Thursday Throwback: How to Save Money on Custom Wedding Invitations

April 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

You’ve probably all seen articles advising you on the ways to save money on your wedding invitations, and they are often along the lines of “send invitations by email, do-it-yourself or by print-your-own boxed invitations”. Yes, each of those is a valid way to save money on invitations, but what about those couples that are looking for more value rather than just less cost?

I’m pretty sure there are a number of people who think this blog exists solely to help part engaged couples with their wedding budget. The fact is that I wouldn’t be in this business doing what I do if I didn’t love high-quality, unique, beautiful, gorgeous, over-the-top wedding stationery – and yes, often it’s pricey too. But I certainly have lots of couples who come to us with very specific budgets, and whatever that budget may be, the are looking to maximize the value they are getting. So, the title of this post may be a bit misleading – some of these tips will help you save money, but some will help you get more value out our your wedding stationery dollars.

Today I’m going to share my tips for getting the most value when choosing custom invitations/working with an invitation designer:

Get a head start.
If you’ve chosen custom invitations, you’re already off to a good start. Believe or not, working with an invitation designer can actually help save you money in the long run – designers can be much more flexible than many of the invitation companies out there, and can and will often handle requests that larger companies will not even consider, or will charge a hefty premium for. With a custom invitation, you can control the budget very easily, and make changes on the fly to help ensure that your invitation suite stays within a price range you’re comfortable at. If you’re in love with a design that way over-budget, a designer can also often simplify the design, keeping the elements that you love, but cutting out the ones you don’t need – giving you a similar look, for a much lower cost.

Avoid making those common mistakes.
Oh yes, we’ve talked about them a lot, haven’t we? Pretty much every big mistake covered on our Top 5 list will end up costing you money – make sure you learn as much as you can about how to avoid those mistakes, and your budget will definitely thank you!

Less is definitely more.
While it’s lovely to have multiple paper layers, pockets, ribbons, crystals etc., all of those embellishments come with a fairly high price tag – both due to the cost of the actual item as well as the labour cost involved in assembly etc. The best way to get great “bang for your buck” is to hire a great designer who can work with you to create a gorgeous invitation that is big on design and small on fancy accoutrement (that’s French for bling). It can be challenging to find a designer who can pull of this look – your best bet is to look for someone that has a strong background in graphic design and ask to see their portfolio of work that is simple with no embellishment whatsoever. A great designer should able to produce a stunning flat panel invite, as well as more embellished looks.

Pay attention to printing.
Printing costs can make a huge impact on the bottom line. While you may love the look of an engraved or letterpress invite, it may be necessary to consider digital printing instead – no, it’s not quite the same, but you may not feel the additional costs is really worth it. If you do choose an option like letterpress, understand where the costs are – setup. If you have a small number of invitations (say 50), letterpress is not terribly cost-effective because of the high set-up costs. If you’ve got a large number of invites (say 200), the cost becomes much more reasonable on a per invite basis. And stick to one ink colour, rather than going for 2 or 3 colours – each additional colour requires it’s own plate and pass on the press, so it raises the costs substantially.

Choose “high-impact” upgrades.
If you’re looking for something more than a flat card, consider the impact vs cost of some common upgrades. As an example, you may find that an envelope liner may be the same cost as a crystal embellishment – while crystals are certainly pretty, the envelope liner will have far more impact on the overall design and feeling of your invitation, and allows for more opportunity to add some unique flair. If you’re working with a tight budget, ask your designer for their advice on what choices will offer the most bang for your buck!

Ditch the RSVP envelope.
Unless you are having a very formal wedding, it’s completely acceptable these days (and can even be a much nicer option in some cases) to include an RSVP postcard which can be dropped in the mail as is, rather than the traditional RSVP card with return envelope. RSVP postcards are definitely growing in popularity, and you’d be surprised how much those tiny envelopes can cost! And while we’re at it – if you were considering using both inner and outer envelopes, forget it. Outer envelopes are quite unnecessary these days, and are generally only found on the most formal of invites.

Ditto for the Reception card (and other inserts).
Again, only formal wedding invitations these days usually have separate reception cards. While it’s traditional to include the reception information on its own card, it really isn’t necessary. You can also eliminate the need for other insert cards like maps, directions and accommodation and guest information cards by setting up a wedding website. They are easy and quick to set up, available for free from a number of sources, and allow you to simply direct your guests to your wedding website for more information – rather than including everything in printed form.

Consider postage carefully.
One way you can easily reduce your invitation costs is to make sure you consider the impact of your choices on the cost of postage. Your best best is to make sure that you choose a standard-sized invitation, and one that does not have lots of additional layers, pocketfolds etc. The heavier your invite is, the more you’ll pay in postage, and ditto for oddly-sized invites as well. Also, make sure that any embellishments that you’ve chosen don’t impact the post office’s ability to process your invitation normally, which will also result in additional non-machinable charges. Unsure? Make sure you take your hard copy sample to the post office so you are aware of any issues before your invites are produced.

