What they are – Your invitations give your guests all the vital information about your wedding. If your wedding will be small and intimate but you are having a large reception, you will need reception cards for those invited to the wedding. You will also need invitations that are worded to invite people just to the reception in this case. Your invitations also solicit your guests to R.S.V.P. so you can start finalizing your guest list.
When you send them – Wedding invitations should be sent somewhere from 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. If you will be having a destination or out of town wedding, be sure to use save the dates. You should also then send your invitations 10 to 12 weeks before the wedding. You should make sure to confirm with your caterer and other vendors when they will need a finalized guest count and seating charts. Indicate on your response cards that guests should reply at least a week before that date. This way you have time to contact anyone who hasn’t replied and finalize changes on your seating chart if you will be using one.
Do you need them? – Yes. There really is no way to get around using printed invitations. The only way to avoid invitations altogether is to elope.
Other Tips – Inserts are not really required. Basic reply cards are the most common inserts. You may want to consider including a card with directions (map cards), menu cards, a rain card (for alternate plans if your outdoor wedding is blessed with rain), or pew cards. Include what makes sense for your wedding day and guests. The map cards are especially useful for out of town guests but be sure to have a wedding website or send out emails with more detailed instructions and information. If an out of town guest isn’t especially technologically inclined, be sure to touch base with them to make sure they have directions to any and all venues you will be using for your events. Also providing guests with local hotel and restaurant information on your website, by email or by other means is a considerate touch.