Invitations should be ordered well in advance so you can send them out six weeks before the day (you can send save-the-date cards up to six months in advance if you like).
They should be in the name of the bride's parents or whoever is hosting the wedding. The exact wording of them depends on who that is.
If the bride's parents are acting as hosts: Mr and Mrs John Sinclair request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter, Caroline, to Mr David Smith at St Paul's Church, Ewell, on Saturday 15th September 2005 at 3 o'clock and afterwards at Trumble Hall, Lymington, Hampshire. Have the RSVP address printed in the bottom left-hand corner of the invitation.
If the bride's parents are divorced and her mother has remarried: Mr John Sinclair and Mrs Patrick Cook...
If the bride's parents are divorced but her mother hasn't remarried: Mr John Sinclair and Mrs Barbara Sinclair...
If the bride's mother has remarried and is hosting the wedding with the bride's stepfather: Mr and Mrs Patrick Cook request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of her daughter Caroline. The bride's surname can be added if you think that would be helpful.
The names of guests should be handwritten in full in the top left-hand corner of the invitation: Mr and Mrs John Smith. Or, for a family: Mr and Mrs John Smith, Robert and Susan.
If you would like your guests to wear evening dress, have 'Black Tie' printed at the bottom, withthe RSVP address. If you include an RSVP card in an envelope, you're more likeley to get prompt replies.
Traditionally, guests used to contact the bride's mother to find out if there was a gift list. Many brides now find it practical to include a slip of paper with the invitation saying, A gift list has been placed at..., with a website and contact number.