Wedding invitation etiquette
Wedding planning advice from pro wedding planners
Wedding invitation etiquette can be tricky and, depending on who you talk to, there are different approaches. We asked some of the top wedding planners in Vancouver, BC, and Charlott, NC for their wedding invitation do’s and don’ts:
“Please do not make references to cash, donations, or any other wanted gifts. You are inviting guest to witness the union of your love. While it is customary to receive gifts, it should never be expected. Tio: add a number to the back of the RSVP that tie back to your guest list. You would be surprised by the number of guest who RSVP but forget to write in their name.”
“DO make sure your wedding invitations are cohesive with your overall wedding design and theme. DO put some thought into the wording of your invitations to consider tone, etiquette, and formality. DON’T include wedding registry information with your wedding invitations (this is more suitable for bridal shower invitations, or on a wedding website). DON’T invite more guests than you can afford or fit at your reception! Yes, it’s likely 10% will decline, but that’s not a guarantee.”
“In the eye of your guests your wedding invitation sets the tone for your wedding, so consider this when you’re in the stationery planning stages. Do you want your wedding to say black tie or backyard or beach? This can very easily be communicated through your invitation.
Do include the bride’s name first, even if her parent’s are not footing the bill.
Do a paper invitation! Digital invitations have certainly come a long way but paper is simply better.
Do Not mention anything about gifts on the invitations – especially not a request for cash!”
“Invitations can seem like a minefield of etiquette blunders as there are a lot of contradictory opinions out there about how things should be done. I always say “clarity and common sense are king.” One thing I recommend is that drafts of the invitation be proofed by not just the couple but also by both sets of parents and a couple of friends as well as the wedding planner so that a few fresh sets of eyes can catch anything unclear, missing or misspelled and it also gives parents the chance to speak up if they want their names included or don’t. With clarity in mind I always recommend that everyone invited to the wedding be listed by name on the envelope so it’s clear who is intended to be there – that includes putting “and guest” to anyone you would like to extend a plus one spot to, for them to invite whomever they like at their discretion (this would be in the case of a single friend without a significant other, should you choose to offer that).
There are many rules and ideas about who it’s polite to invite and who it isn’t but generally, people understand that weddings come in different shapes and sizes and that budgets and venues can limit capacity so I wouldn’t get too tied up about not inviting every co-worker you’ve ever borrowed a stapler from. There are many websites with useful rules of thumb about when to include guests significant other and when not to you, but in the end, respect your own budget as a reality and follow your gut about who you really want around you on your big day and who would be a courtesy invite. Those on your courtesy list probably don’t really care if they’re there or not and if you’re particularly concerned just be upfront with that person that capacity and big families have limited your being able to invite everyone you’d like and just acknowledging it usually does the trick of easing your mind.”
1. Allow plenty of time and take into consideration how long it will take to do all of the following:
- Finalize your invitation design and wording
- Order the invitations (i.e. production/lead times)
- Address, assemble and mail the invitations
2. Keep it clean and use easy-to-read fonts, especially for locations with unique names
3. Ask for help – Getting all your invitations ready for distribution is a big job, so invite friends, family or bridal attendants to come and help assemble your invitations
4. Stick with your theme – If you are planning for other stationery items (such as ceremony programs, place cards, etc.), stick with the same theme, style, and colours for a consistent look.
1. Include Registry Information in your Invitation – it is fine to list this information if you have a wedding website, or to have close friends and family help to spread the word about your registry.
2. List “No Children” or “Adults Only” on your invitation – if you are hosting an “Adults Only” reception, just address the invitation specifically to those you want to attend.”
“Here are some ways to increase your chances of a successful invitation outcome:
1. Work with a local stationer whenever possible as online companies often bring with it delays and disappointment – i.e. colour may not be what you thought (there are many different shares of Navy and pink), thin/cheap paper, poor printing, etc. At the very least work with a local representative that can share hard copy samples of the invitations and answer questions about fonts, colours, & options available. DIYing your invitations requires a very keen attention to detail. It’s really a measure twice, cut once scenario as many couple’s waste a lot of time and money buying things twice because the proper steps and considerations were not taken into account the first time. Most often a couple find out too late they could have bought local professional invitations for the same price they ended up spending on DIY efforts in hopes of saving money!
2. Always get a proof! And have a trusted friend or family member review it with sharp eyes before signing off. Check dates, the spelling of names, consistency of font size and type, RSVP details, addresses, etc.
3. If you do decide to DIY or order from an online company be sure to allow enough time to do your due diligence in requesting samples and receiving electronic or hard copy proofs with time to make changes as needed. Rushing almost always guarantees an error will be made somewhere.
4. Often couple’s think about the invitations, but forget about the stationery that comes into play closer to the wedding and do not leave enough time to design it or have it printed properly. i.e. Things like place cards, escort cards, seating charts, menus, and signage should all be designed and ordered 2-3 months prior to the wedding so that the only thing the stationer requires the week or two before the wedding is the information to be inserted into the pre-approved design format like guest entrée choice icons for the place cards (if applicable) or the assigned table numbers once RSVPs have been confirmed.
5. Don’t send out the invitations too soon! Often couples get ahead of themselves and get excited about wanting to send invitations 4-6 months before the wedding. It’s a mistake because believe it or not, weddings get forgotten about and sometimes plans need to be adjusted so sending the invites 8-12 weeks before the wedding is more than enough time especially if a Save the Date email or card was sent out 6-12 months prior (typically only sent out when the wedding lands on a holiday weekend or if guests live outside of the hosting city).”