How to Word Your Wedding Invitation

When you’re writing your wedding invitations, sometimes the wording can be the hardest part! Here I’ll break down the invitation into parts so we can put it together. Everything that I’m posting is the traditional etiquette. The modern rules are more lenient – and pretty much you can do whatever you’re comfortable with! I will cover the modern ideas on invitations in another blog post.

 General Wording Etiquette

  • No punctuation, except after titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr.)
  • Capitalize the beginning of the sentence, proper names, and titles – and nothing else.
  • The number of the date is spelled out; it follows the day and precedes the month (eg. Sunday, the fifth of June).
  • Spell out the year (eg. Two thousand and ten)
  • Spell out the times and refer to the clock (eg. Half after four instead of 4:30 p.m.; Four o’clock in the afternoon instead of 4:00 p.m.; Eight o’clock in the evening instead of 8:00 p.m.)
  • Use third person instead of first person (eg. “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” instead of “we”).

 Sample

Just to give you an idea of what the final product will look like, here’s a sample. I’ll take each line separately:

Line 1: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

Line 2: request the pleasure of your company

Line 3: at the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer, to Mr. Michael Johnson

Line 4: on Saturday, the fourteenth of September, two thousand and ten at four o’clock in the afternoon

Pine Street Lane Park, 123 Pine Street, Los Angeles, California

Reception to follow.

 Line one: Who hosts?

The host of the wedding is usually the primary financial contributor to the wedding, but this is not always the case. Traditionally, the bride’s family hosts. So line one would say Mr. and Mrs. Bride’s Father’s Name (eg. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith).

 Line two: How to invite?

The second line can be done a number of ways depending on the place of the ceremony and your personal taste.

 If the wedding is held in a religious place of worship, use “request the honor of your presence.” If the wedding takes place elsewhere, use “request the pleasure of your company” or “request the honor of your company.”

 The most formal traditional invitations do not use “your” in the wording, but leave a blank space to handwrite the name of the guest. For example, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the honor of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Murray’s presence. . . .” This is rarely done now, however.

 Line three: Who is getting married?

Obviously this should be the easiest part, but there are still a few ways to do this. Since it’s the bride’s parents who are hosting and inviting, the wording would be: “in the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer Anne, to Mr. Michael Johnson.”

 Line four and onward: When and where? What else?

Time goes first, then location. Then you can add in a line about the reception – but a reception card will be separate.

 So, bringing it all together:

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer, to Mr. Michael Johnson

on Saturday, the fourteenth of September, two thousand and ten

at four o’clock in the afternoon

Pine Street Lane Park, 123 Pine Street, Los Angeles, California

 Reception to follow.

 What about the reception information?

The reception information will be on a separate card. The only information that you need on the invitation is that a reception will follow.

 If you do not want children in attendance, instead of writing “Reception to follow,” specify “Adult reception to follow.” 

 Again, these are the traditions, not necessarily applicable to your particular situation.

~ Natasha

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How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What (Part II)

The last blog post I wrote was all about how to plan your wedding — from moment of engagement until the final steps. What I didn’t include were things to know for the day of and miscellaneous things that come up whilst planning your wedding. That’s what I’m going to do here!

For the Day

  1. Put other people in charge! Your wedding party and friends and family should be able to help you with some last minute things that need to happen. Also, be sure that you don’t forget any of the top 5 things people forget! This means that you should make sure you have things like safety pins, bandaids, and tissues. But also make sure someone takes care of your personal stuff (like your camera).
  2. Someone will need to: set-up the guestbook, give money to vendors (and be sure to tip the vendors!), transport flowers, hold emergency items, put out the favors, and place cards with the info on your online photo album website!
  3. Remember to EAT during the reception!
  4. Clean-up & Recycling. Make sure you put people in charge of cleaning up and/or recycling. This should be planned for in advance, but someone in the wedding party should make sure it gets done — especially if it’s not something the venue does for you. By the way, consider donating leftovers to a foodbank.
  5. Stay calm, have fun, and enjoy the moments! Here are some tips for staying calm & tips to make sure you enjoy every moment.

