I find wedding etiquette an interesting topic. A little bit controversial for some, a worry for others. Personally I wish to tell my couples not to take "the expert" advice too seriously, nor to believe all what is said on the internet or social media about weddings, "should or shouldn't". For starters, did you know that lots of what's written online is to achieve SEO or marketing purposes? Meaning the writers are often not experts of any sort. Some are not even working in the wedding industry. They are SEO workers that need to get some pages up in the ranking. Now that we clarified this and that emphasized the importance of the sources where we get our wedding info and advice, let's see what we think.
Etiquette, put simply, is a code of behaviour or expectations that fulfill social convention. It may shock some to know, that tradition and etiquette is alive and well when it comes to wedding invitations and weddings in general. Even if you are having a non-traditional wedding, according to your culture, background or society in general, this remains true.
Wedding invitation etiquette does have guidelines to which you should adhere, and there are also some guidelines that are more flexible. In general, these guidelines fall into four categories; timing, wording, guest list and details. Below you’ll find a modern approach to etiquette issues.
When do you need to send the invitations?
Generally speaking, 8 - 16 weeks before the wedding, if you want your guests to come. You could make it earlier if you have a lot of travelling guests. Give them time to book flights and accommodation, without having to pay premium pricing.
How do you choose the RSVP date?
Give your guests at least 2 weeks to respond if you can and also if you can, make it about 6 weeks before the wedding, so you have time to finalise numbers for the venue/s and caterer and get place cards and additional stationery produced.
We have written a complete article about "when to send your wedding invitations" with more details and options.
Do I have to put the parents' names on the invitations?
The actual names should only appear if they are hosting. That is, they are paying for all or part of the wedding. Otherwise it should be the couple inviting the guests and perhaps, ‘together with their parents’. This may change with cultural influences.
How do I layout the text and what font/s do I use?
There are those who will go into great detail about how this should and shouldn’t be done. Basically, if it’s a formal wedding, the invitation should reflect this with its layout, font and wording. Don’t use abbreviations, use a formal style font and formal language. For a more casual wedding, you can use more casual fonts and wording and abbreviate a few things where appropriate.
How do I include extra information for the guests?
You can add RSVP details to the bottom of the invitation rather than send a separate card. You CANNOT put gift registry or wishing well details on the bottom of the invitation, that’s just plain and simple rude! Insert a separate card if you wish to inform people about such things. You can add a dress code if you think it’s necessary. Any extra detail that will take more than one line should probably be somewhere else. For example, accommodation or transport details.
Guest List Etiquette
Who should I be inviting to my wedding?
Cultural influences will play a significant part here, so take those into account where necessary. Generally speaking, start with family members and then move onto friends. Invite those you have a relationship with. Family members that you don’t see or speak with regularly can be left off the list. Don’t feel compelled to invite work colleagues. If you never see them outside work, why start now?
Should I invite out of town guests?
Just because someone lives far away and probably won’t be able to go, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invite them. If they are important to you, send the invitation and let them decide. That’s the polite thing to do and you may get a pleasant surprise at what people are willing to do for their friends and family.
Should I have a secondary guest list?
Even with allowances for modern flexibility this is really a no-no. If the person isn’t close enough to make the first list, why invite them? And imagine if the person found out they were just making up numbers! How would they feel and would they want to come? My advice is to steer clear of this nightmare of an idea!
How do I handle plus ones?
It’s better to ask for the name of an intended guest’s partner and put that on the invitation than to simply write, ‘and guest’, ‘plus one’ or ‘and partner’. If you don’t know or can’t be bothered checking, then I’d question the depth of the relationship and whether they should be invited. There’s nothing wrong with inviting singles.
"Etiquette Details and Invitations: how to address wedding invitations
How do I address the envelopes?
The basic rule is that everyone who is invited should appear on the envelope in some way. So if you’re inviting kids, you can mention them by saying, ‘Mr and Mrs Smith and family’ or ‘Mr and Mrs Smith, John and Mary’. If not, just address it to, ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’.
Should older kids living at home get an invitation?
