Invitation Etiquette

If you consult Webster’s, you will find that the definition of etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary convention norms within a society, social class, or group. Crane & Co., experts in the stationery business since the American Revolution, defined etiquette as the body of rules of social conduct that tells us what our society considers proper and acceptable behavior with its foundation being common sense.

Etiquette can apply to many scenarios: business, social, wedding, dining, and the list can go on and on. In our line of work, one question we hear from almost every single bride is, “How do I word…” or “How should I handle…”. Our take on it is that while things have been lax due to casualness, etiquette is a guideline that essentially gives us a commonality and removes all doubt as to what is proper and what is not.

William Arthur letterpress invitation & envelope in taupe

When designing invitations it is often the questions we aren’t asked that are most important such as when to abbreviate. It is a relatively simple answer: Except for “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” and “Dr.,” abbreviations should never be used. This includes commonly abbreviated words such as “apartment,” state {such as Alabama vs. AL} and even “junior.”

Any family knows that there are plenty of emotions involved with the planning of a wedding – especially if the bride and groom are dealing with divorced parents and their spouses. Often times, brides find themselves balancing necessity with concern over everybody’s feelings. If you find yourself in this situation etiquette might become your best friend.

Response Card

Traditionally, one should respond to a wedding invitation by handwritten note {written or typed} on a folded letter sheet. However, response or reply cards have become more and more acceptable with many stationery brands selling them within their suites. Response cards should provide a space for not only the guest’s name as well as the option to either accept or decline the invitation. There should be no space on the card for “number of guests” attending as this gives the impression that the guest is welcome to invite others to the wedding. The response card will be sent within the response envelope. This envelope will be pre-printed with the name and address of the person to whom the response is being sent, and a postage stamp must always be affixed.

Photo courtesy of Crane & Co.

Before the time of the post office, invitations and mail alike were delivered by men on foot. Because of the occupation, the man’s hands were often dirty and soiled thus ruining any correspondence he delivered. Many families avoided the embarrassment of a guest receiving a soiled invitation by assembling the invitation within two envelopes. The following protocol was adopted and is still in place today:

The invitation and enclosure cards are placed in the inner envelope according to size. The invitation is first with the largest enclosure placed face up, on top {not inside} of the invitation.  Then place the next largest, and so on. The typical order is invitation, reception card, reply envelope {face down}, and reply/response card. Each enclosure should be placed face up except for the reply envelope. The invitation should be placed left margin at the bottom of the envelope. {A right-handed person should be able to read the invitation upon removal}

Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market is proud to provide a full line of stationery of designers such as Crane & Co., William Arthur, Prentiss Douthit, Cid Pear, and many more! We hope that you will stop by our store  so that we can help you with any of your invitations, personalized stationery, or personalized items such as napkins, koozies, or favors!

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