Destination Wedding Invitation Wording Etiquette & Examples

So, how does destination wedding invitation wording differ from traditional wedding invitations? While destination weddings can be a little more casual, they can also be just as formal and elegant. Is a black tie affair any less formal just because it is on a beach? So, is How do you word your destination invitation? Should you keep it super formal or causal-contemporary? Fun or traditional? Elegant font or playful script? The first thing to consider is your wedding event itself, then factor in your unique style as a couple.

Each segment on the invitation has a function. The first paragraph shows who is flipping the bill for the shindig, the second is the name of the bride and groom – the bride is always listed first. The third section is the date, time and place of the ceremony. 

Today’s non-traditional families, and varying sources of funding for the wedding events makes it a little more challenging to find the perfect wording for your particular situation.

The destination wedding is a fairly modern concept and the exact opposite of a traditional hometown wedding. As a result, most destination wedding invitation wording is a blend of traditional elements with more modern phrases and a contemporary casual flare. 

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Traditional Destination Wedding Invitation Wording

The traditional wording still appeals to many couples. It makes a statement of impeccable elegance. Of course, you can use traditional terminology in destination wedding invitation wording! Initiation sets the tone and indicates the level of formality of the event. 

Here is a traditionally worded wedding invitation with common options, that can be changed to fit pretty much any wedding of family circumstance.

Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Smithe

Request the __________

(If your ceremony is in a house of worship use “honour of your presence”. If your ceremony is in a hotel, home, restaurant, beach, etc. use “pleasure of your company”.)

At the marriage of their daughter 

Jane Anne

(The bride's first and middle name only. No title or last name.)


Mr. Joseph Michael Johnson

(The groom's title-Mr. or Dr.) 

(To honor the groom’s parents, especially if they are helping to pay for the wedding, include his parents names in this optional line. i.e. "Son of Dr. and Mrs. David Thomas Johnson")

Saturday the nineteenth of September 

Two thousand twenty

At half after six o’clock 

At the Marriott Hotel

Palm Beach, Aruba

And afterwords at the reception

(Use a variation of this line on your invitation, if the reception is at the same location and immediately following the ceremony. If it will be at a different location, or doesn’t immediately follow the ceremony, use a separate reception card.) 

Some things to keep in mind. Use fill first names and middle names. Do not use nicknames. Do not abbreviate anything with the exception of Mr., Mrs., Dr, etc. Everything is written out fully, including State names, years, dates, times. The phrase “Half after” is used to indicate time, rather than “six-thirty”.

Etiquette says that the bride should be listed first using first and middle names only. Then the groom should be listed. The groom’s name includes title (Mr.) but the bride’s does not. 

The British spelling of “honour” is used for church ceremony.

If your ceremony is at a well-known location such as a church or hotel you don’t need to include the address, but you will need to write out the address for other locations, such as someone’s home.

Time for Reception – this can be put on the invitation invite itself, or a separate reply card, or both.

Wedding Invitations sold at our Zazzle Store can be personalized with all your wedding information, your names, dates, location...pick the design you love, and edit the default destination wedding invitation wording to create the perfect invitation with your own unique style. Coordinate your invitation with the other pieces of your wedding invitation suite. Don't see a card size or style matching your invitation design? Kimberly will be glad to help you with any of her designs. On any product page, scroll down about half way, and under "About This Design", after the description of the item you will see a profile picture and the store name. Below that is the "Contact" button. {I know they didn't make it easy to find!}

Contemporary Destination Wedding Invitation Wording 

You might have a more contemporary style but still want to keep with traditional wording. Do your research. There are books on contemporary weddings. Look through modern invitations in stationary stores for inspiration. Just remember to keep it proper and respect the institution of marriage.

Here is an example of a more contemporary destination wedding invitation wording. (In this example, the couple is funding the wedding themselves.)

Jane Anne Smithe 


Joseph Michael Johnson

Invite you to share in their joy 

As they exchange marriage vows

On Saturday, the ninetieth of September 

Two thousand twenty

On the beach at sunset 

The Aruba Marriott Hotel

One Hundred and One L.G. Smith Boulevard

Palm Beach, Aruba

Dining and dancing under the stars following the ceremony

The above example also contains the 3 main elements of a wedding invitation, just with a twist because the bride and groom are also the one's hosting the event.

Casual Destination Wedding Invitation Wording 

Destination weddings, especially beach weddings, are usually more casual and are not bound by conventual phraseology. You still want to express elegance and sophistication, but the rules for destination wedding invitation wording is less rigged. You can be as casual or as formal as you like. 

Here is an example of casual wording, where both families and the couple were funding the wedding. Also, if you are not serving a full meal at the reception, it is nice to let guests know. 

Together with their families

Jane Smithe 

Joseph Johnson

Requests the pleasure of your company

At their wedding celebration on 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

at 6:30 PM

On the Beach

Aruba Marriott Hotel

101 L.G. Smith Blvd. 

Palm Beach, Aruba

Cocktail reception to follow

Note that numbers are used in listing the dates and times and are not completely written out.

Components of a Wedding Invitation 

There are several pieces that go into a proper wedding invitation. All of these pieces should work together and have the same “feel”. Don’t have a really casual invitation and then include a formally written response card.

Save the Date 

While the save the date goes out before the invitation itself, it is a very important piece of the wedding invitation. Destination weddings almost ALWAYS have a save the date card. Its purpose is to give guests and your wedding party ample time to plan and prepare for your event. Remember, some will need to arrange time off work or put aside a travel budget. 

