Are you working on your wedding invitations right now? Or perhaps you’re hoping to start a wedding invitation business? Either way, you want to make sure you (or your clients) avoid these super-common wedding invitation mistakes!
First and foremost, though, I want to say that I don’t ascribe to traditional etiquette for my wedding invitation designs. I want your invitations to feel like YOU, and sometimes that doesn’t fit into the traditional way of doing things and that’s okay. If you want to go traditional, Emily Post is your girl. But none of these mistakes will have to do with etiquette, and more to do with you actually giving your guests the right information about your wedding and making it easier on you!
So buckle up for the most common wedding invitation mistakes I see my clients make!
This is the number one mistake I see, and I know it’s common for all vendors. There’s a lot that goes into planning a wedding, and sometimes invitations and save the dates are forgotten. Or maybe you’ve just never done this before and you don’t know when to order invitations. That’s alright, you’re only human (and I’m here to tell you)
You want to mail your Save the Dates 6-9 months before your wedding. Honestly, if you’re following this typical timeframe of about a year-long engagement, I think Save the Dates should be one of the first things on your list. After you nail down your wedding venue and date, get started on your Save the Dates!
Most Save the Dates are super simple and can take 2-4 weeks to produce. If you want things to be more complex, use luxury print methods, or contain lots of embellishments, you’ll need to add on time to that. And if you’re using a specific designer, they might be booked out, so you’d want to get on their calendar ASAP.
Wedding invitations should be mailed about 8-12 weeks before the wedding. Err on the longer side if your wedding is destination or has events on multiple days, so people can make travel plans accordingly.
My custom wedding invitations take about a month to design and a month to produce, so I try to start design 4-5 months before the wedding. This is probably a bit earlier than you thought! If you’re ordering DIY invitations, it can be faster, of course, but you still want to give yourself time for addressing, stamping, etc. And again, if you’re working with a designer, we get booked up sometimes, so there’s no harm in reaching out early!
One issue that can come from ordering your Save the Dates and invitations early, however, is not matching the event. I see this mostly with Save the Dates, although it happens with invites too. People just throw together something cute – often because they are behind and need to get them out ASAP – and it doesn’t really give much information about the event.
Now is this a terrible, wedding-ruining mistake? No, of course not. But I like to remind engaged couples that while you’re living this wedding planning life, making decisions, picking out linens, doing all wedding all the time – your guests are not. The only thing that they’ll see in the entire year leading up to your event is your stationery. So it’s nice to actually give an accurate depiction of what your event will be like.
What does this mean? Do what you can to match the formality and vibe of the event. If I get a super casual Save the Date and invitation full of beach balls and starfish, and show up to a grand ballroom event, I might be confused. I might also be underdressed. Given that this is the only information your guests will get about your event, giving them clues as to what to expect will help them decide what to wear, who to bring, when to show up, etc. And I promise, they’ll appreciate it.
I was recently going to two weddings and the dress codes, according to my husband, were as follows:
…these gave me basically no indication of what to actually wear. I see this all the time, so I wasn’t surprised.
In a case where you don’t have a dress code, or have a confusing dress code, I’d recommend asking. Ask what the groom is wearing, or what bridesmaids are wearing if there’s no groom at the wedding. In general, male dress codes are a bit more straightforward, and you don’t want to overdress the groom.
So in this case, I had my husband ask if either groom was wearing a tux (they weren’t) and then we dressed accordingly. He wore a suit, and I wore more semi-formal/cocktail attire). I wore a long dress to the one that said formal, and a shorter dress to the one that said semi-formal.
So what the heck would the right dress codes say?
Black tie commonly means that tuxedos are required for men, and a floor-length gown or elegant pantsuit is required for women. These weddings are generally in the evening, and generally not in a casual setting. For instance, a formal wedding on the sand in Hawaii is not customary. Bridesmaids are wearing floor-length gowns as well, and the groom(s) would don a tuxedo.
Most likely, the wedding party is in Black tie Attire, but guests don’t have to be (although all are welcome). You should still dress in a more elegant way, with a black suit instead of a colorful suit, if you have one. Women in elegant pantsuits and floor-length gowns are generally preferred, though a cocktail or tea length dress that’s on the more dressy side can suffice. In general, a bright color or print makes a dress less formal, so you’d still want to go with more simple colors and patterns for this wedding.
