For all common (and not-so-common) questions about proper wording, responding to invitations and other social etiquette, see the guide written by Crane's.


When to Send Invitations

Wedding invitations should be mailed about six to eight weeks before the wedding date.


Recommended Planning Timeline

12 months
Determine the type of wedding you desire, size, setting, formal or casual. Select a wedding place, date and time.

9 months
Start looking for the perfect invitation that reflect the color scheme and style of your wedding. Get an estimate for the printed pieces you will need. If you will be using a Save the Date card, you can coordinate the watercolor design with your invitations.

6 months
Order you invitations and other stationery as soon as your date, time, and place have been confirmed. Give yourself at least one month to assemble, stamp and hand address each invitation. Have thank you notes ready to keep current on your thank you notes as gifts arrive.

2 months
Double check your guest list to make sure you have not forgotten anybody. Mail out of state and out of the country invitations.

6 weeks
Send out all invitations. Make sure the invitation is weighed and stamped according to the post office. There are a number of factors that contribute to added postage dues:

  • weight
  • square envelopes
  • any invitations in sinamay envelopes or boxes must be wrapped in a mailer box or bubble mailer
  • hard objects like natural sea ornaments that may prevent an envelope from lying flat

4 weeks
Finalize rehearsal dinner plans. Draw up seating plan and create place cards.

2 weeks
All responses should be in. Follow up on replies not yet received.

Wedding Day
Eat a good breakfast. Go over your schedule for the day. Deliver your suitcases to your hotel, check in early if you can so you can relax and not be rushed. Take a deep breath, and have fun!


Invitation Text

There are rules of etiquette that are observed when writing an invitation. Here are some things to remember when you are putting together a more formal invitations:

  • Write names in full, including middle names. Omit a middle name if necessary, rather than using an initial.
  • It's appropriate to use the British spelling for "honour" and "favour", unless you prefer to use the American spelling of these words.
  • No punctuations necessary, except after dates.
  • Spell out all words, including hour, the date and the year. Spell out all words in the address, including Street, Road and Avenue.
  • The two exceptions to this rule in and address in Saint (St.) and Mount (Mt.).
  • Use Roman numerals in names, rather than "the third" or "3rd".
  • For ceremonies taking place in a house of worship, use "request the honour of your presence."
  • Ceremonies taking place in a non-religious setting should say, " request the pleasure of your company."

The woman always comes first, except when you are talking about a married couple with the same surname, as then they are covered by the "Mr. and Mrs." phrase. If your parents are hosting your wedding and their name is on your invitation, then you follow the same format.

Now that you know the traditional way, feel free to get creative!


Invitation Envelope Wording

Unsure of how to address wedding invitations? Here are various examples of the wording for formal wedding invitation outer and inner envelopes.


Single Guests

Outer Envelope

Inner Envelope

Unmarried Woman over 18 or a
Divorced Woman who retains her maiden name

Miss (or Ms.) Ann Smith

Miss (or Ms.) Smith
and Guest

Divorced Woman who uses her married name

Mrs. Tammy Canter

Mrs. Canter and Guest

Unmarried or Divorced Man

Mr. James Leigh

Mr. Leigh and Guest




Married Couple wherein both partners share the same surname

Mr. and Mrs. Steven Larson

Mr. and Mrs. Larson

Married Couple wherein the woman kept maiden name

Mrs. Carol Thompson
Mr. John Tim

Mrs. Thompson
Mr. Tim

Unmarried couples who do not share the same residence; you should send the invitation to the closest friend

Miss (or Ms.) Donna Anderson

Miss (or Ms.) Anderson
Mr. Statington

Unmarried couples who live together; address alphabetically by last name

Miss (or Ms.) Donna Anderson
Mr. John Spelling

Miss (or Ms.) Anderson
Mr. Spelling

Same gender couples; alphabetically by last name

Miss (or Ms.) Melissa Maehler
Miss (or Ms.) Brenda Bonin

Miss (or Ms.) Maehler
Miss (or Ms.) Bonin

Children over 18 years old should be considered adults and receive their own invitation, even if still at the home of their parents who will also be invited to your wedding

Miss Julia Shapiro

Mr. Brian Ryne

Miss Shapiro and Guest

Mr. Ryne and Guest


Honorifics and Professional Titles



The Honorable Hinman Thompson (If Single)
The Honorable and Mrs. Hinman Thompson (If married)

Judge Hinman
Judge Hinman and Mrs. Thompson

Doctor (Medical)

Doctor Eric Smith (If Single)
Doctor and Mrs. Eric Smith (If married)

Doctor Smith and Guest
Doctor and Mrs. Smith

Doctor (Ph.D.)

