Updated: Nov 1, 2022
Though invitations may seem to be just a piece of paper, it is so much more than that. Invitations are a preview into your wedding day! They are your first wedding related interactions with your guests. Yes, it tells them the necessary details (time, date, location) but it also gives them a glimpse of the overall theme and vibe of the day. Invitations and in turn, RSVPs dictate all those final details like catering and chair counts. All this to say, it’s a pretty important part of your wedding planning process. But where to start? Let’s go over all the details!
Timing is Everything: Let’s talk about when to send all the things because you want to be sure to give your guests time to decide if they can make it to your nuptials or not. We’ve specified for a local wedding or a destination wedding because there’s a certain level of planning that goes into local versus destination. For example, your friend with the two kids (and let’s say you decided to have a kid free wedding) do they need to get a babysitter for the night or do they need to have grandparents pinch hit for two nights while they travel out of state? A Local Wedding is when guests won’t have to travel far enough that they will have to stay the night. So, if most of your guests have to travel far enough that they will likely be needing to spend the night - we’re throwing you in the destination wedding category.
Local Wedding: (These dates are pretty standard and give local guests plenty of time to plan.)
Save the dates - 4-6 months.
This can be as simple as a postcard with just the date and location. If you want to include your website you can but it doesn’t necessarily have to be completed. You can have some sections of the website still say “More Info Coming Soon”
Invitations - 8 weeks
At this point you are giving ALL information needed for your wedding. If you’re not including all of the information on paper, be sure to have your website completed so that any and all questions can be answered. I promise you this will save you a lot of time from answering guest’s questions - “It’s on the website!”
Send out Save the Dates 6-8 months in advance or start telling people.
Treat it as a pre-wedding invitation with lots of info included that way guests can start making plans.
Alternatively, make sure your wedding website is completed with alllll the info so that you guests are well informed. Set up your RSVP too so that guests can start RSVPing and you can start getting your numbers together
Include a schedule of events so that your guests can plan how long to dedicate to your wedding festivities
Have your room blocks ready to go so that guests can start booking (Want to hear more about room blocks and transportation? Check out our blog here!)
Start sending out invitations about 12 weeks in advance. At this point your guests should have started planning their travels and this should really be a formality. You can include details that are important but also weren’t necessary for planning like attire requests, timeline of events, gifting details (registry or asking for just monetary gifts).
Again, consider having your website ready to go with all the deets.
Let’s talk about what your Save the Dates and Invitations could look like!
Save the dates
Save the dates ideally land on all of your guest’s fridges and bulletin boards. They’re a little something that your guests can look at as a reminder and daydream about your epic wedding-to-be. Save the dates are typically less formal than your invitations. This opens the door to so many fun possibilities. From printed fans, magnets, pencils (“Pencil us in!”), bottle openers, to strip photos. The possibilities are endless! Did you take some gorgeous engagement photos? Now’s the time to use them!
Information to include:
Date of wedding
Location of wedding
Website - optional but if you include it be sure to fill out the basics on your website too before sending them out.
🔥HOT TIP🔥: For sending anything other than a printed piece of paper, don’t ship it as a letter, you will likely need to ship it as a package. Take your Save The Date to the post office and ask them how to best ship your unique item. They will likely weigh it out and suggest the best method for shipment. Most of these bulkier items can’t go through the processing machines. More on that later…
Electronic Save the Dates
For about a dollar an invite you can save money on printing and postage
You can keep your guests updated with “newsletters” filling them in on more details as they go.
Guests can pull it up anytime instead of looking for a piece of paper
Downside: sometimes it can get lost in junk ):
Wedding invitations can be so simple these days because you can put so much onto your wedding website. But some people prefer to go all out on invites and include everything. You choose how detailed your invitations will be. Overall, your invitations should be a preview into the overall theme of your day. Match colors and textures to really give your guests a hint of what’s to come.
Let’s talk about the different parts to an invitation; the actual invitation, response cards, reception cards, directions, and other information. These cards deliver important information to guests and dictate the style and overall vibe of the celebration.
