Your parents and closest friends have known about your engagement since the moment you said “yes!” Heck, they may have even helped plan your proposal. So when you figure out when and where you’ll be tying the knot, these VIPs will be the first to find out. With them fully informed on all the details, do you need to stamp an invitation and put it in the mail? Our etiquette experts are here to help you figure it out.
It might seem redundant (and even like a waste of paper and postage) to send an invitation to the people who know every single thing about your wedding, but your parents, siblings, and wedding party should definitely be on the invitation list. Traditional etiquette states that any invited guests should receive a formal invitation to your celebration, regardless of how close they are to you. The invitation may be implied—especially after the “will you be my bridesmaid?” gift—but we all know what happens when anyone assumes anything...So while it might mean a few more invitations to assemble, envelopes to stuff, and stamps to buy, the expense is one you should include in your budget from the get-go.
Put yourself in their shoes: Getting an invitation to the wedding of someone you love is one of the most exciting pieces of mail you’ll get all year, so don’t take that moment away from them! And when it comes to people like your parents and in-laws, that mailed invitation is a keepsake they’ll really cherish. For people like your in-laws, the invitation is key. If you and your mom have taken on most of the planning, they’ll probably know less about what you’re working on, so be sure they get a formal invitation with all the inserts to make sure they know where they’ll need to be and when they’ll need to be there.
While you’re at it, send an invitation to yourselves, too! Assemble, tie, stuff, and stamp it the same way you did the rest of your invitations, then mail it so the stamps are cancelled. Set it aside for your photographer to capture along with the rest of your details, then tuck it into your album or a scrapbook to reminisce about later.
So who absolutely must get an invitation to your wedding? Basically, anyone you are 100% certain you are going to invite. If you’ve mailed your Save the Dates, anyone who received one must get an invitation to the wedding. Not sure if you’ve got room for your cousin’s kids? Better to skip the Save the Date and send just an invitation when you’re sure than to try to explain that you don’t have enough space later. If they were invited to your bridal shower (unless it’s an office shower) or bachelorette party, they also must be on the list.
And who doesn’t need to get an invitation? If you know someone can’t make it, they do not need to be sent an invitation. This can sometimes seem like you’re asking for gifts, so if you know your college roommate or your uncle won’t be able to attend, it’s best to skip the invitation. The exception, however, would be any guests you think would appreciate the gesture and see it as a way to keep them included—this most often applies to grandparents who won’t be able to travel to your wedding, or friends who would give anything to go but can’t get the time off.