Hope y’all found this week’s Thursday Throwback helpful – next week, I’ll be reposting on a similar subject you’ve probably NEVER seen mentioned: how to save money/get more value when it comes to your ceremony and reception stationery and accessories!



The Straight-Up Truth: 10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

April 25, 2012 § 3 Comments

So, we’re back…finally…

First, I think I owe everyone an explanation of why I disappeared for last 6 weeks or so (oh my gosh! how has it even been that long!?!).

Hip Ink is mostly a one-woman operation – while I have a few people who help out with assembly etc., I’m on the hook for everything else – and don’t get me wrong, generally I like it that way. And if you’re a frequent reader you know that I am fiercely committed to making this blog happen every week. But sometimes in chasing your dreams, you forget about the reality that comes along with them.

The reality is, that I have been nearly drowning in work – not necessarily something I should have the right to complain about, but nevertheless, it’s turned things a bit upside down lately. I’m thrilled to have so many couples wanting to work with us, and orders from our new collection, but it has been a juggling act to try to keep up the same standards when it comes to response time, delivering on schedule and most of all, quality.

As much as I love The Invitation Blog, I know that my commitment to my work and my clients has to always come first.

So…I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re still busy, but in a more manageable way now that the crazy rush for early summer weddings is over, and so it’s back to blogging for me!

Sort of.

Today I wanted to share with you guys something that is so well-written, so truthful, so brilliant (and something that I’m so jealous I didn’t write myself) that I actually bumped my very first Invitation Advisor post in weeks, just so I could post this instead.

It was written by the lovely and talented Melinda Morris, owner of the fabulous Lion In The Sun Paperie in Park Slope, Brooklyn and appeared in The Huffington Post Weddings section on April 20, 2012.

I think it’s important read for any couple embarking on the wedding stationery adventure, and I think it’s equally important to read the whole article in it’s native form, so rather than reproduce it here, I’m going to tease you with Melinda’s “10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer” and ask you to please, please follow the link below to read the full, amazing, article.

10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

1.  “They are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”

2. “It’s only paper, why is it so expensive?”

3. “I could do that myself on my home computer and print it on Day-Glo copy paper.”

4.  “Can you just make me one and I can just photocopy or email a scan of it to everyone?”

5. “I know I approved the proof, but we changed the time of the wedding.”

6. “But we only need eight more invitations.”

7. “I left the invitations in the trunk of my car and then went to the car wash” or “We were drinking red wine while assembling the invitations…”

8. “We’ve addressed all our envelopes already, but I mail-merged the guest list incorrectly and all the zip codes are incorrect, what do you mean you don’t check each of our guests’ zip codes for us?”

9. “I sealed the envelopes and I realized I forgot to stamp the reply cards” or “We just used regular postage and dropped them in the mailbox on the street.”

10.  “We would like to put ‘monetary gift only’ on the invitation.”


I’ve actually addressed many of these things on The Invitation Blog in the past, but it’s great to see them all in one place. At times it may sound like putting stuff like this together is just me (or whomever) preaching to couples out there to try to make my own life easier  - I can assure you that isn’t the case.

When my couples are happy, I’m happy. When a couple makes a mistake on their invite, when they need “just a few” more, when they use the incorrect postage etc., those things affect me as well. While there isn’t always anything I can do, and while often those issues aren’t my reponsibility, I still feel for couples who find themselves in those situations. So some of the above deserves to go in the “the more you know” category, because it will only help you to keep those things in mind when dealing with your wedding invitations.

The first four are more related to just being respectful of the stationer/designer you are meeting or working with. While I can understand why a couple might say some of those things, in reality it makes little sense to walk into a lovely stationery store or meeting with a stationery designer if you don’t understand or appreciate the value of what they do. If you feel that their invites are “too expensive”, if you think, “hey, they are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”, if you’re happy with printing your own invites on copy paper or photcopying or emailing your invites – to be perfectly honest, you’re in the wrong place.

As a stationer, I believe it’s every couples’ right to do whatever they want when it comes to their wedding invitations – whether or not I agree with it, like it, find it attractive or think it’s in good taste, the point is that it isn’t about me. It’s about you and your wedding and your guests. But when a couple comes in with an attitude that’s disrespectful towards how I make my living, towards my “art”, that makes me a little testy.

It’s a good lesson in general, to think about what you say to your vendors when meeting with them. By all means, ask questions – but make sure they understand that you are there because you respect what they do and their work, and you’ll find they’ll give you their best.

Thursday Throwback: No, Your Wedding Invitations Do Not Need To Match Your…

March 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

Today’s throwback post looks at something that I hope is slowly changing in the wedding industry – matching every dang thing to your bridesmaids’ gowns or flowers or [insert details here]. It’s just not necessary and sometimes it can actually be crazy-cheesy looking too. My advice – choose what you love, don’t be limited by “matching” every single thing. Your guests probably won’t notice anyway (truth).

