These days, there are no real “rules” for wedding invitations. Just about anything goes – in a matter of speaking. From eVites to formally printed versions or handwritten notes, you have a wealth of options. There are invites for the splurgers as well as the über-budget conscious.
Wedding invitations are sort of like a microcosm of wedding planning in general. You start out thinking you want something simple – and then as you move from step to step, you find there are multiple options for each step. Before you know it, your invitations are a multi-staged, photo-laden, eFriendly, shimmery enveloped affair that look nothing like you originally intended and cost about three (or ten!) times more than planned.
This Wedding Invitation Guide can serve as a resource in terms of what should (and doesn’t need to ) be included in the invites, when to send them, wording suggestions and a few ideas about where to get them or how to make them on your own.
Whether you’re having an elaborate, traditional wedding in a chapel, a green wedding at a local farm or a simple, city hall wedding – your invites are a wonderful way to showcase who you are, and the tone of the event, without breaking the bank.
Your Top 10 Wedding Invitation Questions Answered
First, we’ll start out by answering the top 10 Questions typically searched online in regards to wedding invitation “Dos and Don’ts.”
- When do we send them? Traditionally, wedding invites are sent out six to eight weeks before the event. Nowadays, however, everyone’s schedule is so busy that you may want to send out save-the-dates a few months out. Be mindful before spending money on paper save-the-date invites. For the most part – like invitations – they end up going into trash bins or recycling containers. DO take advantage of free websites like Evite or Paperless Post, where you can send really sweet, personalized save-the-dates 12-weeks ahead of time. Save the paper – if you’re sending paper at all – for the “Real” invitations. If you have a few relatives or older friends who don’t have email, print out a picture of the two of you and send them a sweet, handwritten or affordably printed “save the date” using nice paper from a local print shop.
- When should people RSVP? Typically, you only need an RSVP the week before the event. That’s the amount of time requested by caterers or restaurants for a final head count. However, there are a lot of procrastinators out there, so ask for RSVPs to be sent two-weeks ahead of time so you still have a week for the tardy responses to arrive. If you don’t have RSVPs by the week before, call guests directly and ask if they’re coming and what names should be on the seating chart (if you’re making one).
- How do we include wedding website information? These days, wedding websites are commonplace so a simple wwww.sweetieandhoney.com will direct guests where they want to go. If you take advantage of digital invites or “save the dates,” you can embed your site’s hyperlink right in there, making it even easier for guests to access.
- Should we put registry information on invites or save-the-dates? Miss Manners says you shouldn’t. Advertising where you are registered is viewed (in the etiquette department) as saying, “Give us stuff!” However, it’s done all the time, so follow your gut on that one. The most polite way to go about it is to let your immediate family and wedding party know where you’re registered so they can accurately field questions from invited guests. You can also create a Registry Page on your wedding website that has links to where you are registered.
- Is it rude to have an “Adults Only” wedding? No, you are well within your rights to have a wedding that excludes children. The best way to go about this is to send the invites to the name(s) of the invited guests only. No “guest” or “family” terms included. This should serve as a sign that only the adult guests are invited. You may want to spread the word through the family and wedding party grapevines as well, so they can help clarify things. Another option is to hire babysitters and set aside a separate room at the venue where kids will be tended to without being a part of the wedding ceremony and/or reception.
- How do we let guests in on the wedding attire “dress code?” The most direct way to do this is right on your wedding invite, either at the very bottom or at the bottom right. Terms like “black-tie,” “cocktail attire” or “totally casual” are all good indicators. We’ve also seen things like “beach chic” or similarly venue-appropriate terms. Your website is another place to explain things like, “you’ll be standing in sand/grass/pasture, so beware high heels” or other wardrobe-savvy hints that will enhance guests’ comfort.
- Do we have to allow “Plus Ones?” This is YOUR wedding and you should only invite the people you want to invite. If you’re having a smaller and more intimate affair, inviting solo guests is totally acceptable. Exceptions to the “only invite those you want at your wedding” are:
—Married couples. They should always be invited together.
—Consistent couples. If you invited all of your friends’ partners but left an “and guest” off someone’s invite because you don’t like their mate, that’s not considered polite.
