How do you make sure guests don't get confused by your offbeat ceremony invitation?

Updated Oct 12 2015
Invitation Folders
Thanks to The Steampunk Bride for uploading photos of her invitation folders to our Flickr pool!
As the person in my family who majored in college as an event planner and a huge advocate of offbeat events in general, I was recently approached by a family member who received an invitation to an offbeat ceremony.

While the invitee was thrilled to be invited, the question arose… what is this event? Wedding? Elaborate costume party? Dinner theater? Nowhere on the invite was it specified. This led to lots of concerns over attire, gifts, and what was expected of them as a guest.

So my question is, with offbeat invites, what is the best way to make sure your guests aren't confused about the event they're attending? -Amelia

  1. This is going to sound silly, but just make sure you've said WEDDING somewhere on the invitation. Or "getting married."

    We've been hunting for save-the-dates, and a lot of them just say stuff like "Save the Date!" and then give you space for your names and the date/location. We've been eliminating them from our list of possible designs because there's no, "We're getting married!" or "Please save the date for the wedding of …"

    • This amuses me because I've been searching specifically for Save the Dates that don't say "We're getting married." But only because we're having weddinged ceremony 4 years after we got legaled.

      • I agree! Most STD's mostly say "we're getting married" or "save the date" with the date of the ceremony. But what about those people who got legaled and want a ceremony after or not legaled but still acknowledge their union as a marriage? In my stationery, I state wording such as "Celebrating our Union" or "Always and Forever" something like that so its unique but not freakin' cheesy or boring like "save the date" LOL.

    • We explicitly didn't use "wedding" or "marrage" on any invites or announcements, mostly because it amused us both greatly and we found wording that suited the event.

      We were a little concerned distant family members who we haven't seen in a number of years would ask what was happening but noone seems to be confused. I had one friend asked why we hadn't said "wedding" on the invite and if I was opposed to weddings (I pointed out that if I was opposed to weddings I probably wouldn't have one). Apparently my grandmother thought the invite was hilarious- so I count that as a win.

      • Would love it if you would share the wording you came up with that didn't include wedding and marriage.
        Thanks, Crystal

        • Hey Crystal,

          Here are some that I've created that does not include wedding and marriage. If you would like something a bit more specific to you, hit me up on my email and I will be glad to hook you up. 🙂

          1. What began with our parents
          Continues as two families become one,
          Your Name & Love's Name
          With joyful hearts our families invite you
          to celebrate our loving union on…

          2. The honor of your divine presence is called upon by the families of
          Your Name & Love's Name
          while they seal their love and commitment to each other on …

          3. Two souls will join together in harmony and love,
          With laughter, love and good times under the stars above,
          Your presence is requested for the loving union of
          Your Name & Love's Name
          on…

          4. Celebrate our union in the oneness of Passion and Love,
          Your Name & Love's Name
          We are now One because of You,
          Please enjoy our story of love and commitment on….

          Anyone else can feel free to use any of these as well or if you need more help in coming up with something of your own, holla at me.

          • I love the 2 line "under the stars above" poem, especially because our wedding is going to have an astronomy sci-fi underlying theme to it (with some Doctor Who details and a real telescope). Thank you for your permission to use it. I'll be handwriting the invitations so this would only go out to English speaking guests, but it is beautiful! We also love books and will be using them as part of the centerpieces so I was thinking of adding a literature reference, something along the lines of "a new chapter in our lives" or "new adventure to our story". Any ideas?

          • Hi Rita! Sure.. by all means use any of the wording above you like 🙂 And I love the literary reference.. maybe you can say something like: "With new chapter in our lives, we are elated (thrilled, enamored, blessed–whichever word you like best here) to have you by our sides." If you need any other help, feel free to email me. I'm glad to help! 🙂

  2. I agree with Kyla, there's nothing wrong with being specific at least If i had received an invite Id know exactly what was what and could respond accordingly.
    Take care all

  3. Yep, include specific wording. Our save-the-dates said, "Save the date! Emmy and James are getting married!" Invitations said, "Emmy and James invite you to their wedding." And announcements, which were sent after the wedding, said, "Parents are pleased to announce the marriage of Emmy and James."

    I'm a writer working in communications, so clear wording is essential to me. I like good design, but it should never obscure clarity.

