Wedding Invitations - Etiquette

Photo Credit: Sarah Parrott 

You fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. Sounds perfect. However, in reality you've got to make it through the planning process first!

One of the major hurdles that all couples face is wedding invitation etiquette. When to send them, what to include, and how to say it. To help you along the way we're answering your most pressing wedding invitation questions:

Q. When Shall We Send Out Our Wedding Invitations?

A. The most important thing to remember when it comes to sending out your save the dates and wedding invitations is you can never give too much notice. Save the dates typically go out about 4 months prior to the wedding, with invitations following approximately 2 months beforehand. If your guests are spread far and wide, or you're having a destination wedding, send everything early as the more time everyone has to clear their schedules and make travel arrangements the better.

Q. When Shall We Make The Deadline For RSVPs?

A. You need to make your RSVP date at least 2 to 3 weeks before the big day as this will allow you enough time to get a final head count to the caterer and for you to finalize the seating plan, as well as make any last minute changes. If some guests haven't responded by the deadline then simply give them a quick call to request they send their RSVP asap!

Q. How Do We Word The Wedding Invitations?

A. If you're freaking out about how to word your wedding invitations then fear not because we've got you covered! From how to deal with complex family structures to ensuring you don't offend anyone, check out our Wedding Invitation Wording Guide for everything you'll ever need to know. We've even included example wedding invitation wording that you can steal.

Q. Is It OK To Invite Guests To The Wedding Ceremony And Not The Reception?

A. In a word, no. To invite some and not all would not be polite or fair. Everyone who attends the wedding ceremony should also be invited to the wedding reception. By attempting to only invite some guests to the ceremony you are basically saying that you want them there to see you tie the knot, but you don't want to pay for their food or don't care whether they are there to actually celebrate your newly wed status.

Q. How Do We Make It Clear We Are Hosting An Adult Only Wedding?

A. The best way to let people know that children are not invited is to address all invitations to each guest by name as this way there is no confusion. Unfortunately people have a habit of ignoring who it actually states on the invite and RSVP with their children's names added. If this happens then give them a quick call and explain it's an adult only wedding and that you truly hope they can still attend. If you feel it appropriate then you can always go the extra mile by arranging a babysitter, this is an especially nice gesture if there are a lot of kids in your family.

Q. How Do We Let Guests Know Our Dress Code?

A. Being clear on your wedding dress code is essential if you want to avoid guests showing up in t-shirts and sandals (unless you're throwing a beach wedding of course!) The best way to get your point across is to include your dress code in the bottom corner of your wedding invitation or on your reception card. You don't need to go into too much detail; black tie, cocktail attire, casual attire, are all acceptable. Your wedding invitations should also set the tone for the style of your event, so think carefully about the design and how it will be received.

Q. Do You Need To Include A +1 For Every Guest?

A. It's your wedding which means you are entitled to invite or not invite whoever you want. Inviting everyone with a date is a surefire way to send your numbers sky rocketing! As a rule of thumb, unless they are married, engaged, living together, or have been dating for at least 6 months, it is perfectly acceptable to invite them solo. When wording your wedding invitations be specific and address each guest by name. Most people will get the message that extra guests are not invited. If after everyone else has RSVP'd you have some extra space, and someone has made a special request, you can always go back and invite someone's date.

Q. Do We Include Our Gift Registry Info On Our Invitations?

A. Including your gift registry on your save the dates or wedding invitations is still a big no-no and considered very impolite by some. Your wedding day is supposed to be about celebrating your love for each other and you do not want it to come off as though you are asking for gifts. Word of mouth is the best way to let people know about your registry, so tell your parents, wedding party and closest friends and hopefully they will fill everyone else in. Most guests will know that they will be able to find all the extra info (whatever isn't included on the invites) over at your wedding website.

Q. Where Do We Include Info About Our Wedding Website?

A. Your wedding website is usually included on your save the dates. A simple URL is all you need to add. If you've worked really hard on creating a beautiful wedding website and you want to make sure that nobody misses out then you can also include the web address with your wedding invitations in the form of a small insert letting guests know that they can find more details online.

Q. Where Do You Put The Return Address On The Wedding Invitation?

A. The return address is traditionally placed on the back flap of your wedding invitation envelope, but some postal offices have flagged up issues with this, which is why these days it is better to include along with the RSVP a pre printed envelope complete with return address to avoid any mishaps. The return address should be that of the person who you have designated to organize all the response cards, be it your parents, you, or a close friend who has offered to help out.

Your Turn

Have any additional tips on wedding invitation etiquette you'd like to add? Share them with us in the comments below...