Courtesy of Chelsea Davis Photography
Let's be real: Weddings require *a lot *of stationery and invitations. After all, there are so many wedding-related events and festivities that take place throughout the couple's engagement period. Promptness is key when it comes to mailing everything in a timely fashion — so, to help you keep track of all the invites, thank-you notes, and everything else you'll need to send, follow our handy guide.
1: Engagement Party Invitation
What it is: Oftentimes a couple's parents or close friends will throw an engagement party where the couple announces the big news. Some keep the reason for the party a secret, and announce the engagement during a toast at the beginning of the evening. Others send out invitations with the reason for the celebration detailed on the cards.
Who gets one: A guest at your engagement party will probably expect an invitation to your wedding, so plan this first guest list wisely.
When to send: As soon after the engagement as possible, while the news is still fresh. If you decide to announce your engagement at the party, you'll need to come up with a good excuse for gathering so many friends and relatives together in one place.
2: Save-the-Date Card
What it is: Though save-the-date cards are not required, they are a fun way to get your guests to mark their calendar. Also, they're especially helpful when many of your guests have to make travel arrangements or if accommodations near the wedding site are limited.
Who gets one: Only those who you're planning on inviting to the wedding.
When to send: Four to six months before the wedding, or even earlier if you're planning a destination wedding that may require more extensive travel arrangements.
3: Wedding Invitation
What it is: A traditional wedding invitation suite includes the main invitation, the response card, and any other enclosure card containing helpful information for your guests (reception card, travel and accommodations card, attire card, etc.).
Who gets one: Everyone on your guest list.
When to send: Send these out between six to eight weeks prior to your wedding date.
4:Bridal Shower Invitation
What it is: The maid of honor or another good friend usually hosts the shower; oftentimes several people, usually bridesmaids, share the responsibility of celebrating the bride-to-be.
Who gets one: Everyone invited to the shower should also be invited to the wedding.
When to send: These should go out between six and eight weeks before the event, depending on how many out-of-towners are on the list. Make sure guests RSVP to one person (the maid of honor, for example) to keep numbers organized.
5: Bachelor/Bachelorette Party Invitation
What it is: Whether it's a trip to Las Vegas or something more low key, the bachelor/bachelorette parties are for the bride's and groom's best friends to celebrate their upcoming nuptials.
Who gets one: Same thing applies — everyone invited should also be invited to the wedding.
When to send: One month before the party date. Emailing and calling is acceptable, too.
6: Rehearsal Dinner Invitation
What it is: The rehearsal dinner usually takes place the night before the wedding, following the actual ceremony rehearsal, and is a time for wedding-party members to celebrate and toast the couple.
Who gets one: Close family members and anyone participating in the wedding ceremony (including your officiant), plus their spouses or dates. But it is also considerate to invite your out-of-town guests to attend as a kind gesture of thanks for traveling all the way.
When to send: Send invitations three to six weeks in advance.
7: Thank-You Card
What it is: You should send thank-you notes for all gifts received during the course of planning your wedding.
Who gets one: Everyone who has given you a gift at any of the wedding festivities (the engagement party, bridal shower, wedding).
When to send: For gifts received during the engagement party and shower, send a thank you within two to three weeks of the festivities; for gifts sent before the wedding date, send a card as soon as possible but definitely before the wedding; for gifts given on the wedding day itself, mail a thank-you note within three months; and for gifts received after your wedding, send one within two to three weeks.