If you are inviting the whole family, then as a general rule, kids over 15 should get their own invitation, addressed to them. Definitely send a separate invitation to any adult children living with their parents.
Should I put a return address on the envelopes?
It can be expensive to get the stationery supplier to put this detail on the envelope, but it’s a good idea to print some labels or hand write the return address. It will explain why someone hasn’t responded if you get an invitation returned by the post office and you can then take steps to contact them another way.
How much does it usually cost to get your envelopes printed?
We could not speak for everyone of course, and by the time you read this article prices could have changed. Price can be per envelope: $1.20 to $1.500 to print each or in our case, we charge per lot or per order, no matter how big or small it is. At the moment our address printing price is $29 per lot, so if you order for example 60 invitations, the cost of printing each envelope is just under $0.50
Check out our guest name personalisation service here
And last but not least, please remember to check your spelling and typos!
You are not likely to add the word "wedding invitation" to your invitation, however you may add those words in your wedding web site, texts following up with your guests, or on your wedding sign "welcome to the wedding of"
Stationery. NOT stationaries or stationery
Wedding: NOT Weeding or Wesding
Wedding Party: NOT wedding parte
Etiquette. NOT ettiquette.
Accommodation. NOT Acommodation. USA Brides: Accommodations in plural.
Hope you liked this article!
Designing Your Wedding Invitations - The Basics
When designing your wedding invitations it’s a good idea to keep a few things top of mind. If you do, you’re likely to spend less money, waste less time and get a lot more enjoyment out of the process.
So what should you keep top of mind?
Your wedding theme and colours.
These will be paramount in the design. Your invitations should be a prelude to the event and give your guests guidance as to how to dress for the occasion. Formal weddings should have structured style invitations, using formal wording. A more casual wedding should have a more casual design and can use less formal wording.
Your wedding budget.
Disregard this advice at your peril. Whilst you don’t need to spend huge amounts on your invitations, there are some things that just can’t be done cheaply. Enlist the help of a professional to advise you on costs for certain printing methods and embellishments. They can be a big help to keep you on budget.
Your skill set and available equipment.
Do you have the necessary skills to do a good job yourself and, even if you do, do you have access to the right equipment? Should you be hiring a professional? What about an in-between option, where the pros do the design, layout, printing and cutting and you just do the assembly? Choose the option that best suits your skills and the equipment you have available. Buying equipment just to make your invitations is highly unlikely to save you money!
How far away is the wedding date? Do you have time between work and other commitments, to make the invitations yourself? Can you enlist unpaid help from others? Are there other options that will save you time?
Will you be happy with something that’s not quite perfect for your wedding day? It might seem strange that this is here, but it’s important and ties in with the budget and skill set points above. In other words, how fussy are you? Proper professionals guarantee the quality of their work, whereas many small operators won't. Beware the price that seems too good to be true. More and more invitation makers are reselling services out of China, India or other Asian countries where the labour is cheap. They don't offer any guarantees on the invitations and they are often made from poor quality materials and slapped together with little care, since the workers' wage is dependent upon output quantity, not quality. Check for independent feedback and ratings, like on Facebook or Google Plus or awards like the ABIA (Australian Bridal Industry Academy), where the brides votes, not an industry body.
What’s the next step?
How about browsing? Have a good look on the internet, through magazines, bridal expos and at anything you’ve received and kept aside. Try to pick out elements that you like about certain invitations. Some have ribbon, some lace, some pearls and others rhinestones. Some are flat, some fold, some have fancy papers and others are made using fabric. Some have pictorial elements printed, some just plain text. The list is endless, so if you can narrow down the things you like about an invitation, it will help when deciding what to incorporate into yours. Check prices during this process so you have an idea of the differences in costs and what elements add significantly to the price and which ones don't. Many suppliers charge fees for altering designs, yet there are others that do not.
Get some samples.
Many invitation suppliers will sell you samples at the unit price. They won’t have your details printed on them, but you’ll be able to see if you really like the invitation, the quality of the printing and construction and the real colours. If you’re intending the make them yourself, you’ll be able to see how they’re put together by a professional, although the techniques used and quality of construction does vary greatly among invitation makers.
