Our ‘For Brides’ series has been an ongoing project with the hope and intention of connecting soon-to-be-wives with easy and accessible information that may help them with their wedding planning. I’m sure all brides have come to a quick realization that there is a lot to consider when you plan an event as large and as important as your wedding. You feel pressure to cater to your guests, make sure family requests are incorporated while maintaining some resemblance of yourselves and your personal style. There are also rules and the looming decision of whether or not to break them. All in all, there’s a lot to think about!
When you begin to book your vendors and choose your official wedding date you’ll probably also begin to search out the perfect invitation style that nods to who you are as a couple. Your Save the Date and wedding invitations will the be the first taste of your wedding style that guests will receive. These invitations may even stay on the refrigerators of those who are lucky enough to get them – for months. So, when do you send them out? And what information should they give?
Don’t worry. We’re here to help to clear up some confusion!
WHEN TO SEND SAVE THE DATES
Allowing your guests the opportunity to plan for your upcoming event is the best possible thing you could do for them in the beginning. Especially if your guests need to make arrangements for traveling or blocking off a whole weekend on their calendar to be there for you.
If you do some research online you’re likely to see varying timelines of when to send these out to guests. Try not to let this overwhelm you. Generally, if you’re hosting a destination wedding your timeline for Save the Dates and wedding invitations will be a bit more generous than those who are hosting a local event. For destination weddings, we like to advise brides to try to send out Save the Dates 8-12 months from the date of your wedding. For weddings that will be held locally, it is okay to send them out to guests at least 4-6 months before the wedding.
WHAT TO INCLUDE ON SAVE THE DATES
You’re not required to send Save the Dates to guests, but it is recommended because it’s a really good (and fast) way to give guests a head’s up about your upcoming event date. So now that we’ve decided it’s a good idea to send them out, you might be wondering what to include in them.
- Bride’s & Groom’s names
- your wedding date
- your wedding location
- your wedding website (if you have one)
- “Formal Invitation to Follow” – making a note letting them know your official invite is coming soon
If you’re booking an engagement portrait session, a great way to use those images celebrating your engagement is to place them on or with your Save the Date, and on your wedding website. If you haven’t booked your portrait session yet, don’t worry! There’s no rule saying you have to use your engagement portraits this way!
WHEN TO SEND OFFICIAL WEDDING INVITATIONS
It is recommended to send out formal wedding invitations about 6-8 weeks before your wedding date arrives. This will give guests plenty of time to RSVP, book a hotel room if needed, arrange for time off of work or babysitting for their kids, etc. If you’re planning arrangements for a plated meal with your caterer chances are you’ll also have to gather food choices from your guests as well. Speak with your caterer to make sure they’re given plenty of time to plan! Usually, your caterer will request 2-3 weeks of time to prepare so consider setting the deadline for RSVP’s for that date.
WHAT TO INCLUDE ON FORMAL WEDDING INVITATIONS
If you’re requesting guests to dress appropriately for your celebrations, it is perfectly acceptable to include this information on your formal invitations in the lower right-hand corner. Writing “black tie,” “cocktail attire” or “casual attire” will give your guests another opportunity to plan for your wedding properly. This information could also be shared on your wedding website.
- Who’s hosting
- the Bride’s and Groom’s names (whether to include last names depends on who’s hosting)
- where and when the ceremony will take place
- where the reception will take place “immediately following the ceremony”
- IF the reception is held at the same location as your ceremony you can write “Reception to follow”
Same rules are to be followed with same-sex weddings as well. The family who is hosting (i.e. financing) the wedding celebration should be listed first on the invitations.
There are so many varying ways to write this information out on a formal wedding invitation – formal, modern, or relaxed. If you’re choosing to work with a calligrapher or designer for your invites they’ll know exactly what to include and how to include it. And if you choose to create your invitations on your own using a website like Shutterfly or Minted, they will have plenty of templates to choose from that will allow you to drop your information in and order.
It’s so easy to feel completely overwhelmed when there are so many rules to follow! But don’t worry, a simple internet search will help to answer these questions. If you’re a visual learner (like I am) it might help to see a variety of invitations already written out to get a good idea of what to expect. This is another way online stores like Shutterfly and Minted will come in handy.
Have fun planning!