8 Answers to the Top Wedding Invitation Etiquette FAQs

 
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Today, I’m going to answer all the top wedding invitation etiquette questions I’ve been asked over the past (almost) six years of being in business.

Whether you’ve been planning for months or just getting started, you know that wedding invitations go beyond just selecting the perfect design.

(Although, choosing your favorite invitation is a task all on its own!)

You also have to consider wedding invitation wording, how many wedding invitations to order, and other tasks that might be out of your expertise. This is also the step where you might be simultaneously fine-tuning your guest list, too–especially if you skipped sending save the dates.

It’s not as easy as tasting all those cake flavors, is it? 

Wedding stationery can be overwhelming!

When I was designing my own invitations, I made so many rookie mistakes. I ordered save the dates for every guest (instead of counting households), which ended up being costly.

I struggled with wedding invitation wording, too. I aspired for a formal invitation that reflected the kind of event we were having, but I ended up with wording that was slightly vague, impersonal and grammatically incorrect.

I just needed quick and simple answers. 

Thankfully, I’ve learned so much since then!

As a stationer, I’ve handled so many tricky wedding invitation etiquette scenarios, and I’m happy to say I’ve been able to carefully walk all of my brides through each dilemma to bring them one step closer to the perfect invitation.

Before I get started on these need-to-know tips, I’ve got a resource called the Beginner Bride’s Guide to Wedding Invitations locked in the Wedding Stationery Library. I really think you’re going to love it!

Inside the Beginner Bride’s Guide, I break down the anatomy of a wedding invitation, the do’s and don’ts of etiquette, common paper sizes and embellishment options, how many invitations you need, and so much more. (Like plug-and-play wording samples, plus a super helpful stationery timeline and checklist that will take you from save the dates to thank you cards.)

Join the Wedding Stationery Library below to unlock access to the guide. Did I mention it’s free?

 
 

1 | How many wedding invitations should I order?

In a nutshell, you’ll need one wedding invitation per household.

But there are exceptions to that rule. For example, if two single roommates are living together you should send one invitation to each person. So yes, your college besties who are still rooming together get their own invitation, even though they live in the same household.

You also need a few extras (just in case!), and at least one extra copy to pass along to your photographer to photograph on the big day.

No guest list yet? No problem! If you haven’t finalized your guest list yet, here’s how to get a super quick estimate of how many wedding invitations to order. (Scroll to the end to get the complete guest list worksheet!)

2 | How much do wedding invitations cost?

Wedding invitation pricing varies depending on a number of factors, but on average, brides spend $408 on wedding invitations (source: TheKnot).

Keep in mind if you have a large guest list or dream of fancier invitations, the bigger the price tag. For specialty print processes, like letterpress or foil printing, expect to pay around $1,000 or more. The same goes for adding custom envelope liners, belly bands, hand dyed ribbon, printed envelopes or calligraphy services–all of which can rack up your bill.

A good rule of thumb is to allocate 2%–3% of your budget on paper goods (source: TheKnot). That includes things like programs, thank you cards, etc. and unexpected costs like postage.

To determine your investment, make a list of all paper goods you desire. Invitations are a must, but do you also need place cards? Programs? Signage? Once you know what you need, you can have a better handle on how much you can invest on wedding invitations, which is probably where you’ll want to splurge. Then you can determine other paper goods that you may need, and any extra belles and whistles along the way.

3 | When should I order wedding invitations?

Order wedding invitations six to nine months in advance of your wedding date. This gives you ample time for design, proofing, and assembly. It’s likely you will still have time to spare for specialty print processes, too, like letterpress or thermography.

Because I offer a rather quick turnaround time (most orders ship in 5 business days upon approval), I often get clients who order four to five months before their wedding. This is perfectly fine for those who prefer a digitally printed, semi-custom invitation suite with no embellishments (like custom lined envelopes). But it doesn’t leave a lot of time for editing, shipping delays or assembly.

Here’s a helpful cheat sheet of when to order wedding invitations.

4 | When should I mail out wedding invitations?

True story: I mailed out my wedding invitations four weeks before the big day. (Talk about panic mode!) I’m sure you'd love to avoid that scenario, right?

Aim to mail out your wedding invitations at least six to eight weeks before your big day. I think six weeks is cutting it a bit close, but it’s okay if you mailed out save the dates already.