Make a choice.
At some point you have to stop browsing and start making decisions. Deciding between handmade or just printed wedding invitations could be a major turning point. Choosing a supplier you feel you can trust to do a good job might also be a major step. Any decent invitation maker will have a phone number that you can call, so why not have a chat with the ones you're considering. It may become obvious which one you should use once you speak with them.
Ask about colours.
Most wedding invitations that you’ll see will be displayed in a certain colour, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be done in other colours. Find out if the elements that make the invitation are available in other colours. For a Gothic wedding you may like black lace, but all the lace invitations seem to feature white or ivory, so ask the question.
Play around with things.
Meet with an invitation designer or go to a DIY shop and grab the bits and pieces you like and try putting them together into a design you like. Don’t worry about the printing too much at this stage. This is about getting the card and embellishments together into a package that you think looks good and is in sync with your wedding theme and colours.
Printed design elements.
Photos and other pictorial elements should only be used where appropriate. If you’ve chosen a handmade design, the printed elements should be kept simple. Add a monogram, drawn graphic or faded background picture if required. Just keep in mind that with handmade invitations, it’s usually the paper and embellishments that are the stars, so you shouldn’t try to outshine them with the printed bits. Fonts, layout and wording are important. Formal events should have formal wording and fonts. Casual affairs can have something more light and fun.
Who will make the invitations?
Labour takes time and time costs money. If you are having the invitations made professionally, expect to pay more for handmade ones. The more elements that are combined to produce the invitations, the more labour it will take and the more it will cost. If you don’t want to spend the money and don’t have the time or skills yourself, you may need to reconsider your design. Remember that point about your attitude above? Don’t get frustrated when a professional wants to charge for their product and service and it’s outside of your budget. It’s not their fault you’ve chosen something above your budget or ability to make yourself.
If you managed to check off all the above items, it’s time to get your invitations made. If you’ve decided to DIY, make sure you have all the equipment handy. Above all, relax and have fun!
Introduction and Credentials
DIY wedding invitations is one of those topics that is hotly debated and can be somewhat polarizing in opinions. Some love it and think everyone should do it while others think it's better left to someone else because DIY is a waste of time.
The thing is, most of the articles written on the subject are done so by those with little to no experience in the field. I've found that this leads to a lot of mis-information and a lack of real, useful tips on how to make your own invitations.
So, in this article, I'm going to reveal a few secrets that may help you to make your own, professional looking invitations.
By the way, I'm one of the partners in Tango Design, so with over 12 years experience and plenty of awards to our name, you know the information below is trustworthy.
Think of making your invitations as a project and you’ll tend to do a much better job. And, one of the keys to any project is planning.
Every job we do is a project for a customer so we start by working out what materials we’ll need and we separate them into a box and put the customer’s name on it. You’re probably not going to have everything you’ll need at hand, so buying the materials and tools you'll need is a good early step. Thank God for the internet!
If you're making your own invitations in an attempt to save money, then getting everything from one place, either online or a bricks and mortar store is a real saver. Consider this: If you save 10c a sheet on paper from a secondary supplier but it costs you $10.00 in shipping or fuel, you'll need to get over 100 sheets to actually save money!
Tip 1: Remember to account for fuel and shipping costs when buying your materials.
Tip 2: A kit with all the bits you need from a professional supplier will probably be cheaper than buying the pieces individually, even from the same store.
Tip 3: Contact suppliers by email or phone to ask questions before making your purchase. Things like: Are instructions included with their DIY kits or do they expect you to work it out yourself?
Tip 4: If you didn't get instructions, write or draw some yourself. Once you get started on the actual production tasks, you may find yourself too absorbed in the process to stop and think. Many people make mistakes and waste materials, not to mention money and time, because they didn't follow instructions.
I've found from experience that the two main reasons people fail to do a good job on their invitations are a lack of preparation and planning or not having the right tools for the job. Funnily enough, counteracting the first reason doesn't cost a cent.
