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Wedding Invitation Etiquette: The Ultimate Guide

Published date: 26th June 2019 | Author: Hollie Bond


Why is Wedding Invitation Etiquette so Important?

Choosing your invitations can fall down the list of priorities when it comes to planning your day, but it’s one of the most important elements. After all, it’s the first hint of what guests can expect your wedding to be like and it’s also your way to ensure all the vital information is there to avoid calls from confused guests. From what to write to when to send, this your fool’s proof guide to wedding invitation etiquette.

 

wedding invitation etiquette image


What to include on your wedding invitations

First things first, write down all your essential information. If you’re having a wedding website, you can keep it minimal, however, be warned, even then, some guests will inevitably come to you as opposed to looking at the website.

The important information to include is… 

Who is hosting the wedding?
Traditionally it’s the bride’s parents, but you can name whoever who want – it could be from you and your husband or wife-to-be, from one set of parents, both parents, or even your children.

You and your partner’s names
Sounds obvious, but it’s important to remember to include this, so guests know the invite is for your wedding. Usually, the bride’s name comes first and on same-sex invitations you can arrange the names in which ever order sounds best.

The request to come to the wedding
 The wording you choose is entirely up to you. Typically, traditional weddings have more formal language – for example, ‘[name of bride’s parents] request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter [daughter’s name] to [groom’s name]’ – while modern or casual affairs use more relaxed wording – eg. ‘We’re tying the knot – celebrate with us’ or ‘Join us on our big day’. Either way, just choose the wording you feel most comfortable with.

The venue and its location
If you have more than one location, for example, a church and a reception venue, include both.

The date and time of the wedding
This is essential, so guests know when to arrive. Also give an indication of when festivities will end – e.g. ‘carriages at midnight’. If your wedding is taking place over a number of days, for example if it’s a wedding abroad, make it clear when you would like them to arrive and leave so they can book their transport accordingly. 

Other information
If your evening do is taking place at a different venue, let guests know if you are arranging transport or if they’ll be expected to make their own way there. If you’re inviting someone to the evening celebrations only, you need to make this crystal clear on the invite. 

Other information you can include ranges from parking, details of your gift list and dress code. If you’re not having children to the ceremony and reception, make this clear – we have a piece about kids and weddings here.

How to RSVP to a Wedding Invitation
Let guests know how you would like them to RSVP – making sure to include your email or postal address. Also include a date of when this needs to be received by (check with your venue when you need to give them final numbers and set the date two weeks before that to allow for late responders and/or give you a chance to contact back-up guests if others can’t make it). It’s smart to ask about any dietary requirements at this point too.

wedding invitation design


Wedding invitation design 

Whether you go for a bespoke design and printing service, choose a templated format or go for a DIY version, choose something that will reflect your day. You could incorporate the colour scheme or certain themes. Take a look at these stationery suppliers to find some inspiration.

There are two golden rules for invitation style: good-quality, thick card speaks volumes – and simple is best. Also, a calligrapher is great for writing the names on the invites and envelopes, or you could do a calligraphy course yourself, or just ask a friend who has elegant handwriting.

If you want your invite to look minimal or you’re battling to fit all of your text onto your invitation, it might be worth having an information card. Here you can include all the additional details mentioned under the ‘other information’ section. Not sure where to start? 

Top tip: ask a couple of friends to check your final design before you send it off to print – preferably one who knows details of the day and one who doesn’t – they’ll be able to point out is anything is unclear.

wedding invitation design Natalie watson


Number and timing of wedding invites

Sending your invites two months before your wedding is advisable, however, if your wedding is abroad it’s best to give as much notice as possible so guests have enough time to book travel and accommodation.

If you’re going to have your invites specially printed, and your wedding is within the next four months, you may wish to order your invitations in advance of resolving exactly <who> you’re inviting (whether it’s your cousins boyfriend or your mum’s friend), as long as you have an idea of final numbers: printing and proofing can take a month and more.

