(Closed) Invitation Wording Help!!

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
1699 posts
Bumble bee

How smart of you to be thinking invitation wording and logistics through ahead of time!

The invitations are issued by the hostess, which is (surprise!) not the same thing as the “funders”. The hostess is the person —  and in the most formal proper situations there is only one such person, although her husband if she has one may be named as well — who takes final personal accountability for the comfort, entertainment and safety of all of her guests. She sponsors each guest to every other guest: her name on the invitation is her personal assurance to every guest that they will not be offended or be introduced to any offensive persons. Other people may provide goods or services for the party, or contribute ideas, or even money (! — although we don’t talk about money in nice company) but the hostess puts her good name on the line.

The invitation needs to be functional. It needs to tell each guest:

  1. Who is the hostess (and optionally the host if she is married)
  2. Whom the hostess is inviting
  3. To What
  4. Where, and
  5. When …

… and by its style, it needs to convey how formal or informal an event it will be and prepare guests for any special circumstances.

For weddings, the “what” is “the marriage of person A to person B”, and sometimes it is necessary to name A’s and B’s parents to help clarify to dotty old Aunt Aspasia just who A and B might be. At other events, the “what” is just a particular type of party, such as “dinner” or “dancing”, and may be made more special by having “guests of honour” who might also be listed on the invitation. Wedding or not, however, no proper hostess would ever throw a party in her own honour.

So. Are all six parents actually co-hosting? Is it a moderately formal event (not utterly formal, of course, or there would be a single hostess, see above.) If so, then the invitation would read

Mr John Golf and Mrs Jane Golf

The Honourable Justice Mary Mil and Mr Thomas Milhusband

Mr and Mrs Philip Intended

request the honour of the presence of

<blank space left here>

at the marriage of Mr and Mrs Golf’s daughter

Mercedes Anne Golf


Mr Future Intended

son of

Justice Mil

Mr Intended

on Saturday the eighth of December

at eleven o’clock in the morning

Yes, it is wordy as all get-out, but it is nearly impeccably proper. Note that:

  • You let each couple decide how they like their names to be shown. “Mr and Mrs Philip Intended” is not more correct than the other forms shown. Much as “Mrs Jane Golf” makes me cringe, I am cringing as an old-fashioned twentieth-century lady. This has become the default usage in the first social circles of the English-speaking world in the twenty-first centuries: so unless you want to go up against the Lord Chamberlain, the White House, and Sussex Drive; you have to at least permit it. Bah!
  • Justice Mil and Mr Intended don’t get an “and” and they don’t share a line, because they decided long since that they didn’t want to share a marriage.
  • Justice Mil goes ahead of her husband because she holds public office. The rest of the time husbands are expected to “take point” in dangerously formal situations by going first. The “ladies first” rule is for nice safe informal situations.
  • If you are going to use two envelopes (an inner envelope and an outer envelope) then and only then may you properly omit the write-in line: you will write the names of the invited guests on the inner envelope.
  • If the wedding is not in a house of worship then you “request the pleasure of the company of” instead of the “honour of the presence of”.
  • In the United States you request the honor instead of the honour (obsolete foreign spellings are not more formal than conventional spellings) and you use a “.” after “Mr”, “Mrs”, or “Ms”.


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