As you are about to discover, weddings are more than just the ceremony and reception – with them come plenty of showers, parties, and brunches. Luckily, the modern bride is able to choose how she wants to celebrate the big day. This means she can forgo tradition, follow a strict family tradition, or make her own rituals. Weddings are now tailored to fit the individual tastes of the bride and groom.
However, there is one aspect of a wedding that has remained the same throughout the years – the wedding invitations. Even in the midst of all our easily accessible technology, there is something timeless about receiving a beautiful invitation you can hold in your hand.
However, it is completely okay, and extremely common, if you don’t know a thing about wedding invitations or the other stationery that comes along with them. That’s where we step in! Below we guide you through the purpose of each invitation and when they should be mailed/returned.
The Breakdown of Wedding Stationery
- Wedding invitations
Obviously, this is your formal invitation to your guests. Your wedding invitations should include all the important information on the invitation. This includes a title for the guest you are inviting, the groom’s and bride’s names, the day of the week, date, time, and location of the ceremony.
If you are having the reception in the same location, you should mention that a reception immediately follows. However, if you have the reception in a different location, you need to specify the full address and time it starts. For those who opt for a cocktail hour in between, you should give that information as well.
These act as a “heads up” to inform your guests of the wedding date. Although these are not mandatory, they are a good idea if you plan to have a destination or weekend-long event. No details are offered other than the date and time, as a wedding invitation arrives shortly after.
RSVP cards are an optional part of your wedding stationery. Most couples want to know who plans on coming to the ceremony (or not) to make any necessary changes to the venue and provide a final headcount to the caterer. This card is tucked into the wedding invitation in the hopes that guest will mail it back with a response. However, with modern changes, some couple would rather set up an online RSVP system or simply text/call a guest about their attendance. Obviously, the decision is whatever you decide is best.
Put a Stamp on It
Now that you know which cards mean what, you can decide whether you want to include all the stationery or just some that make the most sense to your wedding theme. However, depending on what you use, you have to mail each one out at different times. Below is the general rule of thumb to follow:
- Wedding invitations
Your invitations should be mailed at least eight to twelve weeks before the wedding date. This gives each guest plenty of notice ahead of time, and, if you did send out save-the-dates, they will be expecting a follow-up.
Ideally, you should send your save-the-dates at least six months before the wedding. If you happen to have a destination or a location that guests will have to travel to, it is a good idea to send them out at least eight months in advance. This gives each guest plenty of time to make travel arrangements, take time off work, and/or save up for the big weekend.
Since the response cards are mailed six to eight weeks before the wedding (they are generally mailed with the invitation), you should ask for guests to send back their response within two weeks of the wedding date.
Keep in mind to include a stamped and pre-addressed envelope with your RSVP. This will encourage the guests to mail them back in a timely manner. Also, if you want to go the traditional route, the return envelopes should be addressed to the family, rather than the bride or groom.
- Thank you cards
You should always try to mail your thank you cards as soon as possible after the showers and/or ceremony. You want to show your gratitude for those who took the time to purchase a gift for you and your spouse. Generally speaking, you should not let these go past four to five months.