    • We're doing a test-print of our invitations today. Our wording is boring but to-the-point, and dead-centre on the front of the card is "WEDDING INVITATION".
      We've been engaged for 2.5 years now, so anyone who doesn't know we're getting married shouldn't really be on the guest list, I suppose…

  4. I agree with all the previous comments on clear wording.

    I would also add that there's magic in having an "explanation insert". I've seen friends add a little page to the invite (similar to a page with directions/registry/etc.) that clarifies that the couple is excited to celebrate their marriage with an "insert theme here" party, and then they specified if guests should dress in costume, bring a dish, bring a nerf gun, whatever it was. And then lastly they included a link to their wedsite where guests could find more information. It helped A LOT in clarifying the details.

  5. Wedding websites are great for this! Ours lists our (non-traditional) venue, our (non-traditional) food truck caterer, lots of details about our optional theme for the dress code (Old Hollywood), etc. It's gone a long way towards keeping guests informed!

  6. I agree with the poster above…a wedding website is a great place to give more info of what to wear. Ours says, "Break out your Sunday best! Semi-formal attire, please".

  7. A wedding website would be the perfect place to answer additional questions. Just make sure you place your website address very prominently on your invitations. We are getting married in a downtown venue in an area surrounded by one way streets, so we have very specific information about Location and Directions on our website. We are also having a ceremony outside in November, so we have a section on Attire & Weather. We also have a great FAQ that answers the most commonly asked questions about our wedding. Here's our website if you want to check it for ideas.

    🙂

    http://www.mywedding.com/mannyandkerry/

  8. This may sound trite, but being direct somewhere on there.

    Whether it's saying "for the wedding of (A and B)" or "WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!" like we did on our Save-the-Dates. something about uniting two families or something could work well depending on what the actual design and feel of what you have together.

    Remember that being offbeat doesn't necessarily have to mean being obscure or obtuse about the event. Especially if you have no desire to force dress-up or anything like that. You want to set the tone, but not complete nuke out what it is that you're doing. Most people don't read an invitation too closely, so simple language would work the best, in my experience.

  9. Just want to chime in here–in favor of vague-ness, actually. I think that if you don't identify your event as a "wedding" but are trying to celebrate your love, you should say that. It's one thing to be concerned about not confusing guests re: their responsibilities (e.g.. indicating that you've registered someplace signals that gifts are appropriate, note dress code, if any, will help with that), but I don't think you're obligated to use the terminology "wedding" or "getting married" if that's not what you're comfortable with.

    I say if someone is confused or needs clarification, they are welcome to ask you. We had a similar situation as our invitations read, "[person] and [person] invite you to join us as we promise to each other a lifetime of love and giggles and road trips on [date] at [location] etc etc // festive attire // we are registered on traveler's joy " (or something like that…can't remember totally). According to some people's criteria, it was a wedding, according to others (including me), it wasn't. So I don't think hosts are obligated to call it wedding or marriage for the sake of the invitees as long as they are clear about what a guest is expected to do/wear/bring/etc.

    Just my two cents!

    • Totally agree with this. Our Save the Dates say "commitment ceremony," and our invites say "please join (our names) for a celebration of love, laughter, family and friendship." We're actually not getting legalled because we can't, and though we typically use the word "wedding" to talk about our celebration, I feel more comfortable without formally labeling it that way. If people are a little uncertain about what they'll be showing up for, I guess I'm okay with that; in our case that uncertainty honestly feels more authentic than categorizing it as a traditional wedding.

  10. This is something I've been struggling with as well. I know our friends, and certain family members, will completely understand. But my FH has some older, traditional, family members that I just don't think will *get it*, even if we use the wording "getting married" or "wedding". So we're going to send two different STDs and invitations. The cool, offbeat ones will be sent to those who will understand, but we're going to send more traditional ones to the few who wouldn't.

    • I did the same with our email Save the Dates. A sci-fi Doctor Who time travel themed one was sent to our friends, consisting of a picture of us next to the Tardis on Earl's Court against a starry background and saying "Rita and Miguel are getting married and want you to come celebrate their life together, past and future. So, if you can't time travel yet, you better save this date". A more subtle one was sent to our family members and older guests, with a garden theme and a simple mention to "we're getting married" followed by the place and date and making it clear a more detailed invitation would follow. If I had sent the space one indiscriminately half the people wouldn't have got it.