If you are having a destination wedding, mail out your invitations at least 12 weeks in advance. This gives your guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements.

5 | When should guests RSVP?

I’m always amazed when I see wedding pros who recommend the rsvp date to be two to three weeks in advance of the wedding. Partially because this is what sent me into a frenzy after sending my own wedding invitations out so late. But also because it doesn’t give much time to gather your day-of paper goods or finalize details with your caterer. (Or work on that ever-changing seating chart!)

I recommend guests RSVP at least four weeks in advance of the big day. This will give you a month to make arrangements with your caterer and venue, finalize your day-of stationery, and create your seating plan. This also gives you extra time to follow up via phone call or text to guests who did not rsvp.

6 | My parents are divorced and remarried, how do I add them to the wedding invitation without offending anyone?

I get this question often, and I am always happy to help since I can relate. Tricky situations like this will make you thankful wedding invitation etiquette exists! Why? Because there is a protocol in place for wording, you don’t risk offending anyone.

bride’s parents divorced and remarried

If the both parents are divorced and remarried, use the below example as a guide. List your mom and stepfather first, followed by your father and stepmother. In this situation, you will include your full name on the invitation–this way guests will know your last name.

In any case, only use the conjoining “and” for married couples–such as in “Mr. and Mrs.” Do not add an extra “and” to the second line.

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Cummings
Mr. and Mrs. Parker Williams
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter

Sarah June Williams
to
John Michael Smith

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Judd Smith

bride’s parents divorced, father or mother remarried

If your parents are divorced and your father or mother is remarried, use the below examples as a guide. Include your full name on the invitation here, too–this way guests will know your last name.

Again, only use “and” when joining married couples–such as in “Mr. and Mrs.” Do not add another “and” to the second line.

If your father is remarried and your mother is not…

Ms. Mildred Jones
Mr. and Mrs. Parker Williams
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter

Sarah June Williams
to
John Michael Smith

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Judd Smith

If your mother is remarried and your father is not…

Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Cummings
Mr. Parker Williams
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter

Sarah June Williams
to
John Michael Smith

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Judd Smith

The same rules apply for the groom’s parents, if you choose to list them on the invitation.

And for everything else, I have a full wedding invitation wording guide to help you get started. (Scroll to the end for the complete guide!)

7 | How do I let guests know it’s an “adults-only” event?

The best way to let guests know you’re hosting an adults-only wedding is with your envelope addressing. Address envelopes to the parents only, and do not include children’s names or list it such as “The Anderson Family”. Instead, the envelope should read “Mr. and Mrs. John Anderson”, followed by the address.

Do not include “adults-only” on any of your wedding invitation wording. It is considered too forthcoming and might offend some guests. If you feel you must include it somewhere on your wedding stationery, I personally think it is acceptable on a wedding details card.

Additionally, you can notate “adults-only” on your wedding website, and include a website insert card with your invitations.

A note on an adults-only event: Generally, if the entire event is adults-only, this also means no young flower girls or ring bearers. Your Aunt Sue might be offended if you have a two year old flower girl but her wild four year old can’t attend the big day.

8 | We have limited seating! How can I indicate this to guests?

My husband and I had the exact same issue on our wedding day, and here’s what I wish I knew I could have done:

On your RSVP cards, put “We have reserved _ seat(s) in your honor”. You will write in the appropriate number of guests per each household. This lets guests know immediately that seating is limited and you only have “x” number of seats for them. I also think this can help indicate an adults-only event, where you only reserve enough seats for the parents.

Wedding stationery may not be as easy (or as fun!) as tasing cake flavors, but I’ve got a super helpful (and fuss-free!) guide to wedding invitations that’s going to make wedding stationery–well–a piece of cake for you. (It’s a good one–pinky promise!)

The Beginner Bride’s Guide to Wedding Invitations covers all the basics that you need to know–and cuts out all of the fluff you probably don’t need.

Inside the guide, I break down the anatomy of a wedding invitation, the do’s and don’ts of etiquette, common paper sizes and embellishment options, how many invitations you need, and so much more. (Like plug-and-play wording samples, plus a super helpful stationery timeline and checklist that will take you from save the dates to thank you cards.)

Join the Wedding Stationery Library below to gain access to the guide. Did I mention it’s free?