Wedding Invitation Etiquette

by Vern on February 25, 2011 · 0 comments

Believe it or not, there are rules that determine wedding invitation etiquette. If you have a wedding planner or have someone else doing the invitations for you, chances are they already know the basic rules. If you are doing the invitations yourself, though, you will need to know things like when to sign them out, how to address them properly, and what should be in the invitations.

Your Invitation

First things first: What should be in each invitation? Each one should consist of:

  • One unlined outer envelope
  • One lined inner envelope
  • Your invitation
  • A slip of tissue paper, placed over the writing on the invitation to protect it
  • Any enclosure cards (reception card, map, RSVP card and SASE) placed on top

Traditionally, a wedding invitation was a vertically aligned card, maybe 8 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches or a little smaller, with a formally worded invitation written in calligraphy. You can still order your wedding invitations in this fashion; there are even printer kits to help you make your own. But other types of invitations have become fashionable for weddings, too. For instance, many couples choose photo invitations, and some couples even use their own handmade cards.

Don’t forget about your enclosure cards. If you have a separate reception card, that goes on top of the tissue protecting the front of your invitation, along with your RSVP card. Make sure you put a stamp on the envelope for the RSVP card and address it to yourself, to make it easier for your guests to respond!

Addressing Your Invitations

Yes, there is even etiquette concerning how your invitations are addressed. A formal invitation should have two envelopes: an inner envelope, usually lined, that you do not seal, and a gummed outer envelope.

The inner envelope should have the guests’ names ONLY, no addresses. Whether or not you write the names formally depends on whether it is a close relative or not. For instance, you can write “Uncle Mike and Aunt Ann” on this envelope if you want, or you can write “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” the recipients are not close relatives. If children are invited, list the names underneath the parents’ names, from oldest to youngest. Be sure to spell out the word “and” — no symbols! This looks especially nice if you write the names in calligraphy.

Remember, the inner envelopes are NOT to be sealed.

Outer envelopes are also addressed in a formal style. With the exception of titles such as “Mr.” and “Mrs.”, everything else should be spelled out — no abbreviating Street, Avenue, or even the name of the state. Numbers, on the other hand, should be written in figure form, unless the number is a one all by itself: “Apartment One,” or “One Reindeer Road,” for example.

Finally, don’t forget to address the envelope for your RSVP card to yourself, and put a stamp on it.

When to Mail

Knowing when to mail your invitation is an important part of wedding invitation etiquette. In general, this depends on how formal your wedding is, and whether it will be held in or out of town. Invitations for formal weddings should be mailed out six to eight weeks in advance. Give them more if you are going to be holding your wedding in a different location in order to give your guests time to make travel plans. Invitations for an informal event can be mailed out as little as two or three weeks beforehand.

Some couples also like to send out a “save the date” card. Especially if you are having a location wedding, and your guests will need to make travel plans, this works as advance notice to ensure your guests will be able to make it. It is polite to send out these cards as soon as you have chosen a date, or as much as a year in advance.

Don’t worry if you get some of this wrong — there isn’t any invitation police out there to give you a hard time about it. The important things are making sure your invitations contain all of the information your guests may need, and also ensuring that they go out in plenty of time for your guests to plan ahead. In other words, be sure to plan ahead — doing your invitations at the last minute is how you end up making mistakes or sending them out late!

This is a guest post by Vern who went for a DIY wedding, doing everything from hand crafting wedding invitations to setting out the wedding sparklers for the guests to use at the reception!

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