We’re going to talk about a phenomenon in the wedding industry in general, and definitely in the stationery business…let’s call it, “Matchy-Matchy Syndrome”.

I will agree that they heyday of “Matchy-Matchy-ness” has passed (the ’80s anyone?); but, like the stink of an old piece of gorgonzola, it lingers long after it’s time has passed.

Need proof? I still have clients who come to me and insist that their invitations match their insert-wedding-detail-here exactly. Usually it’s bridesmaids dresses, sometimes flowers, sometimes linens, and yes, they bring swatches. Lots of swatches. And they insist that it NEEDS to match exactly. No amount of coercion on my part will convince them.

Yes, I expect that cut-rate big-box wedding dress retailer to sell invitations that match their bridesmaids dresses – not a big surprise. But, when I’m running a business called “Hip Ink” and have clients who come to me with their strict “Matchy-Pants” on, you’d best believe that it is still a rampant issue in the wedding world.

Who was it, I wonder, who determined that everything needed to match exactly? Because if I catch him, I’ll tell you right now, I can’t be held responsible for what I’ll do.

I’m gonna be straight about it ladies (and gentlemen):

Your wedding invitations do NOT need to match your bridesmaids dresses. Or anything else for that matter.

I don’t really have an issue with someone who *really* wants to incorporate the same colour into their invites; but, it seems to be the easy go-to thing to just say, “well, let’s make them match the whatever“.

Believe me when I tell you that no one is going to receive your invitation and say, “Oh wow, chartreuse, can’t wait to see the matching bridesmaids dresses”. No one is going to show up at your wedding with their invite, pick up the tablecloth and say, “Tsk tsk, this is clearly royal blue, not cerulean!”. No one is going to gasp, “Oh, the horrror”, when they realize that your ranunculus centerpieces aren’t the same shade of pink as your invitation envelopes. And if by chance they do, trust that therapy is in order.

Yes, your invite should evoke the same feeling as your event, the same general tones, but they don’t have to match in every aspect exactly. In fact, there is something to be said for the element of surprise – no need to give away your whole colour scheme with your invitations. Maybe you are having a bright yellow, fuchsia and deep purple colour scheme (yes!) – why not choose one of those colours to show off on your invites? Yellow and Grey anyone? Maybe sneek in one of those other colours in a small way – just a hint. Or maybe go for shades or tones of those colours – more or less intense than the colours you’ll be using in your decor etc.

No, you are certainly not breaking the cardinal rules of invitation design by wanting your invitations to match your ________, but consider the all the possibilities you are shutting out by not at least considering something just a bit different.

And hey, while you’re at it – consider the fact that the pieces of your invitation suite don’t need to match either. Yep, I said it…and lots of people are doing it these days. And if everyone else is doing it, then…wait, nevermind.

Keep watching this space and you’ll see some of own clients who have shed the mantle of “Matchy McMatcherson” and embraced being just a little bit different!

Invitation Advisor: Tips for Venue and Reception Wording on Your Wedding Invitations

March 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

from Martha Stewart Collection by Crane & Co.

Whew! Have to admit I played hooky the last couple days of last week – too much excitement from the Hitched by Hip Ink launch!

But, today we’re back with a continuation of our in-depth series on invitation wording (using the word in-depth is awesome and makes things sound very important, like we’re on 60 Minutes!) – looking at how to word your venue information, as well as wording for receptions.

I’m sure you can’t handle the excitement, so let’s get to it ;)

While I will admit that venue wording isn’t as tricky or dramatic as some of the other things we’ve talked about, I do think it’s important to know how things are done traditionally, as well as what’s currently in favour.

I’m actually going to talk about venue and reception wording together, as one often has an impact on the other.

There are basically two options here: ceremony and reception at the same location, or ceremony and reception at different location. Yes, technically you could have a ceremony or reception-only invite, but for today’s purposes, we’ll just pretend that doesn’t exist to save me from getting carpal tunnel and you from eye strain. If you’re in the situation where you need to do a ceremony or reception-only invite, just as Uncle Google – he always knows how to help.

Ceremony and reception at the same location:

Traditionally speaking, you would usually see the following:

“Saturday, the ninth of June, two thousand twelve
at six o’clock in the evening

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Toronto, Ontario” 

Notice you don’t use the word “at”. You don’t need to say “at” Chuck E. Cheese on an invitation, just name the venue, and people will get the idea. Second, notice that the street address is missing. Traditionally, and formally, an invitation does not include a street address – simply the city and state/province. Back in the day the reason was that most people knew exactly where the venue was, because there weren’t many choices and most of them would be local anyway. These days, well – times have changed. There are tons of traditional and non-traditional wedding venues, and many, many guests are travelling and unfamiliar with the city where the venue may be located.

