Wording Stationery Etiquette

Jump To:

Invitation Anatomy

Helpful Hints

Invitation Wording

Reception etiquette


Program Etiquette

Envelope Etiquette

Save the dates

Menu Etiquette

Reply Etiquette

Today's blog will will be covering THE most asked question when it comes to your wedding stationery....how should we word our wedding invitation??

I'll be going through the anatomy of a wedding suite, details on attire, faux pas, assembly, when you should mail out, and much more!

Wedding Invitation Anatomy

I'm going to direct your attention to the image to the above. The numbers on the image will correspond to the numbers below. 

1. Host Line

This line indicates who is hosting (or paying) for the wedding. Traditionally, this was the Brides parents however, it is becoming more common for couples to pay or for the Bride and Broom's parents to share the cost. Another item to think about when deciding on your host line is the marital status of the host. If they are married, divorced, remarried - this will affect how the invitation is wording. There are examples below. 

2. request line

This line indicated where the wedding will be held. Not in terms of location but more so in terms of the type of place the wedding will be held.
For example, "Honour of your Presence", where honour is spelled in British English with a 'u' indicates a the wedding will be held in a place of worship. 
"The pleasure of your company" suggests the ceremony is taking place at a secular location. 
If the Bride's parents are hosting, this line wold ready "at the marriage of their daughter". When both  sets of the couple's parents are hosting, this line would specify "at the marriage of their children"

3. Bride and Groom lines

The Bride's name will always comes first. If her parents are hosting, then she will be referred to by her first and middle names only (traditionally).
The Groom will be referred to by his first, middle, and last name.
If the Groom's parents are not hosting, but you would like to include them in the invitation, under the Groom's name, wording can be added such as "Son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Greene"

4. Date and time Lines

The format of the date should be as follows - Day of the week, followed by the date.
Only the day of the week and month and first letter of the year should be capitalized (if your font selected has lower and upper case letters).
Everything should be written out in full - even numbers will be written out.
Traditionally, the first letter of the year is capitalized and no portion of the time is ever capitalized. 
Time of day should be spelled out using "o'clock" or "half past XXX o'clock"
Evening beings at 5:00pm, otherwise it is considered afternoon from noon until 4:00pm

For an example of a wedding at 2:00 pm would state as follows
"Saturday, the twenty ninth of April
at two o'clock in the afternoon"

For an example of a wedding at 5:30 pm would state as follows
"Saturday, the twenty ninth of April
at half past five in the evening"

5. Location Lines

Street addresses are not usually included. The only case it should be included is if the event is taking place at private home or unlisted venue.
If included, everything should be written out.

For an example of a wedding at a local church, invitation should state:
First Baptist Church
O'Fallon, Illinois 

For an example of a wedding at a private home, invitation should state:
The home of Justin Sinclare
234 Main Street
Oxford, Mississippi 63152 

5. Reception LInes

Formal and traditional invitations include this information on a separate card otherwise, the reception information can be included on the invitation if there is room.
If the ceremony and reception take place at the same location, you may print "and afterward at the reception" or "reception immediately following".
When the reception is held elsewhere, the location goes on the second line. 

A note on Capitalization

Aside from proper nouns, only the day of the week, month and first letter of the year should be capitalized. More often, the first letter of the reception line is also being capitalized, though traditionally it is not.

Helpful Hnts


If you would like to indicate attire or provide guests with guidance on what is appropriate for your wedding, you should include a line somewhere in your suite.
Popular placement includes: bottom corners of invitation or within a details card. 
Traditional examples include:
Black tie - tuxedo or dinner suit for men, formal gown for ladies
Jackets Required - suite and tie for men, fancy dress for ladies - this is typically an indication for a country club wedding
Formal/Black tie optional - suit and tie for men, fancy dress for ladies
Semi-formal - suit and tie for men, cocktail dress for ladies
Cocktail attire- suit with tie optional for men, cocktail dress for ladies
Resort casual or beach chic - collared shirt and slacks for men, summer dress with sandals for ladies
Garden party attire - summer suit for men, summer dress for ladies.
Only the first letter of this line is ever capitalized on the wedding invitation

Registry Sharing

One item that should never be included on your letterpress wedding invitation is information as to where you and your fiancé will be registered. Both traditional and modern etiquette experts consider this one of the bigger faux-pas and it should be avoided if at all possible. So how do you provide this information to your guests?
Traditionally, word of mouth was the way registries were shared with wedding guests, however, wedding websites are a more modern alternative that can be used to make this information both subtly and easily accessible. The bridal shower invitations are another appropriate place for this detail to be shared.


