Save the Date Cards

Suggested stationery

Save the date cards (optional): sent to ask guests to keep the day free. These can be useful particularly for overseas guests or those with busy calendars. An alternative is to send a round-robin email. The wording should be kept brief, such as:

Please Save the Date
For the marriage of
Richard Cooper and Kate Fremantle
Saturday 10th June 2016
London
Invitation to Follow

  • Invitation: sent out 6-12 weeks in advance of the day (and evening invitations, if applicable).
  • Reply cards (optional): small pre-printed single cards, supplied with a stamped addressed envelope, for RSVP.
  • Order of service/ceremony: containing the outline of the ceremony, with the words of hymns or songs printed in full, details of readings, and the readers’ names
  • Thank-you cards (optional): to be sent to guests to thank them for their wedding presents
  • Place name cards (these can be hand-made and handwritten): for the tables at the reception.
  • Menu (optional): listing food and wines at the reception
Traditional Invitations

A traditional wedding invitation is made of card and measures 8 x 6 inches (20.3 x 15.2cm) folded in half with the text on the first (outer) page. This would usually be in black copperplate script, on a cream or white matt background.

The name of the guest is traditionally handwritten in ink in the top left-hand corner. A calligrapher can be hired to address the invitations and envelopes, but a more practical option may be to enlist the help of a friend or family member who has attractive handwriting.

On formal invitations, guests should be addressed by their full title, for example, Mr and Mrs Aaron Williams, Miss Eleanor Copcutt, the Lady Alice Torstenson. For less formal invitations it is acceptable to use only first names.

The traditional format for a wedding invitation where both parents are married is as follows:

Mr and Mrs John Standish
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of their daughter
Caroline
to
Mr Christopher John Herbert
At St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge
On Saturday 15th March 2016
at 3 o’clock
and afterwards at
The Hyde Park Hotel, London SW1

The RSVP address is then included in the bottom left hand corner of the invitation.

Many families, however, will not fit into this pattern, and there are a number of alternative styles of wording for different circumstances.

Invitations to the marriage of a same-sex couple can be altered depending on which, if either, parent or set of parents is hosting (see below for the wording where the couple is hosting the wedding themselves).

Note: the couple’s middle names may also be included.

If the bride’s mother is the hostess:

Mrs John Standish
requests the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of her daughter
Caroline

If the bride’s father is the host:

Mr John Standish
requests the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of his daughter
Caroline

If the bride’s mother and stepfather are the joint host/hostess:

Mr and Mrs Edgar Forsythe
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of her daughter
Caroline

If the bride’s father and stepmother are the joint host/hostess:

Mr and Mrs John Standish
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of his daughter
Caroline

Where the bride’s stepmother is the hostess:

Mrs John Standish
requests the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of her stepdaughter
Caroline

If the bride’s parents are divorced, but are nevertheless co-hosting the wedding:

Mr John Standish and Mrs Edgar Forsythe*
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of their daughter
Caroline

*Mrs Jane Standish if she has not remarried

If the hosts are the bride’s relatives, guardians or godparents:

Mr and Mrs Robert Newton
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of their ward Caroline Standish*

*The bride’s surname may be included if it is different from the host’s/hostess’s

If the bride is the hostess:

Miss Caroline Standish
requests the pleasure of your company
at her marriage to
Mr Christopher Herbert

Where the bride and groom are the host and hostess:

Mr Christopher Herbert and Miss Caroline Standish
request the pleasure of
your company at their marriage

Where a same-sex couple are hosting:

Miss Sophie McMillan and Miss Lucy Brightman
request the pleasure of
your company at their marriage

In certain circumstances an invitation may be sent to the reception only – the same rules relating to the naming of the hosts will apply:

Mr and Mrs James Burton
request the pleasure of
your company at the reception following the marriage
of their daughter
Beatrice Jane

A note should be placed inside the envelope with the invitation to give a good reason, for example:

Owing to the small size of St John’s Church it is possible to ask only very few guests to the service. We hope you will forgive this invitation being to the reception only.

Second and subsequent marriages

In the case of a divorced bride embarking on a second marriage, whichever example above is applicable to the bride should be used. If the bride’s marriage has been dissolved, she is described as ‘Mrs Catriona Short’. If she has reverted to her maiden name, it is only necessary to list her forename, as in the standard invitations above.

