Planning your wedding can be a very daunting task, but it's important to make sure you get all the little details right.
One of the most important aspects of any wedding is the invitations—after all, these will set the tone for the whole event! They’re also the way that you’ll let your wedding guests know what time to show up, what sort of day they can expect, and how to get to your venue.
In this guide, we will discuss 9 of the biggest wedding invitation etiquette mistakes that you need to avoid. By being aware of these mistakes from the start, you can ensure that everything from the design of your invitations to the information included and the time you send them out is perfect. Without further ado, let’s get started!
1) Sending Out Wedding Invitations Too Early or Too Late
One of the biggest wedding invitation etiquette mistakes that can be made is sending out invites too early or too late.
If you send out your invitations too early, your guests may forget about them long before your wedding rolls around. This means they may inadvertently end up double-booking themselves on your big day.
But conversely, if you send them out too late, your guests may not have enough time to make arrangements to attend. It's important to find the right balance so that your guests have enough time to RSVP, but you're not rushing them.
We recommend sending your invitations between 3-4 months before your wedding date. This gives your guests plenty of time to book the day off and return their reply cards, but is close enough to the wedding date that they won’t forget.
2) Not Sending Save the Dates
Another common wedding invitation etiquette mistake is not sending out save the date cards. Save the dates let your guests know the date of your wedding, before you’ve finalised any of the details that will go on the wedding invitation (like the ceremony start time).
Save the dates ensure that your guests have plenty of time to make arrangements to attend your wedding; remember, they may have to sort out childcare, book travel and book time off work to attend.
We recommend sending save the date cards out between 6 and 12 months before your wedding date (the earlier the better if guests will have to travel). This might seem like a long time, but it's good etiquette to give your invitees plenty of notice.
3) Not Specifying Who Is Invited
Something else you should avoid when sending out your invites is not being specific about who is invited. This can be confusing for your guests, and can lead to awkward situations: one half of a couple might think they have to stay at home when you actually wanted them to come, or maybe even worse, might turn up when you didn't want them to!
The easiest way to avoid this problem is by writing the names of everyone who’s invited on the envelope. If plus ones are allowed, write “plus guest”, and if there are any exclusions (e.g. no under-18s), make this clear on the invite. This will help to avoid wedding-day misunderstandings, and also avoids the need for people to call you and ask exactly who's allowed to come, saving you time.
4) Including Too Many or Too Few Details on the Invitation
Your wedding invitations should give your guests the basics that they need to know to attend your wedding, but avoid going into too much detail.
If you include too much information, your invitations will look cluttered and your guests might get confused or won’t want to read it. But if you forget to mention something important, they might not know what to wear or where to go.
We recommend including the following information on your invitations:
1. Who's hosting the wedding
2. A direct request to come to the wedding
3. The names of the couple
4. The date and time
5. The exact location (with postcode)
6. Details of the reception
7. Dress code
8. Separate RSVP card
Any additional details can be addressed on the wedding website, or, alternatively, on a separate wedding note card that you include in the envelope alongside the invitation.
5) Mentioning Gifts
Of course your wedding guests will want to give you a wedding guest, as a thank you for inviting them to attend your wedding, and to congratulate the newlyweds. However, it’s extremely poor etiquette to mention gifts on the wedding invitation.
Making any reference to gifts – whether that’s asking for specific gifts, requesting money, or directing invitees to your gift registry – is considered tacky. It will make your guests feel that you care more about their gift than their presence on your big day.
Traditionally, gift information is spread via word-of-mouth, but these days you can also include a link to your gift registry on the wedding website.
6) Not Setting an RSVP Deadline
Maybe the worst mistake you can make is not including a date by which guests are required to respond.
The trouble is that if you don't, your guests may not feel the need to respond in good time. If they don't, you might find yourself having to chase them up, and you won’t know how many people are actually coming to your wedding. This is a huge thorn in your side when it comes to making your table plan; not to mention, your caterer will need to know the head count well in advance.
We recommend including an RSVP deadline of around 2 months before the wedding date. This gives you plenty of time to follow up with guests who haven't responded.
6) Not Providing an RSVP Envelope
Another common mistake is not providing an RSVP envelope. This is bad etiquette because you're asking the guest to go out of their way to find an envelope; remember, not everyone has envelopes lying around these days! So, not including one might mean that a guest has to take time out of their busy day to buy some. That's why most RSVPs come with envelopes anyway.
We recommend including a pre-addressed envelope alongside the RSVP card, including all the necessary information (i.e. the name and address you want them to send it to). Your guests will appreciate it, and it’ll help ensure you get everyone’s responses on time.
7) Not Providing an RSVP Stamp
It’s good wedding etiquette to pre-affix a stamp to the RSVP envelope. The reason for this is that you're essentially saying 'Please send this back to me, but can you pay out of your own pocket to send it?'
It would be rude to demand that of someone, so instead you're expected to be gracious and to include a stamp with each RSVP. It doesn't have to be First Class or Recorded Delivery, so long as there's a stamp!
If you're trying to save money, and you don't mind breaking with tradition, you don't need to send an envelope and stamp, or even a traditional RSVP card. Instead, you can ask guests to RSVP by email or over the phone.
8) Not Addressing Your Invitations Correctly
A basic mistake, but a big one: when you send out your invitations, make sure that they are addressed correctly. Use the invitee’s full name, spelled correctly, and don’t forget to use their proper title (Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc). You should also use their children’s, partner’s or plus one’s name, if you know it.
This might sound like common sense, but you'd be surprised how often people make mistakes with this, especially with distant family. So take your time when addressing each invitation, and double-check that everything is correct before sending it out.
It's also worth noting that for etiquette's sake you should never use nicknames on your invitations. So, if a person is known as 'Auntie Sue', their proper title would be 'Mrs Susan Smith'. Of course, you can do whatever you want, but if you want to do things by the book? Don't use nicknames.
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