Your Complete Guide to Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Your Complete Guide to Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Wedding invitations often get overlooked and pose a mere last-minute afterthought.

Alas, this seemingly small mistake can make or break the whole event. After all, invitations strike the first impression and give people a taste of what’s coming. What is more, they provide key information and details.

And with a myriad of moving parts to worry about, they aren’t some no-brainer.

The good news is there are fundamental rules of wedding invitation etiquette you can rely on. For instance, you want to know what to say and when to send invitations. Making a misstep in this stage can portray you as inconsiderate and hurt people’s feelings.

So, let’s get down to the wedding business. Here is a practical guide on what points to get across and how to go about it.

Time on Your Side

The first question on the menu is when to send the invitations.

One typically does this around six to eight weeks before the big day. This gives people enough time to carry out planning and free up their schedules. In the case of a destination wedding, you should add a week or two more.

No, it’s not uncommon to dispatch invitations for these events three months in advance.

Likewise, it’s crucial is to bump up the timeline accordingly for overseas guests. Supply the travelers with info on booking hotel rooms and getting around the city too.

Do feel free to send save-the-date cards as well. They contain information such as your wedding website (if any). They aren’t an absolute must, just a nice way for people to mark their calendars.

The best time to send them is four to six months prior to the wedding.

Who to Invite to What?

Next off, we’ll tackle the matter of feeding the right information.

It goes without saying you need to have a wedding list. It’s your starting point, but you have to go the extra mile as well.

First of all, specify whether the event is for adults and children or adult-only. You will spare everyone the confusion and potential unpleasantness later.

Similarly, you should cover the gray area of dates and plus-ones. Unless you can afford to, you don’t have to invite every single guest with this extra person. People who aren’t married or in a relationship can come solo.

This is particularly important to keep in mind for smaller and intimate weddings. Like it or not, they force you to be selective and people should understand the reasoning behind it.

One exception is the scenario when almost all guests are coupled up. It makes sense then to extend the courteously to few that aren’t.

Oh and mention who the reception area is from. Namely, most weddings include the ceremony itself and the reception. Some organizers, however, reserve reception areas for family only.

Think about this sensitive issue and communicate it across the board.

A Visual Side of Things

Furthermore, do your best to explain the dress code.

You can for a casual style or lean toward the formal side more. A lower right-hand side of the invitations is a good spot to highlight this piece of info.

Notice the design of the invitation should reflect your ideas of what people should wear. Fancy letterpress and calligraphy suggest you’re aiming for a good old formal wedding.

Playful fonts and bold colors give the opposite impression. The same visual rules apply to your website, which can also feature dress code instructions.

Additional special requests apply, should you wish it so. Weddings with a distinctive theme or unusual venue tend to have them aplenty.

Short on styling and design ideas? No problem! Take a look at the best wedding invitations to get your creative juices flowing.

Playing the Right Cards

Moving on, you should make sure to have an RSVP (“Please Respond”) plea.

This element alleviates a lot of the headaches associated with doing the exact headcount. When invitees officially confirm their arrival, it’s easy to arrange the seating and other detail.

An RSVP deadline for confirmation is usually a few weeks (around a month) before the wedding. If some people don’t respond at all, contact them via phone or social media.

Another detail of interest is the return address. Display it on the back flap of the envelope. This address is a place where a designated person lives.

Parents and wedding hosts are the most common choices here.

Apart from the respond card, you can produce other cards as well. Many wedding planners send reception, travel & accommodation, attire, and website cards. The list goes on.

A Few Pitfalls to Steer Clear Of

On the other hand, we have a couple of things you should avoid bringing up.

For instance, refrain from mentioning registry information. You could give off an impression of fishing for gifts. A much better place for this is your website.

Alternatively, let your close family and friends pass on the information.

Finally, bear in mind you should always add a personal stamp. You don’t want to come across as too generic and formal.  Address each guest by name instead of “guest”.

Create a sense of exclusivity and see to it people feel like they’re really desired at the wedding. Another benefit of mentioning names is you make invitations non-transferable.

That is to say, you can prevent somebody you don’t actually like from appearing out of nowhere. It’s your landmark moment in life and you deserve to experience it pristine and carefree.

The Whole Nine Yards With Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Being well-organized and thoughtful in the planning stage pays dividends later.

It’s not enough to announce the big news and then hope for the best. Instead, respecting the wedding invitation etiquette is the way to go. It all comes down to communicating with the guests in the right way and in a timely fashion.

Thus, it would be wise to do the spadework. Fill everyone in on vital information and try not to overwhelm them with trivialities. Get the timing right and ponder showcasing more details on your cards or website.

Invitees should be in the know and have plenty of time to make arrangements. Ensuring this sets the stage for one of the most important days in your life!

Check out our other wedding articles to receive more handy tips.


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