Originally written for Bridechilla, a website where brides seeking a different kind of wedding experience can go to laugh until their bellies ache, I am sharing my thoughts on the rules of wedding stationery with this post.
Here’s the thing about invitations: They arrive first, and set your guests’ expectations for your wedding. People may say “they just get thrown out” or “only the food and music matter” and you can read more of my thoughts on that here.
Invitations only have to be traditional if you are…which, if chances are, if you’re at Bridechilla, you’re just, not, and that’s totally cool with me. In the real world, Bridechillas have crazy mothers, mother-in-laws-to-be, divorced parents and other complicated situations that challenge our chill.
I’m a paper snob. Or acrylic, or wood, or whatever your medium of choice is. I think invitations carry a significant responsibility to communicate the hard and fast details like what is happening, when and where, but they also convey the mood, tone and overall vibe of your wedding.
This being said, the mission of my invitation studio is for clients who see trends in weddings and want something that doesn’t seem to be hip or trendy. My best brides don’t want trendy, don’t want stuffy, they just want their invitations to reflect them. Wording these invitations with your unique family situations can be…different, and that’s okay!
I believe there is value in bringing your personal traditions into your wedding. Whether that is how your life revolves around your family and having your kids invite guests to your wedding, or calling your marriage a friendship set on fire and celebrating your bff.
This is going to touch on the history of wedding invitations, what people expect from them and frankly, what can be shot to hell.
I run a custom stationery studio, so for me, all bets are off. I’ve done both of the examples above and I’m open to more ideas.
You know the deal, traditionally, the bride’s family paid for the wedding, and in some cultures, even paid off the groom with a dowry to thank him for finally taking their daughter off their hands. ::eyeroll::
This lead to the traditional wording that dominates the formal wedding invitation:
Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt
Invite you to the marriage of their daughter
Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt
Her parents were paying, they got to announce the wedding of their daughter to the highest bidder. Some people still follow this model (although, I do think the auctioneering has calmed down a bit) and if the bride’s family is paying for the wedding, they get their names at the top on the invitation.
The New Age:
This traditional wording gets thrown for a loop because we live in a world where we now have divorce, families with mixed names and even people getting married without actually attending their own wedding ceremony.
Many bride and grooms pay for their own weddings. Some parents are divorced, some are passed and sometimes great-aunt Lucy pays for the wedding.
The most common phrase I see on wedding invitations to KISS (keep it simple, stupid) the snarled branches of your family tree problems away is:
TOGETHER WITH OUR/THEIR FAMILIES
It covers all of the following:
- Families with mixed names and or titles
- Groom’s family contributions
- Deadbeat dads
- Cashing Grandma’s savings bonds from when you were 2
- You and your partner paying for 99% of your own wedding, but great-aunt Lucy is paying for the cake and she needs everyone to know it.
“Kasey, I know that’s the easy solution, but what ELSE can we say?”
Honestly? Anything. The beautiful thing about marriages today is they’re totally yours to customize depending on the elasticity of the person/people writing the check.
Some examples I’ve seen:
Katy + Jack are getting married!
Please join us to celebrate their union
Date | time | place
Please join us at the celebration of marriage of
Katy + Jack
Date | time | place
The honor of your presence is requested at the marriage of
Date | place | time
Join us for the wedding of
Katy + Jack
Date | time | place
Basically your invitation really only needs 4 things.
1.Your names (don’t assume they’ll know you without your last name!)
- Date 3. Time 4. Place
That’s it. But…
Things to consider in your wedding invitations to keep your sanity:
(so you know how many people are coming and how much food/alcohol to provide.)
because older family members still don’t understand “the Google” and “At the big red barn, take a left” is always going to be easier than “turn left in .2 miles”
This one needs a longer explanation. Technically, you’re inviting people to your ceremony. Unless you’re having your reception in the same place as your ceremony, you shouldn’t say “reception to follow” on your invitation. A reception card directs your guests to where the food and drinks are.
– Hotel and travel information for guests. Rooms blocks go here.
– Wedding Information cards
Are you having brunch the next morning? How about s’mores the night before? Do you welcome children to the festivities or are you planning on everyone getting so hammered, the kids should definitely not see their parents in that state? This is the bonus card to share any other detail. Also, if you have a wedding website, I always put them on the info card.
On the note of having a wedding website. While wedding websites can be helpful, they are not necessary, and it will not completely mute the barrage of “where is the hotel again?” “Can I bring my boyfriend” and “I don’t eat food touched by oxygen, will you accommodate me?”
– This is not something many include anymore, however, I think it’s worth noting that if you’re having your affair in a casual space (think a garden, or barn) but you want people to wear dresses and suits, you should consider listing attire. My favorite resource for attire broken down is this piece from Martha Stewart Weddings.
If your wedding was a person:
What would he/she wear? What would be their favorite tv show? How would they spend their weekends? Where would they work? What stores would they shop at?
This is a great way to approach your wedding invitations as it will help you package up the overall mood. Your invitations communicate spoken and unspoken elements of your wedding. Wording is only part of the equation. There’s no wrong way to do your invitations unless the details of the event itself are lost in translation. You want things to be consistent. Consider your dress, your decor, your music, your venue and look for the common thread that drew you to them. Share all of this with your stationer, and they will make sure your guests know what to expect and where to show up.
But they will never stop asking questions. It’s better to just learn that now.