Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Your invitations will, in many ways, set the tone for your wedding day. You should aim for sending them out six to eight weeks before the wedding so that guests can have ample time to make travel arrangements. Destination weddings require more lead time (two to three months) as guests will need to make more elaborate travel plans and likely take more time off of work.

What to Include:

The Basics

Wedding invitations need to include the first and last names of you and your partner, as well as the date, location, and time of the wedding. It should also include the names of those hosting the event. This could be you and your partner, your parents, both of your parents, or anyone else hosting the event celebrating your marriage.

Your invitation should provide everything guests need to know about the when and where of the ceremony, reception, and rehearsal dinner or welcome party, if they are invited. If your ceremony and reception are not at the same place, if you have a lot of out-of-town guests, or if your guests are not all staying on-site, consider including maps for the convenience of out-of-town guests.

Accommodation and Travel Information

If you have reserved a block of hotel rooms, include information including the name and contact information of the hotel and deadlines for reserving rooms as an insert in your invitation suite.Also consider including other hotel options for guests looking for a luxurious stay or a budget-friendly option. These cards should also include nearby airports and rental car agencies.

Attire Information

Include information such as “black tie,” “black tie optional,” or “cocktail attire” for your guests information. This will guide them as to what to wear to your wedding while also setting the level of formality of the event.

Response and Meal Information

You will need to let guests know how and by when to RSVP. Many couples are opting to have guests electronically RSVP on their wedding websites, but if your guests are not all technologically savvy, this can lead to a frustrating time getting responses. Make it clear when guests should RSVP by. Typically you will want a final head count for your venue, caterer, and seating charts by three weeks before the wedding. This will give you plenty of time to track down missing RSVPs. Always include a stamped and addressed return envelope for your guests’ response cards.Also, include menu information only if your caterer requires you to submit a count of entree options prior to the wedding. Include the entree options on the reply card so you will have that information as RSVPs roll in.

Who is Invited

It is very important to make clear exactly who is invited. Guests should be listed by name (as opposed to “and guest”) on the envelope address so there is no confusion. If you are having an adults-only wedding, just address the invitation to the adults only. Only in the event that guests RSVP for children should you explain that the event is adults-only. If you would like, you can include this information on your wedding website, but word-of-mouth is always more appropriate.

Additionally, make it clear if you are giving guests a plus-one. It is not required, but it is appropriate to give a plus-one to guests in a serious relationship, as well as to invite all spouses. If a guest is single, you do not have to allow them a plus-one, though it is a nice gesture.

Website Information

It is perfectly acceptable to include your wedding website as an insert in your formal invitations, though it is more appropriate to include them on your save-the-dates. Something along the lines of, “For additional wedding details, please visit our website at” will direct your guests in the right direction.

Childcare Information

If you are providing childcare during the reception, include an insert that informs parents that a nursery and/or babysitting will be provided. It is important for parents to know this information prior to making travel and childcare arrangements.

What to Exclude:

Registry information

Information about your registry should be spread through word-of-mouth through your wedding party and immediate family and friends, or through your wedding website. It is considered poor etiquette to display registry information directly on your invitation. Invitations should invite people to come celebrate with you, not inform guests of how to give you gifts.

In summary, when all is said and done, your invitations should give guests everything they need to know to come celebrate the beginning of your marriage without starting the conversation about your registry and how to give you gifts. Invitations should include a ceremony invitation, reception card (if your reception is in a different location than the ceremony), and information cards for other wedding events such as the rehearsal dinner for those you are inviting. It should also include accommodation and travel information along with maps so guests can make appropriate arrangements and get around the area with ease. You guest should know who is invited to the event, how and when to RSVP, and what to wear. Finally, you should include your wedding website information if you are choosing to include it in your invitation suite.

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