When Do You Send Out Wedding Invitations?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions planners get asked, as well as one of the most frequently searched wedding- related questions. If you're planning your wedding or event, this is certainly one of your top priorities, since your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. It's special, mainly because it's one of the few days where you get to have all your closest family and friends, together, to celebrate your special milestone with you! So let's answer this question, thoroughly, along with several other frequently asked wedding invitation questions.
First, once you have your wedding date picked out, you need to determine how much planning time you have. Ideally, you should have at least 12 months to plan your wedding. More, if possible, but 12 months is plenty of time. After you've booked your venue and other vendors, and you've created your tentative guest list, you should send save-the-date cards (or digital reminders) to your guests. Save-the-date cards should be sent out 6-8 months in advance.
When to Send Out Wedding Invitations
When you send out your wedding invitations will depend on where your wedding is. If you're having a wedding in your city or town, and the majority of your friends and family live in the area, then 6-8 weeks in advance should be fine. This gives your friends and family plenty of notice to write it in their calendars, make plans and arrangements and clear their schedules to be there. If some of your guests have to fly in, then you need to give them more advance notice.
If you're having a destination wedding, you certainly need to send out invitations earlier. You should send out invitations at least 3 months in advance, so they have time to make travel arrangements. This also goes for a non-destination wedding, for those guests that need to fly or travel long distances, to be at the wedding.
When Should You Make the RSVP Deadline?
Be sure to make your RSVP date at least 1 month before your wedding date. This gives you plenty of time to make the last minute emails and calls to guests who have not responded to your invite. You can also make a private, Facebook event, to communicate with your guests, too. Many couples also make a personal wedding website on one of the wedding websites, such as The Knot or Wedding Wire. Be sure to include your wedding website info, or Facebook page info, on your save-the-date cards. For your formal wedding invitations, you can include a card or insert, with your website/Facebook info.
At the one month mark, you have a pretty good idea of your headcount. At the three week mark, you've already followed up with guests who have not responded, and you should have your final headcount to send to your catering vendor, baker, florist, and you can also begin your seating chart(s). It's a good idea to give this headcount to the DJ, as well, since they will need to know how many people you're expecting (so they know what type of set up to bring for the ceremony and reception).
If you're having an adult-only wedding, be sure to make this very clear on your save-the-date and/or invitations. If there are a lot of children in your family, perhaps consider searching for a babysitting service, or even kid-friendly entertainment on the property, but away from the reception, with people to monitor the kids (family, friends, or babysitters). We've seen some weddings include a few kids activities and a jumping castle, which worked well. We never saw a kid on the dance floor the entire night! :)
How do You Explain Your Wedding Dress Code?
This is pretty straightforward. Simply write your dress code on the invitations or online invites. You can write "formal, black tie, cocktail attire," or "casual attire" on your invitations or inserts. Most people are aware of dress codes for weddings, but it never hurts to write it, just in case.
How do You Limit Guests and Plus-Ones?
If you're on a tight budget, and some of your guests are not in a serious relationship, you can certainly address the invitation to only that particular guest. Most people will understand that if the invite does not specifically state "plus-one," then it's only for them. Those guests who aren't sure, will most likely simply ask you if it's okay to bring a guest.
Can I Invite People Only to the Ceremony or Only the Reception?
Generally, you should invite people to both the ceremony and reception. If seating is limited for the ceremony, it's okay to send out separate invitations to guests for only the reception portion, but it's not common. We've seen clients invite guests to the dance portion, only, which is fine. If possibly, plan on inviting your guests to your entire wedding.
Overall, these are the most common invite practices. There are obviously exceptions to all of these things. Simply do what's best for your situation and budget. As always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to ask us and we'll be happy to help. You don't have to be our client! :)
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We've taken our decades of experience and compiled it into a few helpful articles, to help you plan your wedding or event!