How It Works: Invitations

Invitations inform your guests of very important information so it's important to include all of the correct information, to say it the right way, and to send them out at the right time!

You should send out your invitations anywhere from 6-8 weeks before the wedding and your 'RSVP by' date should be no later than 3 weeks from your wedding date, that way you have plenty of time to call guests who haven't RSVP'd (which will probably be a majority of them), and then give a final head count to your caterer, rental company, florist, etc. 2 weeks out. *Make sure to check with these vendors as to when they need that final guest count as some vendors need it sooner than 2 weeks.

For destination weddings, send save the dates out anywhere from 8-12 months before the wedding, and invitations 3 months before the wedding. This gives guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements.

Important things to include on your invitation:

1. Date

2. Time- *Don't put an earlier time on the invitation just to ensure guests arrive on time. If you are worried about late guests you can put two times on the invitation, 1. Guest arrival time (30-15 minutes before ceremony), and 2. the actual ceremony start time, but most people know to show up early. Trying to trick your guests will just cause unnecessary confusion and irritate your punctual guests.

3. Location- Venue name (if applicable) and the address

4. The specific names of only the people invited (or if the entire family is invited you can say "The Smith Family"). If you are allotting a guest a plus one, simply say, "John and guest". If you're unsure about whether to give a particular guest a plus one, think about whether this person will know anyone else at the wedding. Usually if it's an individual, say a coworker who most likely won't know anyone else at the wedding, it's polite to give them a plus one.

5. Parking Directions (if applicable)- It's a good idea to give your guests a few helpful directions such as "Complimentary parking available in the parking lot at the corner of Main and 5th." If you are getting married at, say a hotel where there is valet, note whether your guests will receive complimentary valet, or if not, what the price for valet will be.

6. "RSVP by" date

7. Wedding Website (if applicable)- Wedding websites are a great way to ditch the RSVP cards as most websites have an RSVP function! This is also a great place to give your guests even more information about your wedding, such as a story about how the two of you met, introducing the bridal party, local attractions, etc.

8. If it's an "Adult-Only" occasion- We don't judge! Some brides and groom's imagine their wedding without children, and that's okay! If you're concerned about offending someone, let us put you at east- you will. But guess what? You will offend someone no matter what you do! Someone will be offended if you don't have white cake, or if you ask them not to have their phones out at the ceremony. So don't stress about it. This is YOUR wedding! You can say something like, "To give all our guests an evening of relaxation, we respectfully request this to be an adults-only occasion. Thank you for your understanding. If anyone needs help with childcare arrangements, please let us know", or "Due to limited numbers..." There's lots of ways to kindly state your wishes!

9. Attire- Casual, semi formal, formal

10. Return address (save your wrist and order a custom stamp with both of your first names on it!)

11. Who's hosting- traditionally the parents of the bride will pay for a wedding, so it would be appropriate to name them on the invitations. For example, "Mark and Cindy Jackson invite you to join in the celebration of their daughter Ashley...". If the groom's parents are hosting (paying) as well, it's customary to include their names also. If you are paying for the wedding yourself, you can of course leave off the names of your parents.

We want to address a controversial topic: having a B-list. We understand, weddings are expensive and you can't always invite everyone you want. So if a close family member can't make it, why not send out an invitation to someone else? *If you choose to do this, make sure you have a second set of invitations with a different RSVP by date on them so a guest doesn't receive an invitation with a RSVP that is the day after they receive the invitation!

You'll want to decide if you are going to go the traditional 2-envelope route (1 outer envelope and 1 inner envelope), or skip the inner envelope. Having 2 envelopes helps keep the inner envelope from getting damaged, and also to clarify who is invited. The outer envelope would only address the hosts, "Mr. and Mrs. Mark Jackson", and then the inner envelope would also address any children who are also invited. It's up to you whether our not you would like to use 2 envelopes or just 1!

How to properly address your outer envelopes:

A married couple (including same-sex couples):

"Mr. and Mrs. Jackson" or "Mr. Mark and Mrs. Cindy Jackson"

A married couple with different last names:

"Mr. Mark Jackson and Mrs. Cindy Smith" (you can also eliminate first names here)

A unmarried couple living together:

"Mr. Mark Jackson and Mrs. Cindy Smith"

*Traditionally these were to be written on separate lines, but nowadays you can put them on the same line

A married woman doctor or two married doctors: (same for military, reverends, judges, etc.)

*some married doctors use their maiden name professionally and/or socially,

If she uses her maiden name socially:

"Dr. Cindy Smith and Mr. Mark Jackson"

If she uses her married name socially:

"Dr. Cindy and Mr. Mark Jackson"

If both are doctors:

"Doctors Cindy and Mark Jackson"

*All US elected officials other than the President should be addressed with the prefix The Honorable and listed first. Since spouses are not elected officials, they do not receive this designation. If both members have a title, the woman should be listed first. For same-sex couples, it's up to you!

If you are inviting any children, these names would be put on the inner envelope, but if you are only doing one envelope, you can put them under their parent's names.

-Girls under 18 should get the title "Miss". Boys under 18 don't need a title. Boys over 18 should be addressed as "Mr." *If any children live on their own, they should receive their own invitation.

-If you don't include the name's of their children, you're implying to the parents that their children are NOT invited. However, some parents may still not be clear on this, so it's a good idea to indicate the number of guests being invited on either the reply card or on website's rsvp tool.

*Note that some widows prefer to use their husband's name, "Mrs. Mark Jackson", instead of "Mrs. Cindy Jackson"

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