I’m pretty well acquainted with a particular wedding invitation designer and calligrapher whose eyes roll right back into her head at the first breath of “request the pleasure of your company…”. The thing is – it’s not a phrase anyone would ever breathe, or even dream of saying out loud. If you’re having a party, you tell your friends in person: “we’re having dinner & drinks at mine for New Year – would you like to come?” The only place we seem to use the horribly stilted “request the pleasure of your company” is on wedding invitations. And not the fun, exciting ones.
Google ‘wedding invitation wordings’ for inspiration and an overwhelming number of options pop up. People you don’t know on the internet have very kindly written infinite versions of “request the pleasure of your company” to accommodate divorced parents, couples hosting their own day, and goats.
If only the variations on all of these prescribed wordings were a little more relaxed, fun, personal and creative, right?!
Brides and grooms still come to me with a variation on the standard “request the pleasure of your goat” kind of scenario. Sometimes it’s because we actually like the whole etiquette thing, and enjoy the playacting of doing weddings formally. But more often, it’s because we’re stuck in a rut of looking online for how to do things. We think there’s a particular way wedding invitations “should” be worded. We don’t want to get it wrong, or forget something vital, so we start with a template about goats and adapt it to our day.
Which gives us a very traditional (yaaaaawwwn!) wedding invitation wording along these lines:
Mr. & Mrs. A & B Smith
Request the pleasure of your company
for the marriage of their daughter
Allison Bryony Claire Smith
Mr. Daniel Edward Fox
at Goats Hall, Laurel Street, Holmrook, Kent CT12 3IJ
on Saturday the 22nd of July two thousand and eighteen at 3 o’clock in the afternoon
Dinner and dancing to follow
RSVP by 11.12.2018
There are so many things wrong with this, I’m going to enjoy ripping the wording apart in the hope that you’ll be inspired to do the same, and write something genuine instead!
- Mr. & Mrs.
For starters, the dots are wrong. It should be Mr & Mrs because the dots only appear if a letter is missing from the end of a word.
But just as importantly, how many of your friends and family know your parents as Mr & Mrs? Aren’t they just Karen & Dave? It all sounds very 1940s if you ask me…
- Request the pleasure…
This is just dull. If you insist on it, then please don’t use a capital R – that’s just your spellcheck on your computer assuming you’re starting a new paragraph. You’re actually carrying on a sentence so you only need a little r here.
And do you ever say “I request the pleasure” in real life? No – because you’re not from 1875. So think of words which sound natural today and consider using those instead – like a real person.
- Allison Bryony Claire Smith
So many people include their full names, including middle names their friends don’t even know and their family had forgotten about. Why? Talk about cringe… And if your friends know you as Allie, don’t suddenly change your name just because you’re sending wedding invitations. Think about it – it’s a little odd.
- to Mr. Daniel Edward Fox
So unless your intended is a diplomat or something, drop the Mr. It’s not the 1930s, no one has called him Mr. outside of a doctor’s waiting room in like, ever. [teachers excluded. Sir.]
Including his surname here is unnecessary clarification if you ask me. Surely the folks you’re inviting to your wedding know which Daniel you’re getting married to… unless he’s known as Dan. Your names are what people call you – so to sum up: no Mr, no middle names, no surnames needed.
And he’d prefer it if you omitted his middle name too. Cheers!
- at Goats Hall, Laurel Street, town, county, postcode…
Honestly, do you really need all of this on your invitation? It’s beginning to look cluttered. We’ve all got Satnav or Streetview so just include the basics: the venue name and county should be fine!
If you must include the address and postcode there’s a better place for it (tell you later!)
- on Saturday the 22nd of July two thousand and eighteen at 3 o’clock in the afternoon
Oh my goodness, this is my favourite bit to demolish. Firstly, do you really need to include the year? Is anyone actually going to wonder if you’re sending your invitations out more than 12 months in advance? No!!! So drop the 2018 foolishness for starters. For god’s sake, don’t write out the year in full especially if you’re using numbers elsewhere. (If you insist on saying ‘two thousand and eighteen’ you should also say ‘the twenty-second’ and ‘three o’clock’ – to be grammatically consistent.) You don’t really need the weekday either – any idiot can check what day the 22nd of July is.
Then there’s the whole 3 o’clock thing. I actually think the format is nice – it’s a little old fashioned written down, but when we speak we say ‘o’clock’ so it’s ok to include it here. But before you add ‘in the afternoon’ ask yourself how many of your guests might turn up at the other 3 o’clock by mistake. You probably don’t need to specify that, then! Oh! And don’t think putting pm is a better option. It’s pointless – and if we’re being picky it would need to be ‘p.m.’ to replace those missing letters (‘ost’ and ‘eridiem’).
So what’s the alternative to ridiculously worded, stuffy and dull wedding invitation wordings?
Being genuine. Sounding like yourselves.
You don’t have to send out a quirky invitation on a 7″ vinyl and follow it up with a rock ‘n’ roll festival wedding. Whether your day is informal or following a few traditions, you can still send friendly wedding invitations to your nearest and dearest.
I could suggest wordings – but to be honest, I’d be such a hypocrite if I did!
All I can say is if I were writing my own wedding invitations I’d want them to sound like we’d written the words ourselves. “We’re getting married and we’d love it if you could come…” strikes me as nice!
We’d also get a wedding website and put all of the extra information on there. There’s nothing more annoying than lots of flappy bits of paper for accommodation, taxis, local kebab shops and illustrated maps from the airport to the church…
Calligraphy: By Moon & Tide | Photographer: Jess Petrie | Creative Direction & Styling: Nina Marika | Cake Designer & Headpieces: Amy Swann | Paper Flowers: Comeuppance | Flowers: Swallows and Damsons | Hairstylist: We Are Laundry | Makeup Artist: Tina Brocklebank | Bride’s Dresses: Claire Pettibone | Bridal Salon: The White Room | Shoes: Rachel Simpson