There are so many ins and outs of wedding stationery etiquette. I frequently get emails asking many of these questions, so below you will find a list of the most common questions and answers to help guide you through your invitation process. Click one of the titles below to expand for more information. If there are any questions that aren’t answered here, feel free to email me at hello@heatherobriendesign.com.

timing

Invitations

Wedding invitations should be sent out approximately 8-10 weeks before your wedding date. If you’re planning on having a destination wedding, or a wedding on a holiday weekend you should plan on sending them out at least 12-14 weeks in advance to allow your guests to plan for transportation and accommodations.

Save the Dates

Save the dates should be sent out so guests have a chance to prepare for travel and accommodations. They are usually sent out 9-12 months in advance. Every guest that receives a save the date needs to also receive a formal invitation. If you send someone a save the date and they notify you that they can’t make it, you don’t need to send them an invitation. Unless it is a very close friend or family member that would like to have it as a keepsake.

Response Cards

Your “respond by” date for your response cards should be 4-6 weeks before your wedding date. This will give you 2-3 weeks to follow up with the stragglers who didn’t respond and get your final guest count to your caterer by their deadline.

postage

Invitations

Invitations will generally cost between $.70 and $1.12 for US mail. The USPS charges based on 3 items, weight, thickness and machinability. A 1 ounce stamp currently costs $.49 and for every ounce over that up to 3.5 ounces, it’s an additional $.21 per ounce. Most invitations start at 2 ounces costing a minimum of $.70 for the outer envelope. If you have anything on your invitation that may cause a “bulge” in your envelope such as a ribbon or wax seal, you’ll have to factor in an additional ounce ($.21) to the cost to mail it since it will not be able to go through the post office’s machine.

Response Cards

Response card envelopes generally only require a 1 ounce stamp, costing $.49. If you did a postcard response, the stamp for postcards is only $.34. Remember, it is considered faux pas to not include a stamp on your response envelope for your guests.

Hand canceling

Hand canceling is when the Post Office processes your invitation by hand opposed to running it through their machines. Hand canceling is recommended as it can save on some wear and tear. If your invitation has a long way to go, it won’t guarantee that it won’t go through any machines, but can definitely help the chances. Every Post Office is different and you’ll want to check with your local Post Office on what their policy is. Some Post Offices don’t charge for this service, but some will charge the cost of an additional ounce ($.21) to hand cancel them for you.

invitation wording

hosting information

When wording your invitation there are several different options depending on your situation. See some below samples for the most commonly used options:

Married Parents of the Bride Hosting

Mr. and Mrs. John Prescott Robinson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Sarah Elizabeth
to
Mr. William David Kennedy

Divorced/Remarried Parents of the Bride Hosting

Mr. and Mrs. John Prescott Robinson
and
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew James Jenkins
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Sarah Elizabeth
to
Mr. William David Kennedy

Bride and Groom Hosting with Family

Together with their families
Sarah Elizabeth Robinson
and
William David Kennedy
request the honour of your presence
at their marriage

adult only reception

If you prefer your reception to be adults only, there are a few ways to tactfully handle wording. Proper etiquette would start with who you addressed the envelope to. If the children’s names weren’t included, it would be assumed they’re not invited. Unfortunately, not everyone knows this. You can have a small line included on your invitation that simply says “adult reception following”. If you are still worried that some of your guests may not catch on, you can include a line on your response card that let’s you fill in the number of people you have invited for that household. “We have reserved ___ seat(s) in your honor.”

additional wording

Additional Cards

Additional cards are generally used when the ceremony and reception are held at two separate locations. You will need to list the reception venue and address. This is also a good place to list a wedding website if you have one. Another good use for additional cards could be for accommodations, directions, or wedding events. However, keep in mind, you do not want to include your wedding registry anywhere on your invitation suite, this should be reserved for your wedding website or bridal shower invitations.

Response Cards

Response cards need to include your respond by date for your guests, a line to enter in their names, food choices, if you choose to have a plated dinner, and accept(s) and decline(s) options.

addressing

Outer Envelopes

When preparing your addresses for your envelopes, be sure to follow these rules of etiquette. Spell out roads, streets, states and anything that could possibly be abbreviated. Use formal names, no nicknames. Below are some samples for how to handle addressing names:

Married Couple

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher King

Unmarried Couple

Mr. Jonathan Hunter and Miss Hannah White

Family

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher King and Family

OR

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher King

Miss Annabelle King

Single Person with Guest

Mr. Stephen Thompson and Guest

Inner Envelopes

If you are including inner envelopes, this is where you would place any additional guest or children that are invited with the main guests. The outer envelope would be only for the main guest/couple. Below are some samples for how to handle addressing names:

Outer Envelope

Inner Envelope

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher King

Mr. and Mrs. King (formal)
OR
Sarah and Christopher (informal)

Mr. and Mrs. Christopher King

Mr. and Mrs. King
Miss Annabelle King (formal)
OR
Annabelle (informal)

Mr. Jonathan Hunter and Miss Hannah White

Mr. Hunter and Miss White

Mr. Stephen Thompson

Mr. Thompson and Guest

response envelope

The response envelope generally comes back to the bride or whoever is collecting the responses. Don’t forget to place a stamp on it!

ordering and assembly

how many to order

When placing your invitation order you will want to make sure you are ordering one for each household and not per person, or you will end up ordering way more than you need. You will want to order 10-15 additional invitation sets on top of your final count. This will account for any last minute additions or any returned invitations for wrong addresses or for keepsakes.

assembling and envelopes

If you order wedding invitations that have backings or enclosures where the invitation needs to be adhered, this will be professionally done for you before they are given to you. However, if you choose to not have us stack and stuff them into the envelopes for you, here are some tips for assembling them yourself. You will want to stack them from largest to smallest with your invitation being on the bottom followed by any additional cards you may have, and then your response card placed on top of the response envelope on the top of the stack. You will then slide the whole set into your envelope facing up towards the back of the envelope so when your guests pull them out, they will be facing them.

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