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Wedding Invitation Etiquette and When to Send Wedding Invitations: From the Experts!

By Bliss & Bone

The Fundamentals of Wedding Invitation Etiquette From Bliss & Bone

Making sure that you stick to the rules of wedding invitation etiquette when designing your wedding invitation and RSVP can allow you to make the most positive impression on your guests. Proper wedding invite etiquette can vary depending on the theme of your wedding, the level of formality you want and your own personal style. In general, your wedding invitation text should reflect your own personal style and your preferences. While observing the niceties of wedding invitation etiquette is important, adding your own personal touches to your wedding invitation can make your day even more special for you, your partner and your guests.

At Bliss & Bone, we can help you create the perfect wedding invites and can provide you with information on wedding invite etiquette that you can use to create your own wedding invitation text and designs. We offer practical tools to allow you to customize your wedding invitations, Save the Date cards, wedding websites and other elements of your wedding stationery suite. 

This guide will give you some insights on how to address wedding invitation plus one, when to send wedding invites out, when to send wedding invitations without save the dates and which names goes first husband or wife. We will also provide you with guidance on how to address an invitation to a family, the difference between a Save the Date vs invitation and online wedding invitation etiquette. By understanding the basic rules of wedding invite etiquette, you can decide which wedding invitation etiquette guidelines make sense for you and your partner on your once-in-a-lifetime wedding day.

Bliss & Bone can also provide the tools and the options you need to create customized wedding websites and to create the perfect wedding invitation for your upcoming nuptials. We make it easy to find the answers you need about wedding invite etiquette, when to send wedding invitations, how to address an invitation to a family, which names goes first husband or wife and appropriate digital wedding invitation etiquette and wording for your wedding invites.

Quick Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Invitation Etiquette

When should wedding invitations be mailed out?

Deciding when to send wedding invitations can be challenging. If you are planning to send a Save the Date, you can often send your printed wedding invitations at around eight weeks prior to your wedding day.

What is the M for on an RSVP card?

The M on your RSVP card stands for the first letter of Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Guests who do not identify with any of these titles can use the gender-neutral title Mx or can simply cross out the M on their RSVP card. Your wedding planner can often provide added help in answering the question, "What is the M for on an RSVP card?"

How do you address a wedding invitation?

On the outer envelope for your invitation, you should use formal wedding invitation etiquette that includes the use of titles and full names. The inner envelope can be much less formal and can use first names only to identify the guests you want to attend your wedding. By observing these elements of wedding invite etiquette, you can create the right impression on your invited guests.

What do you put on a wedding invite?

While your invitation can be as unique as your love story with your partner, your wedding invite typically includes the names of the couple, the date, time and location, information on the reception, the dress code and the name of the people hosting the wedding if this differs from the names of the couple. An RSVP card will typically be included in the invitation to be mailed back as a response to the wedding invite. You can also include the requested dress code for the wedding on the invite.

Which names goes first husband or wife?

While in traditional wedding invitation etiquette, the husband's name would be listed first on the wedding invite, modern wedding invitation etiquette allows for much more flexibility in deciding how to address an invitation to a family or a couple.

Save the Date vs invitation: What is the difference?

When considering the difference between Save the Date vs invitations for your wedding, timing is the key. Save the Date cards are sent out very early in the process of planning your wedding. Invitations, however, are sent out later and follow much stricter rules about wedding invite etiquette.

Establishing a Timeline for Your Wedding Planning Process

One of the most important elements of wedding invitation etiquette is timing. Sending your wedding invite too soon could allow invited guests to forget about your big day. Conversely, sending the invite too close to the date could make it difficult for your guests to make plans to attend your wedding celebration. Knowing when to send wedding invitations can be challenging. Here are some of the most important guidelines for wedding invitation etiquette as they relate to timing for your wedding activities:

