Wedding Invitation Etiquette Best Practices with Paper Muse Co.
Written by Shylah Trost, Founder of Paper Muse Co.
It’s happening! You’re getting married! Planning a wedding can be a huge undertaking from choosing the perfect wedding dress, to budgeting, to choosing the right vibe for your stationery, decorations, and venue. While it may be stressful at times, it can also be one of the most memorable times of your life (in a good way!). Remember to breathe and smile, knowing your wedding day will be wonderful, no matter what.
When it comes to wedding invitations specifically, there are a number of things you should keep in mind. As wedding stationers and wedding invitation companies continue to navigate in a post-pandemic world, some etiquette rules have changed and some withstand the test of time!
First, you’ll want to finalize your guests list. This will give you an accurate number of how many save the dates or wedding invitation suites you’ll need to order. Remember, order one per household, not one per guest. Guests over the age of 18 living in the same home should receive their own individual invitation. We recommend using a spreadsheet for this task! Whether you use Excel, Google Docs, or Numbers, this is the best way to organize your guest addresses and will make addressing your wedding invitation envelopes easier in the long run.
Next, keeping your budget in mind, start to research different styles of wedding invitations. This is the fun part! Think about colors, textures, and what style of printing best represents your wedding style. Letterpress and foil stamping are classic and timeless! Thermography is absolutely beautiful! Digital printing is perfect as a budget friendly option! Keep in mind, your wedding invitations are your guest’s ‘first look’ and provide an indication of the level of formality to expect at your wedding!
Don’t worry about wording or information at this stage; simply gather a couple pricing quotes based on your vision and quantity needed. Always order a few extras! You’ll want to provide your photographer with a couple full invitation suites, to capture all of the lovely details, and you’ll also want at least a few as keepsakes.
Once you’ve finalized the style of wedding invitations you’d like, there are rules of etiquette that you should follow! As we move through the 21st century, some rules have started to fade, but some are still strongly recommended!
Versing Your Wedding Invitations
This is a highly personal choice, but be sure to include the important details such as (1) Names of persons hosting, (2) Bride and Grooms names (traditionally, wedding invitations should include the bride’s first and middle name followed by the groom’s first, middle, and last name), (3) Day, date with year, and time of the ceremony (traditionally, these parts are spelled out completely, with no use of numerals, and no zip code included), (4) Location with city and state, spelled out completely, and (5) If the reception is at the same location, a line stating “Reception to follow” is acceptable, along with the indication of attire, such as “Black Tie” or “Cocktail Attire.” On your wedding invitations, do not use abbreviations such as Rd or Ave.
Include RSVP instructions
Whether you’re a traditional couple and you’ll be using mail-in RSVP cards (also called response or reply cards) or a modern couple choosing to gather replies via a wedding website or QR code printed on your RSVP cards, be sure that you specify how and when replies are expected. It is recommended to indicate an RSVP date that is close enough to your wedding that you won’t receive “false accepts” (only to have last minute cancellations) but far enough away from your date that you have time to plan for the number of guests attending. At Paper Muse Co., we recommend approximately 30-35 days before your wedding. This will give you or your wedding party a few days to track down anyone who has not responded and finalize numbers.
Timeline & Mailing Your Wedding Invitations
Be sure to give your guests enough time to plan around your wedding day. Some guests will need to secure a babysitter or make travel arrangements. Traditionally, it was recommended to send your wedding invitations out about two months before your wedding. However, we recommend mailing them out between eight and ten weeks before your wedding. This allows for extra time for your wedding invitations to travel through the mail (snail mail is slower than ever in 2022!), gives your guests adequate time to plan and reply, and adds in some extra breathing room for addressing errors or mail mishaps. If you’re having a destination wedding, be sure to mail out your invitations up to 12-14 weeks in advance.
Addressing Your Wedding Invitations
Addressing your guests properly on your outer envelopes is a key part of wedding invitation etiquette and likely the first part of the wedding invitation that your guests will see upon receiving. Make sure to gather proper titles and name spellings for each guest. It is acceptable to abbreviate titles such as Mr. and Mrs. but do not abbreviate street names or states. When in doubt, spell it out.
Here are some main examples:
To a married couple:
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Smith
To a married couple with children:
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Smith
The Williams Family
Mr. and Mrs. Jack Smith
To a single gal:
Miss Jessica Smith (if under 21)
Ms. Jessica Smith (if 21+)
To a married woman:
Mrs. Jessica Smith
To a single or married man:
Mr. Jack Smith
To a married couple when one is a doctor:
Doctor Jessica Smith and Mr. Jack Smith
Doctor Jack Smith and Mrs. Jessica Smith
To an unmarried couple (serious, long-term relationship):
Ms. Jessica Smith and Mr. Jack Smith
To a single man or woman, with plus one:
Ms. Jessica Smith
In addition to etiquette involved in properly addressing your outer envelopes, you may also consider using inner envelopes too! Traditionally, inner envelopes are used to indicate the names of the specific guests invited. This is also a time where you can use more informal names and provides an extra level or personalization. Inner envelopes have gone in and out of style in the past 25 years as the mail became more reliable, but they are still recommended for an extra level of protection to pad your ever-special wedding invitation suite! Even if you opt to forgo the inner envelope, be clear about who is invited and who may not be (i.e., children)! If your wedding will have limitations on guests, include polite verbiage to that effect on an additional enclosure card, AKA Reception card/Details card.
Whether your wedding is a casual beach wedding or a black-tie formal affair, it’s very special! We recommend honoring your guests with proper etiquette to preserve its history and bring homage to sanctity of marriage and how beautiful your wedding (and marriage) will be!
Hero photo courtesy of Paper Muse Co.
** Reprinted from Celebrate Weddings Magazine **