A rule of thumb is 15 to 20 per cent of those invited can’t make it and will let you know. If you want to keep to the same numbers, you’ll need invites to cover a second sending. Reprints are expensive, so it’s good to order extras (and bear in mind slips of the pen when writing them out, so a few more for that too).

wedding invitation envelope

How to address your wedding invitation envelopes

Deciding how to address envelopes isn’t as straightforward as you might think. With different set-ups, for example, unmarried couples, those with plus ones and titles to get right (Ms, Mr, Dr. etc), it can be complicated. To avoid any awkward mistakes, follow our guide below… 

To a single male
Use ‘Mr’ if the person is over 18, otherwise just use their first and surname. 

To a single female
Traditionally, ‘Ms’ is best for women irrespective of their marital status and ‘Miss’ for unmarried women (usually those under 18). 

To a single person with a plus one
The envelope should only include the name of the person you know, then on the invite write their name ‘and guest’. 

To an unmarried couple
For unmarried couples who live at the same address, include both names, listing the person closest to you first.

To a married couple
If you’re going traditional, envelopes usually follow the format of ‘Mr and Mrs Harris’, however if you want to be more modern you can just do first names or ‘Andrew and Lisa Harris’. 

To a married couple with different surnames
List the person you’re closest to first. If you know both guests well, it’s custom to put the female’s name first. 

To a family with children
For a traditional invite you can address it in the format of ‘Mr and Mrs Brewer, Lewis and Frances’ or ‘Mr and Mrs Brewer and family’ or, for a modern take, ‘The Brewers’ will do. 

To a married person with a title
If you want to be traditional, the format would take ‘Doctor Caitlin Joy and Mr Alex Royle’ and for a contemporary wedding, the format it as follows: ‘Professor Emma and Mr Damian Fox’ – if the woman has taken her husband’s name – otherwise include the woman’s surname, too.

COVID-19: What do I Say?

This is difficult time for weddings, so to help you, here’s some advice on what to do regarding your invitations.

Once you know what you want to say, whether it’s that the wedding is postponed, uncertain or still going ahead, the easiest way to contact people is via email. It’s best to pre-empt questions people will have and give any information you have about travel and accommodation refunds too to save lots more emails back and forth. 

Another alternative is splitting up the guest list between you, your partner – and maybe even close friends or family – and making calls. That way you can reassure and respond to people straight away.

Once you have a new date or location, some companies are offering existing wedding customers the option to have a digital version of their save the date or wedding invitation created for free to send guests via email. Others are offering reprints of wedding stationery with a discount if the details of the event change are due to Covid-19. 

Whatever happens, we hope the rest of your planning goes smoothly and you enjoy your big day.

FAQs


What’s the difference between save the dates and wedding invitations?
Save the dates are an option if you want to share the news of your day far in advance and/or you are waiting to confirm details. Save the dates are usually sent six to eight months before your wedding day to make them worthwhile and nine months to a year if you’re getting married abroad. 

When do I send wedding invitations without save the dates?
Sending your invites two months before your wedding is advisable, however, if your wedding is abroad it’s best to give as much notice as possible so guests have enough time to prepare travel and accommodation.

When should I order my wedding invitations?
It’s best to order your wedding invitations as early as you can. If you’re having bespoke designs they can take up to a couple of months to print and be sent out, and then you need time to write them, collate addresses and post them.  

How many wedding invitations should I order?
Remember, you don’t need an invite for every single guest. If there are couples and/or families, that reduces the number as they only need one invite each, however it’s always best to order more than you need. Extras allow for any mistakes when you’re writing the names on the invites and also when sending out a second batch (if a few of your original guests can’t make it – but be mindful that the RSVP date could be in the past if you’re doing this). 10 to 15 per cent more than you think you’ll need should cover it.

HB

Written by

Hollie Bond

Hollie is a lifestyle journalist with over ten years’ experience working in the wedding industry as Lifestyle Editor for You & Your Wedding magazine Also a Regional Editor for Muddy Stilettos, Hollie has written for Square Meal magazine, Family History Monthly, BBC History magazine and Homes & Antiques. In her spare time you can find Hollie in a dance studio practising ballet…

Learn more about Hollie Bond

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