Invitation Etiquette

7.21.2011

By Marc Friedland

July 25th begins a new chapter. Not only on gay couples enjoying equal marriage rights in New York, but a new chapter in the etiquette books on the ins and outs of gay wedding ceremonies. Whether straight or gay, etiquette is one of those curious, elusive codes for social behavior that were developed to provide one with a rule book on good manners.

A Matter of Style
Etiquette really comes down to matters of style. Just as different cultures celebrate life's moments differently, the same applies to individuals within a culture or community. So first and foremost, once you've decided to tie the knot, how you'll be announcing the exciting news to your family and friends becomes a very personal and individualized communication. Based on your style, it could be traditional, modern, or whatever captures you and your betrothed in a way as unique as your relationship. I think initially many will look to how it's been done by straight couples and emulate their traditions. Others will chart a new course, pushing the envelope, so to speak, just to make a point.

Invitation Wording
By and large it will be the couple themselves who will be throwing the wedding, so the invitation will more than likely be coming from the two getting married. In my 20-plus years in this business, with nearly 2 million invites that have come across my desk, I've seen almost every conceivable permutation of invitees. Yet regardless of what the 'blue book' says, what always seemed to be the best etiquette is wording one's invitation with authenticity.

Here are some examples:

Because the invitation is coming from the couple, I suggest listing names in alphabetical order.

Sam Brown and John Smith

 

cordially invite you to join them

as they exchange vows

in a celebration of marriage

If the invitation is coming from one set of parents and you want a more formal wording, you include either the parents hosting the wedding, such as:

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown

 

request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their son

Samuel Edward Brown

to

John Smith

son of

Mr. and Mrs. Harold Smith

You could also consider the use of honorifics (Mr., Ms., Dr. etc.) in the above example; however, the use of the word 'Miss,' may seem old fashioned and not truly representative of a modern couple in their late 30s or 40s. Similarly, the use of the title 'Ms.' may feel too corporate and impersonal.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brown

 

request the pleasure* of your company at the marriage of their son

Mr. Samuel Edward Brown

to

Mr. John Smith

son of

Mr. and Mrs. Harold Smith

* For those thinking they are being fancy and want to use the phrase 'request the honor of your presence,' keep in mind that this is the one that the etiquette books clearly state is used when the ceremony is in a church or place of worship.

In cases where couples want to be inclusive of both families and may be children of divorced, remarried, or any combination thereof of family structures, one solution I often suggest is:

Together with our families

 

we invite you to join us in celebration

as we celebrate the momentous occasion of our wedding

June 17, 2008

Central Park Boathouse

Central Park

New York City

Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This version is also great should the couple have children. But if you want to make it even clearer and more personal, here is an example that is simple and inclusive, and captures the essence perfectly:

Please join us for an afternoon in the garden

 

as we celebrate the momentous occasion of our wedding

in the company of our children, family, and dearest friends

Saturday, the fifth of July

Two Thousand Eleven

Eleven o'clock in the morning

Kelly Adams and Linda Carmichael

Wattles Mansion

Hollywood, California

Helpful Hints
' Use a favorite quote or lyric to set the tone of your celebration

If you are planning a destination wedding, pick a date that's not a holiday weekend. While your family and friends may love you dearly, they may not always desire to use their vacation time for a wedding. (Unless of course you are planning the special weekend in St. Barts and all expenses are paid!)

' Be sure to include something about attire. A well-informed guest is a happy guest! If you're calling for 'Black tie,' then state it. I'm not a fan of 'Black tie optional' or 'Black tie preferred,' as you'll wind up with your guests wearing a hodgepodge of attire, which isn't the best for your wedding album photos.

' If you are registering, don't include this on the actual invitation. Instead you could include a small insert or simply let your guests know verbally. If you chose not to want gifts, simply state 'No gifts, please' or 'Your presence is our present.'

' Include an RSVP card for guests to respond. The use of e-mail for RSVP's is not the most elegant for your special day. (In fact, kindly put -- it's tacky!)

' E-invitations have their place, but not for inviting guests to the special day. If you are having a shower among friends, then definitely check out the options on Evites.com. There are many templates for same-sex celebrations.

' A designed invitation deserves a well-dressed envelope. Even the most simple of invitations looks luxurious when addressed with hand-done calligraphy. For same-sex couples, each name goes on its own line and are usually done alphabetically. If you are inviting an unpartnered friend, it's always considerate to include 'and guest.'

' To make the envelope even more individualized and personal, you can always customize the stamp too at Stamps.com.

' So as we all prepare for an exciting new chapter in the adventures of modern romance, saying 'we're getting' married has never had so many options.

Marc Friedland is the author of Invitations by Marc Friedland (Clarkson Potter), and founder'creative director of Creative Intelligence Inc. He has created events for A-list celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Timbaland, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Quincy Jones,Tom Hanks, and John Travolta. Marc has been commissioned worldwide to design and create the ultimate in invitations and event branding. He is available to answer your questions at [email protected].

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