If the bride is the hostess, the examples above should be followed, with her name as ‘Mrs Joseph Short’ or ‘Mrs Catriona Short’, as applicable. If the bride is a widow, she is described as ‘Catriona, widow of Mr Joseph Short’.

Mr and Mrs Hugh Berkeley and Mrs Catherine Berkeley
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage of
Charlotte

If the bride’s divorced parents co-hosting:

Mr Hugh Berkeley and Mrs Edgar Forsythe*
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of their daughter
Charlotte

* ‘Mrs Catherine Berkeley’ if she has not remarried

If the bridegroom’s parents are hosting:

Mr and Mrs George Debrett
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage of
Charlotte Berkeley to their son John

If the hosts are the bride’s relations, guardians or godparents:

Mr and Mrs Gregory Hill
request the pleasure of
your company at the marriage
of [their ward] Charlotte Berkeley*

* The bride’s surname may be included if it is different from the host’s/hostess’s. The phrase ‘their ward’ is considered very formal.

If the bride is the hostess:

Miss Charlotte Berkeley
requests the pleasure of your company
at her marriage to
Mr John Debrett

Useful Forms of Address

Forms of Address
It is important to style guests correctly on both the invitation and the envelope, and there are a number of guidelines to follow. Here are some useful, and commonly used, forms of address:
It is important to style guests correctly on both the invitation and the envelope, and there are a number of guidelines to follow. Here are some useful, and commonly used, forms of address:

Name on the Invitation Name on the Envelope
Married couple where both are well known Mr and Mrs Graham Barlow [Mr and] Mrs Graham Barlow (envelope)
Married couple with invited children Mr and Mrs Graham Barlow, Adam and Claire [Mr and] Mrs Graham Barlow
Married couple where only the husband is known well Mr and Mrs Graham Barlow Mr Graham Barlow
A medical doctor Dr and Mrs Graham Barlow [Dr and] Mrs Graham Barlow
Single man Mr Mark Barlow Mr Mark Barlow
Single woman Miss Miriam Barlow Miss Miriam Barlow
Widowed woman Mrs Graham Barlow Mrs Graham Barlow
Divorced woman Mrs Janet Barlow Mrs Janet Barlow
Unmarried couple Miss Miriam Barlow and Mr Patrick Grant Miss Miriam Barlow and Mr Patrick Grant
Same sex couple Mr Edgar Wall and Mr Jon Bates Mr Edgar Wall and Mr Jon Bates
Single woman and guest where the guest is not known well Miss Miriam Barlow and Mr Philip Wright Miss Miriam Barlow
Church of England vicar where the spouse is not known well Reverend and Mrs Anthony Lambert The Reverend Anthony Lambert

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Further Information

A separate sheet giving practical information can be included with the invitation; it is fine to print these at home, as long as a good printer and quality paper are used. The following information typically appears within these enclosures:

  • Directions to both the church/venue and reception, plus a map and details of local train stations and airports. Never assume that guests know their way around.
  • Accommodation details – local hotels and B&Bs covering all price ranges – plus local taxi firms. Where the evening reception is to be held in a hotel, reduced rates should have been negotiated.
  • If no reference is made to dress code on a formal invitation, then morning attire should be worn. Black tie or suits should be specifically mentioned.
  • Policy on children.
  • Details of where the wedding list is held, with website, address and phone number (while traditionalists still maintain that reference to the wedding list should not be included with the invitation, it is almost universal practice to enclose such information, and eyebrows are generally not raised these days).
  • A request to inform the host of special dietary requirements or allergies when accepting the invitation.
  • The time the events will draw to a close – often referred to as ‘carriages’.
  • Contact number of the host(s) in case of questions.
  • The final date by which guests should reply, usually two months before the day.
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Replies to Invitations

Replies should be handwritten, in the third person. The envelope is addressed to the hostess and the date should be written at the bottom of the page. For example:

Mr and Mrs David Clegg thank Mr and Mrs John Standish for the kind invitation to the marriage of their daughter, Caroline, to Mr Christopher John Herbert at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge, on Saturday 15th March at 3 o’clock and afterwards at the Hyde Park Hotel, and are delighted to accept/regret that they are unable to accept.

Traditionally, wedding guests contacted the bride’s mother to find out where the wedding list was held, but it is now usual to enclose details of the wedding list with the invitation.