  • Save the Dates should be sent as soon as you have a definite date with your venue and caterer for your upcoming wedding. We recommend sending your Save the Dates between 6-12 months before your wedding. Save the Dates are not the same as wedding invites and typically offer minimal information apart from the date, venue and location of your wedding. This initial contact is simply a way to let your guests know to reserve the date of your wedding well in advance of this important day in your life. You can also send email save the dates for even more efficiency and to save costs.
  • Wedding websites are designed to allow you to communicate with your guests and to deliver valuable information about accommodations, transportation and other key elements of the perfect wedding. Once your Save the Date cards have been created and sent, planning your wedding website should normally be the next step in your wedding planning process. You may also need to send out wedding website announcements to let your guests know that they can access information on your website even before they receive your formal wedding invitation. In general, your wedding website should be up and running by the time you send out your first paperless or printed invite.
  • Wedding invitations should be sent out no later than two months before the date of your wedding. If you are wondering when to send wedding invitations for destination weddings or when many of your guests live at a considerable distance from your wedding venue, a good rule of thumb is to let your guests know in your Save the Date card about the location of your wedding and to allow at least an extra month when planning when to send wedding invitations. This will provide additional time for your invited guests to make plans to attend your wedding celebration wherever it happens to be.
  • Thank you notes are an essential element of wedding invitation etiquette. These notes can be sent as soon as you receive the gifts or, at a minimum, within a couple of months after your wedding celebration. This can help you stay on the right side of wedding invite etiquette and can ensure that your guests know how grateful you are for their thoughtful gifts.

By completing these items on your wedding planning checklist in the correct order and in a timely way, you can make sure that your wedding invitation reaches your guests on time and that you observe all the details of proper wedding invite etiquette when planning your wedding for this year or next.

Save the Date vs Invitation

Although sometimes confused for each other, a Save the Date card is used to establish first contact with your guests. If you are planning to send online wedding invitations, your Save the Date cards can be used to collect information about email addresses that can save you time and effort later in your wedding planning timeline.

Your Save the Date can be as simple or as ornate as you like. In general, you may want to design your Save the Date cards to match your wedding theme, decor and invitations. Bliss & Bone can make it much easier to stick to the rules of wedding invitation etiquette while adding your own unique touch to your wedding invitation wording and designer wedding invite to make it much easier for you and your partner to create unique works of art for these elements of your wedding stationery suite.

When Should Wedding Invitations Be Mailed Out?

Knowing when to send wedding invitations so that they can be received on time by your guests can be challenging. Several factors can play a significant role in deciding when to send wedding invitations:

  • Print or online: For printed invites, the question of when should wedding invitations be mailed out is relatively straightforward. If no other special factors are involved, your printed wedding invitations should be mailed out at least two months prior to the date of your wedding. This will allow enough time for your invitation to arrive by mail and for your guests to make travel arrangements, to take time off work and to choose a gift for you and your partner. Because digital wedding invitations are delivered instantly through email, electronic wedding invitation etiquette allows you to send your invitation a week or two later than is required for printed invitations.
  • Destination weddings: If you and all your guests plan to travel to an exotic location, you may have questions about when to send wedding invitations. Most experts recommend allowing for additional time when deciding when to send wedding invitations for destination weddings, and it's reasonable to mail your wedding invitations three or four months before your wedding. This can allow your guests to plan ahead for travel expenses and other financial considerations involved with these types of wedding arrangements.
  • Distant relatives: If many of your invited guests will be traveling from a significant distance, good wedding invitation etiquette requires that they receive their invites in plenty of time to make plans to attend. The question of when to send wedding invites out to these guests can often be handled in the same way as deciding when to send wedding invitations for destination weddings. Ensuring that your guests receive their invites with plenty of time to spare will help you manage the question of when to send wedding invites out to the ones you want to share your special day.
  • RSVP requirements: If you are wondering when to send Save the Dates and invitations to your wedding guests, considering the need for RSVP responses will often make it easier to decide when to send wedding invites out to those on your guest list. If you need early notice for catering or venue requirements, you will want to send your invites early to ensure faster response times on the part of your guests. This can make the decision on when to send wedding invites out much easier for you and your partner.
  • Save the Date cards: In general, Save the Date cards are used to notify your guests about your upcoming wedding plans. Deciding when to send Save the Dates and invitations can allow you to provide your invited guests with the most accurate and complete information on which to base their plans. If you will not be sending Save the Date cards, you will often need to figure out when to send wedding invitations without Save the Dates. In most cases, experts recommend allowing a month or more of extra time when deciding when to send wedding invitation without Save the Dates to ensure that your guests can plan more easily to attend your wedding celebration.
  • Postal delays: With supply chain problems currently ongoing, you may experience some issues with navigating the wedding planning process successfully. While paperless wedding invitations are sent using email and are not subject to these delays, the question of when should wedding invitations be mailed out can be even more challenging to answer in the current environment. Your wedding planner or coordinator may be able to provide guidance on when to send wedding invitations without Save the Dates or when to send Save the Dates and invitations to ensure that these important announcements are received on time.

Whether you are wondering when to send wedding invitations without Save the Dates or when to send Save the Dates and invitations, making sure your guests have ample time to send RSVPs and to plan for their attendance at your celebration can make your wedding an even greater success and can make the most positive impression on those you want to share this very special day with you and your partner.

