Wedding Invitations: Structure, Contents, and Details
When your guests receive your wedding invitation they should be able to know all information regarding the wedding necessary. To avoid unnecessary time wasted to make phone calls after wedding invitations have been sent out, we have provided a checklist for final check off of what a wedding invitation should comprise:
Who is Involved?
- Names of the couple
- Names of both parents (optional)
- Other hosts (optional)
- Honorees (optional)- in some cultures the names of the best man and maid of honor may be mentioned
What Is the Event?
Somewhere in the invitation there should be a mention of a wedding in one form or another. Examples would be "the marriage of...", "as they exchange wedding vows", "celebrate their union", or even "we are getting hitched" depending on your wedding style. In the end, you want your guests to know the reason for the celebration.
Where Is the Wedding?
- Name of ceremony location
- Name of reception location
- Address of ceremony location (optional, this can be added as an insert)
- Address of reception location (optional, this can be added as an insert)
When Will the Wedding Take Place?
- Start time of ceremony (spelled out)
- Make an indication of time of day (morning, afternoon, evening or night)
- Morning (5 AM to 11:59 AM)
- Afternoon (12 PM to 4:59 PM)
- Evening (5 PM to 8:59 PM)
- Night (9 PM to 4:59 AM)
- Start time of reception (or "following ceremony")
When to Respond
The wedding invitation may include the date when guests need to respond to the hosts. This is optional since this information can simply be included on the respond card.
Wedding Envelope Components
When it's time to send out the wedding invitations, it is best to make sure each envelope is filled with all the necessities. We have provided a quick cheat-sheet to ensure everything is taken care of.
- Inner envelope
- Wedding invitation
- Response card
- Tissue paper (optional)
- Directions and/or maps (optional)
- Accommodations cards (destination weddings or out-of-town guests)
- Website information (a separate card with wedding website information)
Timeline for Wedding Related Cards
- Engagement Announcement: Making your engagement known to all your friends and family is an exciting time. Nowadays, most people informally announce their engagement on social media, by phone or in person; but there is a lot to say about a traditional and formal announcement through the newspaper or send out engagement announcement cards. As soon as a wedding proposal takes place and the couple is ready to make such an announcement (hopefully before everyone already knows) it is appropriate to send out the cards.
- Engagement Party Invitations: If you are planning on having an engagement party then an ideal time to send out invitations would be 3 to 6 weeks before the party somewhat depending on the formality of the event. If the affair is formal, then more of an advance notice is necessary; where as an invitation received a few weeks prior to the event would be sufficient for an informal party.
- Save-the-Date Cards: Even though this is optional, save-the-date cards are a great way to allow your guests ample time to reserve your wedding date. 4 to 6 months prior to your event is considered adequate. Make sure to include as much information as possible: the official date, time and location of the ceremony and reception. This is also a great place to include your wedding website where you can have up-to-date information about the event as it's being planned. This is especially helpful for destination weddings, or when you have many out-of-town guests.
- Bridal Shower Invitations: As the wedding day draws closer, a close friend or family member may decide to host a party in your honor. This is a great way to get together with close friends and family and get excited about the big day. A month or two before the wedding is a great time for this event. It is close enough to the wedding so it doesn't lose its essence but not too close to make it stressful. The best time to send out the bridal shower invitation would be 3 to 6 weeks before the event.
- Bachelorette/Bachelor Party Invitations: The bachelorette and bachelor parties (sometimes combined as a couple's party) are a great way cut loose before the wedding. Anytime within two months prior to the wedding is a great time for these parties. Being that these parties are usually a get-together between close friends, an invitation 3 to 4 weeks prior to the event will be just fine. An earlier notice may be necessary for out-of-town parties.
- Wedding Rehearsal and Dinner Invitations: More of a North American tradition, a wedding rehearsal is generally held the night before the wedding and normally includes a rehearsal dinner. This is a gathering among the happy couple, immediate family and the members of the wedding party. The invitation to this event should be sent out at least 4 weeks before the wedding. It should be mailed after the wedding invitations have been sent out, and never together. The wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner are separate events from the wedding and should be treated as such.
- Wedding Invitations: Under normal circumstances, sending out wedding invitations 2 months before the event is excellent timing. This will give your guests plenty of time to send out a response. If you have a destination wedding, a lot of out-of-town guests or your guests need to make prior hotel accommodations, then send out invitations a lot sooner. Sending out invitations even 6 months prior to your wedding is not unheard of.
- Wedding Announcement: If the guest list was limited to close family and friends, then chances are there are plenty of people in your life who would love to hear the news of your nuptials. Sending out a wedding announcement should ideally be sent out the day after the wedding, but that is of course only for the exceptionally organized couples. Most people would love to see a picture or two of the wedding day, (if already unavailable on social media) therefore, sending out the wedding announcement later on, up to 2 months after the wedding, is acceptable.
- Thank You Cards: When you return from your honeymoon, the first order of business should be preparing and sending out the thank you cards. It is socially acceptable to send out printed thank you cards to all the guests at your wedding, but it is customary to handwrite the thank you cards. Each card should individually thank each guest for their time and gift. Thank you cards, should be sent out within 2 months after the wedding.
- Post Wedding Party Invitations: The post wedding party is normally a casual, fun filled party within the first year following your wedding (ideally closer to 6 months after). This is a great excuse to get together with family and friends who could not attend the wedding. It is especially great for couples who opted out for a small or destination wedding. Being it's a casual affair, a post wedding party invitation should be sent out 2 to 4 weeks before the party which is plenty of time for your guests to make arrangements.