Tip 5: Blocking out time in your schedule for each of the tasks involved in making the invitations. Allowing more time than you think you’ll need is wise because generally speaking, when you do something for the first time, it takes longer than it does someone who does that task often.
Design and Layout
MS Word* or similar was not created for the purpose of designing and printing. So, if you want something professional looking, you should use graphics software like CorelDraw*, Illustrator*, etc.
The main difference between these, is that graphics software lets you put things exactly where you want on the page. For invitation design, that’s hugely beneficial! Without it you'll spend hours and many, many test prints just trying to position basic text properly. Graphics software will also make the inclusion of images much easier.
Tip 6: Corel* has a 30 day free trial of its CorelDRAW* software. Also, Serif* has a totally free product that you can download called DrawPlus*. It’s less comprehensive but will do the job for most people.
Tip 7: Always do a test print using regular copy paper before doing the full print run. Cut and fold as needed for your design to make sure everything is okay, before you waste all your good card.
Time to cut, fold and assemble the invitations. Depending on your chosen design, this may be quick and easy or a series of lengthy tasks. Quite often people choose designs that require sticking layers of paper and card or ribbons and other embellishments. These tasks can be quite time consuming and require patience but the results are well worth it!
Tip 8: To get a professional finish when folding cards, use a scoring tool. Craft shops often have cheap scoring plates, with grooves for commonly used folds, that will enable you to easily do a good job.
Tip 9: To easily stick paper, card, ribbon and some embellishments, without making a mess, use double sided tape instead of glue.
Tip 10: For bulkier embellishments like crystal brooches, starfish or beads, we use precision super glue rather than a hot glue gun or craft glue. It’s fast drying and provides nearly instant adhesion, which makes it quicker and cleaner to use. Just be careful with the amount you use. Glue dots are also great if the embellishment is not so heavy.
Tip 11: If using ribbon or lace on multi-layered invitations, fold the ends under the top card and sandwich between the layers to get a tidy finish. Most people just stick the ribbon or lace to the top card then trim the edges. The ribbon or lace then frays at the edge of the card leaving the while thing looking messy.
Tip 12: Always make a couple of extra invitations. Allowing for the ‘just in case’ scenarios which tend to pop up when organizing a wedding or other event is a real stress saver. It’s much easier and cheaper to make a few extra up front, than it is to re-start the process later, even if you have left over materials.
Tip 13: Many modern invitation makers, including ourselves, offer semi-DIY packs, where they do the design, printing and cutting tasks and leave the assembly to you. The best thing about these packages is that you don’t need any equipment and the tasks where mistakes are more likely to occur are done for you. I really believe that this is the best option if you’re doing DIY to save money. That's because any savings are totally bankable. The issue I have with full DIY is that there are often costs that people don’t calculate. Things like; fuel or transport, wastage, ink or toner, tools, adhesives, etc. That means what was actually spent can be much more than originally thought!
This is a question we are often asked, and we thought to write a bit about our views, to give you an idea as to when the best time to send out your wedding invitations is. Unfortunately, what etiquette and wedding “protocol” usually suggest is not necessarily compatible with reality.
IMPORTANT: This article is merely meant to inform and does not try to give advice or “a must” timing. Our intention is to just guide you with our extensive experience in the industry, making wedding invitations and stationery for the day has taught us about the timing needed.
What online “experts” tell you (and I disagree) is to:
“Send your wedding invitations 8 weeks before your wedding. If it’s a destination wedding: send them 3 months in advance to give your guests time to arrange and schedule the trip.”
For starters, some of the advice online is concerning. When the articles are written by SEO content writers who are paid to get to get a website’s rank up on google. 1000’s of people trusting an article that is trying to make sales instead of trying to inform.
What I say: "Really?"
In our experience, it’s best to be thinking of a few aspects of your wedding, deciding the best timing for you, deciding what works for your guests and discussing timing with vendors and suppliers so it can all work together to deliver what you need when you need it.