Miscellaneous Wedding Planning

I referred to some of these aspects of wedding planning in the Part I, but here’s everything compiled:

  1. Children-free weddings:
    1. whether to have children or not
    2. how to tell your guests that their children may not attend.
  2. Registries:
    1. what to do about wedding gifts (generally – for both you & the guests)
    2. tips on the gift registry
    3. how to tell people where you’re registered
    4. how to ask for gift cards or money instead of gifts
    5. how to deal with anonymous or unlabeled gifts
    6. what to do if you need to return or exchange a gift
  3. Wedding insurance
    1. All about wedding insurance
  4. Showers, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, Rehearsal dinners, Afterparty, Honeymoon: While this blog focuses on wedding planning, it’s important to think about these aspects of the pre- and post-wedding. Some families and friends assume that all five will take place. Others don’t find them necessary! You should do what YOU want!
  5. Staying together the night before: Consider whether you want to stay together the night before the wedding or not. Tradition says you should stay separately, but some couples find it more soothing to be with the love of their lives on one of the most stressful nights.
  6. Thank you notes
    1. when to send thanks especially when gifts come before the wedding date
    2. tips on writing thank you notes!
  7. Being charitable: How to get married AND be charitable at the same time!
  8. Wedding photos: Many times, the best part of the post-wedding is seeing the candid shots that your friends and family took. But a lot of times they’re all over the place on different websites. Make sure all your guests’ upload their photos into ONE online photo album! Give out the website info at the wedding, sign up in advance so The Wedding Lens can send reminder emails, and write the info into your thank you notes! Either way, make sure your photos are easily accessible, viewable, and downloadable!

Remember to check out our Green Wedding Tips and our Cheap Wedding Tips to help save your wallet & save the environment!

Still have questions? Email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com

~ Natasha

How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What! (Part I)

So you’re engaged… now what? That’s the beginning of the wedding planning process! A friend of The Wedding Lens recently got engaged and was asking questions about time frames. So here we go!

Because engagements take place for different lengths of time, I’m not going to specify how long before the wedding date you should do each action. But this is generally the ORDER of things. Where possible, I’ve linked to other related blog posts on the topic! (And here’s just a list of things to do for wedding planning, if you just want that) Also, be sure to check out our Cheap Wedding Tips and our Green Wedding Tips, both of which have great ideas to help you out during different stages of the planning process!

First Steps

  1. Create a budget! This means taking a list of everything that you know you’ll have to spend money on and deciding how much you can dedicate to each portion. Check out our Guide to Creating a Wedding Budget — which specifies which costs are fixed and which depend on the number of guests.
  2. Pick the wedding party. This seems early in the process right? True! But the wedding party can help you with the tasks that you’ll have to do. Pick early, they’ll help early!
  3. Divide tasks! After reading the rest of this blog post, you’ll get a full picture of everything there is to do: from marriage license to centerpieces.  Once you have that list, divide up the tasks however you see fit.

Things That Shouldn’t Wait

  1. Marriage license.  Every state has different rules on the time frame needed to apply for a license and to get married. Make sure you know what you need to do before you get too close to your wedding date!
  2. Find a venue, date, and officiant. This is sort of circular because you need the venue and the officiant to be available on the same date. But keep in mind that you may have to pick two venues — one for the ceremony and one for the reception. Just be sure they’re both available on the same date! Here’s how to pick a wedding date. Also, make sure you look at how to find a venue AND the questions you need to ask each venue. With officiants, think about whether you will have a religious officiant or a friend. Find out any state requirements if you want a friend or family member to officiate.
  3. Create the guest list. Sometimes it’s hard to limit the guest list, so consider having A lists, B lists, and C lists. Here are our tips for the guest list. Also, be sure to decide whether you want kids to attend or not.
  4. Themes/Styles/Colors. The earlier you select any themes, styles, or colors, the earlier you can get started with some of the other aspects of planning. After all those three aspects will impact the dress selections, the flowers selections, etc. Here’s some help on how to pick your color scheme.
  5. Wedding dress. The wedding dress should be purchased earlier in the planning process because it might need to be fitted several times. Depending on how long your engagement lasts, this should be done ASAP. Plus the bride will want her dress before the bridesmaids get theirs! Here’s how to choose  the right wedding dress and some ideas for colorful wedding dresses.
  6. Save the Date.  The save-the-date (or STD) should tell guests when & where you’re getting married. When should you send the save-the-dates? It depends on when you’re getting married, but generally, send them as soon as possible. If you are ordering save-the-dates that you want to look similar to your invitations, there are companies that give you package deals. Here is a timeline of when to send save-the-dates and when to send invitations. Here are some creative save the date ideas and how to address the save-the-dates.
  7. Order your online photo album from The Wedding Lens. By ordering your online photo album from The Wedding Lens early, you can start telling your guests where to upload photos AND you can include your engagement photos in the album or any other older photos to share your memories with your guests.
  8. Wedding website. Obviously put as much information on here as you can, but here’s what to include on your wedding website.
  9. Find vendors. This means finding vendors for everything you might want. Here is how to find the right vendors for you (and each category that follows links to a blog post that will help you narrow down what will be best for you in that area). Photographer (engagement photos and day of), videographer, florist (selecting flowers), caterer, DJ/band/music, bakery, wedding planner or day-of coordinator. Any other kind of vendors you might want (eg if you want to have wedding entertainment such as a photo booth, cigar bar, or silhouette artist) can usually wait a bit longer in the planning process.