Lucky for you, Piper and Finch takes care of all assembly - you have better things to do with your time.
However, you may have questions - 
When assembling your invitation suite, it is most appropriate to stack the additional pieces in size order and place them on top of the invitation card. The envelope for the reply card should have the flap situated around the front of the reply card so these pieces do not get separated from each other. The entire set can then be secured by a ribbon or bellyband, though this is not necessary.
Inner envelopes traditionally enclose the cards within the outer mailing envelope. For details on envelopes, visit our envelope etiquette page.


The standard recommendation for mailing your letterpress wedding invitations is six to eight weeks in advance of the wedding. For destination affairs that require most guests to travel and book plane tickets, sending the invitation suite a bit earlier is often recommended, especially if a save the date is not sent out to guests beforehand. It is important to calculate your send date before placing an invitation order to ensure there is enough time for packaging the invitations and affixing stamps once you have received the suite.

Invitation Wording

Reception Card Etiquette

What is a reception card and do you need one? Reception cards are a traditional way to convey information about the festivities occuring after the wedding ceremony. They are most commonly used for religiously-based ceremonies that take place in a place of worship with the reception taking place at a separate location afterward. They can also be used for non-religious ceremonies taking place at a different location from the reception.

Do you need a new card for this? It depends. Reception cards are traditional and the most etiquette correct way to inform your guests that the festivities after the wedding will take place at a new location. If you feel strongly about using the most appropriate etiquette, then yes. If your invitation card is short on space and you wan’t to keep it looking clean and uncluttered, then yes. If niether of these are a concern, then this information can typically be conveyed on the invitation.

There are tons of ways to word reception wording both on a separate card and on the invitation itself, here are a few of our favorites:

The celebration continues // with cocktails, dinner and dancing
Please join us // for drinks, dinner and merriment
Celebrate // please join us for drinks, dinner and dancing

And afterward at the reception // location
Reception to follow // location
Reception immediately following // location
Cocktails, dinner and dancing to follow // location
For either option, if your reception won’t immediately follow the ceremony, be sure to include the start time so guests know what to expect!

Place & Escort Card Etiquette

Place and escort cards sound the same, and couples, planners and other wedding pros are occasionally guilty of using the words interchangeably, but they actually serve two completely different purposes.

Escort cards are used to indicate which table a guest is assigned to. Escorts are usually displayed at the entrance to the reception and will have a Table No. line on each one. Seating charts can also be used for the same purpose.

Place cards are set at the tables and indicate which seat each guest is supposed to sit in. They do not include the table number, but they can occasionally include an entrée indicator for the waitstaff to alert them to which dinner option each guest pre-selected. Place cards are a traditional option, but many guests opt to forgo them and encourage guests to sit where they feel most comfortable at their designated table.

For escort cards, there are two options for your guests’ names: listing each guest individually on their own card, or listing couples and families together on the same card. Both are correct and common practice, however, listing couples together is a more traditional style. Listing couples on the same card also has the added benefit of necessitating fewer cards, which can save space and lower the cost for the entire set, a more important consideration for weddings with larger guest lists.

There are two main options for the execution of place and escort cards:
1) calligraphy and 2) digital printing.
If you opt to have a calligrapher add names and table numbers to your cards, you have the option of having them letterpress printed with a design element in advance. If you choose digital printing, guest names, table numbers and design graphics can all be printed together at one time. Digital printing is also the speedier option.

Reply Card Etiquette

This is the line that formally requests a reply from your guests. The language “the favour of a response is requested by” is the most traditional phrasing and is almost always used with the invitation language indicating that a wedding will be hosted by the bride’s parents with the ceremony held in a place of worship. If the traditional British spelling of honour is used on the invitation, then favour should also be spelled with a “u” on the response card. There are several other less formal phrasing options, such as: “Kindly reply by...” or “Please respond by...”

The reply date will be influenced by two factors: 1) When you mail your invitations and 2) Whether your caterer or venue need a final head count by a specific date prior to the wedding. It is important to check with both of these vendors to make sure you request a reply with enough time for you to provide a count of who will be coming. Keep in mind that you may not have a response from every guest by the specified date and follow up may be necessary. A little extra time should be alotted just in case. Typically responses should be requested two to four weeks in advance of the wedding.

THE “M” LINE - The “M” line on the response card is the place where guests will write in their names. The M itself is meant to designate the first letter of the formal salutation (Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms.). It is most traditional to use the “M” line, though couples may opt to use the langauge, “Name(s)” instead.