Dr. Justin Brooks

Dr. Brooks and Guest

Married Woman Doctor

Doctor Sarah Sanchez
Mr. David Duke

Doctor Sanchez
Mr. Duke

Married Couple, Both Doctors

Doctors Ryan and
Karen Santiago

The Doctors Santiago


The Reverend James Lashley

The Reverend Lashley

Officer - Male who is active duty or retired from the service

General and Mrs. Dean Henry

General and Mrs. Henry

Officer - Female who is active duty or retired from the service

Captain Sue Koran, U.S. Army
Mr. Anthony James

Lieutenant Koran
Mr. James






Correct Use of Military Rank on Invitations

US Navy

Ensign and higher rank

Paul David Brooks
Ensign, United States Navy


Petty Officers and Seamen

Paul David Brooks
United States Navy


US Army, Air Force and Marine Corps

Captain or Higher Rank

Captain Paul David Brooks
United States Army



Paul David Brooks
Lieutenant, United States Army


Non-Coms. and Privates

Paul David Brooks
United States Army


Invitation Ensembles

Invitation ensembles consist of, but are not limited to, the following items:

Don't run short- plan to order at least 10% more than the amount needed. This will take care of last-minute additions and allow for mistakes in addressing envelopes.


Traditionally, two envelopes are used when mailing invitations or announcements. Inner envelope: the invitation with any accompanying enclosures/insert cards, is first placed in the inner envelope. Simple single lined or unlined envelopes are the new trend for the modern couple that don't feel that a double envelope is necessary. Designs by Lenila carries a variety of envelope styles to give your invitation a unique look. Plan to order at least 10% more than the amount needed. This will take care of last-minute additions and allow for mistakes in addressing envelopes.


Response Card
Also known as a reply card. Receptions are costly and an accurate guest count is a must. Response cards are essential for determining the number of reception guests to plan for. Enclosed with invitation, a reply card is later returned in the accompanying printed envelope indicating whether or not guests plan to attend.


Enclosure Card
Also known as a reception card. This card contains any other information regarding the wedding that guests should know. A reception insert card is included when the reception is held at a different site than the actual wedding ceremony. An insert card with coordinating directions to the ceremony and the reception site can be very helpful to your guests (especially for out of town guests!) An accommodation insert card that lists recommended hotels in your area will be appreciated by your guests; many brides include this in the save-the-date card or as insert card.


Thank You Note
Thank you notes are a must! Every guest that has given you a gift for the engagement, shower, wedding, or reception needs to be thanked. Send them out within two weeks for gifts your receive before the wedding, and no later that one month after you return from the honeymoon for gifts received the week or day of the wedding.


Invitation Assembly

The main thing to remember is that wedding invitations are assembled by size.

  1. Slide the reply card face up beneath the flap of the reply envelope.
  2. Set the reply card and envelope facedown on the reception card.
  3. Set the reception card (if you have one) face up on top of the invitation.
  4. Place the invitation and enclosures in the un-gummed inside envelope (if you are using one) with the lettering facing the back of the back of the envelope. For folded invites, the fold runs along the bottom of the envelope.
  5. Place the inside envelope in the outer mailing envelope so that the unsealed flap of the inner envelope is not visible.


Additional Stationery Items

Menu Cards
Menu cards provided at the reception describe the dishes you have selected. They can be coordinated with the watercolor design chosen for the invitation.


Place Cards
If you are planning assigned seating at your reception, put each person's name at the place you have designated. Place cards may be placed at the corresponding table.


Table Cards
A table card is placed at each guest table to tell guests where they will sit. Table cards can be numbered (Table 1, 2, 3) or given names (Kauai, Oahu, Maui).


Wedding Fan Programs
Wedding fan programs provide a creative and practical way to introduce the wedding party with a list of the names of the wedding party and perhaps a favorite quote from the bride and groom. They make great wedding favors for your guests, as well as keep them cool during a warm summer ceremony!


Traditional Wedding Programs
You also can go the traditional route with a booklet-style program.


Favor Gift Tags
You may choose to have custom tags (little notes) printed to attach and coordinate with a party favor for your guests. These cards may be coordinated with the watercolor design chosen for your invitations.


Save the Date Cards
A very popular accessory for destination weddings where months of planning is essential for the bride and groom as well as the guest. Usually sent out six to three months before the wedding ceremony, depending on the location and travel plans required.

If your friends and relatives is larger than the number of guests you are able to invite, or if you have out of town guests that cannot make it to your wedding celebration, announcements work well to spread the good news. You can use the same wedding invitation as your announcement by simply changing the wording.
Announcements should be mailed immediately after the wedding, preferably the same day.


Allows guests to leave comments and other happy sentiments. Encourage guests to express themselves; passing the book around is a great way to make sure that everyone doesn't miss a chance to sign it.




Suppose we have a happy couple, Albert Zoo and Beth Yates

It is generally considered proper to reserve use of the couple's new surname initial for all printed goods after the ceremony. For ceremony-related items such as invitations and ceremony programs, couples may use a two-letter monogram with their first names:

Two-letter format for couple


(bride's first name initial)(groom's first name initial)

Three-letter format for individual


(bride's first name initial)(maiden name initial)(married surname initial)


Three-letter format for couple


(bride's first name initial) (couple's surname initial in larger typeface) (groom's first name initial)