It’s been a little while, but I want to continue my series on wedding invitation etiquette. This time I’m focusing on the numbers…AKA, the date and time.
Back in the day, Emily Post, the queen of proper etiquette, would shudder in horror at the thought of having numbers on any type of invitation. Fortunately, times have changed, and numbers are being used in place of words on modern or informal invitations. Most invitations these days still use very traditionally formatted versions of the date and time.
This means that the date and time can one of the most tricky parts of a formal wedding invitation. It’s not very often that we write out a formal date and time, so the formatting and spelling can be a real challenge, not to mention, the capitalization! I used to get a headache just thinking about it!
Traditionally, the date and time would appear on an invitation like this:
Saturday, the fourteenth of October
two thousand twenty-three
at seven o’clock in the evening
Let’s take a look at what could go wrong.
Here’s the scoop. Capitalize the day of the week and the month, but not the date. Since we don’t usually spell out numbers, aka ordinals (the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, etc.) when we write, most struggle with it, especially if there’s a hyphen involved, as in the year. EEEKKK! Get more information about ordinals here: https://tinyurl.com/3m36s6tj.
I’ve been asked if the word “and” should appear in the year. Should it be “two thousand and twenty-three” or “two thousand twenty-three”? How about “twenty twenty-three”? What’s correct?
To me, this is one of those things that depend on which continent you live on. In England, the British usually add the “and” while in the USA, we don’t. Both are correct, but all the stationers I know, won’t include the “and”. Twenty twenty-three is not used on any invitation, plus it doesn’t look good!
I NEVER write out the time in words, so looking back at my example, there is no capitalization used on an invitation when writing the time. We also don’t use AM or PM. Instead, we use “in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening”.
Easy peasy if your wedding is at 7 pm, which would be seven o’clock in the evening, but what about 7:30? Traditionally you would say “half past seven in the evening” or “half past seven o’clock in the evening”. To me, the latter is a little too wordy, so I NEVER add the o’clock if the wedding starts at 7:30 pm. Also, if your wedding is at noon or midnight, those are the words you use on the invitation. LOL, doesn’t noon o’clock sound funny?
Think about it now. When does the afternoon end and the evening begin? Here’s my thought, which is echoed by all of my stationer friends. The evening begins at 6 pm, so from noon until 5:59, is the afternoon. If your wedding starts at 5:30 pm, your invitation should say “half past five in the afternoon”.
This is definitely the Cliff Notes version of writing the date and time, but I hope I’ve answered your questions about this invitation etiquette. If not, feel free to reach out to me for clarification.
All the best,