Time Etiquette for Wedding Invitations

Deciding when to mail your wedding invitations is an important decision. You want to make sure you mail the invitations early enough so people can respond, but not too early. You also need to decide when you need the responses back. Setting up a time line ahead of time is helpful so you can keep on track.

Save the Date

Once you've chosen a date for your wedding, it is appropriate to send out save-the-date reminders to guests ahead of time. Save-the-date reminders should only be sent to guests you will be inviting to the wedding. Therefore, you need to have the guest list finalized before sending these out. You also need to have the location of the wedding picked out so guests can prepare ahead of time. Save-the-date cards are a nice way of letting people know they will be receiving a wedding invitation and to keep that date open. It is proper to send these out anywhere from six to nine months before the wedding.

Invitations

Etiquette states that wedding invitations should be sent six to eight weeks before the wedding. Many couples worry that this does not give out-of-town guests enough time to prepare for travel. If you sent out save-the-date reminders, however, your guests will already have started making travel arrangements and plans for taking time off of work or school. It's not proper to send out the invitations too early.

Responses

Another thing to consider is the date to put on your response card so guests know when they need to mail them back. You should consult with your caterer or reception coordinator to determine when they need a final head count. Keep in mind that you should give yourself a few extra days for last-minute changes and responses. Typically you should ask for the responses back no later than two weeks before the wedding. This gives guests at least a month to decide whether they'll be attending your wedding, and it gives you enough time to determine a head count. If you prefer to be on the safe side, mail the invitations out eight weeks before the wedding and ask for a response a month before the wedding.

Final Counts

Once the response date has passed, there will probably be a few guests who haven't sent back their response cards. Wait a day or two for last-minute responses, and then call the people who have not responded. The invitation or response may have been lost in the mail, or the person may have forgotten to respond. It is necessary for you to know who is coming so your caterer can prepare enough food and you can put together seating charts and make arrangements.

Announcements

It is not necessary to send out wedding announcements, but they are a nice touch. Wedding announcements let people know that you are officially married. They are sent out after the wedding to people who couldn't attend or you were unable to invite. If you had a small wedding that included only close family, you may wish to send an announcement to friends and co-workers. Family members who wanted to come but live too far away may also appreciate an announcement. Wedding announcements should be sent a day or two after the wedding.