If your invitation is not telling people where to go, at what time, what to wear, and what to expect then your invitation is an abject failure. An invitation that does not answer all the above is not only confusing, but can cause unintended stress to your recipients.
Dean Pollak was invited to a seated dinner for thirty, quite a lavish affair, but the invitation was lack luster and only said "See you at eight." All attendees were expecting a cocktail party, and many had made post-cocktail plans, while others wandered in during and after dinner. A two part problem ensued: some people canceled their second plan, others had to beg off the main event and admit they were confused. Worst of all by far was that nobody had that vital pre-party rush of anticipation of something over the top.
We know of a friend's husband who threw his wife a surprise birthday party. His particular pet peeve has always been the phrase 'festive dress' and boy, do we concur. What does that jumble of words mean? We have no idea and we know you don't either. It is a useless phrase that should be abolished permanently, along with 'black tie optional' (either it is or it isn't), festive black tie, and casual. The word casual sounds like it could be helpful, but the word means too many things to too many people. Right in our own city it can mean blue jeans or coat and tie, depending on the party's location. Helpful phrases are: 'coat and tie', 'no tie', (which implies a blazer and no tie), black tie.
Wedding invitations are always tricky: from the weight of the paper to the size of the event. The size of a wedding guest list always mushroom clouds. Unknown, or long forgotten relatives, are dusted off and pushed to the forefront. This leaves less room for long standing friends and hurt feelings can run rampant. Everyone needs to take a deep breath. If the host cannot have everyone they want, they can either throw a big party before or after wedding, and/or, they can inform some of their friends who may reasonably expect to be invited, that they are super sorry but that they have a very finite, small number that they must stick to and they simply cannot have all the people they want, as much as they wish they could.
Invitations are always a welcome surprise, and the Deans just want to make sure you are getting the most bang for you buck. We know it can be tempting to be cute and original, but you never want to go so left field that you miss the key points. Stay on topic and make sure all the information you want to impart is in your invitation. If you are giving a special seated dinner, be sure to toot your horn a bit. Everyone loves to be excited about a future event. Always remember that you are in charge and that people will be looking to you for all their cues about what to expect. That's why indecisiveness can cause angst. An easy rule can be that if you think about yourself receiving the invitation, what would you want to know. This causes you to listen to you own voice, and your will be spot on!