It is acceptable these days to put the venue’s address on your wedding invitation. I just think it’s unattractive and unnecessary – strictly personal opinion. I feel that the address doesn’t belong on your invite – that’s what a direction/guest info card or wedding website or GPS or the internet or whatever is for. I may be in the minority on this one, but I don’t think THAT much hand-holding is necessary for guests. I’m not saying that the address shouldn’t be somewhere in your invitation package (one reason I’m a fan of the catch-all Guest Information card), just that it doesn’t necessarily belong directly on your wedding invitation. That said, it’s not “wrong” to include the address at all.

As for the actual venue information, how should you word it? I have to say that because of my stance on not including the address, I think very specific and detailed wording is necessary for the name of your venue. I like to include exactly what the venue is, ie. St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Four Seasons Hotel, Carmen’s Banquet Centre, Spencer’s on the Waterfront Restaurant. If it’s a hotel or banquet hall that has multiple rooms, it’s also acceptable to include the specific room (ie. Main Ballroom, Vancouver Room etc.) – although that information can also appear elsewhere.

What if it’s not a place with a name? What if it’s your backyard or a public space or something similar? In that scenario, I do think you can include the address if you’d like, although again, it’s not 100% necessary on the invite if you’ve got it elsewhere as well.

And what about the reception?

If the reception is at the same venue/location, you can include reception wording directly on the invite (either as part of the main wording or as “corner copy”, meaning in smaller text in the lower right-hand corner of the invite).

You can use all sort sorts of wording, like:

“Reception immediately to follow”

“Dinner and dancing to follow at 6 o’clock”

“Join us for revelry and merriment after the ceremony”

…whatever “fits” with the tone of your celebration. Just remember that if the reception does not immediately follow the ceremony, that should be made clear by giving a start time for the reception itself – guests are much happier and more comfortable when they know what to expect. Also, I think it’s important to specify what type of reception guest should expect – ie. cocktails and hors d’oeuvre, dinner, light refreshments, whatever. If what you are doing is non-traditional in any way, give your guests a heads up to make sure your celebration runs smoothly.

Ceremony and reception at the same location:

Traditionally in this case you would use a separate Reception card, inviting guest to the reception. Again, the wording is fairly flexible – you might say something like the following:

“Please join us at a reception in honour of the new
Mr. and Mrs. Jingleheimer Shmidt  

at six o’clock in the evening
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Grand Ballroom
181 Wellington Street West, Toronto, Ontario”

You can pretty much word it in any way that communicates the information and fits with your invitation wording.

These days, it’s becoming more rare to see reception cards, and I frequently have couples who ask for all of the wording to be on the main invitation. Again, I would say it’s totally acceptable to do so at this point, although I do think a reception card is still de rigueur for very formal events.

As for the rest, much of the above still applies; however, it’s important in this case that it’s completely clear that the ceremony and reception are at two different locales and the exact time that each starts. In many cases guests may have to amuse themselves in the break between the ceremony and reception, so make sure they know exactly how much time they will have to kill.

So, what’s left? Well, we do have a few odds and ends to talk about next week when we wrap up this series on invitation wording, and we may even have some juicy controversy, so do come back ;)

Big News: Hitched by Hip Ink Has Arrived…Sort Of!

March 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Have you ever had one of those days? When it seems that technology has forsaken you? Yep…that’s today (and yesterday, and most of the day before), which so happens to coincide with the launch of our brand new Hitched by Hip Ink invitation collection.

Sort of…I say sort of because our new Etsy store that was supposed to be ready to show off all our fab new designs is not quite ready for it’s big debut – that will be early next week though, I promise!

But, I won’t let some pesky tech issues keep me from showing off our twenty new Hitched designs…nuh uh. In fact, I am going to post them right here, right now over four posts – so get ready y’all ;)

First up, some of my favourites:


Click on the photo above to enlarge


Click on the photo above to enlarge


Click on the photo above to enlarge


Click on the photo above to enlarge


Click on the photo above to enlarge

Woo – 5 down and 15 go. Watch this space over the next hour for 3 more posts full of Hitched eye-candy just for you!

Workshop Wednesday: Sneak Peek At Our Brand New Hitched by Hip Ink Collection

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ok, so the Invitation Advisor took a break from doling out pithy commentary on invitations and etiquette this week to get our brand new invitation collection, Hitched by Hip Ink, ready for launch on Friday!

And so normally what you’d find on Workshop Wednesday is some photos of one of our custom invitation project – today what you’re going to get is a sneak peek at one of our new Hitched by Hip Ink designs…

I am really excited to finally be able to share this collection – it has been months in the making, through many trials and tribulations, re-designs, throwing out ideas, bringing them back, wanting to give up, feeling elated – what a roller-coaster ride it has been.

But, I’ve kept on because I think there is room out there for some hip, funky modern invitation designs that fit today’s wedding – the kind where anything goes. Casual, backyard affairs to ballroom extravaganzas and everything in between!

On Friday, we’ll have a full launch post, with many more details on the line and a link to our brand new Etsy shop where you can purchase Hitched by Hip Ink.

