Timing is crucial when planning a wedding, and getting your invitations sent out at the appropriate time is a vital part of making sure the whole process goes smoothly. But when is too early? And when is too late?!
Unless you’re an experienced wedding planner, it is really hard to know exactly when you should send out wedding invitations. Is it once you’ve booked the venue? Secured all your vendors? Or as soon as that ring slips on your finger!?
It’s a tough call, and if you get it wrong, you can run the risk of upsetting loved ones, complicating your seating chart, or even not having a very special person present on your wedding day. (Not to mention the wasted hours spent agonizing over your guest list!)
We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about the invitation process, including information on those other vital pieces of stationery etiquette you’ll need to be considering when planning your big day!
When Do I Send My Save-the-Dates?
Before we delve into the tricky, and confusing world of invitation dos and don’ts. Let’s talk about your save-the-date cards.
Save-the-dates officially announce your occasion and let your guests know there’s a celebration on the agenda!
These are especially important for out of state and overseas guests, but also for those who are just really busy! We all have that one friend who struggles at the best of times to even meet you for a beer, so give them plenty of time to make plans!
Remember that if you’re planning a destination wedding or midweek celebration, your guests will probably have to take time off work, so be courteous and give the heads up.
The rule of thumb for sending out save-the-dates is between 9 and 12 months before your big day. However, aim towards a year in advance if you do happen to know many busy individuals, or perhaps have family scattered across the country.
Who Should Receive a Wedding Invitation?
You know that guest list you’ve been having nightmares and near full-blown feuds over for the last 2 weeks? Well, everyone on that list, needs an invitation.
Save paper and only send one invitation per household. But basically, if you want them there, they’ll need to be invited, either by post, through the door, or electronically.
What Do I Include Within the Wedding Invitation?
Traditionally, a wedding invitation set includes the main invitation and an RSVP card.
However, an invitation suite is more commonly used these days. An envelope containing a card with information is a particularly useful addition, allowing you to include details such as travel, accommodation, your wedding theme (if relevant to guests’ attire), or links to relevant local resources. You may even want to include an itinerary or a menu!
Of course, if all of your guests are pretty tech-savvy, you can forgo this extra bit of stationery, and just pop a handy QR code on your invitation! This can then direct guests to your wedding website, where they’ll receive all the up-to-date info they need in real-time, and you’ll save a few dollars on the invitations!
When Do I Ask for RSVPs?
It sounds obvious, but when you send out your invitations, you must allow enough time for your guests to respond.
Normally, you should expect replies from 75% of your guest list within a week, or two, but some guests need more time than others.
In general, you should allow 4 to 5 weeks for your guests to RSVP. Offering around a month will give everyone enough time to decide if they’re able to attend, and be sure that they can make any necessary travel arrangements.
There should, however, be a firm due date on your RSVPs! Your vendors will need to know a final guest count long before the big day.
The caterers, in particular, will have meticulously planned the right number of meals for your party size, and you bet they won’t be best pleased if you call them up the night before to ask for 55 extra portions!
Be sure to have in all response cards, either online or by post, 2 to 3 weeks before the big day — as early as possible really! It’s not the most fun job, calling your loved ones up if they miss the deadline, and demanding to know whether they’re attending your wedding or not, but needs must!
Formal or Casual Invitation Style?
Most couples choose to send formal invitations to reflect how significant and momentous an occasion their wedding is.
However, your save-the-dates and wedding invitations should essentially reflect the type of event you’re planning. So if you’re having a low-key and relaxed wedding, then set your stationery to the same tone with informal wording and a fun opening statement.
What Should I Avoid Including on My Wedding Invitations?
Formal or not, all your important information needs to be clearly stated! The address, time, date, month, and year need to be clearly visible, along with the all-important names of the bride and groom.
However, you may want to avoid adding any wedding registry information to your invitations, as it may look a little like you’re requesting gifts, very early on! Instead, include this info on your wedding website; a place that is much less in your face.
Also, make sure to avoid mistakes! Triple check all the details before you send them to the printer, and be certain to ask for a proof from them before they start printing the whole job. Mistakes are simply not an option!
On that note, think twice about handwriting all the cards… It takes a lot longer than you’d expect (unless you’re having a micro-wedding), and you’re more likely to make silly errors!
How Long Before My Big Day Should I Send Out Wedding Invitations?
‘Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today’; sage advice when it comes to wedding planning, except perhaps where sending invitations is concerned…
When it comes to sending out your invitations to wedding guests, it’s actually better to not send them too far in advance.
Your wedding day is a huge, wondrous, and special occasion, for you! However, keep in mind some guests will live very hectic lives, so hectic that your invitation may end up on the forgotten pile if sent too many months in advance.
Guests may also jump to respond, resulting in a lot of false yes or nos. Plans change so keep your invitations as relevant as possible.
Aim for a 6 to 8-week timeline and if you know your guests need extra time to prepare, avoid a last-minute rush, and aim for around 8 weeks.
Also remember that even though we do live in an electronic age, even an e-invite needs to be timed appropriately to ensure grandma makes it to the church on time.
However, if your wedding plans involve travel, you need to step up the process…
What About International Guests and Destination Wedding Invitations?
The bottom line: if your guests need to make extra travel arrangements, they deserve and need advance notice!
Whether you intend on shipping your loved ones out from New Jersey to a little villa in Tuscany for the week or flying half your family in from the depths of Alaska, it’s only fair you get their invitations sent well ahead of time!
In terms of a significant amount of international guests, be sure to begin the design process around 4 weeks earlier than you would usually have done, and aim to send the international invitations out at least 12 weeks in advance of the upcoming nuptials. Arranging flights and accommodation can be time-consuming, not to mention expensive, so it’s only fair to give plenty of notice.
Note, that if you only have one or two international guests and would rather send them their invitations along with everyone else’s, make this more of a formality and give them a call or email long before.
For destination weddings, your whole wedding party is obviously traveling and therefore everyone needs ample time to prepare.
Your wedding venue may also need to know well in advance what your confirmed number of guests is to ensure scrupulous planning.
We would suggest sending invitations for destination weddings out 12 to 16 weeks before the big day. This should give loved ones plenty of time to get their affairs in order, and also give you proper time to possibly arrange their accommodation.
When Should We Send Our Rehearsal Dinner Invitations Out?
The rehearsal dinner is often a much-enjoyed occasion as it allows the group to celebrate the upcoming nuptials but without a lot of the formality.
This dinner will normally be just for close family and friends, but you may also want to invite out-of-town guests, and international invitees, as they’ll usually need to arrive a day early. It’s courtesy, but also a great opportunity to catch up.
This invitation can be sent out a little later than the main wedding invite, but maybe only 1 or 2 weeks later. Sending this invitation promptly will mean your guests can factor in the dinner when making their plans.