Many people fear etiquette and get completely intimidated by the idea that they need to use the most proper etiquette. Although, I do believe proper etiquette is important, it is more important to look at it as a guideline for making everyone comfortable. (and to not sound like a complete nimrod)
Etiquette should never go against what you feel comfortable with, or feel strongly about. When I work with a couple on wedding invitations, I feel that my role is to explain proper etiquette, but never to say they have to use it. As long as couples can make the decision informed, then they can and should choose their own way of wording their invitation.
With that said, there are exactly three “rules” that when not followed, give me a bit of a shiver up my spine.
- When addressing an envelope or any correspondence, the woman will always come first. (ladies first, with doors and names) When it is a married couple that share a last name, even more so. The reason? Men are “traditionally” never taken away from their last names, so therefore, it would always be: Mary and Barry Smith. If you want to list them separately, it would be Mrs. Mary Smith and Mr. Barry Smith, Please people. Don’t over confuse the situation.
- When sending out a formal invitation or correspondence, it is proper to spell out the state on the envelope. It just looks like you rushed otherwise.
- Please, if you are choosing not to have children at your wedding, please, please please, do not put that on the invitation. It’s not the place for it. Picture your gorgeous invitation framed on your wall, or in a shadow box. You want the focus of the invitation to be just that – the invitation. Not limitations you put on the day (as acceptable as that choice is!)
I do feel that there are a couple of rules that are bendable based on what people feel strongly about. These are the ones that I feel is my place to point out the “technical” correct way to do, but ultimately, should be the choice of the bride and groom.
- The ongoing debate of “Honor” vs “Honour”. Okay, so technically “Honour” is reserved for getting married in a house of worship. BUT… if you have your heart set on honour, then by all means, use it! Many people fee that if they are being married by someone from a religious organization, then honour is acceptable, regardless of location. If that is how you feel, then again, by all means – do what you like.
- Traditionally the way that an invitation is worded, indicates who is “hosting” the event. It goes back to when the bride’s family was the one to “give away” the bride, therefore, they were the ones to host the party, so wording would reflect that.
And lastly – the burning question everyone asks… Why are there two envelopes, and what is that tissue paper for? The double envelope answer is very simple. (actually they both are) Neither are necessary any longer.
- Back when invitations were hand delivered, you would have an outer envelope with the address of of whom it was being delivered to. When the person delivering the invitation would arrive at the home, he would remove the outer envelope, which would most likely be soiled from transit, and deliver a crisp clean envelope with the specific names of those invited.
- The tissue – not so romantic and fun of a story. Ink took longer to dry years ago, so when they would complete a print, they would put tissue on top to catch any bleeding and help to prevent smearing.
Ultimately, please word your invitation the way you want. Just try to make it reflect who you as a couple are. That is my advice for every aspect of weddings. Never go against what you want, who you are, or how you feel!
This is going to be part one of a three part wedding stationery series I will write. I will also be doing one on money saving tips, and style. Can you tell I love this industry? I could go on and on and on and on….