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Wedding Planning with Marcy E. Thornton
Pomp and Postage Stamps, Part II
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    In my last column, I discussed how your wedding correspondence should look. This week, things get complicated. Deciding how to word your wedding invitations is a lot like working out chemical equations: you have to add a bunch of different elements together, all the while hoping that nothing explodes.
    Okay, so maybe writing invitation text is not nearly that dangerous, but it can be pretty risky, considering all the details that a properly worded invitation entails. Before you ever set foot inside a printer’s office, or decide to buy pricey do-it-yourself software, go ahead and figure out what you want to say on your invitations. Knowing what you want ahead of time will curtail pesky comments from people that know nothing about you and your wedding, yet have it in their heads that they know the perfect way to write a wedding invitation.
    Now, before I get into examples, please note that, due to the restraints of this column, I cannot offer you every single possible example of a wedding invitation. I highly recommend doing some research on your own time, as your wedding invitation should be as unique as the love shared by you and your beloved.
Try This: In the interests of space, I’ve decided to share two invitation examples, one from each end of the formal to informal spectrum. Odds are, your invitation will fall somewhere in between these two, and be personalized according to your individual needs.
    This first example is modeled after the one shared in “The New Book of Wedding Etiquette: How to Combine the Best Traditions with Today’s Flair” ($12.71 at, by Kim Shaw. It is the text of a very formal invitation:

Mr. and Mrs. John Robert Doe
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Jane Elisabeth
Mr. Jackson James Smith
Saturday, the twenty-first of June
at seven o’clock
Providence Baptist Church
Atlanta, Georgia

    In this style of invitation, it is implied that the parents of the bride are hosting the wedding, the bride has never before been married, and that guests should dress very nicely. The “honour” of someone’s presence can only be requested if the wedding is taking place in a place of worship, such as a church, synagogue or mosque. If yours is to be, for example, an outdoor wedding, it is appropriate to request that your guests “share in (your) joy.” Everyone’s middle name should be spelled out, but honorifics such as “Mrs.” are abbreviated. The time your wedding takes place is always “(blank) o’clock,” “half after (blank) o’clock,” or “a quarter of (or past)” the hour. Invitations to the reception and RSVP cards must be included separately.
    This second example, which displays an informal wedding invitation, is modeled after the one in “Wedding Planning for Dummies, 2nd Edition” ($13.59 at by Marcy Blum and Laura Fisher Kaiser:

Ms. Jane Elisabeth Doe
Mr. Jackson James Smith
cordially invite you to share
in the joy of their marriage
Saturday, the twenty-first of June
at seven o’clock
Providence Baptist Church
Atlanta, Georgia
and afterward at the reception
El Dorado Restaurant
Stone Mountain, Georgia

    This style of invitation implies that the happy couple is hosting their own wedding, and that the guests should not worry about getting all dressed up — Sunday best will do. Note that a separate card for the reception is not necessary, but an RSVP card should still be included.
    No matter how much you choose to dress your invitation text up or down, NEVER include your wedding gift registration information with your invitation. It’s just plain tacky, not to mention insulting.
    Other than that, feel free to include any excess tidbits of information on the RSVP card. For example, if you have no interest in including children below a certain age in your ceremony, then it would be considerate to add that childcare will be provided. Of course, if you don’t intend to provide childcare for your guests, then be sure to let them know ahead of time (by phone or e-mail when you receive their RSVP) that they’ll need to find a sitter.

    Marcy E. Thornton is a senior English major at GSU, and is engaged to become Mrs. Carl W. Bonebright in September of 2008.  She welcomes any tips, comments or questions via e-mail at
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