What’s the difference between “congratulations” and “best wishes” in wedding situations?

Christina, thank you for your perceptive question!

First, words matter… and you’ve picked up on that. That’s wonderful!

Right, fitting, pleasant, and true words reflect a thoughtfulness that aims for appropriateness. True words create a difference in our own lives and those around us. Encouragement often comes via fitting and appropriate language. Something about “trueness” in speech increases soul satisfaction and harmony in the grand scheme of life. Yes, words matter!

While the use of the word “congratulations” rather than “best wishes” in wedding situations isn’t horrible, their subtle difference is tangible. Offering someone your best wishes upon their wedding or engagement, rather than congratulating them, remains the better choice of words…and likely expresses your genuine intent.

Consider this Webster’s Dictionary short paraphrase: Congratulations acknowledges and expresses a person’s pleasure or joy to another person on account of an event or achievement deemed happy or fortunate. For example: a winning victory, an achievement, such as earning a diploma, the birth of a child, or success in an enterprise.

The root word “grat” root comes from Latin’s “gratus”= grace. Words such as gratitude, gratis, gratuity, and gratulation signify a person’s approval, pleasure or appreciation. In the truest sense of the word, giving congratulations on a marriage infers the couple has somehow achieved, won, earned, or accomplished something against some odds.

Moany of us have seen wedding (and anniversary) cards expressing “congratulations”. Most of us know the card’s sentiments are simply a statement of goodwill. While this may seem nice, in the case of weddings, an offer of congratulations expresses your opinion and approval on the victorious achievement of marriage.

Is that what you really mean?

The better expression offers the couple your “best wishes”. This can be done with a variety in wording. Look at any card rack for their creative ways of expressing your thought. Ignore their commercial merchandise with “Congratulations” looming across the front.” Instead, opt for a card (or your handwritten note) that infers more than your congratulatory announcement; send a card that offers them your “best wishes” in their new life together.

The subtle difference in wording” shifts the meaning from your congratulatory approval on this victory or achievement to your good wishes for them as a couple.

Thank you for sharing your perceptive thoughtfulness and good question with PM friends.

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