The following questions are those commonly asked and are provided for your quick reference. If you have a question that you do not see answered here, please do not hesitate to call us at 877-750-1878 or email us at so that we may assist you.


Questions About Invitation Etiquette


Why should I choose engraving rather than thermography?

Of the two, engraving is of much higher quality. Thermography is certainly an option and delivers a well-rendered typeface, but as in all levels of distinction, there is a discriminating difference. In the process of engraving, pressure is applied from behind the paper leaving a telltale 'bruise' on the back. The more skilled the engraver, the more gentle the bruise. Thermography is strictly a surface treatment. Another tactile distinction between engraving and thermography is the somewhat exaggerated feel of thermography versus the subtly engraved word in ink with a matte finish. Thermography was developed as a less costly alternative to engraving. If your budget allows, we recommend you choose engraving.


Should my wedding invitation be "traditional" or "something different?"

It all depends on the ceremony and your own personal style. Your wedding invitation acts as an ambassador, representing the atmosphere of the event and should be designed accordingly.


What exactly is a "traditional" invitation?

A traditional invitation harkens back to the 18th and 19th centuries when entertaining was almost always formal. The most traditional invitation is a simple Ecru foldover with a script typestyle reminiscent of hand-written invitations. Black or Grey ink is most commonly used. This form of invitation is enclosed in an inner envelope with a loose sheet of tissue to prevent the ink from smudging during its delivery. The inner envelope is addressed with the invitees’ name only, as in ‘Mr. Brown’ and was designed to be hand-delivered to the recipient. The outer envelope, often damaged in transit, was typically discarded by the butler.


What does R.s.v.p. stand for?

Repondez s’il vous plait, or "please respond" in French. To use the word "please" with R.s.v.p. is therefore redundant. Contact information may be provided near the R.s.v.p. if you do not think everyone knows where to call or write his or her response.


Should the outer envelope be lined?

Traditionally the outer envelope is not lined; however, some people prefer to have a lining in the outer envelope as well as the inner envelope.


What is blind embossing?

Blind embossing is colorless engraving. It is a subtle form of personalization and is a sophisticated alternative to traditional contrast engraving. It looks equally elegant with a monogram or a name.

Recently the United States Post Office made a change regarding embossing and has declared it will not return letters with a blind embossed return address.


Is there an accepted protocol for formal wedding invitations when it comes to parents who have divorced?

No, it is a matter of personal choice as to whether parents and stepparents names are to appear on the invitation. Some general guidelines are that the mother's name comes first (and her spouse if she has remarried) followed by the father (and his spouse if he has remarried).


Do you use the bride’s full name if the mother of the bride has remarried and the bride’s father’s name does not appear on the invitation?

Yes, this is the only case in which the bride’s complete maiden name is used on the invitation.


Is it "honour" or "honor", "favour" or "favor"?

The English spellings of "honour" and "favour" are usually preferred. But again, this is a matter of personal choice and should reflect the formality of your invitation and event.


Should the words "black tie" appear on formal invitations?

Traditionally, the time of day and the location would determine the appropriate attire for a formal wedding. After six o’clock in the evening, black tie is assumed, although the casualness of contemporary times seems to require guidance on what to wear. Therefore, "black tie" may be included on the invitation simply as a courtesy.


What would be a dignified way to portray a less formal wedding while retaining a traditional effect?

An engraved invitation on heavy card stock would still be traditional but not as formal as a folded invitation. A symbolic motif at the heading and a vibrant ink color or border accent would also make the invitation less formal, while still traditional. In this case, you would not use two envelopes, but a colorful liner would be attractive for the envelope. Select a typeface that is less formal (for instance, a simple script). If you do not see a typeface you like on our web site, please call us and we will provide additional choices.


What is the key ingredient to an impressive invitation?

Paper quality is the truest mark of a fine invitation. Your paper should be 100% cotton for its rich texture. Paper quality is the first thing one notices. The next sign of a well done invitation is typesetting and engraving that reflects the spirit of the celebration.


Should a bridal registry be noted on the invitation?

No, this information is generally obtained through discreet inquiry.


What is the best way to enclose directions to the event?

The directions should be clearly stated and /or drawn on a separate enclosure. It is thoughtful to include the phone numbers of local inns. It is best to keep ancillary information, such as directions and lodging on a smaller-sized card compared to the size of the invitation itself. Traditionally this material is sent as a different mailing, as with a Save the Date.


Is calligraphy a must for addressing engraved envelopes?

