There are tons of things to consider when planning a wedding. The dress, the venue, and the reception, however, all begin with the invitation. With the onset of technology, it’s become increasingly difficult to determine what’s tasteful and what’s not. To keep you up to speed, we’ve spoken with the industry’s top experts to create the ultimate guide to classy wedding invitations.
It’s easy to send a mass text message or a Facebook event post to your family and friends, but common etiquette states that sending out save-the-dates traditionally is still the prime way to announce your wedding. Tata Mapa, the former editor of Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines and current editor of My Pope Philippines, says, “Remember that not everyone is on social media and may not be updated on the details of your wedding. Keep this in mind especially when dealing with older guests who will rely on receiving a printed invitation.”
Save-the-dates should be sent out four to six months before the wedding, which is just enough time for guests to prepare and block off your chosen date. This, however, depends on your wedding’s location and guest’s location—the earlier notice, the better. As for its contents, remember the save-the-date is an abbreviated version of your invitation. Keep it simple and cohesive with your wedding style.
RULES ON WORDING
Wording can be tricky, not to mention, sensitive for both parties involved. Couples are faced with a simple dilemma: Whose name goes first? As with anything, there are rules on wording for wedding invitations. Mapa had this to offer, “Traditionally, the order of the names and the way the introduction is made conveys who is hosting the event. In the Philippines, it is customary for the groom’s family to host the wedding—which is why the groom’s name appears ahead of the bride’s. In the U.S., where the bride’s family customarily hosts, the bride’s name usually comes first.”
In some cases, both sets of parents can choose to host together. Additionally, wording can depend on whether one of the couple’s parents is deceased. These are all reflected in the introduction. “If the couple is paying for their wedding, strictly speaking, they should do the inviting (e.g. We, Jose and Anna, request the honor of your presence…) but many couples who foot the bill still opt to include their parents’ names out of respect and Filipino convention (e.g. With the blessing of our parents [add their names] we, Jose and Anna, request the honor of your presence…)," adds Mapa. "If the parents are hosting, their names are mentioned in the introduction.”
Wedding invitations have become more and more information heavy through the years. However, packing all the details in the invitation can do more harm than good. Cory Marquez of Invitation House says, “It is better to keep it simple so that they would not miss important details. Some people just glance at the invitation and look at the valuable information they need to know. Keep the wording simple as well and not overly flowery or have highfalutin words; concise and straight to the point.”
Mapa, who also agrees with keeping it simple, lists down all the crucial parts of the invitations: “Names of bride and groom, names of their parents if they are hosting or if you follow Filipino convention, information on date, time, and venue, attire, RSVP, wedding website, and a map that may be included ifyour venue is difficult to find or out of town. Additional information can appear on the website or be spread by word of mouth.”
“The attire can be mentioned in one phrase at the bottom of the invitation (for example: 'Attire: Formal'). The simpler, the better. In the Philippines, it is acceptable to be a little more specific by mentioning if the men’s attire is Barong Tagalog. If your event is a long-gown type of affair, it is also acceptable to mention this.” Mapa continues, “Perhaps what is most important to note is why the attire is included in the first place. It is for the benefit of your guests, so that they can arrive appropriately dressed—as you would not want them to feel uncomfortable. No one wants to show up over or underdressed.”
On the subject of RSVP cards, Marquez says, “Nowadays, as we live in an age of social media and technology, an RSVP note at the end will do. It will be more convenient for both the guest and the host of the wedding party.”
For a truly formal invitation, Mapa suggests a more streamlined invitation, “There is no need to include the names of sponsors and the entourage on the invite. These names can appear on your missalette.”
Marquez offers these tips for the arrangement of names, “For the listing of the entourage, the principal sponsors go first, followed by secondary sponsors, such as candle, veil, and cord. Afterward would be the best man, maid of honor, junior maid of honor (if needed), groomsmen, and bridesmaids. Lastly, the ring bearer, coin bearer, bible bearer, and flower girls will be listed. It is better to do this in alphabetical order, and usually, the name of the gentlemen would be on the left, ladies on the right.”
Fun as they are—hashtags, e-mail addresses, and websites—have limited to no space in a formal wedding invitation. Websites, specifically, make crafting a formal invitation easier by acting as an information dump for details that have no place on paper.
