Long before the first strains of "Here Comes the Bride" are sounded, invitations set the tone of a wedding. The style of language, the choice of font, and even the weight and quality of paper all provide important cues for your guests. Martha Stewart Weddings editor Darcy Miller has seen quite a few invitations over the years and offers a few basic guidelines to keep in mind when selecting yours.

Every invitation is a balance between respect for tradition and personal expression. With careful design, Darcy believes there's more than enough room for both. Wording provides the greatest opportunity for creativity, but a few conventions should be followed: Commas are eschewed in formal invitations, and all numbers should be spelled out. Every wedding invitation includes a few basic elements. The host line identifies who is paying for the wedding; in these modern times, this often includes the groom's parents, extended family members, and the couple themselves. The request line is dictated by the location of the wedding. A place of worship is usually indicated by the phrase "request the honor of your presence," while secular locations usually include the wording "request the pleasure of your company." The bride-and-groom, date-and-time, location, and reception lines should all be kept as clear and concise as possible, while an R.S.V.P. line should only be used if a stamped reply card is not included.


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