A typical traditional wedding invitation include certain elements: the host line, the request line, the bride, the groom, the date, times and location as well as the reception location and a RSVP date. All though most invitation have all these lines the way they are worded gives a suggests to the look and feel of the overall wedding.
Lets start at the beginning the host line:
Traditionally the brides parents are the ones hosting the wedding. The wording becomes more complicated if a parent is deceased or if the parents are divorced and then again even more complicated if the parents have remarried. Be sure to include all the names that you feel comfortable with. Names are listed on separate lines without an "and" between them, and remember that Mom always comes first. If mom is remarried, use her married name; the oldest etiquette omits all stepparents, though you can add them if you like. If a remarried parent has a different surname from his or her spouse, put the birth parent first. If you must break the line, do it before the "and."
Most married couples follow the standard format (below); if they have different surnames, an "and" joins them.Mr. and Mrs. John Michael Williams or
Ms. Jane Marie Parks and Mr. John Michael Williams
If the groom’s parents are hosting and you'd like to mention them, do so after the groom's name. If they are co-hosting the wedding, add them after the bride's parents' names.Mr. Douglas Arthur Sawyer the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Dean Sawyer
The below format works well for delicate situations, if the couple is hosting on their own, omit the first line.Together with their families Miss Elizabeth Marie Williams and Mr. Douglas Arthur Sawyer...
It's not traditional to include a deceased parent, but many people feel strongly about doing so. This wording should make it clear that the deceased parent is not issuing the invitation. (Courtesy titles would be awkward and are omitted.)The pleasure of your company is requested at the marriage of Elizabeth Marie Williams daughter of John Williams and the late Jane Williams to Douglas Arthur Sawyer...
You don't have to use courtesy titles (Mr., Mrs., etc.) and middle names, but it's most traditional and formal. When titles other than Mr. and Mrs. are used, spell them out. The parent who has such a title is listed first: Doctor and Mrs., or Doctor Jane Marie Williams and Mr. John Michael Williams.
If you're looking for a little less formality -- and a chance to list the first name of a married woman -- omit courtesy titles entirely. In some instances, as with the example for a deceased parent, using this format will avoid some grammatical awkwardness; if you choose this option, it's best to omit middle names too.
The request line:
Two phrases are the most traditional; one indicates the ceremony will be in a house of worship, the other that it will not. But informal wording is becoming very common. Just be sure that whatever phrasing you choose indicates that guests are being invited to a wedding ceremony or the reception only.At a Place of Worship: Request the honor of your presence...
Informal Ceremony: Would be delighted by your presence
at the marriage of their children...
Informal Reception Only: Invite you to join them at the wedding reception of...
Bride and Groom line:
Because the bridal couple are the stars of the invitation, their names are set off, on separate lines. The preposition linking them goes on its own line: traditional American formatting uses the word "to"; some Jewish formats use the word "and."
Traditional: If the bride's last name is the same as her parents' above, it is not repeated. No courtesy title (such as Miss or Ms.) is used.
Contemporary: If the couple or both sets of parents are to host, treat the names equally.
Date and time:
Don't worry about using a.m. or p.m., or a phrase such as "in the evening," unless the wedding will be held at 8, 9, or 10 o'clock. The year is traditionally omitted as well, but it is sometimes included for the invitation's keepsake value.
It's traditional not to include street addresses of houses of worship or well-known locations, but this is less common lately. Commas are not used at the ends of lines, and the state is always spelled out.
If the ceremony and reception are in the same space, they can be on a single invitation. If the reception is held elsewhere, a separate card might be helpful. It is no longer considered acceptable to invite some people only to the ceremony.
Brides today generally include paper, envelope, and stamp to encourage guests to respond to their invitation in a timely manner, even though traditional etiquette doesn't actually call for them. It's not rude to omit these, but it might be risky.
If your event won't include a full meal, it's courteous to inform your guests. Use phrasing such as "and afterward for cocktails" instead of the classic "at the reception."