Grammar is SO important in our lives. It reflects how we were raised and dictates how we communicate with one another. For formal occasions, like weddings, grammar is especially important, which is why I created an entire wedding invitation etiquette series to help answer the questions to those tricky situations you are likely to come across.
During college, I briefly flirted with the idea of minoring in English. I loved the ritual of sitting down with a blank notebook and my favorite pencil to sketch out the idea for a short story. Critically examining, in advance, the attributes of the main characters and the journey the reader would be taken on. The thing I struggled with the most in those classes? Spelling. But we have spell check, I would say, but we all know spell check misses the mark sometimes too.
Now, I am a stickler for grammar and spelling. I cringe when I see a word being improperly used or receive a poorly worded email. Don’t get me wrong, I make mistakes too. But one place we want to be sure our grammar and spelling is en pointe is your wedding invitations.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the common mistakes I see. To avoid errors, I always suggest having a few sets of eyes look over the invitation before sending it to print. For any grammar or wedding invitation etiquette questions I may have missed, I always refer my clients to the queen, Emily Post.
All words should be spelled out on invitations, enclosure cards, and envelopes, no matter how informal your wedding is. For example “Road” instead of “Rd.” and “South Carolina” instead of “SC.” If all guests are local, the state may be omitted from the invitation. The name of any house of worship should be written out completely. Exceptions to the rule: Honorifics may be abbreviated (Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc.)
And vs. To
When parents of both the bride and the groom are hosting the wedding, the word between the bride and groom’s names should be “and” not “to”. When the parents of just the bride or the groom are hosting, the word between the bride and groom’s names should be “to” not “and”.
Proper nouns, such as the names of people and places, are always capitalized. Sentences, or each new thought on an invitation, should be capitalized. Always capitalize the “t” in Two: Two thousand eighteen, not the entire year. When it comes to attire, only the first word is capitalized ie. “Black tie” not “Black Tie”.
Date and time forms should be consistently used. On wedding invitations, the date should be spelled out and preceded by the day of the week and separated by a comma (Saturday, the sixth of May). If time is used on the enclosure card, be consistent with the date.
When choosing to spell out your wedding year on your invitation ie. Two thousand twenty, there should not be an “and” or any other punctuation in there (Two-thousand and seventeen).
Fiancée vs. Fiancé
Fiancé, with one “e”, refers to a man who is engaged to be married. Fiancée, with two “e’s”, refers to a woman who is engaged to be married. They are pronounced exactly the same.
Be on the lookout for words that are often swapped out for each other like “there”, “their”, and “they’re” or “your” and “you’re”. Generally, for your wedding ceremony, you walk down an aisle, not an isle.
Honor/Honour or Favor/Favour
Adding a “u” to honor and favor sends the message that your wedding more formal or traditional and is often used when the wedding ceremony takes place in a house of worship.
An accommodations card lists out blocks of hotel rooms as recommendations for your guests. A commonly phrased sentence looks like this: “A block of rooms has been reserved for our wedding”. It is proper to use the word “has” versus the word “have” since you are referring to a singular block of rooms.
The hosts of the wedding issue the wedding invitations. The hosts’ name(s) are spelled out and include middle names and titles. Doctor should be spelled out unless it would make the name too long to fit on one line. If the bride shares her parents’ last name, only her first and middle names are used on the invitation. Traditionally, the groom’s name is spelled out and preceded by a title, ie. Mr. Robert Grant Thompson.
Do not use punctuation at the end of a line, such as a comma or period, in your invitation wording.
RSVP is an abbreviation of the French “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” which means “please respond”. So, “please RSVP by April second” it is redundant. I suggest “RSVP”, “please reply by”, “kindly respond by”, or “The favour of reply is requested”.
A very common mistake and one I am extra aware of, given my occupation! When referring to invitations or paper goods, it is spelled stationery, with an “e”. When referring to something that is not moving, it is stationary, with an “a”.
Mistakingly symbols are used to represent words. For example “Mr. & Mrs.” should be stated as “Mr. and Mrs.”
Time should always be spelled out on the wedding invitations, but numerals may be used on the enclosure cards. When mentioning a time on the hour, it should be followed by “o’clock”. Conversely, time, not on the hour, should be stated as “half after” or “quarter after”. Time should always be followed by “in the morning”, “noon”, “in the afternoon”, “in the evening”, or “midnight”. “Immediately” may be used as a substitute to time but not alongside a time.
Time on the enclosure cards may be spelled out, following the rules above, or numerals may be used. When numerals are used, “a.m.” or “p.m.” should always follow. When spelling out the time, also spell out the date. If you use numerical time, use a numerical date.
Zipcodes should only be used on the outer envelope and on the RSVP envelope, never on the invitation or any enclosure cards.
I hope this wedding invitation etiquette and grammar guide helps answer any pressing questions you may have!