The accept and decline lines are traditionally worded as “accepts with pleasure” and “declines with regret.” There are many other options implying less formality that can be subsituted, such as “joyfully accepts” / “regretfully declines” or “will attend” / “will not attend." A “number attending” line may also be added for guests to specify how many will comprise their party.

Sometimes, specifying exactly how many guests are invited with the invitation is necessary. This is traditionally done using an inner envelope, however, for couples that want to be particularly explicit, a line noting how many seat(s) have been reserved can be added to the reply card. The number will need to be filled in by the couple prior to mailing, but this will send a clear message as to how many people are included in the invitation.

It may also be necessary to ascertain a guest’s meal preference on the response card to provide your caterer with an accurate count for each entrée you will be serving. The best way to word this is to ask each guest to initial their selection. This ensures that you know exactly which meal each guest prefers. The meal options can be written out in full or presented using small icons.

Program Etiquette

While there aren’t a lot of unbreakable rules regarding wedding program etiquette, there are a few common elements that any program should include. First, the basics: your names and your wedding date. Second, the purpose of a program is to give guests an idea of what to expect and to acknowledge important people. This means programs should include a listing of your parents, wedding party and officiant, along with a breakdown of the ceremony highlights. A typical ceremony, with the exception of Catholic masses, Jewish ceremonies and Indian or Persian ceremonies, typically have a similar order that follows the example at left (click to enlarge).

There are two main types of programs: 1) the Booklet and 2) the Single-Pager. If you are haivng a more traditional service, have a large wedding party or plan to include hymn or song lyrics, a booklet is the best option. Booklets offer more room to include all of these elements and are also a beautiful way to present your ceremony order.

There are a few specific types of ceremonies that always require some specific wording and usually a longer program. If you are having a Catholic Mass, a Jewish Kiddushin/Erusin, an Indian ceremony or a Persian Sofreye Aghd, we recommend checking with your officiant about wording sugestions or ask your stylist to see an example of past religiously-based ceremony programs to get you started!

Looking to make your program a little extra lovely? Chat with your stylist about ribbon bindings, letterpress covers and custom illustrations. Beth and Eric’s program (featured in The Knot, Spring 2016), at left, was digitally printed and featured a custom monogram and satin ribbon binding.

Save the Date Etiquette

There are several ways to request that guests save your date on their calendars and begin making plans to attend. They range from traditional and formal to fun and playful. Here are some of the most common:

FORMAL/TRADITIONAL: Save the date for the wedding of...

FORMAL/TRADITIONAL: Kindly save the date for the marriage celebration of...

MOST COMMON: Save the date, xxx and xxx are getting married

LESS FORMAL: Save the date, xxx and xxx are tying the knot!

There are a few other elements that every good save the date includes. There are the obvious ones: your names (first middle AND last for more formal weddings), the date (duh!), and the location (just city and state). It is also a good idea to include a wedding website link on this card, so guests can find additional details, especially if it is a destination affair. Finally, a line noting, “formal invitation to follow,” is also a traditional way to end the card and let guests know that they should expect to receive an actual invitation soon.

Information about accommodations can also be included on the save the date when it is necessary for guests to book rooms from a room block early, or when most of the guests will be traveling. If you are having a destination wedding, either include these details with the save the date, or let guests know they can find it on your website.

When to send out save the dates is one of the questions we are asked most often! For most weddings, 6-8 months in advance of the wedding date is most common. For destination weddings, a little extra time is always a good idea, 8-10 months is the ideal range.

Envelope Etiquette

Real talk - no one, literally NO ONE wants to sit down and think about the best way to address their invitations. It can be stressful, tedious, and confusing, trust me I know.

I wanted to put together an easy reference for my brides to help you decide what is the best way we should address your invitations. 

Inner & Outer Envelopes

History Lesson - Inner and Outer envelopes started to be a thing way back in the horse and buggy days. Outer Envelopes were introduced to help protect the invitation and inner envelope from becoming damaged or getting dirty. 
Flash forward to today - our mailing system is better and you don't see mail that is damaged or dirty. However, many traditional brides with more formal weddings still opt for the inner and outer envelopes.

Inner Envelopes
Typically inner envelopes are addressed more informally. They will includes the names of every person invited to the wedding. This includes the names of kids or additional family members. If it is a couple (even if they don't live together) both couples names will appear and guest is included if applicable. 
Outer Envelopes
Outer envelopes are usually addressed only to the heads of the household. 

Having two envelopes does typically clear up any confusion about who is invited to the wedding and who is not. 