What I ask my couples before I suggest a timing:
1) Is it a destination wedding? Do your guests need to arrange flights, accommodation and save an amount of money to make it to the event? Give them 6 months to a year if they’re interstate, more than a year if they’re overseas. Only you know how quick your friends can get organised and logistics and their finances. If you want them to come, allow them time.
2) Do you want all of them to come, or are you just fulfilling a formality? I know this can be a controversial question, but we all know that some people will not be able to come, or that you may not be that keen on inviting certain people for whatever reason. However, you may still want them to receive an invitation. If that’s the case, yes! 8 weeks is plenty of time. In On some occasions, we may need to invite others, to participate in or fulfil a formality (family relationships, business, etc, and auntie or neighbour that knew us growing up but would not necessarily attend to your wedding, the list continues.)
3) Did you send a save the date card, or are you planning to? I am not saying anyone should or shouldn’t, some send a save the date card 1 year or more before the day. The truth is that many, and I dare to say most guests, will not buy the tickets until the venue is confirmed, nor they will ask their boss the day off for it, or book a nanny etc until they receive the formal invitation. A save the date is very useful but often instead couples rather save the money and put it towards a much nicer invitation to be sent earlier. There is no right or wrong in my opinion, the choice is again yours. Bottom line, if you have not sent a save the date card, then that invitation probably should go out even earlier than planned.
4) What services do you need to organise that rely on confirmed numbers and rsvps? And what is their timing? As you may know, certain suppliers will need to know your numbers and will need to know some time in advance of the wedding or before the wished delivery date (if a product is needed before the wedding). Say for example, a caterer may not need to know the numbers or whether they are vegetarian or not until 2-4 weeks before the wedding, but perhaps you might need to hire a second nanny for the hotel as some extra kids were confirmed for the day.
Or in the case of our services/products, you may need menus, table/place cards, chocolate or personalised favours/ bonbonniere, programs or order of service. All these need numbers confirmed, and many, such as place cards, will also need the names of the guests. During busy times we (Tango Design) do need 4 weeks for production, from when the PDF is approved, plus shipping time. Whilst many couples approve their design within 1-2 weeks, some need a little extra time, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there needs to be enough time before your wedding to cater for it. Often, there are last minutes changes, design variations, and changes of information on the invite from the venue, the caterer or the celebrant, and that’s without counting when a family or friends also want to participate in the wording for each piece. Every client, every wedding and every family is different.
So, when to send your invites?
If you want the short answer, I would say:
• If it’s a local wedding, where no accommodation or flights are required:
I would suggest 4-6 months before the wedding day to allow you to organise other services and products with vendors that require numbers or/and names (if needed).
• If it’s a destination wedding, where accommodation and flights are required, and you want them to make it to the event: 6 months to 18 months.
There are many reasons, but it’s best to decide for yourself considering the questions above.
As well as the scenarios mentioned, consider:
• Cultural background and timing. For some cultures it is unthinkable to plan too early, for others, it is a must.
• The amount of people involved in the PDF approval. Some couples are the only ones who have a say on the design or/ and the wording, however plenty get their parents, financial contributors or friends included in the decisions. Again, not right or wrong, but the more people involved, the longer it takes for everyone to agree. Please allow some time for it.
• Changes of information with third parties. Say you were given a time, but the planner or venue suggests at the very last moment a change, or maybe the photographer wants you for a few shots before the ceremony, trust me it happens. Please triple check with the venue, the planner, celebrant and any other people involved in the decision. It can take time so please allow for it.
So, to conclude this article, what I am trying to say is that the sooner you know who and how many guests are coming;
-the easier you will be able to organise other items/ services you may need
-the higher the chance that your guests can make it
-the more time you will have to ensure the invitations reflect what you want them to be
-you will also have the chance to invite a second lot of guests, if many in the first lot cannot make it (i.e. destination weddings). I will talk more about this in another article, but I am referring to guests that you would still love to come to your wedding, but they didn’t quite make it onto the first list due to a budget or spacing situation (friends you have not seen that often, or new friends/ work colleagues, etc.)
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