Selecting and sending out wedding stationery is one of the most thrilling parts of planning a wedding! Not only does your stationery set the aesthetic tone for your celebration, it can become a cherished memento of you and your partner’s love.
What’s more, wedding stationery serves a valuable purpose. Delivering the right stationery at the right time helps you get a headcount, avoid awkward questions, and set clear guidelines for your event. In short, good wedding invitations help your special day run exactly the way you dreamed it.
So, when should you send out your wedding invitations? How do you let guests know whether or not they get a plus one? And where exactly are you supposed to include your wedding website?
We’re diving deep into the I Dos and I Don’ts of wedding invitation etiquette and giving you our tried-and-tested tips for timelines, guest list management, and more.
Now that you’re *officially* engaged, it’s time to start planning your dream event. It’s never too early to get in touch with your invitation designer and begin ideating. All you need is a vision and (eventually) a date and location.
When should I start designing my wedding invitations?
At Volk, we recommend reaching out to your invitation designer at least 5-6 months before your wedding. This gives you and your designers time to collaborate and create detailed stationery that reflects your personality as a couple — as well as send them out in a timely manner.
Remember: more time is always better. If you are planning a destination wedding or would like to send out save the dates, starting to design 10 months or more in advance allows you and your guests ample time to plan travel and other details.
Can I rush order wedding invitations?
Yes! Many wedding stationery designers offer rush invitations for a fee. However, remember that the custom invitation design process generally takes at least 4 months to make sure every detail is just as you’d envisioned.
Running behind? We recommend you look at letterpress semi-custom wedding invitations. If you’re willing to sacrifice the tiniest bit of uniqueness, semi-custom invitations are a much quicker process and less expensive, while still maintaining quality.
Wedding decisions can feel a bit overwhelming — we know you want everything just so. If you don’t know where to begin, find an invitation designer to work with! This can help get the ideas flowing for your entire celebration.
So, whether you're a few months or a year and a half away from your wedding date, the best way to be sure you get your invitation etiquette just right is to get started!
Save the dates are a simple, effective, and gorgeous way to make sure your guests know when you’re getting married with plenty of advance. This element of your wedding suite is the first hint your guests will get about your event — and they’re an absolute must for destination weddings.
When it comes to wedding invitation etiquette, save-the-dates are a considerate way to make sure your guests have plenty of time to plan any necessary travel, as well as coordinate childcare, pet-sitters, plant-sitters, etc.
When should I send out Save-the-Dates?
For celebrations in your hometown or nearby, send out save-the-dates about 6 months before your wedding. If you plan on having a destination wedding or anticipate many guests traveling from abroad or further distance, expand your timeline! Save-the-dates should go out about 9 months in advance of destination or high-travel weddings, and you can even send them out a year or more in advance. This will give your guests the time they need to handle extra travel details.
This means starting the planning process with your invitation designers even earlier! If you’re looking at a destination wedding, begin the process 12 months before your wedding date.
Save-the-dates aren’t always necessary. Couples with shorter engagements may choose to opt out of sending a save-the-date and instead, invest more in their main invitation suite. Regardless of your timeline, they’re a fun way to get your wedding date in everyone’s calendar and tease them with the celebration.
I Dos and I Don'ts of Save-the-Dates
- Do ask for addresses a few weeks before you plan to send out save the dates.
- Do send save the dates to everyone on your guest list (one per household).
- Do include the date and location.
- Do add your wedding website, if applicable.
- Don’t expect replies or RSVPs right now. Those will come in response to your invitations.
- Don’t go overboard with the details – those are for main invitations!
- Don’t hand out save-the-dates in front of people you don’t plan to invite (trust us, it'll be very awkward).
Invitation Card and Suites
There’s nothing like the feeling of getting a big, beautiful envelope in the mail with a gorgeous letterpress wedding suite inside. Every detail, from the thick paper down to the gorgeous ribbon is special and exciting for your guests.
You want your guests to feel as thrilled to receive your invitations as you are for your wedding day — and part of that delight is making sure they receive the invites on time and with all the necessary details.
When should I send out wedding invitations?
Invitations should go out 4 to 6 weeks before your wedding.
This timeline captures the best for all parties involved. As a couple, you can receive your final headcount with plenty of time to share that information with caterers, venue staff, and vendors. As a guest, you still have time to pick out an outfit, finalize transportation plans, and make any other arrangements.
That being said, earlier is not always better. There is such a thing as sending out wedding invitations too early — here’s why.
How early is too early to send out wedding invitations?
If you send your invitations too early, you risk your guest count fluctuating and getting last-minute cancellations. If you remind your guests too much in advance, you lose a bit of that building excitement! At Volk, we recommend that your invitations don’t go out more than 12 weeks in advance.
How late is too late to send out wedding invitations?
