Finding the Right Words

Wedding Planning

As much as the aesthetics of our invitations were important to us, the words were–of course–the most important part. I mentioned that I tried to stick to the more formal wording, more or less, to convey the right tone but we had to take a few liberties as far as format went. I think it’s a pretty common push-and-shove in modern weddings: how traditional do we want to be without being mired down in the things that no longer work.

Because I think the balance we found works particularly well, I thought I’d share it for those who might be looking for ideas.

The first panel, aka the main invitation reads:


request the pleasure of your company
at their wedding
on Saturday,
the nth of November
two thousand and thirteen

City, State

It reads pretty much the way any other invitation hosted by the couple and not being held in a church would read with one major difference: there’s no time noted (but only because we’ll be addressing that in subsequent panels). One step away from the traditional wording I did take was the use of wedding instead of marriage. It’s still considered correct to invite people to your marriage and I admit that I get hung up on the word there. It’s one thing if it reads “the marriage ceremony” because that’s what they will be attending. Saying “at their marriage” (as many guides suggested) feels like an open invitation for folks to be royal buttinskies for the duration of the relationship and, to be perfectly plain, no. Just no.

It’s also worth noting that my line breaks aren’t necessarily in standard places. Usually you’d break them up by clause, often putting the linking bits on their own lines, but I played a bit fast and loose with some because of the style I was going for. Formality versus function and all that.

The second panel, then, let’s them know the schedule is going to be a bit different:

Please join us
before the ceremony for

Coffee & Cocktails
and assorted breakfast nibbles

in front of the fountain
at half after ten in the morning

I debated on adding the “assorted breakfast nibbles” line or taking it out, but ultimately decided to keep it. For the same reason I included a menu panel, I like to let the guests know what to expect and assuring them that coffee and pastry will be available for such an early “cocktail hour” will ward off many questions. I did get the “will there be coffee?” query from some of our guests when things were still in the early planning stages, so I consider this the natural next answer. And as awkward as it sounds, “half after” is the correct formal wording over the expected half-past. I couldn’t find a reason why past was frowned upon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with past sounding like passed and reminding people of passed-away. As for the “and” in the year on the first panel, “experts” seem to be evenly divided. I think the only thing they were unanimous in was not writing twenty-thirteen.

will take place
on the steps of the
Gathering Hall
at three-quarters after eleven o’clock

Reception to follow in the
Owl’s Nest

The third panel basically tells folks ‘okay, if you oversleep or want to be fashionably late, don’t worry, just  be in your seats by 11:45 so as not to miss the ceremony.’ Could both of these be covered by one or two enclosures, had we gone a more traditional route? Of course. In fact, the “reception to follow” bit is classic corner-copy on single card invitations without enclosures. This way just keeps things in a nice progression of information, all in one place, and easy to find.

You’ve already seen our menu, which takes up the fourth panel and the fifth is, again, a standard enclosure style of map and physical location for folks to MapQuest or enter in their GPS. We also included the url of our wedding website on that last panel for those who want even more details. Will this 100% prevent our guests from asking questions already answered on the invitation or website? Of course not. I’ve written enough employee memos to know that never happens (and that most people don’t read what you hand them, anyway), but it doesn’t mean I can’t try.

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