‘Till then…here’s a look at one of our new designs, Hexagon:

Click on the image for a larger version

Click on the image for a larger version

Click on the image for a larger version

Each invitation design includes a matching RSVP and additional insert card design, and most designs can also be used for other wedding-related paper needs including showers, engagement parties, save the date cards etc. and will be customizable in a wide range of colours to suit your event.

We’ll be adding to the collection over the next few months as well – exciting times ahead!

In order to give each of the new designs a little time in the spotlight, we’ll be upping blog posts to 4x weekly (yes, 4 times!) and shuffling things a bit.

We’ll keep Tips n’ Tricks Tuesday (home of The Invitation Advisor) exactly where it is, as well as Workshop Wednesdays (showcasing recent custom work from the studio), but we’re moving our encore posts to Throwback Thursdays and introducing Feature Fridays, when we’ll be featuring one of our Hitched collection designs weekly.

Really excited to share all this new stuff with you…soon. The countdown is on!

From The Studio: Purple and Yellow New York Wedding Invitations

February 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Happy Workshop Wednesday y’all!

I’ve got lots of eye candy coming up over the next few weeks, but I realized the other day that I hadn’t featured an invite on the blog yet that I just loved working on!

Kathy (also a graphic designer!) emailed me from Miami to let me know she was having a New York themed wedding and searching for the perfect invite for their celebration. She found my original blog post on Kristy & James’ New York invitations (pictured below) and the rest is history. We had such a fun time working out the details of their suite, taking their NYC transportation theme and all-purple colour scheme to the next level!

While generally speaking our custom work is “from scratch”, we do from time to time have couples that fall in love with a certain suite and want to use that as inspiration for their own. In this case we re-used some of the elements from Kristy & James’ invite, as well as the general layout of the main invitation, and combined that with Carlos and Kathy’s more specific theme.

Here’s a reminder of what Kristy & James’ New York themed invites looked like:

Kathy loved the look of the middle invite panel, and wanted a very similar look for her invite as well (and although they loved the tri-fold idea, they were looking for a slightly more traditional panel invitation). Kathy and Carlos’ colours were strictly shades of purple and grey, so the original design called for those colours only.

But, after looking at the finished suite, there was that little *something* missing. While I love the look of modern and monochromatic, it needed a little…BAM! Enter the perfect complement to a beautiful regal purple – a hit of bright sunny yellow. So, we took the colour of the NYC cab (which was used on the back of the RSVP, not pictured) and brought a little bit of that signature pop of yellow into every element in the suite, to bring it all together.

Speaking of bringing it all together, we also added a belly band and address label with a checkboard pattern to complete the look!

One of my favourite parts of the suite was the custom map/timeline I created to continue the subway theme – with subway-sign style markers for the ceremony and reception, and a subway-stop timeline to let guests know about the evening’s activities.

While it certainly wasn’t the most original invite I worked on last year, it was one of my favourites – I just loved the colours, the theme and most of all the couple!

Congratulations Kathy and Carlos!

Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Wording – What’s In A Name?

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Shakespeare thing will make sense eventually, I swear

Today I’m going to talk about something that can be a source of unexpected drama when it comes to wedding invitations: names. Your names, your parents names, step-parents names, family names – you name it (ok, yeah…that one was bad, I admit it).

Last week we talked about the host line on a wedding invitation, as well as a little blurb on that important line that actually extends the invitation to your guest (ie. traditionally “the honour of your presence is requested” or “the pleasure of your company is requested”).

We did talk about names to some degree last week – proper titles (in fact we’ve got a whole post on this too!), whose name should be included, how to list names etc. Today we’re picking up where that leaves off and talking about names specifically.

In the words of William Shakespeare (from the play my high school English teacher called “full of smut”, Romeo and Juliet), “What’s in a name? That which we call a roseBy any other name would smell as sweet.” Billy Shakes does have a point here, how important is a name really?


When it comes to wedding invitations, you may be surprised.

First, let’s start with *your* names (yes, you – brides and grooms) – here’s some important thing to consider when figuring out how you want to word your invitation:

How formal your invite/event is will likely dictate how many of your names you may want to include. Having a casual wedding with a small guest list? “John and Jane are getting hitched – come celebrate with us” would probably suffice. But if you’re having a grand formal affair, you probably want to use your full names, including middle names – more along the lines of “The honour of your presence is requested at the wedding of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt to Jane Ann Katz”.

As we discussed last week, this is important because who is hosting does have bearing (at least traditionally) on how your names would appear on the invitation. If your parents are hosting their names should appear on the invitation, which means that technically your last name does not need to appear (since it’s already there, and you would hope that your friends and family know who belongs to who). So, in most cases this means that you would use both your first and middle name in that situation. If instead you are hosting yourselves, you have the choice of including your last names or not. Again, a smaller affair and you can probably get away with last names – a larger guest list and it’s probably safer to include your full names, so everyone is clear on exactly who is getting hitched.

