Wedding Stationery Etiquette – do’s and don’ts by Luca Henriksen
Wedding planning is an enormous and stressful task. Most people planning one are likely to be doing so for the first time and to feel, at least during some parts of the process, that they have no idea what they are doing.
One part of the planning process that can trip people is wedding stationery etiquette – the do’s and don’ts of sending out invitations and save the dates. When do you send them out? What information do you and do you not include? What are the social pitfalls? Read on to find out!
DO send invitations plenty of time in advance
Wedding invitations usually go out at least six to eight weeks in advance – more if it’s a destination wedding and especially if you haven’t sent save the dates (see below).
DO make sure to include all the relevant information
This might vary slightly between weddings, but generally you are going to want to include at least the following:
- Your names, i.e. the couple getting married
- The invite wording itself
- The location of the wedding
- The date and time
- Information about the reception
- Dress code
- RSVP details
DO include an enclosure card if you have lots of information to get across
For some weddings, there will be a lot of information to get across. Perhaps you have planned a range of different activities across different venues, in which case you might want to advise guests about things like transport and appropriate footwear.
To avoid crowding your carefully designed wedding invitation, consider including the extra information on a separate enclosure card.
Alternatively, you can create a wedding website – easily and cheaply made these days – and include a link on the invitation.
DO include dress code information – but DON’T over-police
Dress code information is usually noted in the bottom right corner of the invitation. Do take care to keep it simple, however: something like black tie, cocktail or smart casual will usually do.
Don’t be tempted to demand that guests wear specific colours, dress cuts, hats etc. Over-policing your guests’ wardrobes will only put them off coming as it places the emphasis of your wedding on the aesthetics over the opportunity to celebrate your special day with them as people.
If you do have specific colours in mind for your wedding generally, you can certainly let guests know, so they can use it as a guide if they wish to – but, again, try not to make demands. You’re inviting people, not their wardrobe!
DON’T invite anyone to just the ceremony
Weddings normally have two parts: the ceremony, the marrying of the couple, and the reception, which is the celebration afterwards.
In general, it is considered bad form to invite someone to one and not the other. Think about it: if you invite someone to just the ceremony, you’re essentially telling them that you don’t care about them enough to want to celebrate your day with them, or at any rate not enough to want to pay for their plate.
DON’T worry too much about the “correct” wording
There is no one correct way to word a wedding invite. There is a traditional template of sorts that you may want to use and tweak according to your needs and circumstances. (Guidance here: https://www.hitched.co.uk/wedding-planning/invite-wording-and-etiquette/wedding-invitation-wording/) That said, as long as you remember to include all the pertinent information, you should feel free to word your invite however you like.
Do keep in mind, however, that the wording should ideally “fit” with the design. That is, with a traditional and formal design, you might want to opt for the traditional wording. If, on the other hand, your design is more whimsical, you can “get away” with more playful wording.
DON’T include gift registry information here
It can be tempting to include your gift registry information on your wedding invites or save the dates. After all, gift-giving is a known aspect of many, if not most, wedding celebrations, and providing guests with the pertinent information only seems appropriate, right?
Except, in many circles, it is considered impolite to include gift registry information right below the invitation itself. It can come across as you being more interested in gifts than the person’s attendance.
However, if you have a wedding website, you can feel free to put this information on there. Alternatively, you can tell your close friends and family where you’re registered and let the information filter out through them.
Save the Date Cards
DO send save the date cards when extra notice is needed
Save the Date cards tend to go out 6 to 8 months in advance. They are a relatively new invention, which means that few people view them as a required part of the wedding planning process. However, they can be very useful, especially when you wish to give your guests extra notice.
For example, your wedding might be in the summer, in which case you’ll want to minimise the risk of guests booking a conflicting holiday; or you might be planning a destination wedding requiring guests to book plane tickets and/or take several days off work.
Your invitees will appreciate the forewarning, and when the time comes you are much more likely to see them RSVP positively.
DON’T risk having to uninvite people
Because save the date cards are less traditional, there is less etiquette tied to their use, leaving you with a lot of freedom in how you want to handle them. They don’t even have to be cards! You can make use of technology and let people know via telephone or email, or you can take a more creative approach and send them trinkets with the date and your names on, e.g. magnets, balloons or coasters.
But whether you go with traditional cards or something a little different, there is one clear etiquette to keep in mind: only send save the date cards (or trinkets, emails etc.) to people you will definitely want at the wedding.
What do we mean by that?
Well, at 6 to 8 months before the wedding, there are going to be many things you have yet to fully decide on, and the guest list could well be one of them. You might think now that you are going to invite 120 people but later on, whether through want or need, whittle it down to 90.
But if you send out 120 save the dates you are going to be stuck with that. Save the dates may not be formal invitations, but all the same: explaining to thirty people that you reduced the guest list and they didn’t make the cut is going to be awkward at best.
Far better to only send save the dates to those people you will definitely want at the wedding, even if your ideas about the size of it change before formal invites are sent.
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