Formal Wedding Addressing

When addressing envelopes for a formal wedding, you want to be mindful of the following:
Use formal names - do not include nicknames or abbreviated names.

If you want to include a middle name, spell it out completely. While not necessary, if your preference is to use, don't use an abbreviation. 
Spell out all words such as Apartment, Avenue, Street, etc.

It is appropriate to abbreviate Mr., Mrs., Jr. etc. However to increase formality, use Mister, Missus, Junior etc. 

For professional titles, spell them out completely (Doctor or Professor).

If children are invited to the wedding, they should be on a new line underneath the parents and addressed with first and last names. 

semi-Formal Wedding Addressing

If you are a bride who is having a formal wedding but isn't quite on the 5 course, seated dinner formality - you might want to consider semi-formal wedding addressing. 

It's ok to use nicknames or abbreviated names - in some cases. If you have a person who's name is Richard, but they go by Rick - it is perfectly ok to address a semi-formal invitation as Rick. You should however still use Mr. and Mrs.

Spell out words like Apartment, Avenue, Street, etc.

It is appropriate to abbreviate Mr., Mrs., Jr. etc. Spelling out the entire word in this scenario would be too formal. 

It is OK to abbreviate titles to Dr. and Prof. 

If children are invited, it is appropriate to include "and family" after the parents names. 

inFormal Wedding Addressing

Using Mr. and Mrs. could be too formal for your liking. Instead of Using Mr. and Mrs. you may opt for something like Jenny and John Greene. 

If it is a family - you can certainly add "The Greene Family" if every person in the family is invited to the wedding. 

You should continue to write out words like Apartment, Avenue, Street, etc. This isn't to increase formality - it just looks better on the invitation. 

It is OK to abbreviate titles to Dr. and Prof. 


What should have lines to themselves
-Invitee, Street Address, and City, State, Zip gets its own line on the invitation. 
Other items to consider having their own line on the invitation include: 
*Apartment Numbers
*Zip Code (sometimes this can be added to a new line on the envelope for design purposes)

What if the Names are too long for one line. 
If the name is too long for one line on the envelope - the font should be lowered. For formal invitation you want the head of households name to be on one line. 

At what point should the children of families get their own invitation instead of being addressed with the family?
If the child is over the age of 18, they should get an invitation addressed to themselves. If they are over the age of 21, they should always receive a plus one. 

When should I use Ms. vs Miss. vs. Mrs?
If the girl is under 18, she should be addressed as Miss.
Ms. is an unmarried woman or a married woman who did not change her last name. 
Mrs. if reserved for a married woman, widowed woman or a divorced woman who kept her married name. 

Menu Etiquette

Wedding reception menus are usually pretty straightforward. They exist to let guests know what dishes they will be enjoying at your reception. We have a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to ensure your wedding menus are beautiful AND full of the details you didn’t think to include, but want to have.

GUEST NAMES - Menus can have a dual function and also act as place cards, personalized with each guest name to indicate which seat each person should sit at while minimizing the amount of paper goods at each place setting for a cleaner look. The menu at left is an example of a menu calligraphed with each guest name.

COURSES - Menus should note each course and the name of the corresponding dish. We recommending including the main ingredients, so guests with food allergies or restrictions are aware of what they will be eating and can proceed accordingly.

Dessert courses are optional on menus. Some couples opt to include the wedding cake and flavors for each tier on the main menu, while others choose to have a small sign or mini tented cards on their dessert table instead. There is no right option, choose what feels most natural for your celebration!

WINE - If you are pairing wine with your courses, we recommend noting the wine selection on the menu, either by course or as a separate listing at the end, after the dessert course. This isn’t a mandatory rule, but it is a nice way to let guests know what they will be enjoying during the evening, not unlike a program for the wedding ceremony.

VEGETARIAN ALTERNATIVES - If you will be providing an alternative vegetarian entrée for guests who do not eat meat, always list the dish under the entrée course, so those guests feel included and just as important as the meat eaters!


We want to create a one-of-a-kind wedding invitation that is as special and unique as you are. We completely understand that wedding invitations are not all the same, which is why we offer individual quotes instead of set prices for set quantities. After receiving your request we'll create a quote based off of the details submitted.
For a semi-custom design the average Piper and finch couple invests around $2,500 for 150 qty invitation suites, allowing us to work with luxury print methods and include add-ons like wax seals, etc. You will receive an email from us soon.







Thank you!

Your message has been sent. We'll contact you shortly

Luxury Wedding Stationery

St. louis, Missouri