Etiquette

Wording on invitations for a (very) non traditional wedding?

mbellemmbellem
10 Comments 5 Love Its
member
edited January 2015 in Etiquette
Hi, I'm hoping the wise members of this boards can provide some insight. We are having a very non-traditional wedding and I'm not sure how to word the invitations accordingly.

My FI proposed without a ring. We are getting married at my aunt and uncles huge property out in the country. We are having a short (read: 5 minute) wedding ceremony, followed by an informal BBQ and bonfire. We are getting married on Canada Day, and the town fair is not far away so we have a great view for fireworks. They also have a barn and tents in case of bad weather. There won't be a wedding party, flowers, wedding rings, weddings dress or any other wedding stuff. We are getting married in normal clothes, hair, makeup for me etc. We both at a hospital and a chaplain we know from there agreed to marry us. His cousin and cousin's wife are professional photographers and agreed to make sure we get a few shots of all the special moments (although we don't expect them to work the entire night and we want to tell all the guests to bring cameras and take lots of pictures). My uncle plays the fiddle and is in a band and they agreed to play some music and make a playlist with lots of music. Our entire budget is for food and drinks for the BBQ. We are all set for everything except for the invitations.

Herein lies my dilemma. We want to make sure our guests know to dress informal. We also don't want gifts because we have everything we need. If people insist we want to tell them to donate in our name to a charity of their choice. But we are pretty firm that we don't want gifts. The wedding is not until July but we are writing up the invitations ourselves. His sister works from home and gets tons of paper, ink, envelopes and stamps from work and she has graciously agreed to let us print them at her house. So because the invitations are not pre-printed and we need to come up with our own wording. We want our guests to know that 1) the dress is informal, 2) we really insist on no gifts, 3) although we are making our best effort to get the name of everyone's significant others, we don't mind if you bring your girlfriend and her kids, or your teenage daughter and her boyfriend. As long as you write the number attending on the RSVP so we can plan for food, and 4) you are welcome to bring a tent or trailer and stay the night if it's too late to drive home that night.

Can anyone suggestion how we can word the invitations so we can get all this across without breaking etiquette or committing a faux pas? Thank-you so much in advance. This invitation thing is really stressing me out enough. I don't know how all of you manage to plan a whole wedding with all the trimmings, I give you props because I couldn't do it.

(Our building has been have power outages all day, so I might not be able to reply right away. I will keep checking back as long as the power is on)

Edited for spelling. See post below.

Re: Wording on invitations for a (very) non traditional wedding?

  • And I realize that "invitations" is spelled wrong in the title of this post. That's what I get for trying to type with a dog and a cat in my lap at the same time as the laptop ;p
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Invitations cannot be politely worded to address 1 or 2.

    For 3, you really need to write the names of those included in the invitation on the envelope.

    For 4, you can put this information on an insert: "Overnight accommodations are available for tent or trailer use."
    speakeasy14
  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    member
    edited January 2015
    mbellem said:
    Hi, I'm hoping the wise members of this boards can provide some insight. We are having a very non-traditional wedding and I'm not sure how to word the invitations accordingly.

    My FI proposed without a ring. We are getting married at my aunt and uncles huge property out in the country. We are having a short (read: 5 minute) wedding ceremony, followed by an informal BBQ and bonfire. We are getting married on Canada Day, and the town fair is not far away so we have a great view for fireworks. They also have a barn and tents in case of bad weather. There won't be a wedding party, flowers, wedding rings, weddings dress or any other wedding stuff. We are getting married in normal clothes, hair, makeup for me etc. We both at a hospital and a chaplain we know from there agreed to marry us. His cousin and cousin's wife are professional photographers and agreed to make sure we get a few shots of all the special moments (although we don't expect them to work the entire night and we want to tell all the guests to bring cameras and take lots of pictures). My uncle plays the fiddle and is in a band and they agreed to play some music and make a playlist with lots of music. Our entire budget is for food and drinks for the BBQ. We are all set for everything except for the invitations.