What do your friends and family actually call you? Is it different from your real name, or full name? That’s definitely a consideration when it comes to invites. Let’s say that our good friend John Jacob has been called by his middle name his whole life (for whatever reason, and there are many) – while it might be tempting considering his extra-long moniker to leave our his middle name, that would be foolish. Why? The last thing you want is your guests to receive an invitation and wonder who the heck it’s from! What if you go by a name that isn’t part of your actual name, for whatever reason. A little bit more tricky, but often you’ll see this listed in quotation marks, like Rocco “Bob” Spano – again, if no one knows your real name is Rocco, it’s important to include the name that everyone is familiar with on the invitation. And what if you are having a super-formal wedding but hate your middle name and will cry every time you see the invitation if “Sheila” is on there? Relax…do what makes you comfortable. Hate your middle name? Don’t include it – easy peasy.

This may strike you as strange, but as a custom designer I deal with it all the time. Certain invitation designs can not be created or do not look good with certain names (usually a result of the length); so, especially if you are working with a designer, they may suggest that you add in your middle names, or take away your last names or adjust them in some way if possible, to allow for more design options or to make your chosen design look better. As an example, our friends John and Jane up there in our first example would be a designer’s nightmare, since his name is at least three times as long as hers! If you can be flexible about it, that’s great, but again – you need to be happy and comfortable with the way your names appear. After all, it is *your* wedding!

Some other things to keep in mind?

- The bride’s name traditionally goes first (yes ladies, its true!) in the western world; however, in some cultures the groom’s name is listed first. What should you do if you’re unsure which format to use – go with what feels right…or, choose a custom design that balances things out, like placing both on one line. For same-sex couples, the general rule is that names should go in alphabetical order; however, this is also affected by factors like hosting. For example, if John Adams and Jacob Zane are getting married and the Zane family is paying – Jacob’s name should be listed first, under his parents.

- If you have ethnic names but go by anglicized versions, which should you use? Truthfully, whatever makes you most comfortable, but remember that if the ethnic and English versions aren’t similar, you may need to include both to ensure that there is no confusion amongst your guests.

- Check spelling before you submit your wording and proofread carefully. I’ve heard numerous stories of bride’s spelling their fiancé’s name wrong and not realizing ’till after the invites were printed.

- Check with your parents! They aren’t just necessarily picky about their own names; in fact, they may have views on yours as well. You should at least hear them out, even if they *really* want you to use “Sheila” on your invite. You owe them that much, right?

Speaking of parents, not only do you need to deal with your own names on the invite, but you may need to deal with your parents (and multiple sets of parents at that).

Do me (and yourselves) a big favour and swear the following:

If our parents’ names are to be listed on our wedding invitation we solemnly vow to ask them directly exactly how they want their names to appear and how to spell them if we are at all unsure.

Seriously, make sure you know this information, or run the risk of some major family drama. And there is already enough opportunity for that, right?

And with that admonishment, we wrap things up for the Invitation Advisor this week.

Next week, it’s a subject wrought with controversy: How to write the date and time on your invitation.

Really, don’t miss it! ;)

Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Wording – How To Indicate Who Is Hosting

February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Among other things, this invite is completely missing a host line – if only that were the only issue…

I’m always looking for new topics to blog about, and after last week’s blog on how to properly use titles on an invitation or outer envelope it occurred to me that there are so many little things that I may have mentioned here or there on the blog that have never gotten their full due. So, I’m starting a bit of a series today on the small details when it comes to wedding invitation wording/etiquette – the details that I get the most questions about!

Wording is a big one, and while I’ve covered the topic broadly a few times, and provided a bunch of links (frankly, just ask Uncle Google to search for “wedding invitation wording” and you’ll come up with more resources than I could ever link on this blog!); but, I haven’t really looked at each part of a standard invitation individually. So…it’s about time, right?

And where do I always say is a good place to start? Why, the beginning, of course ;)

Traditionally speaking, the first line of a wedding invitation is the “host” line ie. who is doing the inviting (and traditionally who is doing the paying). While certainly you may see some kind of opening quote or statement before the host line, it’s the first important part of the invitation, and the part that may cause some confusion for couples these days.

Why? To put it simply, because times have changed. It used to be that in 95% of cases a bride’s family would host, and therefore there was no wondering how the invitation should be worded – it always began, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the honour of your presence at the wedding of their daughter…”, or something very similar. These days, there are SO many different possibilities (bride’s parents hosting, groom’s parents hosting, bride and groom hosting, all of the above, divorced parents, step-parents – it goes on) that it can be a daunting task to figure out how to word this part of your wedding invitation.