Stuff That Can Wait a Little Bit

  1. Invitations! What goes inside, when to send, how to tell your guests that no kids can come, RSVP cards. Remember, there are specific rules on how to address invitations, so make sure you check those out (yes, there will be a blog post coming!)
  2. Attire: Groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen. Here’s everything related to helping you select wedding attire!
  3. Hair & makeup for the bride and bridesmaids, if you would like.
  4. Rings! Dont forget you both need to exchange rings on the day of the wedding. Here are some green tips on picking the rings.
  5. Decorating: flower arrangement (or alternatives to flower bouquets), centerpieces, plates/napkins/glassware, guestbook, favors, place cards, menu cards, cake toppers, chair rentals/chair covers, other entertainment)
  6. Guest-related: Accomodations, transportation, and out of town bags!
  7. Get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the perfect time in the planning process to get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens! When you share the information on accomodations & transporation with your guests, you can also share the link to the album and remind people to bring their digital cameras to your wedding. Plus people can start uploading old and new memories of you & your fiance(e)!
  8. Menu planning: buffet vs sit-down meal; alcohol – open bar, soft bar, signature drinks. Here are all things food & drink related to help guide you through this!

Final Steps

  1. RSVPs
  2. Ceremony planning: walking down the aisle, vows, readings — and whatever else you want to take place.
  3. Seating chart: who will sit where during the reception? Here’s how to create a seating chart!
  4. Music (song) selections for band or DJ, both during the ceremony and reception.
  5. Remind your guests to bring their cameras to your wedding day so they can capture memories for your online photo album.
  6. Planning the timeline: This means planning the timeline of who arrives where at what time, what order things occur, and who transports what where. It’s meant to be distributed so that everyone is on the same page about what’s going on.
  7. Programs: This lets your guests know what is going to happen & when! Here’s the information on writing your programs.

So that’s everything you have to do…. Next blog post will cover what comes up on the day of and any other last minute things and miscellaneous things you should be aware of! (Like gift registry, thank you cards, wedding insurance, things people forget, staying calm…. all coming up!) 

Good luck! Remember, if you have questions – email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

How To Tell Guests About Your Online Wedding Photo Album!

Guests can share their candid photos from your wedding! Photo from The Wedding Lens!

A friend from The Green Hanger Shop recently asked me about how couples can let their guests know about their online photo albums. After all, one of the easiest aspects of using The Wedding Lens is that you just enter in people’s email addresses and they get a notification (and reminders!) so that the couple doesn’t have to worry about contacting people individually.

Our friend, however, pointed out that not everyone has email! Grandma, for example, is definitely not techno-savvy enough to have email. But she does have a nice neighbor who can help her look at the photos online, if only she knew where they were! With that in mind, here’s how you can let your guests know about your online photo album:

  • Email: As I said, you just enter in the email addresses, The Wedding Lens sends invitations AND reminders!
  • Printed cards: Stylish mini business cards with your album URL and access code for your guests to take home from the wedding OR for you to include with thank you notes. This comes FREE with the Ultimate albums, but you can order it separately with Standard and Premium albums.
  • Thank you cards: Just include your album URL and access code as part of your thank you note. You can handwrite it in if you dont want to print cards for it.  
  • Programs or Name Cards: You can also include the album URL and access code somewhere that everyone can see it and bring it home with them: in the program or on the name cards. This obviously requires you to sign up for an album early so that you have that information in time for your printers!

Got other ideas? Let us know! We’re always looking for clever ways to help our happy couples let their guests know about their photo albums.

~ Natasha

Getting Your Wedding Guests There: Transportation!

Wedding Car photo from The Wedding Lens!

