If you’re new here – wedding invites are kind of our thing! So sit back and enjoy this series where we talk all about every piece of the invitation suite from Save the Dates to finishing touches!
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Part 2 of our All About series is here! You probably think we talk a lot about wedding invitations, so why do we need a blog about it? But often when we say “wedding invitations” we’re referring to the whole suite, so today we’re actually just focusing on the Wedding Invitation itself. In the next few weeks, we’ll cover all the other pieces so you can put all this knowledge together for one full suite – but today, it’s just the Star of the Show!!!
Well, umm…I’m gonna assume you’re here with at least a little knowledge on invitations for your wedding, and skip this question!
You should send wedding invites 8-12 weeks before your wedding, assuming you sent a Save the Date. If you did not send a Save the Date, then send Invitations as early as possible (3-4 months out) to allow your guests time to arrange travel.
Usually you need your wedding guest count and meal counts by 1 month before the wedding for your wedding calligrapher (hint hint!), caterer, florist, and other vendors. This helps you arrange the seating chart and finalize all of your details in that last month before the wedding. So assuming about 1-2 weeks for invites to be delivered and 1-2 weeks for guests to send their replies back, sending invites 8 weeks out will be perfect! If you’re sending your invitations internationally, you’ll want to allow more time. Here’s a long post about mailing wedding invitations.
DIY-ing your invitations can take longer than expected, and custom designers often require 2 months (or more) for design and production, so start this process early!
The invitation card should focus on the wedding ceremony only. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations, then the invitation traditionally focuses only on the ceremony, and a separate card is used to invite guests to the reception.
If your reception is in the same location immediately following the ceremony, then you can use a line like “Reception to follow” on the bottom of the invitation card to indicate that to your guests.
The most important thing to remember is that this is 100% up to you and your preferences as a couple. You have to include date, time, names, and location on your wedding invites (or else people won’t show up!). But for the rest, we’ll tell you what’s typical and you can choose to follow or break the rules as you like.
Emily Post is the best place to read up on wedding invitation etiquette. There are a lot of intricacies if you’re going the traditional wording route.
We start with the hosts. Historically, this has been the families of the Bride and Groom (typically the Bride). The hosts are technically the ones inviting each guest to the wedding, so we put them first!
Your Names – DUH. You can use first only, first and middle, or first middle and last, whichever you prefer.
Wedding Time – The ceremony start time
Wedding Location – Again, go with the ceremony location only. Typically, we include a street address as well as a city and state (no zip code is necessary).
Attire – Optionally, you can include the dress code on the bottom of the invitation.
Reception Information – This part is optional as well, and typically short and simple. “Reception to Follow” works, or you can make it unique with whatever wording you like!
Obviously, this is just historical information and doesn’t account for LGBTQ+ weddings, or those where families are not hosting. Go with what makes sense for you as far as hosting, family inclusion, etc.
There are a few things you should not include on an invitation if you’re following traditional etiquette. These include:
As I’ve said, traditional etiquette isn’t always follow anymore, and I am a HUGE fan of fun, unique wording that works for you as a couple. But if you’re trying to stick with what’s “proper”, here are a few tips that I see people screw up fairly often:
Your wedding invitations should be as formal as the event itself. After all, these are the first anyone is seeing of your wedding vision and style. You can communicate a lot by using the right formality. So if your wedding is black tie, then sticking to traditional wording will be more important. If your wedding is at a hometown BBQ restaurant, then an engraved, formal, black and cream invitation may be misleading to guests.
Whichever one is commonplace in your area of the world is generally used. If a wedding is black tie or white tie – you should use the “u” as it’s more formal technically.
This one is on the reply card, but I’ll address it here anyway! Same here as for honour – use whichever is more commonplace in your region. If your wedding is black tie or white tie, use the “u”. If you use “honour” you should also use “favour”, but if you use “honor” you should use “favor” (they should match!).