    Herein lies my dilemma. We want to make sure our guests know to dress informal. We also don't want gifts because we have everything we need. If people insist we want to tell them to donate in our name to a charity of their choice. But we are pretty firm that we don't want gifts. The wedding is not until July but we are writing up the invitations ourselves. His sister works from home and gets tons of paper, ink, envelopes and stamps from work and she has graciously agreed to let us print them at her house. So because the invitations are not pre-printed and we need to come up with our own wording. We want our guests to know that 1) the dress is informal, 2) we really insist on no gifts, 3) although we are making our best effort to get the name of everyone's significant others, we don't mind if you bring your girlfriend and her kids, or your teenage daughter and her boyfriend. As long as you write the number attending on the RSVP so we can plan for food, and 4) you are welcome to bring a tent or trailer and stay the night if it's too late to drive home that night.

    Can anyone suggestion how we can word the invitations so we can get all this across without breaking etiquette or committing a faux pas? Thank-you so much in advance. This invitation thing is really stressing me out enough. I don't know how all of you manage to plan a whole wedding with all the trimmings, I give you props because I couldn't do it.

    (Our building has been have power outages all day, so I might not be able to reply right away. I will keep checking back as long as the power is on)
    First off-- your wedding sounds lovely and super fun.

    One thing you didn't ask for comments on but you mentioned, so you're going to get my opinion.  It sounds like all of your friends and family have offered their photography/music/printing etc. services freely, right?  You didn't ask them?  I really suggest you get these people some thoughtful thank-you gifts or offer to pay them for their services (even though they will probably say no).  If you did ask them, that's sort of a faux pas and I'd be really careful to make sure they want to do this and enjoy themselves at the wedding as guests.

    As for wording, here is the most basic wording to use:

    The pleasure of your company is requested at the wedding of 
    Mbellum and Mbellum's Partner
    Date and Time
    Location
    Reception to follow

    ***NO mention of gifts whatsoever***

    It sounds like you might want to use more creative or cutesy wording, which is not my thing, but more power to you.  A few guidelines if you change the wording:

    --Make sure the wording still says "wedding."  This sounds obvious, but sometimes creative wording will use phrases like "celebrate with us!" or "celebrate our marriage!" and then it's actually not clear what exactly you're being invited to.  So just make sure it's really obvious it's a wedding!  :)
    --STILL absolutely no mention of gifts.  I know you genuinely don't want gifts and you really want to tell your guests not to worry about it.  You are coming from a very good place.  However, to say "No gifts please" implies that gifts were expected in the first place, which they shouldn't be.  It's actually rude, which is not what you intend, but some guests will take it that way.
    --Don't mention a charity.  This is also rude because you're dictating what other people do with their money.
    --If anyone asks about gifts, you can just tell them verbally that you don't need anything, but they are so sweet for offering.  Seriously, you don't need anything and you are just excited to celebrate with them.  Rinse and repeat.
    --Some people will still get you gifts.  You just can't stop some people.  Personally, I enjoy gift giving and I'd probably give you a small, personal gift or a check just because I would want to.  Promptly thank anyone who gives you a gift.
    --Then, if any of those gifts are cash or a check, quietly donate that money to the charity you support.  It's your money once it's gifted to you, so do what you want with it: and it sounds like you want to donate to this charity, so do that.

    Edited: forgot about the non-gift issues.

    Informal dress: just use an informal looking invitation, like with cute illustrations, craft paper, etc.  You can't mention dress on the invitations.  Spread by word of mouth that it's going to be in your backyard and people will get the picture.

    RSVP numbers: this is sort of tricky.  You could sort of get around it by inviting "The Smith Family" on the envelope (we generally say not to do this because it's not totally etiquette approved and people might just start bringing whomever... but it sounds like that's actually what you want).  Or really try to find out exactly who they might want to bring and write those names on the envelope.  On your RSVP card, just have a spot for them to write the number attending.