Here’s a quick rundown of both traditional and modern methods of tackling this conundrum…

Aside: As a bonus, I’ll throw in a quick discussion of  what comes after the hosts names. Generally speaking “request the honour of your presence” should be used for ceremonies taking place in a house of worship (church, synagogue etc.), while “request the pleasure of your company” can be used for ceremonies taking place in secular locations (ie. everywhere else). That said, there are many other ways of asking your invitees to join you, so unless you are having a very formal wedding or want very traditional wording, feel free to use different wording entirely!


First and foremost, it’s important to note that traditionally formal etiquette dictates that the “hosts” are the ones who are paying for the wedding. Period. For example, if the bride’s parents are hosting, there is technically no requirement for them to even list the groom’s parents names (if listed, their names should only appear under the groom’s name ie. “son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson”, unless they are contributing to the wedding itself).

Here are some examples of traditional wording for different scenarios:

Bride’s parents hosting – Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Jane Marie to Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson…

Groom’s parents hosting – Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of Jane Marie Smith to Jeffrey James Johnson…

Bride and Groom’s families both hosting – Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson request the pleasure of your company and the marriage of their children Jane Marie and Jeffrey James…

Bride and Groom hosting with both families – Jane Marie Smith and Jeffrey James Johnson together with their parents Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson invite you to celebrate their marriage…

Bride and Groom hosting – Miss Jane Marie Smith and Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson invite you to share in the celebration of their wedding…

Bride’s divorced parents hosting – Mr. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Thompson invite you to share in the marriage of their daughter Jane Marie to Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson…

Bride and Groom’s divorced parents hosting - Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Thompson together with Mr. Jack Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. Mark Adams request the pleasure of your company and the marriage of their children Jane Marie and Jeffrey James…

Honouring a deceased parent – Jane Marie daughter of Tess Smith and the late John Smith requests the honour of your presence as she joins in marriage Mr. Jeffery James Johnson son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson…

Phew…getting woozy yet? I could probably go on because there are so many more scenarios out there, but hopefully this is a good start on what a traditional/formal invitation host line would look like.


Because there has been such a renaissance in weddings in the past 15-20 years, these days anything goes when it comes to who is hosting. As more and more older couples are getting married, especially those who may already be living together and settled on their own, it has become much more common for couples to foot the bill for their own weddings, or to contribute towards it. And as mixed families are becoming more common as well, it becomes difficult to determine exactly who should be listed on the invitation – it’s not uncommon for four sets of parents to be involved in a wedding, and that can make for a very long and confusing invitation!

These days, I think that the idea that the host line needs to be very formal is relaxing a bit. I know with my own clients, many of them are hosting on their own or together with their families and this is often reflected in the wording of the invitation. Some have such complicated family dynamics that they feel it’s just much easier to say “together with their families” than to list each parent, step-parent etc.

As long as what you’re doing makes sense, feels right, and isn’t going to offend – then go for it!

Tip: Always ask all parents what they are most comfortable with when it comes to the invitation *before* finalizing your wording. I have had more than one frantic phone call from a couple after providing their final approval because their parents saw the invitation and were unhappy that they weren’t listed, how they were listed, where they were listed or…you get the idea.

Yes, it’s your wedding – but it’s a big day for your family too, so make sure you are being respectful of their feelings as well!

Okay, so we’ve talked about those first few lines – the host line, the request line – what’s next?

Why, more about names of course – too much to fit into this post, so next week we’ll talk about the bride and groom’s names as well as more about parent/host names and some of the pitfalls to avoid when wording your wedding invitation!

Oh, and before I forget, Happy Valentine’s Day <3

Invitation Advisor: What’s In A Name – Using Titles on Wedding Invitations and Envelopes

February 7, 2012 § 1 Comment


One thing that confuses a lot of our couples is how to use proper social titles on their wedding invitations, and especially when addressing their envelopes. So, today, let’s take on titillating and titular world of titling.

First things first – what the heck am I talking about when I say “titles”? I’m referring, of course, to things like Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Rev. and Viscount of Canterbury. Okay, so maybe the last one isn’t used very often, and the others are actually abbreviations of titles, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Before we dive in, there’s one other thing to mention. I’ve definitely blogged about the use of titles before (like in this post mostly ranting about “and guest”, or this one about addressing), and you may be wondering – why bother? Do I really need to use titles and make my life that much more complicated? The answer is no, of course you don’t NEED to – if you want to address your invitations using names only, go for it.

Just remember the magic phrase: does it fit the tone and level of formality of my event?

For those that *are* using titles, I present a healthy serving of useful info with a side of etiquette and a dollop of history – good times!

Let’s start with a fun history/etymology lesson, shall we?

The title “Mister” (or Mr.) was really originally “Master” (referring to the master or head of the household). The feminine version of “Master” is actually “Mistress” (Mrs.), but of course we now know that term to mean something else entirely than a man’s wife. Over time, the term mistress began to refer to a “paramour” or “kept woman”, so most respectable married woman stopped ever using the full title, and stuck with the abbreviation “Mrs.” And did you know that it’s never correct to call a woman “Mrs. Betsy Jones” (you’ll find out why later!).