Basics of Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Wedding invitation etiquette has changed considerably over time. For example, many items that would once have appeared on insert cards in printed wedding invites are now typically found on the wedding website. Additionally, the development of paperless wedding invites has made it necessary to establish online wedding invitation etiquette guidelines for these newer forms of wedding invitations. Here are some of the most important elements of proper wedding invitation etiquette to help you manage your wedding planning checklist in the most appropriate way:

  • Know what to put in and what to leave out: Your wedding invite should include all the basic information about your upcoming ceremony, including your name, your partner's name, the date and time of your wedding ceremony and your reception, the venue and location of each of these events and information on the requested attire for guests to your wedding. Information about your wedding registries, available and reserved accommodations and transportation options should typically be reserved for insert cards or your wedding website rather than appearing directly on your wedding invite.
  • Create a lasting keepsake: Considering the enduring appeal of your wedding invite can help you answer the question, "What do you put on a wedding invite?" This can often help you weed out some information that can be communicated more effectively through your website or through cards inserted in your formal wedding invitation. For instance, information about blocks of hotel rooms, stores at which you and your partner are registered and details about transportation are unlikely to remain relevant to guests after your wedding is over. By including these items in insert cards or directing your guests to your wedding website, you can create a cherished memento of your wedding while answering the question, "What do you put on a wedding invite?"
  • Plan for RSVPs: An RSVP card is another item that can ride along with your wedding invitation but should not be part of the invite itself. This is because your guests will be sending back your RSVP card to you in most cases. Wedding RSVP etiquette requires you to allow plenty of time for responses, which can affect the timing of sending your invites and can ensure the highest rate of attendance by your invited guests.
  • Be clear about plus-one allowances: Letting your guests know if you are planning a child-free wedding is essential to avoid unpleasant surprises on the day of your wedding ceremony and reception. If you have strict limits on the number of guests allowable for your wedding venue or are limiting the number of guests to lower catering costs, being clear with these restrictions on added guests and plus-one additions to your celebration can be as simple as adding a line that indicates that only specifically invited guests will be admitted.
  • Inform guests of your expectations: While many weddings were postponed during the height of the recent pandemic, some of the rules associated with pandemic weddings can still be enforced to protect the health of your guests, your partner and yourself. If you would like your guests to wear masks during the ceremony or would like to establish distanced seating, be sure to add an insert card that will explain the restrictions you would like and to provide added information for your invited guests.
  • Respect the wishes of your guests: If some of the people on your guest list have preferred pronouns or ways in which to refer to them, respecting these wishes can make a big difference in the impact your wedding will have on all your guests. This can also resolve issues with the question, "What is the M for on an RSVP card?" Simply leaving the M in place or adding an x to produce the gender-neutral title Mx can make all your guests feel more included and at home at your wedding celebration.
  • Add your own style to your wedding invitation text: If you are planning a casual and down-home wedding, using overly formal wedding invitation wording can seem a bit out of place. Your wedding invitation text should comply with established wedding invite etiquette while reflecting your own unique perspective and personality. If formal wedding invitation etiquette is at odds with your own wishes, the preferences of you and your partner should prevail. Your wedding is an occasion that is uniquely your own. By adding your own unique flair to your wedding invitation wording and design, you can inspire greater excitement among your guests and can promote the right atmosphere to create the wedding of your dreams.
  • Be a considerate host: On average, wedding guests attend two weddings per year and spend around $1,000 per wedding for gifts, attire and travel expenses. Thinking about your guests and their needs 
  • Avoid potential hurt feelings: If you are planning events surrounding your wedding to which not all guests will be invited, it is important to keep the invitations to these events restricted only to those who are invited to attend. For instance, rehearsal dinner invitations should be sent separately from your wedding invitation. Insert cards or links to a specific part of your wedding website should be sent only to those invited to these special events and should not be included as part of your formal wedding invitation.
  • Personalize your wedding invitation: Incorporating custom wedding logos or wedding monograms can create a recognizable brand for your wedding and for you and your partner as a couple. This can often create added interest in your celebration while adhering to the guidelines of wedding invite etiquette.
  • Have a little fun: While not adhering closely to established wedding invitation etiquette might ruffle a few feathers, it is far more important to create a wedding that you and your partner will love. Creating wedding invitation text and designs that suit your style can be far more important than following strict rules or seeking expert advice for questions like "What do you put on a wedding invite?" Your own judgment and preferences are the best guides for managing wedding invite etiquette, wedding RSVP etiquette and timing for your wedding planning process.

