Wedding Invitations 101

You’ve completed many of the more difficult aspects of planning for your wedding day; you picked a date, booked an amazing venue, snatched the best photographer around, and you have the menu nailed down. You even taste-tested the main course dessert! (Okay, maybe that part wasn’t too hard…) Now it’s time to inform your closest friends and family members of the date, time, and location, so they can mark their calendars. What could be difficult about that? In theory, invitations should be one of the easier wedding planning tasks, right? However, when it comes to sending wedding invitations, there’s a lot more thought involved than you might think.

For example, having an accurate headcount for your wedding is pretty important, both for budgeting purposes as well as for the caterers, so they can ensure there’s enough food and drink to go around. You also need to make sure all your guests can fit comfortably in your chosen venue, which sometimes means you have to get a bit restrictive with your invites and specify who exactly is invited. On top of that, it can be difficult to know how to send out the invitations, and/or “Save the Dates”, how to collect RSVPs, what details need to be included on the invitation, and so on.

We’re here to answer your most pressing questions about invitations, which can often be a tricky part of the wedding planning process!

Who Should We Invite?

Deciding who you will extend an invitation to can sometimes be one of the more difficult tasks on your wedding to-do list. A lot of it comes down to personal preference, such as how big or small you want your wedding to be, the size of your venue, how many people you can afford to feed, etc. While there are some common etiquette rules to follow, at the end of the day, you should always follow your heart. It is, after all, your day! It’s best not to let anyone bully you into inviting someone you worked with three years ago because she will hear about it and be offended. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

Should you invite everyone you’ve been close with since the 2nd grade, including your middle school best friend who you barely speak to anymore? Not necessarily. What about all of your parents’ best friends? What about every aunt, uncle, cousin, second cousin, and third cousin twice removed, even those who notoriously don’t get along? The list adds up, fast, but remember, this day is one you will remember forever, so as a simple rule, try to keep your list to those you’ll want to remember along with this day.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down your list, try this out. Sit down with your partner and make a list of everyone you would consider inviting, and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they immediate family?
  • Good friends or just coworkers?
  • Have you spoken to them in the last 2 years?
  • Do you like them?
  • Would you want to be invited to their wedding?
  • Would it cause you drama to invite them or not to invite them? Hopefully, you don’t have to make this type of a decision, but if you do, remember, the final decision is up to YOU and your partner – and no one else.

If all else fails, there’s one final question you could ask yourselves: Can you see yourself going to dinner with this person in the coming year? If the answer is no, they probably shouldn’t make the cut. We know it can be tough thinking about excluding certain people, but sometimes it’s for the best.

Should Children Be Included?

Photo Credit: Classic Photographers

Another important thing to think about is whether you want kids at your wedding, or if you want it to be adults-only. Choosing not to include children is a popular choice for a lot of people for many reasons. If you and your partner don’t want your siblings, friends, or cousins to bring their crying babies to your wedding celebration, that’s completely understandable. Honestly, most people will look forward to a child-free night and jump at the opportunity to call their babysitter for a night off.

That being said, if you know the only way your best friend can make it to your wedding is if they bring their baby for a few hours, you are entitled to bend the rules for them if you want. It is your day, after all! Or, maybe your wedding party includes well-behaved children, but you don’t necessarily want everyone’s kids running around until midnight hopped up on sugar from the wedding cake.

Whatever you decide, just be sure to decide it before you send the invitations out, and to be clear about whether or not the children are invited. If you are opting for a kid-free wedding, be sure to make this clear on the invitation. If you are inviting a couple but not their children, write, “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Smith” rather than, “The Smith Family.” If you are inviting the whole family, write “The Smith Family” or individually write out each of the kids’ names. You may even want to include a polite note about whether or not children are invited, just to clarify things for your guests further.

Can Your Single Friends Bring a Guest?

If someone is married or in a long-term, serious relationship, they should automatically get a plus-one. Beyond that, the lines get a little blurry. This is something that will ultimately come down to personal preference. You absolutely do not need to feel obligated to extend a plus-one to every guest if they aren’t married. However, if the majority of your guests are couples, you may consider extending a plus-one to any single friends or family members so they aren’t the only solo ones there.

Whether you decide to include plus-ones or not, stick to the plan once you’ve decided. It wouldn’t be appropriate to allow one single friend to invite a date but not another. Once again, just be sure to make it clear who is invited. If you’re allowing a plus-one for your guests, include “and guest” or the guest’s name if you know it. This should clear things up, but in the event that it doesn’t, hopefully, you’re close enough with your guests to clear up any confusion over a phone call. Politely explain why you’ve chosen not to include plus-ones if that’s the case. As long as you communicate your preferences, people are typically pretty understanding.

When Should the Invitations Go Out? 

Timing is very important! Traditional rules say wedding invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding, but times are changing. As our schedules get busier, guests prefer to receive more advanced notice. Can you imagine receiving an invitation to a wedding that is 6 weeks away? That doesn’t allow much time to prepare. Instead, it’s best to give your guests 3-6 months’ notice, especially if there is travel involved. Note: If you’ve already sent “Save the Dates”, sending the official invitations about 2-3 months before the wedding should suffice.

Speaking of “Save the Dates”, they should go out 6-9 months before the wedding, or sooner if there’s a lot of travel involved, or in the case of a destination wedding. There is so much involved in planning for the travel to a wedding, so in this case, it’s better to send out the invites as soon as possible.

What Information Should the Invitations Include?

Photo Credit: Cait Bourgault Photography

These things may seem obvious, but it’s always good to have a checklist of the basic info that should be included in your invitations. Wedding planning can be stressful and can make us forgetful, so let’s not take any chances! Be sure to include:

  • Names of the couple (First and last, and maybe even indicate what their married names will be, for the purposes of check writing!)
  • Who is hosting the wedding
  • The date, time, and address for the ceremony and reception
  • Additional information about the ceremony/reception (Will there be a cocktail hour? Cash bar?)
  • Dress Code (Your guests will appreciate not having to guess on this one!)
  • A stamp on the RSVP envelope or instructions on how to RSVP via phone, email, or online

Typically, the RSVP date will be about 3-4 weeks before the wedding, giving you plenty of time to make sure each guest has replied (or to track down those who haven’t), coordinate with your caterer, and finalize seating arrangements. Since every venue is different, be sure to check with your wedding planner or venue on the exact timeframe they need a headcount by, as it may be sooner than one month out.

As far as wedding registry information goes, this can be included in your “Save the Dates”, on your wedding website, or with bridal shower invitations, if applicable. Registry information typically should not be included with the wedding invitations. The wedding invitations should really just include details about the wedding day, including meal options and instructions on how to RSVP. Also, this may seem obvious, but only send “Save the Dates” to those you plan on inviting to the wedding!

Online invitations are another option to consider. If you choose this option, once your guests receive the invite, they will be directed to your wedding website where they can easily RSVP. This is the most environmentally friendly option, is easy to manage, and will save you money! Many guests may actually prefer this option over mailing an RSVP. The only real downside to using online invitations is that if your guests forget to RSVP right away, they won’t have the physical card around to remind them. You know your guests best, so be sure to choose accordingly.

Need More Help With Wedding Planning?

If you’re looking for help with invitations and all of the other details to make sure your day goes exactly as planned, consider hiring a professional wedding planner. Angela Marie Weddings would love to work with you to make sure your day is just the way you always dreamed it would be. Call us today for a consultation!

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