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Wedding Invitation Wording

Wedding Invitation Wording
By Joanne Elliott

couple photo There is a long history to the social wedding invitation as we know it today. Whilst selecting the format of your wedding invitations, why not remember the following helpful historical information…

The history of social invitations
The trend of using invitations to invite select people to elitist social events began somewhere just before the 18th century. High society and aristocracy in England and France - including Kings, Queens, Dukes, Duchesses, Lords, and Ladies - would invite peers to their social events with written announcements on cards. These cards were written by their ‘people’, such as the wife, butler or the secretary. Paper was an expensive resource, and the ability to write was seen as a prestigious sign of education. The use of studied calligraphy and penmanship was a work of art by today’s standards, and even after the invention and inception of the mass market printing press it was still deemed socially ‘correct’ to hand write the invitation.

Traditional Wedding Invitation Wording
Traditional wording on invitations was actually very similar to the wording which is commonly used today. Everything was spelled out:

  • Place
  • Date
  • Time
  • Venue
  • Venue address
  • Hosts/ Hostess names
  • Bride/ groom full names
  • Contact details for the bride/ groom, or host/ hostess
  • RSVP
  • The name of the guest.

The main difference in modern wedding invitations compared to traditional is that the invited persons name is not usually printed on initially - it is usually written on later.


In the 18th century the invitation would be placed in a handmade envelope and sealed with hot wax imprinted with the family crest. Servants were then made to deliver the letters as there was no postal service. Now because this task was completed on horseback in all weathers, there became a need for an ‘outer envelope’. This not only protected the invitation, but was used to write directions for the servants. For example “Travel one day north to Newcastle. There, cross the stone bridge and proceed past three farms until you see the stone entrance marked ‘Williamson’. Remove this covering, and give the invitation to the doorman. Wait there for a response and make a note of same”.

Tissue paper
The use of tissue within the presentation of an invitation links to the printing process in the 13th century. Because ink took time to dry, sheets of protective tissue were laid between the paper to protect it from smudging. The printing press was taking off into popularity with the upper echelons of European society, and so the tissue paper was also put into the envelope to show that they had been using the latest fascinating technology. The inclusion continues to this day.

Engraving and calligraphy
Because the mass market conveniences of the printing press quickly became distasteful to the aristocracy and upper classes, a new printing process was necessary. Lithography produced sharp and distinctive inking, where as engraving very much emulated hand writing because copper plates are made by hand. To this day the engraved invitation is still the most prestigious form of writing on an invitation, although the technical printing process has obviously developed since then!
To get the finest effect possible, you must hire a calligrapher to hand write each invitation and address envelopes. This is sheer indulgence in its most luxurious form.

Also see: Cheap Wedding Invitations

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