need more advanced notice, send save-the-date cards as well) Try to order invitations 3-4 months in advance to ensure they go out on time.

o How many to order – Order about 25% more than the number of guests you’re inviting – you’re bound to make mistakes or make last minute additions.

o Consider hiring a calligrapher for an added touch of elegance. (this is the first impression of your wedding!) Make sure to factor in the additional timing to ensure your invitations go out on time. Many rules apply to wording and addressing invitations. Here are some of the basics to ensure yours are “faux pas-free”:

Invitation Wording Etiquette

o Dates and times should be spelled out (half after four o’clock in the evening, not 4:30pm, and the twenty-second of April, not April 22)

o Mr. and Mrs. are abbreviated and Jr. may be, but the title Doctor should be spelled out

o No punctuation is used, except after abbreviations and between the city and state.

o An invitation to just the wedding ceremony does not include an R.S.V.P

o “Hosting” the wedding can mean anything from a set of parents helping to plan the event, inviting the guests, or covering the costs:

If there is one set of hosts, list their names at the beginning.

If both sets are hosting, list on separate lines with bride’s parents first.

If one set is hosting but you want to include the other set as well, note their names under their son/daughter’s name.

If you are hosting your own wedding, begin with the request line and state parent’s relationship under your name.

If you and both sets of parents are hosting, list your names first followed by “together with their parents” before the request line.

Addressing Etiquette

o No abbreviations, except for Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Jr. States must also be spelled out.

o If one of your single guests is bringing a date that you know personally, send that person a separate invitation instead of including “& Guest” on the inner envelope.

o If you are unable to obtain the name of a single friend’s guest – indicate on the inner envelope that they may bring a guest – NOT on the outer envelope. (this looks awkward)

o Unmarried couples who live together should receive one invitation, where their names are listed in alphabetical order and on their own lines.

o Invited guests who are living together as roommates, not couples, should each receive their own invitation.

o List the names of children under the age of 18 who still live at home on the inner envelope instead of “& Family” which can be very ambiguous and easily misinterpreted. Children over the age of 18 should receive their own invitation, regardless of their living situation.

o The traditional, married couple recipient should follow this format:

Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Parker

2211 First Street, Apartment 3

San Diego, California 92109

Wedding Invitation Wording Samples

Gone are the days when wedding etiquette mandated that the bride’s parents, and the bride’s parent’s only, hosted the wedding. Today anyone can foot the bill, and with modern familial arrangements often anything but nuclear, there is no straightforward rule for wording invitations. We’ve sorted through the confusion to bring you wording samples for the most common arrangements:

Simple, Traditional Format

[proper names of those hosting] (official hosts line) request the honour of your presence (request line) at the marriage of their [relationship of the bride to the host] [bride’s first and middle names] to [groom’s full name], the [day of the week] of [day and month of wedding] at [hour] o’clock in the [time of day] at [name of wedding venue] in [city, state] Reception to follow

Divorced Parents

[proper name of host] requests the honor of your presence at the marriage of [his/her] [relationship of the bride to the host]

Or, if parent is remarried and hosting with new spouse:

[proper names of those hosting] request the honor of your presence at the marriage of [his/her] [relationship of the bride to the host]

Or, if divorced parents are mutually hosting:

[proper name of mother] and [proper name of father] request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their [relationship of the bride to the host]

When the bride’s one living parent is hosting The invitation is issued only in the name of the living parent:

Mr. [Mrs.] Jonathan Stephen Smith and Timothy Wright requests the honor of your presence at the marriage of his [her] daughter Elizabeth Ann

When the Bride and Groom host

The honor of your presence is requested it the marriage of Miss Ashley Johnson to Mr. Paul Wilkins


Miss Ashley Johnson and Mr. Paul Wilkins request the honor of your presence at their marriage

Alternative “Request Line” Options

o “pleasure of your company”

o “honor of your presence” (used instead of the formal “honor” when ceremony does not take place in a house of worship)

o “share and celebrate in their joy” another creative idea that reflects the theme and tone of your wedding.

More ways to save on wedding invitations can be found at this guide to budget-friendly stationery.

Looking for more ideas? You can search hundreds of wedding invitations in this interactive invitation and stationery photo gallery.

Cori Russell is editor for and Gala Weddings Magazine. is a comprehensive wedding planning resource with a national directory of wedding venues and services, along with articles, expert advice, checklists and photo galleries to lead brides through every step of the planning process.