When it comes to creating and sending your wedding invitation, there’s a lot more to it than just sticking a card in the mail. We’ve asked our experts to weigh in on the top invitation etiquette mistakes and to share their tips so that your invites are everything you want (and need) them to be.
1. Mistake: Putting an Incorrect Start Time on the Invitation
Solution: While it might be tempting to indicate a ceremony start time that's earlier than the one you've planned, you may want to reconsider that thought. If there is one thing wedding guests know, it’s to show up early to a wedding ceremony. If you plan to begin your ceremony at 5 p.m., expect guests to arrive between 4:30 and 4:45—and to head down the aisle no later than 5:15. If you tell guests the ceremony will begin at 4:45, they’ll arrive closer to 4:00 and wait an hour to see your grand entrance.
2. Mistake: Not Including All the Necessary Information
Solution: A well-informed guest is a happy guest, so make sure to keep your guests in the loop. Specify the date, time, and location of the ceremony—among other important details—on your wedding invitation. If your reception will be at the same location, indicate “reception to follow” to let guests know they don’t need to go anywhere else. If you’re having a reception at another location, you can either include it on the invitation or, more formally, print a reception card with the time and location.
On your information card, you’ll want to include any pre- and post-wedding events, hotel information, and a link to your wedding website. And don’t forget the dress code!
3. Mistake: Sending Invitations Too Late
Solution: Look at your wedding date and count back eight weeks (for a non-destination wedding). This is the latest you should mail your invitations to give your guests enough time to RSVP and make any travel plans. Having a destination wedding? Count back 12 weeks so your guests don’t feel rushed and can shop around for the best travel prices.
4. Mistake: Not Providing RSVP Instructions
Solution: Don’t forget an “RSVP by” date on your RSVP cards—this one is a biggie. Give your guests three to four weeks to let you know if they’ll be attending. The RSVP date should be at least two weeks before your wedding so you can give your caterer a more accurate head count. And, of course, let guests know how to RSVP. Include a pre-addressed envelope that they can use to send back their reply, or direct them specifically to the email, phone number, or URL they should use to RSVP.
5. Mistake: Not Putting a Stamp on the RSVP Envelope
Solution: If you want your guests to mail back an RSVP card, make sure the envelope is pre-addressed and includes a stamp. Does this mean you’ll have to buy a whole bunch of extra stamps? Yes. But asking your guests to pay to reply (even if it’s just a single stamp) is an etiquette no-no.
6. Mistake: Putting Your Registry Information on the Invitation
Solution: We all know you shouldn’t put your registry information on your invitation, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it completely. Instead, include the link to your website (not directly to your registry) on an information insert. Then make sure the registry tab on your site is clearly marked so guests can find it easily.
7. Mistake: Creating a B-List
Solution: This one is controversial. If you’re sending your invitations early enough (we’re talking 12 weeks before a non-destination wedding), having a B-list of guests is acceptable. However, if you’re going to send out a second round of invitations, make sure you’ve printed a second set of RSVP cards. That way, those guests receiving a later invitation have an RSVP date that is a few weeks after they get their invite, not the next day.
8. Mistake: Not Clarifying Who Is Invited
Solution: It’s all about the names on the front of the envelope. If you’re inviting a couple but not their children, don’t use “The Smith Family.” Instead, put “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith,” which implies that they are the only two invited. If you’re inviting someone with a guest, be sure to write “and Guest” on the envelope, or put the name of his or her significant other if you know it. Inviting the whole family? Either write “The Smith Family” or “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Susie, Alex, and Michael,” with the kids’ names on the line beneath their parents’.