—You’ve added “and guest” to the invite. You can’t micromanage who brings who.
If someone RSVPs for a “plus one” when the invitation was written solely to him/her or using their ex’s name, give them a call and explain that the wedding guest list is limited and only those named on the invite can attend.
- Where do we put the return address? On wedding invites, the return address is usually added to the back flap of the envelope. It is typically the host/hostess’s address, although there are exceptions. Also, make sure that the RSVP inserts are printed with the same return address and that you’ve included postage.
- Can we invite people to the ceremony but not the reception? This is bad form. Everyone invited to the ceremony should be included in the reception guest list. That being said, it is perfectly fine to have a smaller, more intimate ceremony and then invite extra people to the reception.
- What do I do if a couple I invited broke up? The rule of thumb is that only the name on the invite is invited to the wedding. So, if your friend breaks up with someone you named on the invite, you should be able to approve any other guest she/he wants to bring. If you invited an individual by name and then added “and guest” – then technically, the invited guest should be able to bring anyone he/she wants to the wedding.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of wedding invitation basics, we’ll move on to some of the most popular wedding invitation options.
Ordering Wedding Invitations From a Professional
The tried-and-true way to order wedding invitations is from a professional business – a local printer or professional graphic designer who specializes in wedding invites is ideal. These are the most expensive version out there, but some of the benefits include:
- Personalized guidance to steer you in the right direction.
- The ability to have more customized invitations, peruse more “extras” or to use a graphic you’ve designed on your own.
- Greater insurance in regards to proof-perfect work that will be corrected without charge if there’s a mistake (make sure it’s in your contract).
- Quicker turnaround time if they offer in-house printing.
If you are a visual or tactile person, it is also helpful to see real samples and feel different papers with your own hands, which isn’t always possible when you work with online printing options, without the extra time involved with ordering/sending in samples.
Using an Online Wedding Invitation Printing Sites
There are a gazillion different online printers out there who will make your wedding invitations for you. They all offer a wide range of templates you can work from and most offer the ability to design your own using one of their in-house graphic designers or a graphic you’ve already designed.
The advantages of using an online wedding invitation site includes:
- They’re much more affordable than traditional wedding invitation printers.
- The array of templates can make it easy to choose a design and font you like, which can save you oodles of time perusing through individual options regarding paper, colors, fonts, layout, etc.
The disadvantages are that it can take a lot more time to deal with samples that need to be shipped back and forth, and you can’t have immediate physical access to the different materials – so you may not really know how the final product will look or feel until you have it in your hand. Also, because you’re dealing with shipping times, you might find yourself under the gun if you don’t get started ahead of time.
Using a Digital Invite Option
Digital wedding invitations are becoming increasingly popular for several reasons. They’re free or extremely affordable, there is virtually no downtime at all between designing and sending them out, and digital invites are eco-friendly. Let’s face it, the traditionalist in us loves the formality of paper invites, but they (as we mentioned before) largely end up in the trash. Talk about a waste! If you don’t want to go completely digital, at least consider that route for your save-the-dates to keep expenses and wedding waste in check.
Wedding Invitation Wording
Wedding invitation wording largely consists of the Who, What, When and Where factoids. The hosts are the ones that typically “request the honor of your presence of” or “invite you to join them for”. Keep in mind that the wedding invitation wording sets the tone for the wedding. If you’re having a casual beach wedding, the wording shouldn’t be as formal as a more traditional wedding.
Check out these examples from Bridal Guide to view wording that varies according to who is hosting or the type of wedding event being announced.
Wedding Announcement Options
Many couples are opting to skip the big “to do” and enjoy a small and affordable civil wedding at a city hall or other public venue. Even so, you deserve to announce your event – or host a party or reception to honor it after the fact.
You can use wedding-style invites or announcements to let family, friends and loved ones know what’s happening – or what already happened – so they can share in your joy. Since simple was your M.O. for the wedding, digital announcements are a smart way to go about it. However, if you’re hosting a shindig down the road, paper invitations can be a nice touch.
The most important thing is that your wedding invitations mesh with your personality, your ethics and your budget. They’re a “Step One” so getting the invites you want is a good first step towards enjoying the wedding of your dreams.