Creating a personalized wedding celebration can make a big difference in your memories of this special day and on the impact it will have on your beloved friends and family members. By taking traditional wedding invitation etiquette into consideration and deciding whether and where to bend the rules, you and your partner can create wedding plans and invitations that are uniquely your own.

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Online Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Modern weddings often feature emailed wedding invites that can save couples money on printing costs and postage while allowing guests to respond more quickly online. Your wedding website from Bliss & Bone can be set up to accept RSVPs electronically, which can make it much easier to manage your guest list and acceptances of your invites in the most functional way.

Electronic wedding invitation etiquette is much the same as traditional etiquette for weddings. While the timing issue is usually not as problematic for paperless invites, proper digital wedding invitation etiquette still requires plenty of advance notice for your guests to ensure that they can attend your wedding ceremony and reception. By allowing plenty of time for your guests to plan to attend and to return RSVP responses, you can stay on the right side of wedding RSVP etiquette as well as online wedding invitation etiquette.

As with printed wedding invitations, digital wedding invitation etiquette requires the inclusion of certain key information. The date, time, location, and the names of the happy couple are always to be included in the invite. Information on transportation, accommodations and wedding registries, however, are excluded from the invitation itself as part of digital wedding invitation etiquette.

If you are planning to send a mix of printed and digital invites, it is part of good electronic wedding invitation etiquette to use the same wedding invitation text and design on both the printed and the digital invitations. Bliss & Bone makes it easy and convenient to match all of your wedding stationery backgrounds, images, designs and wedding invitation text options to create a cohesive look for your entire wedding suite.

At Bliss & Bone, we provide the tools you need to create your wedding stationery whether you are familiar with electronic wedding invitation etiquette or still wondering "What is the M for on an RSVP card?" Our easy-to-use interfaces will allow you to stay in line with proper wedding invitation etiquette while creating your own unique wedding invitation text and images for the perfect paperless or printed invites for your once-in-a-lifetime wedding day.

How Do You Address a Wedding Invitation?

Understanding the wedding invitation etiquette involved in how to address an invitation to a family, how to address wedding invitation plus one invites and appropriate wedding invitation text for your invites can help you to manage your wedding invitations much more easily while sticking to the rules of wedding invite etiquette. These guidelines will help you if you are wondering, "How do you address a wedding invitation?"

  • How to address an invitation to a family: If you are wondering how to address an invitation to a family, the general rule of thumb is that the parents or the heads of the family should be listed alone on the outside envelope. The names of parents and children should all be listed on the inner envelope. Wedding RSVP etiquette requires a response for every member of the family invited from the youngest to the very oldest. 
  • How to address wedding invitation plus one envelopes: If you are allowing guests to bring a plus one to your wedding, you may be wondering how to address wedding invitation plus one envelopes. In general, you can simply address the outer envelope and the inner envelope to the invited guest's name "and guest." Be sure to request the name of the plus-one addition to your guest list. This can allow you to create a custom place card for the added guest. The plus-one guest's name will also be helpful in managing catering arrangements for your wedding, especially if you are working around dietary restrictions and allergies. The "and guest" addition is one of the most practical ways to answer the question of how to address a wedding invitation plus one.

How do you address a wedding invitation? For guests you know well and close family members, you can often be a bit less formal while still sticking to proper wedding invite etiquette. For black-tie weddings with strict dress codes, however, addressing your wedding invitation in a formal and traditional way can reinforce your theme and can set the right expectations for your invited guests.

Fundamentals of Wedding RSVP Etiquette

Understanding wedding RSVP etiquette can often help you and your partner to create wedding RSVPs that work for you. While digital invites were once considered tacky and rude, modern wedding invitation etiquette has evolved to allow for these convenient and green-friendly methods for delivering invites and collecting RSVPs. Here are some of the most important things to remember about wedding RSVP etiquette when planning your wedding invitation:

