(Closed) Wedding Invitation Ettiquette

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
3697 posts
Sugar bee

Welcome to the ‘Bee!

Technically, yes, for people in the know about wedding etiquette, traditionally “request the honor/honour of your presence” is Invitation Code for “church wedding.”

However, relatively few people nowadays actually know that, mainly people who are planning or have planned weddings. Many of your guests will be oblivious to whether the invitation wording has anything to do with whether it’s a church or secular wedding.

The larger purpose of etiquette is to ensure that people are comfortable and social relationships work smoothly because people understand what’s expected of them. (That’s why it’s important for invitations to be clear about who is included, to try to avoid the awkward “but we don’t want you to bring along your kids/boyfriend/third cousin visiting from Albuquerque” conversations. And it’s kind of unfortunate that so few guests are aware of these details of etiquette, or selectively ignore them, because so often in spite of the bride’s best efforts to be clear, those awkward conversations have to happen anyway … *le sigh*)

I guess you could make an argument that “honor of your presence” does this by letting guests know to dress appropriately for a church wedding, and that you shouldn’t actively contribute to the weakening of etiquette conventions in a culture where it’s already on the weak side, etc., but really I see very litte danger of putting your guests in an awkward position if you use this wording for a garden ceremony rather than a church ceremony. If your Great Aunt Edna is a stickler for etiquette, she might mutter about it, but that’s about it.

Maybe look at some other wording alternatives and see if you find anything else you like equally, but in the long run, if it really matters to you, I wouldn’t stress about using this wording in a slightly unorthodox (pun intended! Tongue Out) way.

Post # 4
39 posts
  • Wedding: May 2013

 We’re going with honor of your presence, instead of pleasure of your company, for a ceremony in a hotel ballroom (historic property, black tie, etc. ). One specialty printer we talked with insisted we HAD to use pleasure of your company. We ran the other direction. It didn’t sound at all “formal wedding” to us. And agreeing with KCK, how many of the guests will know anyway? I think there’s more of a chance people would say “why didn’t you use honor of your presence?” Use what you want and don’t stress over it.

Post # 5
1696 posts
Bumble bee

You might be surprised how many people know the distinction between “honour of the presence of” and “pleasure of the company of”. It is the kind of thing that I can reliably assume ladies of my generation know. It is not just a “wedding etiquette” thing: it’s part of the sophistication that shows formalities are a routine part of your life — rather than a foreign style that you’ve borrowed for a one-off event.

The reason for the distinction is, that you cannot invite people to Church: a church-service isn’t yours to control. You aren’t the hostess: “God” is, and the doors are open to everyone. But even though you cinvite invite people (request the pleasure of their company) you can express how honored you would be if they chose to exercise their right to attend the church service at which you happen to be getting married. So, by borrowing the “honour of the presence of” phrase, you are implying that you won’t be undertaking the responsibility of hostess and that they can attend invited or not — but you’ll feel honored if they do.

If you adhere to the rules of formal etiquette, those who know the rules will recognize them and feel bound by them, too. Using a term inappropriately does not make you sound “more formal”; anymore than little girls playing tea-party sound more formal when they mimic grown-up language they have heard but not understood. Of course, there are no “etiquette police”, and people who recognize your faux pas are supposed to smoothe them over rather than point them out. So you can get away with doing as you please in this regard. The only person likely to be inconvenienced is yourself. Remember that when you abandon set formalities in favor of your own innovations, you communicate to your guest, in addition to the inference that your wedding is open to non-invitees, that innovations  are welcome — and who knows what innovations THEY may come up with!

Post # 6
525 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I think if you want to put “request the honour of your presence” regardless if it’s a church ceremony or not, go ahead. I personally wouldn’t have known there was a difference. First though, do you have any of the “etiquette police” types on your guest list? If you do, you might want to consider using different wording.

I do disagree though that “honour of your presence” implies it’s open to everyone. By sending any kind of invitaiton you are inviting specific people, and as such you are implying the event is not open to everyone. I’m not having a church wedding, but if I were I’d be seriously annoyed if someone I hadn’t invited showed up just because it was in a church. Any church wedding I’ve ever been to was closed off to only those invited … I thought this was the norm.


Post # 7
3697 posts
Sugar bee

@Mulan05:  Nope, actually, not the norm at all. Most of the time the invited guests are the only ones who know or care that a wedding is taking place, so they naturally tend to be the only ones who come, but in principle everyone is welcome in the house of God, so if someone happened to walk into a church where a wedding was taking place and, for whatever reason, they wanted to watch, there would be no reason to forbid them and every reason why they should be allowed to stay. Invitation-only church events (like the royal wedding) are very much the exception, not the rule. And in some communities (especially small towns, rural communities, etc.) the whole congregation might show up to see the wedding, whether or not they are invited to the reception.

Nowadays we have a much more market-driven perception of weddings as private events, “all about the bride” (& maybe a little bit about the groom), in which the couple gets to invite who they want and indulge their every wish because “it’s their day,” but that’s all a somewhat recent mindset. Historically, and especially in the Church, a wedding is a public celebration in which the entire community recognizes the couple’s change in social status (and, where relevant, their celebration of a sacrament). Traditionally if you wanted a private wedding ceremony you held it in your home or went to the Justice of the Peace.

Post # 8
6123 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Wow, learn something every day!  I did not know that verbiage indicates a church wedding.  I guess it depends on your crowd whehter or not someone would notice that and point it out.

Post # 9
10589 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

@aspasia475:  I knew it indicated a house of worship, but now I know why!  Thanks for sharing that.

Post # 10
109 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2011



Here’s an exceerpt from Emily Post. Scroll down to the little 16 on the left side. It gives instructions for a “house wedding” where the ceremony and reception are at a house, not a church. It only says to change the location and NOTHING about changing the presence part.

In fact, towards the beginning it says to never deviate from this wording, no matter how big or small.

It does say to change to “company” if you’re only inviting them to the reception. So, it seems like you’re ok to use presence for invitations to ceremony/reception but company for rececption only πŸ™‚

Also, all this stuff is outdated. If it was important to you and your family then you’d already know it πŸ˜‰ I say, do what you like. If someone is seriously offended my your improper verbage that’s their problem.

Post # 11
733 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I did not know this, or would I care if someone put that on their wedding invite

Post # 12
71 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

I was in your exact situation and found out the traditional meaning of the phrase when researching invitation wording. I bet there are only a handful of people who are aware of this meaning and most have no idea and will only skim the invite for the date and location anyway.

BUT I wanted my invites to be perfect and went with the proper verbage: “request the pleasure of your company” for our garden wedding.


Post # 13
1916 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I would go ahead and use the pleasure of your company.  There are quite a few people that know the proper use.  When I see it being used for weddings that are not being held in a house of worship I assume that they used it because they don’t know any better and it sounds fancier. 

Post # 16
17 posts
  • Wedding: January 2013

whoops!  i put “pleasure of your company” on my invites to a church wedding.  too bad your post didn’t come sooner!

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