    Tents and campers: Jen's insert idea is good.  You could even use less formal language.  "Space is available for overnight camping in tents and trailers."
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

    speakeasy14
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    mbellem said:
    Hi, I'm hoping the wise members of this boards can provide some insight. We are having a very non-traditional wedding and I'm not sure how to word the invitations accordingly.

    My FI proposed without a ring. We are getting married at my aunt and uncles huge property out in the country. We are having a short (read: 5 minute) wedding ceremony, followed by an informal BBQ and bonfire. We are getting married on Canada Day, and the town fair is not far away so we have a great view for fireworks. They also have a barn and tents in case of bad weather. There won't be a wedding party, flowers, wedding rings, weddings dress or any other wedding stuff. We are getting married in normal clothes, hair, makeup for me etc. We both at a hospital and a chaplain we know from there agreed to marry us. His cousin and cousin's wife are professional photographers and agreed to make sure we get a few shots of all the special moments (although we don't expect them to work the entire night and we want to tell all the guests to bring cameras and take lots of pictures). My uncle plays the fiddle and is in a band and they agreed to play some music and make a playlist with lots of music. Our entire budget is for food and drinks for the BBQ. We are all set for everything except for the invitations.

    Herein lies my dilemma. We want to make sure our guests know to dress informal. We also don't want gifts because we have everything we need. If people insist we want to tell them to donate in our name to a charity of their choice. But we are pretty firm that we don't want gifts. The wedding is not until July but we are writing up the invitations ourselves. His sister works from home and gets tons of paper, ink, envelopes and stamps from work and she has graciously agreed to let us print them at her house. So because the invitations are not pre-printed and we need to come up with our own wording. We want our guests to know that 1) the dress is informal, 2) we really insist on no gifts, 3) although we are making our best effort to get the name of everyone's significant others, we don't mind if you bring your girlfriend and her kids, or your teenage daughter and her boyfriend. As long as you write the number attending on the RSVP so we can plan for food, and 4) you are welcome to bring a tent or trailer and stay the night if it's too late to drive home that night.

    Can anyone suggestion how we can word the invitations so we can get all this across without breaking etiquette or committing a faux pas? Thank-you so much in advance. This invitation thing is really stressing me out enough. I don't know how all of you manage to plan a whole wedding with all the trimmings, I give you props because I couldn't do it.

    (Our building has been have power outages all day, so I might not be able to reply right away. I will keep checking back as long as the power is on)
    Sounds fun!

    You can't speak to #1 in your invitation. From the style of your invite itself and the fact that it's a backyard BBQ, guests should be able to figure out that they don't have to show up in a cocktail dress. However, since you can't tell adults how to dress themselves, just trust them to figure it out and don't say anything.

    You also can't speak to #2. Since gifts are always optional for the giver, you really can't dictate in any way what happens with gifts, even if it's to say "don't bring any." I know you think you're doing them a favor, but let people be generous to you if they want. If people choose to get you a gift of their choosing, just as with any gift, write them a nice thank you note after the fact and then keep it or donate it or whatever.

    For #3, please do address with the names of significant others, but if you want to leave it more open in many cases, writing "The Smith Family" will leave them with some room for interpretation.

    For #4, what Jen said is good.

    Anniversary

    speakeasy14
  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    Questions 1, 2 and 4 have already been covered.

    I would just spread by word of mouth that people are free to bring extra guests if they are so inclined. Just make sure SO are appropriately named on the invitation.
    image
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  • Thank-you everyone for taking the time to reply. I'm appalled by my own spelling in my first post, especially the title. I swear I know how to spell. Like I said it's hard to type when there are 2 animals stepping on the keyboard as they jockey for position on my lap ;p

    Everyone who is helping us offered without us asking. As soon as word got out we were getting married they started calling. We were just going to hire people but they insisted. We are already thinking of what we can do/what gift we can give to show our thanks.

