A quiet hour to work on invites

Following on from the word-smithing workshops, I spent a quiet hour brainstorming invitation working on invitation wording with a bride (let’s call her Jess) and her family.

Although this couple’s specific circumstances are unique, the fact is that the traditional wording rules don’t fit many modern families anymore. I’m sure there are things in this bride’s story that will have relevance for many other couples, so I thought I’d include it here.

Invitation etiquette dictates that whoever is paying for the wedding is technically the Host, and as such, gets to have their name/s as the invitees on the wedding invitation. Jess, her fiance Steve, and all their parents are chipping in towards the cost of the wedding, so the options are fairly wide open.

Jess has a close relationship with her parents and wants to include them by name in her invitation wording.  And here’s where it starts getting tricky, because Jess’ parents divorced when she was still in school, and her mother has remarried. Jess has an excellent relationship with both her stepfather and her Dad’s longtime partner, considering them all to fall into the parents category, so she would like to include them also.As far as I am aware, there is no standard formula that fits the simple math of four different first name/last name combinations, just on the brides side!

I very sensibly suggested using a simple catch-all of “Jess and Steve, along with their parents…” And that’s where it started getting tricky.

While it shouldn’t matter one bit that Jess’ Dads partner happens to also be male, Jess and Steve both understand that  Jess ‘s side of the family have had the luxury of several years to get used to the idea, where almost no one on Steve’s (quite conservative) side of the family have any clue about the dynamics of Jess’ family. Jess and Steve reason that by including these details, calmly and without comment, in the invite, they can perhaps help one part of the process of smoothly joining two quite different  families.

To some extent they’re right.  A clearly worded invitation is one way of saying “Jess has a Dad who happens to be gay, and we’re perfectly fine with it”, without directly making a big issue out of the fact.

In theory that means that if anyone chooses to be scandalized, then they can quietly decline the invitation (or have histrionics if they must) well away from the wedding itself. This is the beginning of paving the way for an open and honest relationship between the two families, promoting tolerance in both directions – Jess isn’t aiming to shock the conservatives in Steve’s family, but she’s also not wanting to create a situation where her family is required to justify, defend, or explain themselves.

In the end, it’s a fairly long invitation, but it’s a thing of great beauty, and I sincerely applaud this young couple for their sensitivity to the needs of their guests.

It’s not WHO you invite, it’s HOW you invite them

That’s the tagline of a local invite printing company, and you know what? They’re not TOTALLY wrong.
From the moment your invitation arrives, you will be giving all kinds of clues to your guests about the kind of celebrations you are planning.

Often, your invite is the only indicator your guests will have about how formal or informal your ceremony will be, so it’s worth taking some time to get the image right – gilt edged, embossed heavy card suggests a formal event, where a cartoon on a fridge magnet suggests shoes might not be essential attire – it’s only fair to your guests to be clear in your invite!

When sending invites to out-of-town guests, it’s a great idea to include a ‘cheat sheet’ with suggestions of accommodation and transport options. You could even make a map showing your favourite cafe,  fish’n’chip shop, shopping mall, or places of interest, such as where you first met, where the proposal happened, etc.
It’s little things like these that will that help ensure your guests have a fantastic, memorable time – for example, making it possible to arrange accommodation near other family and friends means they can make the most of the whole weekend.

Printed in the same style as your invitations, these extras become part of the invitation, and create a package that makes your guests feel welcomed, and able to make clear choices about their options.

Unless you’re planning a tiny, casual wedding, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you should get a professional to print your invites – it’s usually no more expensive in the long run, and certainly less stressy and time-consuming.
Order [or make, if you insist] at least 10 more than you think you need, to allow for last-minute guest list additions, and the inevitable mistake or two in the hand-written bits.
While you’re ordering invites and RSVP cards, consider ordering an extra batch that are blank inside, which make very stylish thankyou cards and  personal letters with a keepsake feel.

Otherwise impeccable home-made invitations often give themselves away in the wording – Keep to the third person voice, and make sure you include:

  • The names of the wedding hosts [traditionally the couples’ parents], the couple marrying, and the guest/s invited. Be very clear how many people you’re inviting are expected – eg  John Johnson and guest,  John and Jane Johnson and children.
  • The day, date, and time that the ceremony and/or reception is taking place
  • The addresses of the ceremony and reception venues
  • RSVP information

Your RSVP date should be around 4 weeks before the wedding date, and if possible RSVP cards should include space for the number of guests attending, including/excluding children, and any special dietary requests.

It is still considered poor etiquette to include your gift registry information, wish list,  etc. in  with the invitation. One way to get around this is that if you have a wedding web-page, you may include the link in your invite, and simply add your gift preferences to the site. [If you don’t have a website, come in and talk with us at the Corner Store – I’m sure we can squeeze up and make room for you on our server!]

For more invitation ideas and inspiration, check out the scrapbooks and albums in The Wedding Whisperer’s Corner Store!

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