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Wedding Invitations—Today's Etiquette and Wording

The look of the wedding invitations you send will not only says a lot about you and your husband-to-be they will also convey a fair amount of information about your upcoming ceremony. So it is important to plan the type of wedding you will have before you make any decisions about your invitations.

Based upon the quality of the paper stock, lettering, color and design you select, recipients are likely to make a determination about the formality or informality of the event, thus how they should dress. The color of your invitations may suggest the color scheme of your wedding. The quality of the paper may indicate how elaborate or simple you wedding will be.

Choosing Invitations

Stationery Stores—Most brides still go to a stationery store to select invitations. Once there, you can look at brochures and browse through manufacturers' catalogs. The catalogs include samples invitations so that you can feel the paper stock, see the true color of the paper, and compare different print options. Knowledgeable clerks will be on hand to help you pick out the desired color and weight of the paper as well as the ink, style of script, and wording for your invitations. The only thing remaining for you to do will be to provide the particulars.

There are only a few large manufacturers and they dominate the wedding invitation industry. As a result, whichever stationery house you go to you are likely to see the exact same catalogs. Unlike private print shops, because these companies mass-produce their products they are able to offer you greater variety at a lower price.

Online Shopping—There is virtually nothing you can't buy on the Internet, including your gown (although I would not recommend an online purchase for your wedding dress, which must be properly sized and fitted).

The Internet offers a huge number of sites selling both traditional and unique invitations. If you are bargain shopping for invitations, the Internet is definitely the place to go.

Keep in mind that you are always taking a chance when you choose this method. There is nothing like being able to feel the quality of the paper or the raised lettering to ensure that you will get exactly what you want. However, knowing how different weights of papers feel and about the different methods of printing can help.

Private Printers—Because of the availability of mass producers and the tendency of many people to shop for bargains on the Internet, private shops are now hard to find. If you have your heart set on truly personalized invitations, look around. You are almost sure to find one somewhere.

Different Printing Methods

There are essentially four common methods of invitation printing, each with its own benefits.

Handwritten—If you are planning a small wedding (meaning 50 people or fewer), it is perfectly acceptable to hand write your invitations. Of course, this will be hard work, but you will save a lot of money.

Engraved—This is the ultimate in invitation printing. With engraving, the printer stamps the back of the paper using metal plates. This raises the print up off of the paper so that you can actually feel the lettering. For most brides, engraved invitations are much to costly.

Thermography—This is the most common form of invitation printing. With this method, the ink is heated to create a raised-letter effect that is nearly indistinguishable from engraving.

Calligraphy—We all recognize this as another name for fancy formal script. This method is becoming more popular every year, Many of the printing houses are now able to offer this print option as well, but it is not done by hand.

Saying It with Words

Today, there are so many different kinds of families—traditional, blended, divorced, etc.—that it's no wonder brides are often concerned about how to word their invitations without breaching any rules of etiquette. The stationer you will likely be visiting soon will have more samples of wording than you will want to see. For now though, I'll let you glance at a few of the more commonly used forms. These all fall under the category "traditional."

(Bride's parents are hosting)
Mr. and Mrs. David Hennesse
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Miss Ellen Marie Hennesse
Mr. Mark Peter Bruster
on Saturday, the ninth of June
Two thousand and five
at three o'clock in the afternoon
St. Mary's Church
Duluth, Minnesota

(Both bride's and groom's parents are hosting)
Mr. And Mrs. David Hennesse
Mr. And Mrs. Clark Bruster
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Ellen Marie Hennesse
Mark Peter Bruster
on Saturday, the ninth of June
Two thousand and five
at three o'clock in the afternoon
St. Mary's Church
Duluth, Minnesota

(When the bride and groom host the wedding)
Miss Ellen Marie Hennesse
Mr. Mark Peter Bruster
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
on Saturday, the ninth of June
Two thousand and five
at three o'clock in the afternoon
St. Mary's Church
Duluth, Minnesota

The old rule was that the word "honor" should always be spelled "honour." This rule is no longer firmly held. However, you should always spell everything out—names, the date, the time and the location.

There are definite rules regarding the use of initials. "Doctor" (medical only, otherwise the professional title is not used) is written in full, unless the name to follow is long. "Mr." is never written "Mister," but "Jr." may also be written as "junior," although the first is preferred.

It is acceptable to use numbers when writing the address of the church or synagogue, but avoid doing so. Generally, the address (including the street name) of the location where the wedding will be held is omitted. You may want to include it if not doing so would be likely to cause your guest frustration—when, for example, you are getting married in a large city and guests would have to guess which of the several churches with the same name you mean.

If you do include the address and you are using a formal style of wording, spell out numbers under 100. Never abbreviate words such as "Street," "Avenue," and "Road," and do not include the zip code.

Saving Time and Money

If you are pressed for time, ask the stationer if you can have the envelopes early. This way, while you are waiting for your invitations to be printed you can address the envelopes.

When it comes to deciding how many invitations to order, you should definitely order slightly more than you think you will need. Chances are you are going to need more than you thought. It's a lot more expensive to place a second order than it is to order extras.

About the Author

Jean Bachcroft is a former public relations director, founder of Bachcroft and Aloha Labels, and the publisher and editor-in-chief of Town and Country Shopping Bargains Magazine. For designer wedding, holiday, and year-round mailing and return address labels, visit Bachcroft Mailing and Return Address Labels and Aloha Return Address Labels.

For bargains and bargain shopping articles, visit Town and Country Shopping Bargains.

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