Depending on the type of wedding you’re having, and where, you may require your guests to do a bit of traveling. In most cases there are 3 times that transportation is necessary for your wedding guests:

  • from hotel to wedding ceremony site
  • from wedding ceremony site to wedding reception site (if in different locations)
  • from wedding reception site to hotel

While some of your guests may be locals and/or may have cars or rent cars, not everyone will do that — or be able to do that. Remember, going to a wedding is expensive! Sometimes people try to save money in whatever ways that they can. There are basically 3 options to resolve the transportation quandry:

  • rent a shuttle bus service or multiple cars to take care of your guests
  • organize a carpool where people with cars and pick up those without cars
  • give out cab numbers

Obviously renting a shuttle is the most expensive option, but it also alleviates a lot of stresses that guests have about attending weddings. The shuttle can pick up guests at the hotel, bring them to the venues, and return them home at the end of the evening. Be sure to rent the vehicles for at least one hour longer than you think you’ll need them; because of their own obligations, it may not be possible to make this change at the last minute.

Organizing a carpool requires a bit of coordination. If you decide to do this, ask someone who isn’t the couple getting married to figure it out. You can ask people whether they have a car to transport people (and the number of people) on the RSVP card. Or you can send out emails to guests later, as the date gets closer and people solidify plans. Be sure that if you are asking people to carpool that the guests stick together from hotel to ceremony, ceremony to reception, and reception to home again.

In terms of giving out cab numbers, I think that even if you do the above, you should ALWAYS have cab numbers on hand. Put a stack of business cards by the door at the reception. Have the information on your wedding reception invitation and on your wedding website. Put cab numbers everywhere! Why? Because sometimes a guest has more to drink than they intended and they just can’t (and shouldn’t!) drive. The more available cabs are, the more likely you are to avoid someone getting in their car to try to “make it home.” So just avoid that and give out cab numbers everywhere.

What will you do? Happy transporting!

~ Natasha

All About Wedding Music!

When planning your wedding, you’re probably thinking a little bit about music. There are several different times you should be thinking about… and several different options (as always!).

Couple dancing to their live band! Photo from The Wedding Lens

Times for music.

  1. During the wedding, most people have some type of music playing.
  2. At the reception, people play music — some for ambiance while eating and some for dancing.
  3. If the wedding and reception are at the same location, sometimes people have music for a cocktail hour.

Types of music

  1. Live: solo, small ensembles, bands. You can have a solo or small ensemble to play classical music during the ceremony. Some people also like to have a live band perform the top hits (or classic oldies) during the reception. It creates a different kind of ambiance than just a DJ.
  2. DJ. A DJ can play whatever you want — and leave out what you don’t want! If you are having trouble creating a full list of songs that you want the DJ to play, consider instead giving the DJ a “do not play” list. That way, you make sure that song you hate doesn’t accidentally get played! You can also control whether the DJ will take requests or not. If you’re on a budget, a DJ is often less expensive than the live band.
  3. Playlist (created by you!). Creating a playlist takes some time to put together. And it requires knowing a bit about technology — both so you can create the playlist and ensure that it gets played at the venue! This is obviously most cost-effective, assuming you have the technology and the time.

Remember, you don’t have to have music at any point and you can mix & match. Some people might want recorded music for the ceremony (via a playlist), but a DJ to control the music at the reception. Do what works best for you! Just be sure that you think carefully about the music: the type, the words, and the overall ambiance you want to create during each part of the wedding day.

What kind of music will you have at your wedding?

~ Natasha

Wedding Question: When to Send Thanks?

 
 

A Sample Save the Date from Wedding Paper Divas!

 I am getting married later this year, but we’re already getting some of the gifts we registered for! Should we send thank you notes now, or wait until after the wedding?

Good question! First of all, thank YOU for writing thank you notes!

The “rule” is that you should send a thank you note as soon as you receive a gift. That way, there’s not a lot of time that passes between the gift giving and the thanks — which is very much appreciated by the gift givers! Plus, this will make it so much easier on you. You won’t have a billion thank you notes to send at one time if you stay on top of the thank you cards.

Also note: you should handwrite the cards! Don’t use pre-printed thank you cards. It’s not thoughtful and it shows less gratitude.

Remember to check & re-check who sent the gift; the last thing you want is to thank the wrong person for the gift!

Also, if you’re looking for what to write in a thank you note: greet the guest, express gratitude for the specific gift, give an example of what it will be used for, and thank them for attending or for thinking of you. Wedding Paper Divas suggest that if you do not like the gift, say something like “Thank you! I will think of you everytime I use it.” Just remember, someone spent money on you and that is very kind!

Hope this helps!

~ Natasha