  • Keep it simple: Wedding RSVP etiquette generally deals with the wording and style of the RSVP and not the content. In most cases, however, you will need just three things from your guests: the number of people that plan to attend, the catering arrangements they need and their plans to attend the reception, the ceremony or both. By sticking to formal wedding RSVP etiquette and wedding invite etiquette, you can keep your RSVP cards minimal while collecting the information you need.
  • Link to your wedding website: Once your website is up and running, send out wedding website announcements or cards listing the custom URL for your wedding website can often streamline the process of accepting responses to your wedding invite.
  • Include stamped self-addressed RSVP cards: If you are requesting that your guests respond to your wedding invitation by mail, it is an important element of wedding RSVP etiquette to eliminate the costs to your guests for this process. Stamped and self-addressed RSVP postcards can make it much easier for invited guests to respond and are an essential element of traditional wedding invitation etiquette.
  • Create clear ways to respond: Making the choices easier for your guests is a basic principle of wedding invitation etiquette. For instance, if you are providing a choice of entrees for your guests, outlining them on your RSVP card and allowing your invited guests to select their own menu in a clear and concise way can avoid any unexpected issues at your reception. If you have set up a wedding website with RSVP capabilities, this process can be even easier for you, your partner and your guests.

Being aware of proper wedding invitation etiquette when creating your RSVP cards and accepting responses in printed form or through your website can allow you to stick as closely to the rules of wedding invite etiquette as you wish. At Bliss & Bone, we offer plenty of examples of proper wedding invitation etiquette to help guide your choice of wedding invitation text and wording and to provide you with the right inspiration for your own unique wedding invitation.

Planning Your Wedding Invitation Wording

Designing your wedding invitation text can be a shared project between you and your partner. Choosing the right wedding invitation wording is a key element in wedding invitation etiquette. If you are unsure of the right wedding invitation text for your once-in-a-lifetime wedding day, you can check out the examples of wedding invitations on Bliss & Bone. This can help you keep your wedding plans in line with approved wedding invitation etiquette while allowing you to show off your own unique style. Some of the keys to observing wedding invite etiquette while creating your wedding invitation text include the following:

  • Include the basic information: Even if you are planning an avant-garde wedding that breaks many of the rules of wedding invitation etiquette, it is still important to include basics like your name, your partner's name, the locations and venues, the date and time and a formal request for your guests to attend. You may also want to include information on a dress code and, for printed invites, an RSVP card that uses the same wedding invitation text as your invite.
  • Make your parents feel special: If you and your partner have parents who are involved in the wedding, you may be wondering how to indicate this in your wedding invitation text. Divorce and remarriage on the part of your parents may leave you with multiple parent couples who will host the wedding. In general, the bride's parents will be listed first, with each parent and their spouse listed on the same line. If necessary, you can use as many as four lines to list all the parents for both you and your partner. Grandparents or other family members can also serve as hosts for your wedding and should be listed on your invite to comply with proper wedding invitation etiquette.
  • When in doubt, stick to formality: If you and your partner are not sure about the right wedding invitation text for your invites, taking your cues from examples of traditional and formal wedding invitation etiquette can often allow you to create an elegant invite that suits your tastes and can be a valued keepsake of this special day in your lives.
  • Be consistent in your wedding invitation text: Using the same level of formality for Save the Date cards, wedding website announcements, wedding invitations and other elements of your wedding stationery and communications can allow you to demonstrate good wedding invitation etiquette toward your guests. By staying consistent with your level of formality and the general wording, you can practice good wedding invite etiquette while creating a cohesive look for all your wedding communications.
  • Know when to break the rules: The wording of your wedding invite can be formal or casual while still complying with the rules of wedding invitation etiquette. The choice is up to you and your partner. While outright rude or off-color language is not appropriate for your invitation, it is not absolutely necessary to copy the language used on formal wedding invites as part of maintaining good wedding invitation etiquette. Instead, try to find original and unusual ways that suit your style and communicate your wish for your guests to attend your upcoming wedding.

Points to Remember About Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Your wedding is an important day in the life of your relationship and can set the tone for your entire marriage. Observing proper wedding invitation etiquette can allow you to relax and to avoid some conflict leading up to your wedding day. If you and your partner have your heart set on unconventional or unique wedding invitation text, however, you should feel free to break the rules of traditional wedding invite etiquette to create an invitation that you and your partner will love.

While some guests may be offended if you do not stick to traditional wedding invitation etiquette, the most important people at your wedding will be you and your partner. Rather than sticking to wedding invite etiquette that does not apply to you and your situation, you can often create your own rules for wedding invitation etiquette and can create your own wedding invitation text without worrying too much about what some guests may say.

More About Bliss & Bone

At Bliss & Bone, we offer the tools you need to create elegant and beautiful wedding websites and invitations. Our samples and examples can help you find the perfect answers to questions like "What do you put on a wedding invite?" and "What is the difference between a Save the Date vs invitation?" To learn more about our wedding website and invitation services, visit us online or email us at hello@blissandbone.com. We can help with all your wedding planning and invitation needs.

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