Wedding Invitation Etiquette: What to Send and When
Wedding planning requires that one take care of a lot of details–some big, some small and all very important. A wedding plan timeline can help to reduce stress while also ensuring that every detail is taken care of in adequate time to contribute to a beautiful and memorable event. Your wedding invitation is one particularly important detail, as it not only announces the event but also sets the entire tone for the event.
Wedding Invitation Etiquette
Traditionally, all wedding invitations were as formal as the events they were announcing. Today, wedding invitations can be designed to reflect more casual events and do not automatically require the same formal wording they once did. However, one thing that hasn’t changed is basic wedding invitation etiquette, including what information should be included on the invitation, what information should be left off the invitation, how the envelopes should be addressed and when they should be sent.
First, you will need to decide what will be written on your invitation and how it will be written. You and your fiancé may feel that since committing to one another is a very significant event, you would prefer to use formal phrasing on your wedding invitations. This formal phrasing can work for any style of wedding, but it is particularly appropriate if you will be holding a more traditional and formal wedding with a church ceremony and a black-tie reception, and it can alert your guests to the fact that your event will be classy and elegant. However, if you and your fiancé are more casual and hosting a more casual event, the phrasing on your wedding invitations can likewise be more casual.
Regardless of how formal or casual the phrasing on your wedding invitation is, there are some basics that always must be included: who, when and where. This means the invitation should give the full names of the bride and groom, and the full names of the hosts if you’re using formal phrasing. It should clearly list the time, date, month and year of the wedding, and the full address of where it is being held. If you are requesting an RSVP, this should be written on the lower left corner of the invitation. The design of the invitation itself is truly up to you to choose, though professional wedding planners often recommend that you tie it into your wedding theme in some way–through colors or design embellishments.
Wedding etiquette demands that the invitation only contains the above key details of the event. However, the invitation suite can include other important details, like the appropriate attire for guests at the event, a map to the event location, accommodation details where necessary, and information about any activities that will occur before, during or after the event. It can also include an RSVP card, with a “please respond by date” that is roughly four weeks prior to your event, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Wedding etiquette also demands that one leave gift or registry information out of your invitation suite. If you have prepared a wedding registry for your guests’ convenience, family members can help to spread this information. Better yet, you can include gift and registry information on your wedding website page, with easy links to the appropriate websites.
Another important detail is the wedding invitation envelope, which should always be hand addressed in beautiful handwriting. Your guests’ names should be written out in full, preceded by social titles like Mr. and Ms. All the words in the address should also be written out in full, and house numbers under twenty should be spelled out. The return address should be written on the back flap. The envelope itself should be of high-quality, and can be tastefully done in a color that compliments your wedding theme.
Now you know what your wedding invitations should say and how they should say it, but when do you mail wedding invitations? Sending them too early or too late can likewise be impolite, so here are basic wedding invite timeline rules:
- Save the date cards can be sent out as early as a year from your wedding date
- Invitations should be sent to your guests six to eight weeks in advance of your wedding.
- Invitations for destination weddings should be sent to your guests three months in advance of your wedding.
Designing your wedding invitations, and eventually sending them out, can be a wonderfully exciting part of wedding planning, and if you follow the basic rules of wedding invitation etiquette they will succeed in fostering your guests’ excitement in anticipation of your special day.