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!
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.)
Back to browse some designs? Invitation Shop
Are you wondering how to incorporate a creative wording into your wedding rsvp cards without losing elegance and style?
Or has it happened to you that you totally love those Pinterest creative stationery shots, with a fun or modern wording but you are not quite sure whether everyone will like it? You're not alone. This is a common enquiry or concern and that's why I am writing this article.
Well, let me tell you what I think. No matter what you do, we have already stated in many of our blogs that we can not please everyone or pander to everyone's taste. And taste is not a science, it is actually quite subjective. A funny or serious wording on the RSVP card will not define the style of the entire wedding, within reason, of course.
Once your wedding style is discussed, defined and agreed on (I would say mainly with your partner, but perhaps not exclusively), you can decide how formal or fun you want it to be. Just be consistent with most of the elements of the wedding and the level of formality you want and you will be just fine.
Now, before I show you wording ideas that are creative, let's remember some points that some of those stunning inspiration shots may not leave clear.
RSVP card: wording ideas
ow the fun part!
Depending on the level of formality of your wedding you can use some humour or even hints to encourage their guests to put that RSVP card in the mail.
You can find more traditional wording, with "accepts/ declines" in our wording ideas page.
Some of the funny RSVP wordings and options we've used are:
Specific wording options for destination weddings.
Info to help the band or DJ.
Here are some lines you can use to encourage a response.
These are my tips for today, do you have more ideas to share?
PLEASE COMMENT AND INSPIRE OTHER COUPLES SEARCHING FOR CREATIVE WORDING
Do you want to order POSTCARD rsvp cards? Click here
And these below are some of our couples' questions in regards to RSVPs:
1) Can I order an Invitation and not have an RSVP card? You certainly can. If you have enough space on your invitation you can add a line with RSVP by date along with a contact details (phone or email). The RSVP cards are very useful, specially with large weddings but not everyone may need or want them. In some cases the RSVP and a paired envelopes is a feature to embellish the set beyond its need.
2) Can the RSVP be also online? Absolutely. It is a great idea to have a wedding web site where the guests have the options to reply. This is regardless if RSVP cards have been sent or not. Some couple prefer one reply method only, others are happy with more than one. The choice is yours.
3) what's the standard wording for RSVP:
As suggested above, the standard requirements are
-if they are coming to your wedding or not
-dietary requirements, to help you cater for allergies or special diets
SOME couples may need to collect on that card info about:
-child minding choices
4) what's the difference between a postcard and an RSVP with an envelope 5) how can I make a set if I do not have an RSVP card.
The one with envelope: it is more expensive but looks super pretty with contrasting colour envelopes. In some countries, it is also a safer option to post.
The postcard style is cheaper, comes with NO RSVP envelope. The return address is printed on the same side, towards the right. In Australia this option is very popular for the budget minded couples and Aussie Post usually handles these normally.
DO you have any more questions! Please comment below and we will reply asap.
As anything else, this is another personal decision to be discussed by the couple.
I believe there is not right or wrong answer. Each couple will have their circumstances, preferences and little humans or not to celebrate with.
If the answer is "YES, we want them in both our ceremony and reception",
then it is quite easy: just include them on the invitation.
"The Smith Family"
or name each person:
"Marina, Adam, Charles and Sue"
If the answer is "NO, we rather this to be an adult celebration", below you will find some polite ways to word your wishes.
How do I kindly request NO kids to my wedding?
There are many people who want to exclude children from their wedding receptions but lack the words to do so or they may feel worried to offend their guests, or that their guests can not make it. With this in mind, let us consider some of the ways you can say "no to children" on the invitation without sounding rude.
Subtle Ideas on how to word your invitations
There are many reasons why you may not want children at your wedding. Starting from the obvious, not all children and nice and quiet. Other times you may want to bring the cost down. Perhaps your venue may not allow children.
Or you may be celebrating your wedding with an experience or in a place that is not suitable for children. Nowadays, people are getting married in a variety of places or exotic locations. They are going to canyons, ice lands and jungles. Some environments are unsuitable for children. Other times, the venues will just not allow children. You can go ahead and include this in the invitation. After mentioning the location, or venue policy, you can say
‘ Adult reception to follow at’
‘ Due to venue space or policy restrictions, we are unable to invite
children under 16’
‘ Due to space restrictions, we can only accommodate
children of immediate family"
‘ We love our little ones, however,
this is an adult only reception and ceremony"
•A subtle way is to address clearly the invitation and the envelope
with the name of the persons invited. In theory,
if the kids' names are not there, your guests should understand their child/ children is/are not invited or they should give you a call and ask.
Grown ups want to have some fun too sometimes. Your wedding can offer the opportunity for you and your friends to get loose without worrying about the kids. If possible, you can forego the cost of setting up a baby sitting area. You can write on the invitation,
‘ We thought you would like one night off, please let's make this an adult only reception. A professional nanny will be booked at the venue "
‘ Due to budget limitations, we are unable to accommodate children, professional babysitting will be provided at the hotel/ venue"
Speak to your guests, converse with them before hand, lay out your concerns.
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