    Right now we are making a guest list and have been contacting people to get the names of their significant others, step children etc. We are going to take the suggestions of people here and spread the word that everyone is welcome as long as they put down how many are coming on the RSVP.

    As for the gifts thing, we would certainly never be rude and refuse to accept a gift that someone has given us. We just don't want our guests to feel obligated as we are very fortunate already have everything we need. Any gifts we do get will be graciously accepted, and all of our guests will be getting thank-you notes whether they gave a gift or not. Some people have suggested that we spread the word of "no gifts" verbally, just like we are now going to do for "everyone is welcome, just tell us how many are coming". Or that we put on the invitations something like "The only presents we require is your presence." but I'm not sure if this is also proper etiquette or not.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Any mention at all of gifts, including "your presence is our present," in wedding invitations is improper etiquette, so don't do it.
    southernbelle0915JCbride2015adk19
  • No mention of dress - just use informal card stock/font/wording.

    No mention of gifts. Don't register. If/When people ask, just tell them what you said above.

    I would address the invite to the people you really want to come. You could put info about additional friends/family on you info insert.

    What Jen said about lodging.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
  • Jen4948 said:
    Any mention at all of gifts, including "your presence is our present," in wedding invitations is improper etiquette, so don't do it.
    Thank-you Jen. I feel like I am in over my head with this whole thing so your assistance is very helpful :) Most of the weddings I have been to in my life were either courthouse or hospital ones where there are a few people present and no invitations or receptions or anything. I have never given etiquette any thought before this so I am still navigating the waters and learning.

    (Also thanks again to everyone who replied :))
    southernbelle0915ohannabelle
  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    member

    mbellem said:
    Thank-you everyone for taking the time to reply. I'm appalled by my own spelling in my first post, especially the title. I swear I know how to spell. Like I said it's hard to type when there are 2 animals stepping on the keyboard as they jockey for position on my lap ;p

    Everyone who is helping us offered without us asking. As soon as word got out we were getting married they started calling. We were just going to hire people but they insisted. We are already thinking of what we can do/what gift we can give to show our thanks.

    Right now we are making a guest list and have been contacting people to get the names of their significant others, step children etc. We are going to take the suggestions of people here and spread the word that everyone is welcome as long as they put down how many are coming on the RSVP.

    As for the gifts thing, we would certainly never be rude and refuse to accept a gift that someone has given us. We just don't want our guests to feel obligated as we are very fortunate already have everything we need. Any gifts we do get will be graciously accepted, and all of our guests will be getting thank-you notes whether they gave a gift or not. Some people have suggested that we spread the word of "no gifts" verbally, just like we are now going to do for "everyone is welcome, just tell us how many are coming". Or that we put on the invitations something like "The only presents we require is your presence." but I'm not sure if this is also proper etiquette or not.
    I think spreading "no gifts" by word of mouth is perfectly fine, just don't write anything like that on the invitation.

    And here's another counter-intuitive etiquette rule that I had to think about and then it made perfect sense.  It is actually inappropriate to give a guest a thank you note just for attending the wedding, and can come off as gift grabby.  Why?  Because your reception is the thank-you for attending the wedding ceremony.  The note is the thank-you for giving a gift.  Your guests have already been thanked for attending (by being hosted at the reception), so sending a note can come off like you are pointing out that they didn't give a gift.

    So, in short, just throw a kick-ass party and host the shit out of your family and friends.  Thank them in person for attending and being such an important part of your life.  No need to write "no gifts," and no need to send a card just for attending.

    Have fun!  This stuff can be a little overwhelming but we love to help.  I have learned a lot on these boards.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

    adk19
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    member
    I think we all had these same questions when we first started writing our invitations. I mean, most people don't have much experience inviting people to their weddings as most people aim to just have 1! :D
  • Oh I didn't know that sending thank-you cards to people just for coming was a faux pas :/. Everyone has been so helpful assisting me in figuring all this out.

