Weddings require a lot of stationery and invitations. There are so many wedding-related events and festivities that take place throughout a couple's engagement period, and they all require another invitation. At first glance, it can seem a little overwhelming—but not to worry. We've got the ultimate guide to wedding invitation etiquette. Read on to learn when to send:
- Wedding invitations
- Wedding invitations overseas for international guests
- Save the dates
- Engagement party invitations
- Bridal shower invitations
- Bachelorette party invitations
- Thank you notes
When to Send Wedding Invitations
A traditional wedding invitation suite includes the main invitation, a response card, and any other enclosure card containing helpful information for your guests (reception card, travel and accommodations card, attire card, wedding website card, etc.).
How long before my wedding should I send out invitations? Send your wedding invitations out six to eight weeks prior to your wedding date.
Who should receive a wedding invitation? Everyone on your guest list.
How far before the wedding should the RSVP be? RSVPs should be due one month before the wedding.
When to Send Wedding Invitations Overseas for International Guests
If you're inviting just a few overseas guests, send their invitations along with the ones destined for your other guests, but make a point to give them a heads-up: Give them a call or send them an email with the details, as well as information about booking hotel rooms, so they can start to arrange their travel with time to spare.
Does half of your family live abroad? You might want to consider bumping up the timeline for them, as well as the rest of your guests. Start designing your invitations a few weeks early, and plan to send them out a minimum of 12 weeks in advance—that's the timeline you'd use for a destination wedding, and for these guests, that's exactly what it is! Be sure to follow up promptly with anyone you haven't heard from to make sure they have plenty of time to book their flights.
You will also want to have all of the information available on your wedding website as soon as save the dates are in the mail. Sure, it means you'll have to start ironing out the room block and transportation information sooner than you'd expected, but you'll be happier in the long run. Those overseas guests will have all the information at their fingertips, and you'll have even more crossed off of your to-do list!
When Send Save-the-Dates
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 save-the-dates: Four to six months before the wedding, or even earlier if you're planning a destination wedding that may require more extensive travel arrangements.
When to Send Engagement Party Invitations
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 engagement party invitations: 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.
When to Send Bridal Shower Invitations
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 bridal shower invitations: 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.
When to Send Bachelorette Party Invitations
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 bachelorette party invitations: One month before the party date. Emailing and calling is acceptable, too.
When to Send Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
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 rehearsal dinner invitations: Send invitations three to six weeks in advance.
When to Send Wedding Thank You Cards
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 wedding thank-you cards: 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.