For the pure traditionalist, calligraphy is recommended. However, as times and styles change, other alternatives, such as computer calligraphy, are increasingly acceptable. The most important rule of thumb is that the handwriting be bold and self-confident. Never use a ballpoint pen for addressing, but rather a good, felt nibbed pen that will render a strong appearance and a boldness of declaration. Never use printed labels for such a significant occasion.


Is it assumed single invitees will bring a guest?

Unless you have extended a verbal encouragement for them to do so, or addressed your inner envelope as ‘Miss Brown & Guest,’ it is unacceptable for a single invitee to bring a guest.


When should thank-you notes go out for shower and wedding presents?

As soon as possible. It is considered in poor taste to allow them to lag over six weeks from the receipt of gifts. However a sincere note of thanks is always appreciated, regardless of the time that has elapsed.


Specifications to consider

Your bespoke wedding and celebration papers are only limited by your imagination. We've provided some classic and modern choices below to help you start the process. We are available at your convenience for a private consultation. It will be our pleasure to help you plan and design your papers for your special day.

All of our wedding and celebration invitations are available in either a flat or foldover format. The flat card is similar to our Classic Correspondence Card in thickness. With the very traditional foldover format, the text is printed on the front, and the inside is left blank.

  • Embassy.  The Embassy is our most popular size.
    • Flat or Foldover: 5-1/2" x 7-1/2"
    • Inner Envelope: 5-3/4" x 7-3/4"
    • Outer Envelope: 5-7/8" x 7-7/8"
  • Empire. The Empire is our largest size of wedding invitations.
    • Flat or Foldover: 6-1/2" x 8-3/4"
    • Inner Envelope: 6-3/4" x 8-15/16"
    • Outer Envelope:     7-1/16" x 9-3/16"
  • Other Sizes. Sometimes our clients prefer to create wedding invitations from other sizes of stock we carry. These options can make a wedding invitation more modern. These sizes do not have inner envelopes, but they can be made from any of our paper colors.
    • #3 Card or Foldover: 4-1/4" x 6-3/8"
    • #5 Card: 4-7/8" x 7-1/8"
    • #7 Card: 3-3/4" x 7-1/4" 


Additional Options

Beyond the size of your invitation, there are many other options to consider:

Paper Color. All of our invitations are available in two paper colors: White or Ecru. Ecru paper is the most traditional for a wedding invitation.

Paper Thickness. Sheets of Dempsey & Carroll's standard 1-ply paper, which features our watermark and is used for note sheets and letter sheets in our social stationery line, are used for the folded invitation. These sheets can then be bonded together to create thicker cards for our flat wedding invitations. The flat invitation is also available in a 4-ply thickness (see our Deluxe wedding line) and in a 6-ply thickness (see our Opulent wedding line).

Ink Color. Though Black ink is the most formal, a medium to dark Grey is one way to soften the look of your invitation. Vibrant color can also be used to create a more modern or informal look. All of our standard inks are available, and we can also match any color of your choosing. 

Motifs, Crests, and Monograms. The entire range of Dempsey & Carroll signature motifs is available to adorn your invitation. Popular motifs using metallic ink include the seashell, bee, fleur-de-lis, and doves, among others. Any of our standard motifs can be run in a custom color, though some of our dies are created specifically for metallic ink.

Dempsey & Carroll can also work with you to create a die based on a family crest, event logo or custom design. Our engravers will create a separate die for each color in the design, as well as a "bump," which raises the image up from the paper. Joint and single monograms are another way to graphically personalize your invitation.

Typeface. In the product pages on our web site, you will find many of our most popular typefaces, but we have dozens from which to choose. You may view them by clicking here.

Beveling, Gilding, and Paneling. Wedding invitations on card stock, from 3- to 6-ply, can be beveled, which means cutting the edge at an angle. Beveled and non-beveled edges can be painted a metallic color, called gilding, or a matte color. A panel, which is an embossed "frame" near the edges of the paper, is usually used only when there is no other edge treatment.

Envelope Liners. Tissue is the traditional lining for the inner envelope. We offer a range of complementary matte and tissue colors but can also line envelopes with one of our custom printed liners or with other papers you provide.


Other Pieces to Consider

The invitation is only one part of a wedding stationery wardrobe. You may consider ordering other components at the same time:

  • Save the Dates
  • Response Cards and envelopes
  • Reception Cards
  • Directional Cards for enclosure with the invitations
  • Programs
  • Place Cards, Escort Cards (which provide a table number) and Menu Cards for the reception
  • Bridal shower invitations
  • Personalized bridal party gifts
  • Foldover Notes for Thank Yous
  • Joint stationery for after the wedding: cards, sheets and calling cards