Both of your full names
Date of wedding
Time of ceremony
Location of ceremony and reception
Optional: wedding website - can be a card all of it’s own
Wedding RSVP / Response Card / Meal Choice Card
This card gets sent back to you and is the communication from your guests to you about who will be attending from the household and who will be eating what.
We highly recommend filling out the entire card (except for the food options) that way no one can fill in unwanted plus ones or kids that aren’t invited.
Write exactly how many people are invited with that invitation (if you have space, write each person’s name) on the card that way there’s no confusion. The clearer you are about who is invited, the better.
🔥HOT TIP🔥: If you choose not to fill out the card, use a blacklight marker to number your response cards to correspond to your invite list. That way if it’s not filled out you know who’s response card it is.
Leave space for dietary restrictions so that there’s an option for that one friend who decided to be vegan over the last year you weren’t aware of.
Include a STAMPED envelope for them to send it back to you. Don’t forget the stamp or you’ll be hunting down RSVPs that got lost in the mail! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Be sure to address your RSVP returns to yourself otherwise they'll get lost in the mail coming back to you.
TIMING: Request your RSVPs about two weeks before your catering or venue needs their final counts. This will allow you some time to chase down lingering responses and for you to have a true final count when you turn in your numbers.
This card tells your guests everything they need to know about the reception
Location, time and date - this might not make sense to you if your ceremony and reception are in the same location but if you’re say, getting married in a church and having your reception 30 minutes away, this tells your guests that not only is there down time in between the ceremony and reception but they have to travel to a different location.
🔥HOT TIP🔥: If your schedule looks something like this add about two hours between ceremony and reception for photos and travel time.
Parking and directions - is the venue tucked away and a little hard to find? This is your chance to write out specific directions on how to get there and where to park.
Attire - This helps to indicate the type of reception and what guests should be expected to wear (cocktail, formal, semi-formal, casual, etc)
This card includes information on hotels in the area, perhaps a room block (Need more info on room blocks and transportation? Click here!)
Are you having a shuttle to move your guests around from hotel to venue or even parking lot to venue? Include the shuttle information here!
Worried about people drinking and driving? Call them an Uber with Uber Event! Let your guests know that this option will be available.
If you don’t have it on your reception card or have a lengthy attire description feel free to include an attire card to make sure your guests show up wearing what you want them to wear and not jeans and a t-shirt (Unless you want them in a t-shirt and jeans, then tell them that too!!)
Now, let’s talk about actually mailing your invitations. You’ve just spent a considerable amount of time and money making these beautiful peeks into your wedding day. The last thing you want is for your invites to not make it to your guests in one piece.
An invitation’s worst enemy is a little process called “canceling”. Canceling is basically where your postage gets marked as paid and they speed up this process by running it through a machine. If the envelope is bulky or uneven you may get ripped envelopes and potentially damaged invitations inside. There’s a way to avoid it going through the machine all together. It takes some time but you can get them hand canceled by the postmaster. The current cost of hand canceling is $0.21 so you’ll need to factor that into your budgeting for postage. Before doing anything, assemble a mockup of your invitation and bring it (unstamped) to your post office where they can weigh for the proper postage amount and tell you if there’s a risk with them going through the machine.
When considering things like wax seals, acrylic invitations, and thicker stacks of cards, just remember that it might cost you just a little bit more to ship. Not a big deal, but just something to consider.
Honorable Mention: Wedding Websites
Wedding websites are a handy way to get all of the information your guests need into their hands, literally, at their fingertips. It’s a great place to display those stunning engagement photos you took and give a little background about your relationship and your bridal party and their relationship to you. It’s a great place to, again, display your wedding vibe - there’s so many templates for you to choose from these days, you can even get one that matches your invitations! When I was getting married I can’t tell you the number of times I told my guests “It’s on the website”. It’s a great resource and time saver to just send someone the link to the specific page they’re inquiring about. Plus, it’s a great space to throw more of your creativity into and show your guests what you and your boo are all about!
Have questions about the invitation process or need some suggestions on where to get your invitations? Let’s chat about the details! Schedule a consultation call today! We love talking about ALL the details, even invitations.