Wording Wisdom – The Etiquette Conundrum

It’s a question we get asked on a near-daily basis – can you help with the wedding invitation wording? We’re stuck. We don’t know how to communicate our plans. Our parents are separated and we’re struggling with the traditional wording dos and don’ts. We’re worried about how to tell people we aren’t inviting children. We are thinking of asking for money as a gift but don’t want to appear cheeky.

Every couple experiences different trepidations when it comes to cleverly wording their invitations. We find ourselves reminding clients often, that although the aesthetic of your stationery suite is of course incredibly important, as the first indication of what’s to come, your invitations and other elements also serve a very important purpose. They have to be informative, and, as we’ve found, leave as little room for interpretation as possible.

Who’s hosting?

Traditionally, invitations were sent from the parents of the bride; think, Mr & Mrs John Smith request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter. However, we’re seeing a sharp decline in the number of couples who opt for this method. As families evolve and change, many couples are selecting more generalised, less formal wording to incorporate a more modern identity. We’re finding the following are much more popular with our clients.

    • Together with their families, Stephen & Sophie invite you to celebrate their marriage…
    • Stephen & Sophie invite you to celebrate their marriage…  
    • Stephen & Sophie request the pleasure of your company…
    • Stephen & Sophie are getting hitched!
    • The option you select should reflect you both as a couple, and your values and views for your big day.

Asking for gifts

This is always a tricky one. Of course, your guests’ presence on your big day is enough, however many still feel uneasy about turning up to a wedding empty handed. Some couples prefer to leave gifting up to their guests, however we always approach this with caution, there are only so many beautiful champagne flutes or photo frames one needs. A lot of couples are choosing to create a gift list with a retailer, to ensure the presents they receive will be truly loved and used for years to come. Ways of wording this are fairly simplistic, and the majority of guests will be used to receiving direction for buying treats for the couple.

  • Your presence at our wedding is the best gift we could ask for. Please do not feel obliged to give us a gift, but if you wish to do so, we have created a gift list at…
  • Your presence at our wedding is a present in itself but for those who wish to give a gift, we would greatly appreciate contributions towards our travels for our honeymoon.

Some of our clients have also requested donations to a particular charity in lieu of a gift, which can be a lovely and very meaningful touch if you have everything you need in your home.

Dress Code

This is another aspect of the invitation we are consulted on regularly. Many worry an indication of the dress code can be slightly old hat, however some guests will truly appreciate the heads up, especially if you’re hosting a particularly fancy celebration. Many couples will use wording such as Black Tie Preferred, Cocktail Attire or simply Dress Code: Black Tie, but we have seen some more unusual options over the years!

It’s also a good idea to let guests know if they’re going to have to consider their footwear – ladies in towering heels having to walk uphill, across cobbles or for lengthy spells on soft grass, whilst sometimes comical, is not exactly ideal. Perhaps a line such as Flat shoes advised or Bring your dancing shoes may help to prevent any unfortunate footwear related drama!


This is an area where we see couples truly come into their own and have a little fun with their wording. Although many do still opt for the traditional Delighted to accept/ Regretfully decline, we have had the utter joy of foiling some seriously brilliant RSVP choices, such as:

  • I/We will attend but only because it is socially polite/No, I am boring and won’t be attending
  • Yes, I’ll be there with my dancing shoes on/Sorry, my dancing shoes are being re-soled that day
  • or, my personal favourite…
  • Will be there with bells on/Won’t be there… Heard there will be people wearing bells


No Children?

This is probably the most contentious wording we give advice on. So many couples still feel guilty about specifying that, although they may adore children, they want their day to be an adult only zone. There are many different reasons for making this choice, however how it is worded within your invitations can make a huge difference in how guests receive the news.

Some opt for something short and sweet, such as simply specifying Adults Only or This invitation is extended to adults only. Many choose to expand on their choice, stating We’ve chosen to have an adult-only celebration. We hope you understand and see this as an opportunity to let your hair down! Or using numbers to explain their choice; Unfortunately, due to a restriction on numbers at our venue, we can only extend this invitation to adults. More often than not guests will totally understand and be excited to spend the day with you to celebrate!

Whichever way you choose to announce your big day to your guests, make sure it is personal, informative and reflects you both as a couple and the celebration your guests should expect.



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