Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Some may say I have a tendency to exhibit what a generation who grew up on Friends have come to term as ‘Monikaisms.’ It’s ok; I’m self aware. I own my OCD tendencies!…One of which was revealed to my fiancé during the invitation ordering process. And oh, he found out, what a process it was!

Now wait! Before you think I’m some obsessive, stationary perfectionist let me say this: if ever I were to be an obsessive stationary perfectionist it would be with this! After all they are my wedding invitations!

And there are just sooo many things that I see on people’s wedding cards that make me cringe…it’s like everyone in the South Asian Community gets wedding invitation etiquette wrong! Don’t you know there are rules? And invitation etiquette rules are not meant to be broken! (Serious face!) Oh the hours I spent consulting Martha Stewart and Emily Post on this issue…and I know, I must confess, that I wouldn’t get an A from them on my wedding invitations. There are just some aspects I couldn’t perfect because of the type of wedding it is, and the times we’re living in…below you’ll find explanations of what I learned in this process and what I had to live with. (Sigh!)

1. Mr. and Mrs.
So, this is a point that took hours of googling. What is the proper way of writing Mr. and Mrs. if the parents are hosting the event? Is it “Mr. and Mrs. Ali and Alina Hussain request the”…? Or does that not look funny because Ali is next to Mrs? Maybe its “Mr. Ali Hussain and Mrs. Alina Hussain request the…” ? But doesn’t that look like the couple is divorced? What about “Mr. and Mrs. Ali Hussain request the…”? Ok….but where is the woman’s name in this, all she gets is a Mrs to represent her identity?! This was the dilemma I was dealing with and the answer that I got was not what I wanted. Apparently, according to proper invitation etiquette, the Martha Stewart and Emily Posts of the world, the correct way to write the invitation is by simply writing Mr. and Mrs. and then the husband’s name..any feminizing (aka bringing this into the 21st century) would fall outside the realm of proper etiquette. The husband’s name is seen to “shield” the wife’s name from public view and protect her under his identity…archaic yes. Which is why I couldn’t NOT write my amazing, entrepreneurial, matriarch of a mother-in-law’s name out on my card! (The way my mother’s name was written is a different story – see point 2). So, in this area we opted to screw etiquette and embrace equality.

2. Proper forms of address on invitations when a parent is deceased.
Because my dad, god bless him, is no longer with us, the way we had to write out his name on the card was tricky. Typically the Bride’s parents host the wedding (although that too is different as we have 3 different days in our celebrations!) as per the above “Mr. and Mrs. So and So request the honour of your presence….” However, if one parent is deceased, you can’t exactly have a dead person inviting you to a party 😦 Yet, it was still very important to me to have my dad’s name on the card. So instead I had to write “The honour of your presence is requested at the marriage ceremony of…” Then my name was underneath, and underneath that it said “daughter of Rizwana Zaki and the late Ghias Mahmud Zaki.” When someone is deceased you’re supposed to drop all titles, hence I didn’t write Mr and Mrs with their names.

3. Honour vs Pleasure.
I learned that “requests the honour of your presence” is only used when the ceremony is taking place in a place if worship, otherwise, it’s “requests the pleasure of your company” if the ceremony is anywhere else…but this is another area where I decided, despite the fact that its technically incorrect, to go against the etiquette. I just felt that honour of your presence sounded more formal, and hey, isn’t God in your heart so isn’t it always an honour? 🙂

4. The dates.
Date information may never be conveyed with actual numbers; it’s always to be written out in words. Your invitation should not look like an elementary school math test.

5. The address.
The address cannot go on one line! It’s the venue name, underneath that the street address (this can be conveyed in numbers) which is followed by the city and province. No postal code.

6. The RSVP info.
Oh this part took forever! Here’s why: typically, non-South Asians will politely enclose an addressed, pre-postaged RSVP card asking for the number of guests, and sometimes even dietary restrictions! Brown people don’t do that! Why? Because people in our culture typically never RSVP; they just show up, and that too with the number of people they desire :s And secondly, if we started mailing out pre-postaged RSVP cards to our 500+ guests, that would drive up costs like crazy.
That said, me being me, it bothered me that we weren’t following this etiquette. And so I googled and googled and what I found was news to my ears. I learned that traditionally there was no such thing as a separate pre-postaged RSVP card. That in fact, your guests would be insulted if you assumed they didn’t know how to properly acknowledge the receipt of your invitation – which would be with a hand written reply. Traditionally, the RSVP info (who to reply to and by when) would be written in very small font in the bottom left hand corner of the invitation. And this whole business of sending a separate RSVP card is what the tradition evolved into. Yay! Hence the bottom left corner is what we’re doing – clearly more cost effective too. We’re also including our wedding website info in that corner, because again, it’s 2013 and the Internet exists now.

7. No boxed gifts please.
Oh I know. Trust me I know. We might as well have written “no children, please”. (I wish). The etiquette goddesses would be appalled. It’s simply rude, seeing as it looks like you’re asking your guests for money. Well, the truth is, we don’t want the re-gifted crap that we know all of the aunties would throw our way. And so, we did it. We wrote it on our card. And hey, it’s not really saying we want money…it’s just saying we don’t want your re-gifted punch bowl. Right? 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Wedding Invitation Etiquette

  1. mystery_ha says:

    Safa I am in love with your blog, very helpful planning my wedding coming up soon in montreal!.. I was curious to ask, despite the fact you wrote “No boxed gifts please” how many did you still end up getting

  2. Umm Bilal says:

    Congrats dear Safa, and others commenting, although its been a while since your nuptials. But see your blog is still helpful in 2015 too! Anyway I just wanted to comment that “No boxed gifts” is become quite the norm lately, i see it on all the invitations now, and also “No children” is not that rare either. But if you address the invitees as Mr & Mrs, it is obvious kids are not included, unless it said Mr & Mrs and family.

  3. ANAM says:

    HI Safa,

    How did you end up writing “no boxed gifts” on the card? Did people RSVP properly for your wedding and did you have a few no shows or more people who weren’t invited come?

    Do you have a copy of your Barat invitation card?

    Your blog has been the most helpful way ever for me to plan my own wedding!

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

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