Wedding etiquette in the South is nothing to be messed with. It starts the moment we say “Yes,” and it ends well after we say “I do.” And bet your britches we don’t miss a beat, lest those familiar with the Emily Post Institute take note.
To be fair, wedding etiquette isn’t just one-sided. Sure, brides have their own overwhelming set of rules to follow, things like when to send thank you notes and how much to tip wedding vendors. But guests are also fraught with wedding worries. We're jolted awake at night in a cold sweat, thinking “Did I send the RSVP in time?” or “But what if someone else gives the steak knives?”
And when it comes to something even as simple as sending a wedding card (which, to be clear, is best sent before the wedding, much like gifts) even the content is taken quite seriously. For example, once it was taboo to say or write “Congratulations” to the bride. This is because it implied she was lucky to have found a husband at all. But it’s perfectly fine to say it to the groom. Hmph. (But he is the lucky one, we joke.)
Though the “Congratulations Rule” is increasingly considered out-of-date, one thing will always ring true: In the South, typing out a quick “Congrats!” over text will never do; posting well wishes on Facebook will never cut it. And that’s just how we like it. There will always be a place for a handwritten note in the South, especially when someone’s getting hitched.
Whether you’re family, close friends, or distant acquaintances with the bride or groom, you should send a wedding card. Full stop. (And whether or not you’re attending the wedding, as well.) If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, just know that it’s largely to your discretion. But here are 33 ideas—formal, casual, and even Biblical—to get you started on what to write in a wedding card.
Formal Wedding Wishes
If you’re heading to the wedding of a couple that you’re not very close with (a long-lost high school friend or distant cousin, for example), formal might fit the occasion. Simple and thoughtful, this type of message doesn’t always feel as personalized as others—but it communicates your well wishes for the couple’s future together. To help it read more intimately for someone you’re close with, embellish with personal details. You can never go wrong with a classic formal note.
- “May the years ahead be filled with love and joy.”
- “May your love grow stronger each and every passing year.”
- “Thank you for letting us share in your special day. We wish you all the happiness in the world.”
- “Here’s to a lifetime full of happiness and love.”
- “Wishing you well as you embark on this next chapter of life. Cheers!”
- “May today mark the first of the rest of your life, filled with love and fellowship.”
- “Here’s to a long, happy life with the one you love. Wishing you the best.”
- “Wishing you happiness, love, and joy on your wedding day.”
- “Today is the beginning of your next chapter. Here’s to you!”
Casual Wedding Wishes
If you’re attending the wedding of a close friend or family member, formal might not feel wholly genuine. Be true to yourself and your relationship with the couple. This type of wedding message can be more personal and is best tacked onto a particular detail or memory of the couple that you’re privy to.
When bringing a small gift to one of the pre-wedding events, such as the engagement party or bridal shower, a casual note will do, no matter the recipient. While saying “congratulations” was once seen as rude, it works perfectly fine for these occasions.
- “Here’s to a long and happy marriage!”
- “Wishing you all of the love and happiness!”
- “We’re so happy for you!”
- “I’m seeing a fun-filled life in your future. Congratulations!”
- “So honored to spend this happy occasion with you and your family.”
- “Wishing you the best today and beyond.”
- “Start your next chapter in style—with this little something!” (Attached to a gift.)
- “Well wishes!”
- “Congratulations!” (Don't be scared.)
Wedding Wishes Based on Bible Verses
If you know that the couple getting married is religious, nothing fits more than a message inspired by the Bible. For a faith-based couple and ceremony, this type of wedding message not only feels appropriate but highly personal, too.
- “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” –1 Corinthians 13:13
- “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” –1 John 4:12
- “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” –Ephesians 4:32
- “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” –Mark 10:9
- “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” –1 Corinthians 13:4-5
- “I have found the one whom my soul loves.” –Song of Soloman 3:4
Wedding Wishes to Welcome a New Family Member
Because you wouldn’t necessarily say the same thing to your favorite future sister-in-law that you would to a friend you haven’t seen in five years, right? In the South, family is everything. This type of message is the perfect way to begin writing a wedding card for a new family member—and is best followed by something personalized.
- “So blessed to have gained another sister/cousin/aunt.”
- “Thank you for letting us share in the celebration. Welcome to the family!”
- "We’re so happy that [name] found ‘The One,” and that it is you!”
- “Today we add another family member to the tree, and we couldn’t be happier.”
- “Sending love and hugs always, from your new family in [place].”
- “Wishing you two all the happiness and love. Here’s to you!”
- “We couldn’t be happier to call you family. Thanks for allowing us to join in the Big Day.”
- “Our family has gained quite the amazing man/lady. Lucky us!”
- “Congratulations, and welcome to the family!”
WATCH: Here's What You Should Know About Correspondence Etiquette
The South's two favorite etiquette experts, Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, know a thing or two about what to write in a handwritten note, weddings included!