Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Etiquette of Invitations

Now that you’ve set your date and decided on a wedding style, let’s talk a little about etiquette. No, this isn’t the table manners post, but the etiquette of save the dates, invitations, addressing envelopes, and all that good stuff! We’re all about planning and staying on top of our timeline, right? So make sure you give your guests plenty of time to plan for your wedding, especially if there is travel involved. Timing isn’t the only thing we want to discuss in terms of etiquette, but also what to write, how to write it, and how to address it. All these things are really important and fun, too, so let’s begin!

{Who to invite and how}

First of all, do you have your guest list ready to go? Make sure you’re keeping your budget in mind when putting together your guest list. While putting together your list, you probably gotten stumped by a few sticky situations…ie. When and how to invite those “plus one’s”? Do you invite children, and what about teenagers? And do you invite co-workers or not? Check out some tips, here. Once you have the names of everyone you need to invite, be sure to get correct addresses for everyone, which might take some time!

{What’s the deal with Save the Dates?}

In a nutshell, a save-the-date is a good idea as it gives your guests a heads up about your wedding plans and location (esp. if it’s a destination wedding, a full wedding weekend, or if it’s during a high travel/holiday time). Some quick tips:

-Send them out 6 months prior to the wedding.
-There are so many creative new save-the-date ideas out there, so have fun with it!
-Send them only to people you definitely want to attend.
-If inviting a plus-one, try to include the name so it’s clear who is being invited.

For more details, see here.

Now let’s get down to the business of the invitations!


Send out your wedding invitations 6-8 weeks before the wedding, allowing your guests adequate time to respond (especially if they need to book flights) and ensuring that you will get a reliable head count a week or two before the event. If you’re having a calligrapher address your envelopes, you’ll need to give them (and the addresses!) to your calligrapher 2-3 weeks before they are to be sent out. So, put on your math hat…that means you need to have a guest list AND all the addresses no more than 10 weeks before the wedding.

{The invitation, deconstructed}

Though it’s not mandatory, you can use an inner and outer envelope. All that means is there’s a main envelope that includes all the address info and stamp, then there’s another envelope inside that actually contains the invitation and all other components. This is a nice touch in the case that the outer envelope gets soiled or torn in the mail, ensuring that the invitation arrives in pristine shape.

Here’s the order of all components of an invitation:

Invitation, on the bottom, with print side up. All other inserts, such as a map, reception card, and reply card, on the invitation in order of size (smallest on top).The reply card should be under its envelope’s flap; this envelope should be pre-printed with the mailing address, and should be stamped as well.

{Anatomy of an invitation…the wording}

Basically, your invitation should include the following: the host line, request line, bride and groom line, date and time lines, location line, and reception and R.S.V.P. lines. Whether your wording is formal or informal is up to you, and will probably depend on your wedding style. Check out the specifics, here, or but we suggest talking to your paper designer for help with this.

{Addressing Envelopes}

According to Martha Stewart Weddings (in our opinion, they know their stuff!): “The address on a wedding invitation should be handwritten; printed labels are not appropriate”.

Your guests’ names should be written in full on outer envelopes — no nicknames or initials. Check out more tips, here.

Now, what if a married couple has different last names? What about a same-sex couple? And what do you do about special titles, like Dr.? Find out here.

Now you’re probably ready to run out and start looking for a paper design company. But what type of printing will you go for? There are SO many beautiful options out there to create the perfect look for you, so check back for our upcoming post about all the different types of printing. And, as a special treat, we’ll be showcasing one of our favorite paper designers in our upcoming Vendor Spotlight series. They’ll have some great tips to share, of course along with their beautiful work. See you soon!

2 thoughts on “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Etiquette of Invitations

  1. Pingback: The Art of Addressing Invitations | Stacy McCain Event Planning

  2. Pingback: posing for the perfect shot: expert tips | Stacy McCain Event Planning

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