You’ll find varying opinions on this one actually, but I consider them to be about the same. Women wear pantsuits or cocktail length dresses. A long dress can be appropriate in a less formal fabric, color, or print. The flowier your fabrics get, the more casual your dress. Suits don’t need to be black, but you can start to play with color or pattern here, whereas you should still be wearing a tie or bowtie.
This one is extra confusing, because why not!? I take this one to mean two things – first, have a little fun. And second, play into the vibe of the wedding. So if it’s a beach wedding, a seersucker suit or linen pants is a great option, or a fun floral printed maxi dress. This is where you can really enjoy fun colors, prints and patterns, and be a little different. This couple usually doesn’t care too much what you wear, but wants you to be comfortable. Still, no wedding is jeans-appropriate unless you’re specifically told.
Still, don’t wear jeans, shorts, or tank tops. A sundress would be great here, linen pants for men, jumpsuits for women, etc. Comfort is a priority and most likely this wedding is outdoors or in a unique location.
Other dress codes can cover pretty much any wedding style – like “wear all white” or “jeans and cowboy boots preferred”. In these cases, I recommend just doing what you’re told, or reaching out to the couple with questions.
As a reminder, of course, it’s not acceptable to wear a white dress, jumpsuit, or suit to a wedding unless requested. No white, no jeans. Unless you’re invited to a white tie wedding, that is – but most of us won’t ever be invited to those!
Yikes. I hate including this one on here. You’d be surprised how many reprints I’ve done because someone on the invitation’s name is spelled wrong. I once reprinted twice because the Bride spelled her own name wrong, and then after the first reprint realized she’d also switched the Groom’s first and middle names.
Most designers, or even companies where you order online like Minted, require that you sign a release for printing your invitations. After that is signed, all typos and errors are the responsibility of you, the client. So it’s on you to catch any of these issues before the invitations are printed.
I highly recommend printing out your proofs, having multiple people look over them, and following a few standard proofreading tips:
A few things I often see misspelled on wedding invitations and stationery:
To be fair, very few of my clients make this mistake. But that’s because I’m very diligent about reminding them (and still, we sometimes have to do re-orders last minute).
Every time you have to print an order, no matter what print method you choose, there are set-up costs. So even if you only need ONE more invitation after we’ve already printed, it’s going to cost a lot more than adding one to the original order. This applies to any service you’re using to order, whether you work with an invitation designer or not.
It depends on quantity and your guest list to some extent, but I always recommend ordering around 7 extra invitations. This way you have:
About 3% of mail gets lost overall, so you will likely need to re-mail a couple wedding invitations, which is totally normal. Also, I promise you, your friends will not all provide the right address. I don’t know why this phenomenon exists, but everyone starts moving right around the time you send out invites! So it’s a lot better to have a couple extra on hand than to have to scramble for a (really expensive) rush reprint.
And lastly, a common mistake couples make on invitations is calculating postage incorrectly. There are a few major things that affect invitation postage, and I’ve got a lot more information on mailing wedding invitations in this post!
Weight: Add the extra ounce cost (currently $0.20) for each extra ounce of weight. We typically go over 1oz for most wedding invitations if they have 1-2 insert cards, an envelope liner, or double-thick paper.
Shape/Size: Add the nonmachineable surcharge (currently $0.20) for weird shapes or sizes. Most commonly, this is for square invitations that are 6×6”.
Wax Seals/Bows: Add the nonmachineable surcharge (currently $0.20) for anything that’s a “bump” like a wax seal or the knot part of a bow. This makes it hard to go through the machine, so you pay extra for that.
Otherwise, there are plenty of things that can affect postage, but these are the basics that I see for invitations a lot!
While this one isn’t a postage mistake, it’s mostly related. As an extra tip, I often see people put the return address on the flap of the envelope when mailing wedding invites. If that address accidentally gets read, you’ll receive all of the invitations back to your return address, and have to re-stamp and send every single one. It’s super frustrating, but it happens.
To avoid returned invitations, put the return address really small if you’re wanting it on the flap, and keep it as far up toward the top as possible. It’s still usable if it’s needed, but it won’t accidentally be mistaken for the guest address.
Have you heard of these wedding invitation mistakes? I hope that you’ll consider them as you design your wedding stationery. If you’d like some help navigating the waters of wedding stationery, feel free to reach out and we’d be happy to help. Shop all of our invitations at the link 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.