After getting engaged, many couples are eager to begin their wedding planning process. We are always asked about the invitation process and when they should be sent out and returned. We put together a little timeline of when you should send invitations for and leading up to the wedding.
Photo by Lindsey Morgan Photography
These should be sent out once you’ve found a venue, picked a date, and finalized a guest list. It will let your guests know as early as possible where and when your wedding will be.
You want to ensure your guest list is finalized before sending these out because, ideally, these will be sent to everyone invited to the wedding. Many couples are opting for alternative methods for save-the-dates.
Post Cards versus traditional save-the-dates in an envelope will save you money on stamps.
Social media announcements if you have a quick turnaround time and don’t have enough time between sending our save-the-dates and invitations. You can post a photo of you and your significant other and say can’t wait until x date.
Word of mouth is helpful if you plan on having a small gathering and can tell everyone what the date is ahead of time.
Engagement Party/Bridal Shower/Etc
The host should send these invitations 4-6 weeks before the event. Traditionally, the engagement party is thrown by the bride’s family but can be thrown by friends, family friends, or even the groom’s family. Traditionally the maid of honor will throw the bridal shower, with the help of other bridesmaids or family. Any other event leading up to the wedding, with the exception of the rehearsal dinner, should follow the same rule.
Wedding invitations are typically sent out 3-4 months prior to the day. If this time period falls around the holidays you can send them a bit earlier to ensure they don’t get lost or are delivered late. In your invitation, you will typically include an insert that has information like hotel blocks, venue directions, and where you’re registered. You typically also include a pre-stamped response card.
Expert tip: make sure to mark the response cards with an invisible ink marker just in case your guest forgets to mark who it’s from. You can even opt to skip this step altogether and include a QR code directly to the RSVP section on your wedding website. This will save on postage, and you may gather responses quicker. You can also opt to exclude some info on the response card because you typically include a lot of that information on your wedding website. However, you may want to still send response cards to older guests.
RSVPs should typically be due back a month before your date. This will allow guests enough time to see if they will be able to make it, and will also give you enough time to follow up with anyone who doesn’t reply. You will typically get responses from some quickly after sending out your invitations. Then it will taper off with some coming in slowly in the weeks after sending out your invitation. You may get an influx closer to your date, but there are some guests who will not respond at all. You will have to reach out to them. You don’t want to assume they will not be in attendance and end up showing up unannounced. About 2 weeks before your wedding date your vendors will ask for your final guest count.
Rehearsal dinner invitations are typically sent out by the groom’s family and should be sent to everyone who will be walking down the aisle as well as their dates. These are usually sent out 2 months before the wedding. Some families opt to invite out-of-town guests to the rehearsal dinner, or you can host a welcome party to greet your out-of-town guests.
The etiquette behind invitations can be tedious and confusing, but we hope this shed some light on when you should be sending out invitations and asking for responses.