Send your invitations too close to the date of your wedding and you’ll likely encounter difficulty wrangling RSVPs and getting all those last-minute details nailed down. Stress is no stranger during the wedding planning period, so avoid the stress of last-minute invitations. When possible, try not to send invitations any later than 3 weeks before your wedding.
When you go custom with Volk, we’ll send your invitations directly to your guests at exactly the right time — of course, that’s after our in-house calligrapher works their magic. If you choose one of our semi-custom stationery packages, Volk will send the completed invitation package right to your door so you can send out your stationery in a timely manner.
If you have a lengthy guest list or hefty invites, you might prefer to have the professionals send out your stationery, which is always available for a fee regardless of your invitation choice.
I Dos and I Don'ts of Invitations
- Do send out an invitation to every person you sent a save the date (no take-backs!).
- Do outline specifics like dress code, schedules, and the number of guests invited per household.
- Do include RSVP information or an RSVP card.
- Don’t hold back — wedding invitations should reflect you and your design sensibilities!
- Don’t forget to order a few extra invitations. You’ll definitely need a keepsake, as well as a few backups in case anything gets lost in the mail.
RSVP cards are traditionally sent in the same envelope as your wedding invitations. The purpose of an RSVP is to find out how many guests are attending! Getting a guest count ahead of time helps you plan with vendors, caterers, and your wedding planner so your celebration runs smoothly (and you waste less money).
When we look at RSVP etiquette, we’re mostly concerned with saving you time and energy.
What should be included in an RSVP?
RSVPs usually include prompts like the number of guests, a spot for names, and a deadline by which responses are required.
However, as you’re working with your invitation designer, you can always request additional fields to suit your needs. Adding prompts like “food allergies” or “number of guests attending” will give you the exact information you and your vendors need to make your wedding run smoothly.
If you want to be a little more modern, get cheeky with it! Create your own prompts, like having guests write down a song that they’ll definitely dance to or have guests submit their ideas for cocktail names.
When should I request RSVP responses?
If you’ve followed typical wedding invitation etiquette, you sent out your invitations 6-8 weeks in advance and can give your guests 3-6 weeks to decide whether they’re coming. Ask for RSVPs to be completed at least 2-3 weeks before the wedding. Don’t forget to give this timeline to your guests!
I Dos and I Don'ts for RSVPs
- Do use clear wording and a clear format.
- Do have a specific deadline for guests to RSVP.
- Do include your wedding website and indicate if guests can RSVP online.
- Don’t forget to include a return stamp if you expect snail mail replies.
- Don’t give your guests too little space to write. Make sure guests have room to write out full names and dietary restrictions.
Beyond the Timelines
Wedding invitation etiquette doesn’t only concern your invitations! It’s also a tool for conveying some of the more intricate, personal details of your celebration. Clear communication and guidelines in your wedding stationery helps you avoid texting individual guests and repeating yourself. You have way more important things to worry about!
Here are a few other wedding invitation etiquette tips:
Plus One Status
Wedding invitations and RSVPs are a straightforward way to express who gets a plus one and who you’re inviting to come solo. Dodge some of those more awkward moments by using invitation etiquette to your advantage!
Our Volk designers suggest phrases like, “We’ve reserved __ seat(s) in your honor” or simply writing the individual names of each invited guest — no write-ins allowed.
Having a well-defined dress code in your invitation is extremely helpful to guests. It helps people show up confident and ready to enjoy your big event.
While we don’t advise having a bouncer to kick out anyone not dressed in spring pastels, cohesive attire can really set your day apart. Whether you’re going with MET Gala-inspired looks or cocktail attire, just give your guests a clear heads-up on your invitation.
Kids at the Ceremony
Wedding invitation etiquette can help you navigate the big question of kids. Don’t leave your guests guessing; just plainly express your wishes in your invitation!
If you are inviting families and parents to bring their kids, spell it out so adults don’t have to wonder. If children can’t be included in your wedding, you don’t need to over-explain the situation — just say no! Try some of these tactful phrases from The Wedding Playbook to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Different people have different preferences when it comes to large celebrations. Maybe you’re still masking up in general or just want to be conscious of a specific guest’s health. No matter the situation, good invitation etiquette is to outline your expectations clearly!
At Volk, we advise including an announcement in your invitation with your health guidelines for the ceremony and reception. Don’t forget to include contact info for guests who may have questions about these guidelines.
Wedding invitation etiquette is just another tool in your kit for wedding preparedness. While there’s truly no right or wrong way to do anything (except maybe sending invites over AIM), it’s always good to keep timing in mind and to be clear in your communication! Our Volk designers are always here to help with any etiquette questions and will make sure your invitations go out on time and with all details accounted for.
Whether you’re planning an intimate, relaxed ceremony or a large, white-tie extravaganza, gorgeous wedding stationery that follows wedding etiquette will delight your guests, keep your planning on track, and help lighten the load so you can enjoy your wedding to the fullest.