“Traditionally, any mention of gifts should not be on the invitation, and any information on bridal registries should be made by word of mouth. But it is acceptable to include this information on your website.” Mapa continues, “Should the couple reside abroad after the wedding, this information may be tacked on at the end, but that is all that should be mentioned. It is still up to the guests to decide if they would prefer to give a gift of cash. Any mention of specific recommended attire can also appear on the website.”
She adds, “The wedding website can be included as a small note at the end of the invitation, along with the RSVP and attire information.” However, she bluntly warns against wedding hashtags, “If you would like your formal invitations to appear elegant, then it would be best to save your wedding hashtags for your website or Facebook page.”
Marquez and Mapa might agree on keeping the invitation simple, information-wise, but that’s not to say they don’t care for extra special touches. In fact, Marquez says, “The simple extra touches make a big difference.”
Old World practices such as double envelopes will add that much-needed cherry on top.
“The practice of the double envelope was used in the past when invitations were specially hand-delivered to guests. The outer envelope would keep the inner envelope and invitation blemish-free. Many would not even address the outer envelope as the invitation would formally and properly be handed in person to the guest. This was how personalized things used to be!” Mapa continues, “As things changed, couples began to include the names of their guests on the outer envelope. Today, using two envelopes is still a very nice touch that can enhance the look of your invitation and the sense of formality of the occasion.”
“Up until a few years ago the practice of placing the maiden names of the mothers of the bride and groom was upheld. I’m unsure of why many are no longer familiar with this convention,” Mapa says.
Art and design is another way of jazzing up your wedding invitation. “Examples would be the embossing of the bride and groom’s names, laser cut, gold foil printing, envelopes with printed lining, monogrammed cards, or even something more unique like a personalized design. Sometimes the smallest decisions of adding a special touch can make the invitation more memorable,” shares Marquez.
DOS AND DON’TS
Though common sense dictates what should and shouldn’t be on the invitation, the emotional and overwhelming process of planning a wedding can cloud a couple’s judgment. Mapa says, “No mention of gifts or cash should appear on the invitation (unless it is to say that your guests do not need to give gifts). There is also no need to include any information on the entourage or sponsors. This can be included in the missalette.”
She reiterates, “It is still best to formalize your invitation by sending out actual printed invitations. These days, some couples may opt to simplify matters by sending out e-vites, and Facebook event invitations. These are acceptable for Save-the-Date purposes, but if you want your guests to feel that they are important to you—and if you want them to count your wedding as an event they are in fact invited to, you need to go to print to seal the deal.”
As a seasoned invitation specialist, Marquez states, “Always make sure that the names of the principal sponsors and entourage are spelled properly, with the correct titles, as this will show class and respect to your wedding guests. Don’t forget all the important details such as the map/direction to the venue of the wedding proper and the reception, dress code, RSVP, etc. Do plan ahead of time and give the wedding invitations at least a month before the actual wedding itself, to give people to clear their schedules and make time for you. Don’t stress out – wedding planning can be fun if you let it! You wouldn’t want to remember one of your biggest days of your life on a sour note.”
THINGS TO REMEMBER
The wedding invitation may seem trivial, especially when compared to the wedding’s other aspects, but Marquez explains its significance, “The wedding invitation is the first peek of the guest into your big event – make sure it sets the proper tone. Coordinate with your team/family and have a certain color theme/mood set throughout the whole event. This will also affect the way the invitation will be worded. Also, agree with your partner with regards to all aspects of the invitation. It should be mutually discussed, seeing that you will also have a copy of this as a memoir for the rest of your life.” She continues, “Some couples do not take wedding invitations seriously and let some companies do all the thinking for them, and in the end, they get disappointed. The bride and the groom should be hands-on with regards to the wedding invitation to avoid typos, errors, and other mistakes that can be avoided.”
She adds, “Planning is key. Get all the details done – the venue, the date, the time, the entourage, and the dress code, before finalizing the invitation. Nothing is worse than having to revise thousands of times, or even send guests a message letting them know that the venue has been changed. Ensure that all the information that a guest would need would be on the invitation. Lastly, make it simple, appealing, unique, and fit to your couple style! This would encourage your guests to make your special day a memorable one by celebrating it with you.”
*This story originally appeared on TownandCountry.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.