    I can honestly say that before my FI proposed I never really thought about my wedding beyond "I wonder if/who I will (ever) marry". And 99% of the weddings I have gone to were courthouse type weddings (people either about to leave or coming home from military deployments) or hospital weddings at bedsides or in the chapel (I work in a hospital so I've seen a few of these). So all of this is completely new territory to me.
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    member
    I'm right there with you, and my parents eloped so they were no help either. :P
    adk19

  • I am really thinking about this, because I love tradition and etiquette, and if I suggest something different than is traditional, CMGragain will have me kneecapped, by a very well mannered hit man. With gloves. One who says "I beg your pardon" before he hits. (CM is the house expert here on correct and traditional invitation wording. I have enormous respect for her and her knowledge, but I think you can deviate from tradition here, without sacrificing any manners or even good taste.)
    Because it's really in the interest of the guests. You want them to understand that this is uber relaxed casual time. 

    Font is crucial. Your font says a lot. 
    Most wedding invitations do this sort of thing:image
    If you open that, you're expecting a very traditional church wedding. 

    But if you pick a font that says casual and offbeat and fun, like these font samples:

    image
    It gives a very very different feeling. Sends a different message.
    So that's the most obvious and easy way to send the relaxed and casual message. And like somebody up there said, maybe a non traditional fun color or paper.

    I never say this, but I think you could even relax the traditional phrasing if necessary- if you genuinely don't like "The pleasure of your company is requested." Just don't get cute. None of that awful "We're gettin hitched," crap, or "shit's about to get real." None of that "Two hearts begin a journey of love" crapola. 
    (Not saying you'd do that, but people do.) 
    If you need to do this, straight ahead and simple. "Please join us for the wedding of X and O, etc." or "You're invited to the wedding of X and O," etc. 

    I agree, no mention of gifts. Ever. I can appreciate breaking with tradition, but not manners. 

    Here's a good example of an invite that says relaxed and non traditional without being stoopid. The relaxed font, the dates and times in actual numbers instead of written out. Anyone getting this would know they're not going to the wedding up there in the first example.

    image
    Any additional information you need to add, like camping options, directions, maybe a web address showing the location can be added to an insert inside.
    Tell all the casual dress stuff to the most gossipy guest invited. Everyone knows one. It'll get around. Or bring it up in ordinary conversation. 

    No mention of gifts, no charities, no telling people what to wear. Again, break tradition, but not manners.

    (If CM comes by, I was never here.)
    JCbride2015slothiegaladk19
  • It is traditionally considered poor manners to say certain things on any formal invitation, and most weddings are formal affairs.

    But there are also such things as informal communications, which have very different rules.
    Your average informal communication may say,
    . "We are having a party to celebrate Jan's new baby Mary Jane Fonda, and shower her with gifts. And guess what? We are having it poolside at Jan's house, since she cannot travel. .....details "

    Details on swimsuits or kinds of gifts or things she has registered for are okay. It is an extremely informal event.

    You need to think about what is right for you. If this is so informal that you are wearing streetclothes and people are pitching in to help , you still might want to write out a nice invitation, know who is coming and therefore ask for RSVP etc.
    But if you feel that even the fact that you are saying, bring whoever you want, just tell us, is about as informal as it gets, then follow the pattern for informal communications and invitations in an old Emily Post, Dear Abby, Ann Landers, Miss Manners style etiquette book you can find at most local libraries. It will say to keep the actual invitation short and sweet, and clear. But you may use numbers, not written out years, you do not need to formally " request the honour of your presence". Keep it nice. But informal.
    And in informal communications you may enclose a note to say come in casual clothes and be prepared to dance outside, or whatever. Fireworks too.

    Even in informal communications with an invitation, you never say, don't bring gifts. And you never ask people to bring stuff. That is still behind the scenes word of mouth.
    Sounds like fun.

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