ltj14: 🙂 You’re amazed at how complicated this is; I am amazed at how complicated brides find it when these are the kind of questions I have been answering every time I send a note for my entire life. It really shows the effect of the internet age that so many fewer every-day letters get sent and when a wedding rolls around we have all had so much less practice!
First the most awkward bit: A lady properly does not co-host an affair with anyone other than her husband. So the highest etiquette sticklers would take your dad out back and tell him to man up and offer the funds your mother needs to host his daughter properly, while politely stepping out of the limelight himself. I don’t really expect him to do that, but at least he needs to step down one line on the invitation and not try to share her line when he no longer shares his roof. In fact, since they are not married any more, they should not even share an “and”.
The second thing is that “request”, “at”, “to”, “two” and “at”, even though they are at the start of a line, are part of the previous sentence and should not be capitalized. And “Saturday”, because it is an ambiguous date that needs the following specifier to become clear, does not get a comma. So:
Mrs. (Mom’s First Name) (Mom’s Different Last Name)<br />Dr. (Dad’s First Name) (Dad’s Last Name)<br />request the honor of the presenc of
Miss Aspasia Phipps
at the marriage of their daughter
(My First Name) (My Middle Name) (My Last Name)
Mr. (Fiance’s First Name) (Fiance’s Middle Name) (Fiance’s Last Name)
Saturday the twenty-first of June<br />two thousand fourteen<br />at six o’clock in the evening
(Venue Name)<br />(Venue Address)<br />(City, State)
Reception to follow
1. Old-school mavens (like me) insist on writing out “Doctor”. The Post institute lets you get away with “Dr.” but their standards have fallen since the loss of the divine Emily.
2. The outer envelope is not part of your personal correspondence: it’s a business document between you and the Post Office. If your post office struggles nearly as much as mine does to perform the simple act of delivering mail accurately, I would write things as unambiguously and as much in a standard form as possible. Save the etiquette rules for the stuff that’s on the inside. On the inner envelope, write it out!
3. Do not write out my parent’s middle names unless they happen to go by them socially. My brother Aloysius is really “Rhesus Aloysius Phipps” but he issues invitations as “Mr Aloysius Phipps” because he has never used “Rhesus”.
4. “request the honor of the presence of” is used to imply that you do not really have the privilege of inviting people since they have a right to be present anyway. It is used at church services because at church “god” is the host and he welcomes everyone invited or not. Actually, if you check your local marriage ordinance, you may find that by law civil services are also technically open to the public. In fact, in Newfoundland during the three or four minutes it takes to say the legal parts of the ceremony, all the doors between the street and the room the wedding is in are required to be standing open. So if that is the case, or even if you just want to imply that you don’t care who attends the ceremony, go ahead and use “honour of your presence”.
5. Yes, the spelling honor vs. honour matters terribly. So does the spelling of “traveller” versus “traveler”, “theatre” versus “theater”, and “draught” versus “draft”. Canadians should absolutely stop compromising with Noah Webster’s simplified American spellings! And of course, since we Canadians are right, Americans should eventually come around and resume using standard English spellings too <j/k>. But until they do, you might as well spell like an American if you are one.
6. If your parents had the same surname, everyone could assume that yours is the same too. But they don’t; and any time it is ambiguous you should include the bride’s surname on the invitation. But she doesn’t get a “Miss”. Her fiance does get a “Mr.” if you are being formal.
7. For the RSVP wording I prefer “The favour of a reply is requested by May 31, 2014″. All the rest of the invitation is worded in third person; this should be, too. Also note the “u” in “favour” — if you consent to spell “honour” ‘correctly’ you should do the same with “favour” <j/k>.
8. Any opinions on having the RSVP return by date as May 31? This is 3 weeks before the wedding. The head count is required at my venue 2 weeks before the wedding. Does it matter what day of the week it is on?
9. You do not need an inner envelope if you use a write-in line on the invitation. Write the children’s names under their parents’ names there. Do not ever write children’s names on the outside of an envelope, especially since the larger invitation envelopes usually have to be put in the common area of a super-mailbox or propped up on the shelf outside an apartment mailslot — where the neighbourhood paedophile has access to the names and addresses of your friends’ children! NOT a friendly thing for you to have advertised! If you decide against the write-in line (which is more traditional and more proper than an inner envelope even) then for these families at least create a belly-band that you can write names on or buy a second envelope so that the children’s names are kept inside.
10. I prefer — for the outer envelope in the United States — “Dr. John Smith and Dr. Jane Smith” regardless of whether they have the same or different surnames. For the write-in line or inner envelope, either “The Doctors Smith” or “Doctor Smith and Doctor Jones”. Outside of the United States, outer envelopes should be directed to the lady of the couple only; with both members’ of the couple being named on the write in line or inner envelope. Don’t ask me what we are supposed to do if both members of the couple are male! — although I would follow the rule for bachelor brothers or spinster sisters living together; the outer envelope is addressed to both of them.