Commonly, Bride’s parents hosted, so that’s how it’s traditionally done. As the “hosts” are meant to be the ones inviting the guest to the wedding, and typically the ones paying, just go with that. Sometimes that includes both sets of parents, and they’d be listed as:
“Mr. and Mrs. Harry Styles
The Drs. Malik
invite you to celebrate the wedding of their children”
As an English major, this one just irks me a bit. You cannot invite someone to another person’s marriage, because a marriage isn’t an event. So the correct invitation would be worded a little differently:
The wedding is the event at which you’re celebrating the marriage, but you’re not actually inviting these guests to your marriage!
If you use the Bride’s parents as the hosts, then you typically include their last names. Because of this, you don’t need to include the Bride’s last name.
Often it will look like:
“Mr. and Mrs. Harry Styles
invite you to celebrate the wedding of their daughter
Alexander Thomas Cade”
You can use first names, first and middle, or all of your names if you want – it’s totally up to you. I wouldn’t recommend only first names if you have reeeeally generic first names and people might confuse your wedding with another. In theory this wouldn’t happen – but some of those more distant relatives may be confused.
Traditionally, the Bride’s name goes first. If you’re in a same-sex couple, choose one. Go alphabetical. Bet it on a board game. Do whatever you want! If one partner’s parents are hosting, then you can have that partner listed first as it goes with the hosting parents’ information at the top.
Everyone who got a Save the Date deserves a Wedding Invitation, even if they already let you know that they aren’t coming. You can send an invitation to someone who didn’t get a Save the Date, though, so if you have B-list invites, you can order extras for them based on anyone who already RSVP’d no.
Make sure you send a separate invitation to everyone over 18, even if they live in the same house. This rule doesn’t apply if they are romantically involved. So a 20-year old living at home should get a separate invitation from their parents, and roommates who are all invited should all get separate invitations as well. Generally, being on the same wedding invitation together implies romantic involvement or a parent/child relationship – if you have sisters that are roommates they still technically should each get their own!
Again, the most important part is that you can do whatever the heck you want here – we’ll just give you some pointers for the typical invitation.
Start with the names: You and your partner are the most important part of the day – you want your guests to have no doubt about that from the first time they see the invitations. Make the names big, use unique script fonts, or even calligraphy if you can! Here’s a round-up of our favorite calligraphy fonts for wedding invitations.
Highlight Other Important Info: I often complement calligraphy names with another calligraphy line – perhaps the Venue name or the “Reception to Follow” line.
Keep It Simple: Don’t mix too many fonts or design elements, and leave enough white space – I use size 10-11 font for my print fonts all the time, and it’s perfectly legible. You never want more than 2-3 fonts on your invitations.
Use Personal Touches: The day for wedding trends is slowly winding down thanks to social media, so weddings are becoming more and more personalized all the time. We recommend thinking about things that are special to you and your partner (pets, nicknames, places you’ve been, shared interests/hobbies) and trying to incorporate those into the design of your invite.
Check out this blog post for more Invitation Wording etiquette and tips!
In this post, I’m talking specifically about the invitation card itself, not the entire invitation suite! The invitation card is the star, so compared to the rest of your invitation suite, the invitation card is a great place to add a fun upgrade like foil stamping or letterpress printing, even if you digitally print the other pieces to cut costs.
If that doesn’t strike your fancy, then you could always print on double-thick paper for a more cost-effective, yet impactful upgrade. You can make a statement without by using more dramatic details on your invitation, and keeping the other pieces simple.
These tips are dedicated to the Invitation specifically, but we have a whole other post that shows you similar invitations at different price points, so you can see where some of that budget goes and make an informed decision! And shamelessly, we always recommend our Collections Suites if you’re looking for a boutique invite experience at a slightly lower cost.
The Invitation may be the Main Event, but next week we’ll chat about a piece that can actually save you time, money and whole lot of headache in the planning process – the RSVP card! Stay tuned and let us know your questions about Wedding Invitations below!!!
Hi, I'm Laney!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.
Wedding invitations to tell your story, and business education to help you write your own.