The Top 5 Etiquette Mistakes in Invitations

Invitations are the No. 1 wedding category where traditional etiquette still holds true to old-world standards of what's proper and what's not. They arrive in all of your guests' mailboxes as the big announcement of your big day, and they convey so much more than the actual words you have printed on them. The list of invitation-wording rules is long (such as 'no abbreviations' and use 'honour' instead of 'honor' only if you're marrying in a house of worship), so we've listed the top 5 etiquette mistakes to help you avoid the biggest offenses that guests and parents take really seriously.

1. Not listing the parents' names when they're paying for the wedding. Yes, we know it can be difficult to get multiple sets of parents' names on an invitation when you have divorced and re-married parents in your inner circle, but that's why they invented tri-panel invitations. When parents are planning for all or part of the wedding - even if you're kicking in the majority of cash - they should have their names on the invitation. It means a great deal to them. So if you're worried about having enough space on your invitation for all of those names - which can be up to six lines in some cases! - choose a tri-fold invitation that allows you to devote a whole panel to the honor of listing them. It also helps some guests recognize who you are if they're among your parents' colleagues, friends, and others from the guest list.

2. Not conveying the formality with your wording. Guests want to know if this will be a formal wedding so that they know how to dress. Even with today's more relaxed standards when it comes to wording invitations - some couples wish to be more conversational and more 'them' in their invites - it's a mistake to go too casual with your wording. Save that for the pre-wedding parties, showers, bachelorette's party invitations, and wedding breakfast invitations. The wedding invitation is still a place for formal wording rules if you'll have a formal wedding.

3. Misspelling a guest's name, or not including their title, on the envelope. Yikes, there's just no excuse for that! Check with parents and other friends to make sure you have the correct spelling, all of their kids' names (they may have had a baby in the years since you saw them last) if the kids are invited, and honor their title if they are a judge, doctor, captain, military servicemember, pastor, and so on. You can call them directly to check - they love it that you respect the position they've attained in life.

4. Putting gift registry information on the invitation. That's a big Don't. Registry information can go on your personalized wedding Web site and in shower invitations, but never on wedding invitations...not even informal ones. You can enclose a card with your wedding website, though. They'll find out your registry info along with their travel and hotel info.

5. Putting 'And Guest' when the recipient is in a long-term relationship or is engaged. Again, this is a research thing. Find out the names of your guests' guests - you can call them directly if you have never known their significant other's name, or ask a friend or relative for the info. It's a gracious move that is the essence of good invitation etiquette.

Sharon Naylor is the author of The Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette. Ask Sharon your etiquette questions on iVillage Wedding's Ask the Etiquette Expert message board.

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