While emailing Save the Dates is becoming more common, keep in mind that not everyone is internet savvy. Some, especially older folks, might not even use a computer at all. 

So, why not use this non-traditional card to really show off your personal style and create a wedding keepsake. Include whimsical designs, quirky communication, and fun fonts. Gold metallic print on quality paper is always in style. But, save the dates (or invitations for that matter) do not have to be printed on paper these days. They can be produced on wood, fancy handkerchiefs, fridge magnets, or even seed packets. 

The Invitation

Discussed above.

The reception Card

Your invitation card indicates the location of the ceremony. Only include the Reception information if it is to be at the same location immediately following the ceremony. If there is a gap of time between the ceremony and reception, or at a different location, you should include a Reception Card in your wedding invitation suite.

Traditionally worded Reception Card example at a different local and later start time.


8:00 PM Dinner and Dancing at

Faro Blanco Restaurant

78 Lloyd G. Smith Boulevard 

Next to the California Lighthouse

Noord, Aruba

Response Card and Return Envelope

It used to be that it was proper etiquette to respond in writing to a formal invitation, whether it be a wedding, a dinner party or a lady’s tea. People just knew to write a reply on their own stationery and drop it in the mail. 

Things have changed over the last century or so. Telephones, email, text all make communication faster. But it doesn’t make it easier for you to figure out who is coming to your wedding. That is where the response card comes in. The RSVP deadline should be about one month before your wedding date and should be clearly stated on your response card. This should give you enough time to organize seating and have table and place cards made. 

Some traditional etiquette to keep in mind when doing your response cards:

Keep the same “feel” across all of your stationery. If you are using formal wording in your invitation, be sure to use the formal British spelling of “Favour” on your response cards as well. 

Never ask for the number of people attending the wedding. Instead, indicate the specific names of guests who are being invited on the invitation envelope. Those who can come will write their name in the appropriate spot on the Response Card.

Traditional and formal response cards include a pre-addressed stamped envelope. A more contemporary trend is a postcard with the address and stamp on the back. (If you go this route, be sure that the post card meets the U.S. Postal Service requirements for size and layout. 

Direction Card and or Accommodations Card

This is a modern development to the wedding invitation suite. There are no formal format or rules to this piece. This piece is optional, but it is a great way to include important information especially about your destination wedding. Some uses for this card are

Written Directions

Illustrated map

Valet Parking

Child Care arrangements

Hotel Information – did you reserve a block of rooms at a specific hotel for your guests. Include the name of the hotel, a phone number of the hotel or travel agent, whose name the rooms are reserved, any deadlines for reservations, discounts, etc. 

Group Transportation arrangements you have made for your guests – indicate where and when your guests need to meet to take the transportation. For example, if your reception site has no available parking and you are providing a shuttle for your guests be sure to make these details very clear.

Typical weather temperatures and backup location just in case.

Other things to do-when planning a destination wedding you may want to provide some info on area attractions 

If you have one, your personal wedding website address and social media hashtag.

Let Your Guests Know the Appropriate Attire for Your Wedding

Appropriate attire for the wedding is usually included on the Direction Card

Usually the location and time of the wedding and reception are a good indication of the dress code for your big day. But, with destination weddings, sometimes things are not so clear. You can indicate wedding attire on the Directions Card

Some examples: Black Tie means formal wedding garb, Garden Shoes Suggested means an outdoor wedding where spiked heels might make walking on the grass difficult. 

Here are some other traditional wedding attire wording: 

• Black tie (tuxedos and formal gowns)

• Formal, black tie optional (suit and tie and dresses)

• Semi-formal (suit and tie and cocktail dresses)

• Cocktail attire (suits and party dresses)

• Beach or garden party attire (summer suits and summer dresses)

• Casual (button down shirts or polos and summer sundresses or a skirt or pants with a nice blouse)

Less traditional ways to indicate wedding dress code

• Dress to impress

• Dress: No suits or tuxes required!

• Semi-formal

• Country chic


It used to take a mailed invitation whole lot longer than 3-5 business days to arrive at its intended guest. The outer envelope would get damaged and dirty in a burlap bag for weeks at a time. A wedding invitation would have both an inner and outer envelope to keep the inner envelope clean while in transit. Today, that is unnecessary, and many couples skip the duel envelopes, but still keep the tradition of lining the envelope with colors and elements that coordinate with the invitations. 

The return address should be printed on eh back flap of the outer envelope. Do not put names – only the street address, city state and zip. No abbreviations. 

Remember to also include the pre-addressed envelope for the reply card.

Putting it all together

Depending on your style of cards you decide to use, there are a few ways to put your wedding invitation suite together. 

It can be banded together with a paper band and seal using either a personalized wax seal or coordinating sticker seal. Or you can use a special folded folio with pockets for all your wedding invitation pieces.

The proper way to assemble your wedding invitations is:

1 Wedding invitation face up

2 Reception Card face up

3 Response Card face up, tucked under the pre-addressed envelope flap

4 all other enclosures such as accommodations cards or directions cards, face up

(Everything should be face up on top of your invitation.)

If using an inner envelope or a pocket folio envelope, put your pile into your inner envelope or folio, and then put the that into the outer envelope with the front of the inner envelope or folio facing you. 

If you are not using an inner envelope, you should secure your pile of cards with a pretty paper band, or ribbon. Place the entire package into the outer envelope facing you. 

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Destination Wedding Planning Tips