Wedding Invitations: 30s and 40s Etiquette


November 17th, 2012

Much of what goes for good taste in the 1930s and pre-war 1940s wedding invitations is nothing lost in the crumpled papers of time, since formal invitations are the same as they were then, aside from the increase of brides and grooms requesting the presence of guests alone, rather than the parents of the bride extending the invitation.

One subtle note of etiquette missed by merely reading vintage invitations is the timing. According to Lillian Eichler in The New Book of Etiquette (1942, Garden City), the wedding invitation should be issued “Not later than fifteen days, and not earlier than four weeks before the date set for the marriage.”

Holy smokes! That is practically a shotgun wedding these days, with the rule of thumb being at least six weeks lead time today, and seems to be stretching with the inclusion of “save the date” cards and other friendly reminder. That is equal to two or three 30s or 40s weddings.

The other etiquette point brought to light by Eichler, is who to invite. Anyone who regularly calls, that is visits or drops in, the homes of either set of parents, or at the bride or groom’s home if they happen to live separately from parents, are invited to a church wedding. So, Aunt Matilda is in, but so is Mom and Dad’s bridge partners, whether the groom or bride knows them or not. Does that mean the plumber or milk man comes too?

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