Wedding Invitation Etiquette
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9 • 16 • 2015 | Tips & Inspiration
Your wedding invitation shares with your guests a small glimpse into your special day, and it also shows off your personality, wedding theme and style of marriage you are planning. Invites have changed considerably over the centuries, but etiquette is the one thing that remains the same. Many rules are still applicable, from addressing the envelopes to what information to include. Read on for tips on creating a flawlessly polished invitation that showcases your personality.
Preparing to Send Out Your Wedding Invitations: The invites are a relevant component of your wedding day because they provide your guests with essential details. While some elements of your wedding may not follow traditional guidelines, your invitations do have a set of time-honored customs that are best to follow. Here are the top 10 wedding invitation etiquette tips surrounding the most pressing wedding invitation-related issues.
Sending out your invitations: Invitations should be sent out between six and eight weeks prior to your wedding date. That gives guests time to make travel arrangements if they do not live nearby. If yours is a destination wedding, send invitations out three months ahead of time to give guests more time to plan.
Outer and inner envelopes. Two envelopes are traditional but not necessary. You can eliminate the inner envelope to save money and postage. If you do use an inner envelope, it should list the names of the guests you are inviting.
Assembling the pieces: To assemble, place the invitation on the bottom with the print side up. Stack other enclosures, such as a reply card, map and reception card, on top in order of size, biggest to smallest. Place the reply card under the return-addressed stamped envelope flap. Put everything in an inner envelope, print side up. With the names facing the back flap, slide the unsealed inner envelope into the outer envelope.
R.S.V.P. deadlines: A response date of two or three weeks before your wedding date allows enough time to get the caterer a final head count, which is usually requested one week before the event. It will also leave you time to finalize a seating chart.
Spell out address details: You should plan to write out Street, Post Office Box, Avenue, and Apartment in full. This is also true for house numbers smaller than 20 and city and state names. Mr. and Mrs. are customarily abbreviated.
How to list the names of couples: You should handwrite your guests' entire names on the outer envelopes. If a woman keeps her maiden name, write the names in alphabetical order. For an unmarried couple that lives together, write the names on two lines.
Specifying a dress code: The simplest method to do this is to add dress code details on a reception card or in the lower right-hand corner of the invite. Acceptable notes include cocktail attire, casual attire or black-tie. Your invitation design will also provide a clue to your guests. A traditional, ultra-formal invitation with calligraphy and letterpress will give guests a hint of the formal nature of the event. A square invite with a whimsical font and vivid colors fits a much more relaxed situation. You can also steer guests to your wedding website, where you can go into further details about the dress code in a more informal forum.
Placement of the return address: The return address ordinarily is on the back flap of the envelope, and should be that of the person whom you have designated to receive and keep track of the response cards. For instance, if your parents are hosting the wedding, then use their address as the return address.
Including or excluding dates. Most guests understand that if the invitation does not indicate the options for bringing a guest, that means they should not show up with one. While it is nice to welcome everyone to bring a guest, if your wedding is small or budget is limited, your friends and family should follow your reasoning. If a guest responds with a number attending higher than were invited, call them and explain that you have an intimate wedding and that, regrettably, you were not able to invite everyone to bring a guest. However, if you realize that nearly everyone will be in couples, try to extend a plus-one invitation to a few single family members and friends.
Choose your words wisely: Composing wedding invitations involves complex and beautiful etiquette guidelines. Traditionally, whoever is hosting your wedding is listed first on the invitation, and that can become complicated when divorced parents are hosting, when both sets of parents are hosting, or when you are paying for your own wedding. Customarily, you spell everything out, including the time of the ceremony.
Wedding invitation etiquette is a vast and varied area, where traditions and trends come and go. Even if you think you are following all the rules, it is easy to overlook the lesser known, albeit still important, customs to help guide you through this portion of preparing for your big day.
Bryan Passanisi is online marketer and writer living in Redwood City, CA. He graduated from The University of San Francisco with his Bachelor's Degree in Marketing. Bryan has managed a popular wedding blog and has created viral content. He currently is a blogger for Shutterfly.
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