  11. Wow, uh, so I was in the process of responding to this and realised I had some SERIOUS ANGST built up over how much effort I've had to expend to counterbalance people's expectations about what the Halloween wedding of a craftygoth and a horror movie obsessed metalhead might look like… so I'm making THAT bit into my own journal post.

    We've found that as a result of our baseline weirdness (and what people apparently THINK that means) we had to make everything as crystal clear and explicit as humanly possible.

    All informational materials are very formal and as straightforward and I'm in the process of building a bear of a wedsite.

      • Hah, I don't think it'd be so much of a bear if I wasn't cobbling it together from scratch using some seriously bizarre hacks to make Blogger (well, two bloggers actually) not look like a blog.

        I used this post as a starting point but I've had to look up updates for pretty much all of the code hacks and adding password protection made things that much more complicated.
        http://www.emformarvelous.com/how-to-make-a-wedding-website-using-blogger/

        I should probably do a writeup on it actually as I NEVER would have thought you could make a blog do this. It's pretty neat if frustrating at times, though that's mostly due to The Fussy.

        Our STDs have only just been ordered so luckily I have a bit of time to get that hammered out but I'll try to pop a link up here once I have the layout worked out a little better and get some content up.

      • Well actually the link is http://halloweenwedding2014.com if you're REALLY nosy, but none of the content pages are linked yet so all you can see is the temp splash page anyway

        I'm overhauling the layout completely soon but I think I may need to pick up a couple of bottles of wine first :p

        • Gaah! I couldn't be nosy cos it required an invite password! Sneaky, sneaky 😉

          I'd totally love to see your write-up though

  12. I must have skipped the wedding invite writing seminar because ours were super simple. It said we were getting married, when and where, and then a two descriptive lines about the ceremony dress and what to expect at the reception. What else are you all putting on your invites?

    • My invite itself is very straightforward, who, what, where, when, done.

      There is an ASTOUNDING amount of fussy detail you can get into with invite writing, but as we are paying and there are no religious considerations luckily it's all very cut and dry.

      I will however have a few cards in the invite itself for more info and that's where the etiquette research came in:
      a directions/more info at our website card
      the rsvp
      a "please we beg you to limit scented products so the FOB can attend!" request

      We are very limited in space and had to make sure the RSVP wording did not allow for write in guests and a lot of people apparently freak out when you ask them not to wear scented products (to which I say "suck it up, if I have to pick between my dad being there and you guess who loses") so those were both a matter of a bit of angst.

    • The problem for me is that my event is a non-legalised commitment ceremony, not a "wedding" or "marrying", and spelling it out is super clunky and unromantic. I don't want to say we're getting married because…we're not. But it's still a marriage like event and I want guests to realise it's not "just a party", it's a big deal for us.

  13. If this is a here's-your-invitation-to-the-ceremony-but-not-the-reception kind of deal, I'd simply say "you're invited to the wedding ceremony of…" If it's a ceremony of some other sort, then just put what you're inviting them to on there.

  14. Does any one have suggestions on how to phrase the fact that we're having a reception, but getting legalled before hand… without using the words "legalled" or "weddinged", as they are pretty much terms I have only heard used on this site! Ha ha. But seriously, how do I phrase that classily, let people know its about getting married, but that they probably won't be witnessing the actual marriage ceremony?

    • I'm using the word "union" to represent wedding in all cases for my…. well… union. I personally don't like using the word wedding at all as I'm having a handfasting ceremony and I know my catholic fathers side and baptist christian mothers side will get confused (though both parents are supportive and understand the rest of the family might not). Also you could use "nuptial rites" or "marriage rites" or even just the word "rite" alone can be a good stand in if you're having a mock ceremony. A rite is just "any customary observance or practice" (thefreedictionary.com) so if there will be any sort of ceremonial procession at all it could work . Best of luck!

    • Apparently it's still common in some places to have separate invites for the ceremony and reception (I think it typically has to do with the size and strictness of the church) so maybe see if you can find some good wording through that route?

      My instinct would be to lean toward something like "reception to celebrate the union of…" and (because I'm a big fan of the idea of wedsites) maybe give people an opportunity to find out what you are doing to get legaled online.

  15. Hi there, was directed to this post while researching for the wording of my invites. I am a bit confused with some terms. Like, what is to get legaled, for example?

  16. Just specify it's wedding…I don't see why someone would send out invites without telling their guests what they are being invited to?

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.