Of course, the most common title we use socially are: Mr. (married man or bachelor), Mrs. (married woman), Ms. (general formal title for women, can refer to married or unmarried women) and Miss (unmarried woman). There are also academic, professional, religious and political titles as well, that may be used in social situations – such as Doctor, Reverend, Senator etc.

Aside: If you are really bored, you can check out the extensive (and I mean, extensive) Wikipaedia article on Titles. Also this Wiki on styles of address – really interesting actually!

Here are answers to some of the burning questions you may have about using titles:

How can I address invitations including the woman’s name in a married couple? I don’t like the idea of using the man’s name only?
This is a big one these days, and to be honest when it comes to etiquette there really isn’t a tidy solution. Traditionally you would refer to a married couple as “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith”, which I know really irks many young women out there who don’t appreciate being addressed as “Mrs. Husband’s Name”. And when you have so many women keeping their maiden name or both names, hyphenating etc., it gets even more complicated. I’ve had clients want to use things like “Mr. John and Mrs. Mary Smith” (wrong for a number of reasons) or “Mr. and Mrs. Mary and John Smith” (better, but still not right), but truthfully there is no formal, correct way of using both titles and names for a married couple. You could technically use “Mr. John Smith and Ms. Mary Smith”, similar to the way you would address them if a woman uses both last names, hyphenates or keeps her maiden name; or, you can do with more and more of my clients are doing – do away with the titles altogether and address them as “Mary and John Smith”. Yes, you read that right – in this case the woman’s name always goes first because the man’s first and last name should not be separated.

What if I don’t know a woman’s marital status?
Always use “Ms.” if you are unsure, as it works for pretty much anything (including divorced or widowed). Note that many married women use the title Ms. (including yours truly) and it is becoming more common these days to refer to all women as Ms. when addressing something to them directly (say for a bridal shower or similar situation). Why? Because technically speaking (by traditional etiquette rules) the title “Mrs.” should only be used in conjunction with a woman’s husbands name/last name, but never with her full name (because it really means “Mistress of”). So for instance, it’s technically correct to refer to me as Mrs. William Spano (ugh, not okay by me though to be honest) or Mrs. Spano, but never Mrs. Sarah Spano. But you can definitely call me Ms. Sarah Spano, and that’s what I call myself.

Aside: There are a number of etiquette experts (including Emily Post) who are now softening on the use of “Mrs.” when using a woman’s full name ie. “Mrs. Sarah Spano”. As traditional etiquette is followed less (or you) could say changing with the times), people are becoming both less aware of what is traditionally correct and also just care a lot less. Again, you know your guests and your event, so do what feels right.

What titles should I be using when addressing my guests? Professional, Military, Religious?

As a matter of etiquette, generally speaking you would use titles only for Doctors (which doesn’t mean just medical Doctors, but PhDs as well), members of clergy, military officials and political figures. Technically speaking, many people have titles (Chef, Captain, Chief etc.), but they usually are not used when addressing invitations. This is also true of professional designations or terms (CPA, Esquire etc.) – they should only be used on business correspondance. Ultimately, you know your own guests and what they prefer – when in doubt, it’s best to err on the formal side.

How do I address an invitation if one of both of  the couple are Doctors or Reverends?
The easy answer is that Doctor or Reverend “outranks” social titles, so they would be listed first (regardless if they are male or female) eg. Dr. Jane and Mr. John Smith, or The Reverend Mr. and Mrs. Michael Johnson (in this case “The Reverend” is used in addition to the social title, not replacing it as it does with “Doctor”). If both parties are Doctors or Reverends, you can use The Doctors Smith or Drs. Jane and John Smith and similarly The Reverends Johnson or The Reverend Mrs. Mary Johnson and The Reverend Mr. Michael Johnson.

How do I address an invitation to a same-sex couple?
The same way you would address any other unmarried or married couple with different last names – Mr. John Smith and Mr. Michael Johnson or Ms. Jane Smith and Ms. Mary Johnson. What if they are married and have the same last name – hyphenated or otherwise?  Then you can use the plural titles: Messrs. John and Michael Johnson and Mesdames Jane and Mary Smith.

How do I address someone who has two titles? A military doctor, a reverend who holds political office etc.?
Good luck with that! Kidding, kidding. Generally speaking in North America we don’t use multiple titles – you would either use the most current title or the highest “ranking” title. In Britain, as an example, they would tend to use both titles. The best thing to do is to do a search for the specific situation you’re dealing with, and you’ll likely come up with an answer! Just how many titles can you have? Well…the father of a friend of ours was technically a reverend, a military officer, a doctor and a judge. Luckily he wasn’t invited to our wedding – I don’t think that The Honourable Reverend Captain Doctor James Morgan would have fit on the envelope ;)

Still have questions? A great resource is author Robert Hickey’s blog (he’s from The Protocol School of Washington and has a book out called “Honor and Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles and Forms of Address”) – lots of great info on really specific situations!



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