So you have decided on your guest list – great job! That particular stressful task is done and can be ticked off your list. Next step – sending out the invitations – when? what format is acceptable? What are the traditions and etiquette that must be obeyed – or not? In this blog, we’ll have a look at all these things and help you find what works for you. (Here’s a free download if you plan to make your own)
Tradition dictates that the parents of the bride send the invitations: ‘Mr and Mrs Jones request the pleasure of the company of Mrs and Mrs J Bloggs at the marriage of their daughter….’ With so many couples living together before they get married, having left home some years before, there is no reason why the invitations shouldn’t come from them. That said, I know of one couple where the bride’s parents were very put out that their 32year old daughter, who had been living with her partner for some time having left home in her early twenties, wanted to send out her own invitations – so the bride gave in for the sake of peace, and traditional formal invitations were sent by the parents. Parents who are paying for the wedding, or contributing in part, can also exert a lot of pressure about this sort of thing, so tact and compromise is called for on all sides!
The lovely Jane, from South Africa, remembers:
‘I must say for me I didn’t actually invite anyone I didn’t really want to. All my family was there and I wanted my parents’ friends there too. They grew up with me and felt it was important they’d be part of it. My sister, on the other hand, was a lot more stubborn and refused to be told who to invite, even though my parents were paying for our weddings. She had hardly any extended family and my parents were allowed to have one set of friends! She felt strongly that they only had people at their wedding that had actively been in their lives for the past five years
When should you send out invitations?
Jane advises: ‘We sent out ‘save the dates’ as soon as we decided on the date; I can’t remember how long after we sent the invites , but I wouldn’t wait too long but also not too far in advance that people forget!
I would, however, not tell anyone what dates you are planning till it’s actually printed on the invite!!!! One of my closest friends I’ve known from grade 1 couldn’t make it as she planned a holiday in January – we had mentioned a different month and then settled on January’
Do you really need ‘save the date’ cards? Strictly speaking, no, especially if money is tight – this is a layer of expense you can do without! BUT …. If you have guests who live some distance away and who will need to make special arrangements, or if you are having a destination wedding, sending them early notification will be really helpful and may ensure that these special people are able to attend.
Invitations should be sent 6 – 8 weeks before the date with a definite RSVP date specified – talk to your venue or caterer to find out their last date for numbers and your seating plan to be adjusted – for your own peace of mind, two weeks before the date is reasonable.
Printed invites or emails? Wedding planning websites and blogs will tell you that printed invitations are traditional and best – and I’m inclined to agree. There is something wonderful and exciting about choosing a design set that matches your theme – even if you are making your own (and yes, this is definitely do-able and fun, if you have the time) – and posting them kinda makes it all real! That said, the lovely Claire says: ‘We decided not to send out paper invitations, which was a little controversial among our more traditional guests, but it saved us a lot of time and money to send out the ‘save the date’ and invitations by email, along with a whole heap of logistical information as our wedding was held abroad.’
DIY Invitations – I found this great blog on ‘how I made my own wedding invites and saved‘ – check it out.
Include an information sheet with your invitation: – Address and postcode of ceremony venue and reception venue – TOP TIP– in need, add advice re satnav reliability (my son got married in Dorset where reception for satnav was poor so having a physical map was handy!) Dress code: Your choice, but make it clear so no-one feels over-dressed or under-dressed… ’Black tie’, ‘cocktail attire’, ‘smart casual’, ‘casual attire’ are all acceptable.
Dietary requirements – ask guests to specify if they are vegetarian or have allergies to any foods. This can be emailed back to you or added to the RSVP card
Adults only? – The Knot advises that if you name your guests on the invitations specifically – eg to Mary and John Smith – with no reference to children, guests should get the message that children are not invited.
If you are getting married abroad, include information about available accommodation and transport.
RSVP card TOP TIP – don’t forget to make sure each card/envelope is self-addressed and stamped – you are more likely to get them returned! If you prefer (and to save costs) give your RSVP email address instead – and remember to keep a check on your spam folder, just in case!
LAST TOP TIP – Create a spreadsheet or other list format of all the invites you send out – names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, relationship (eg best friend’s boyfriend) – with sections for replies received, attending/not attending, dietary requirements, allergies etc. It takes time to set up, but it’s time well spent – and will save you hours in the end, and ultimately will help you with the table seating arrangements – which I’ll be dealing with in another blog post – with some great advice from two brides….
Let’s do this!