Wedding Invitation Basics – The How and When

Now that you’re engaged you’ve got all kinds of decisions to make and all kinds of fun information to share.

You know that all your family and friends are dying to hear about all your plans.  This is where your wedding invitations come into play.

You can use a mix of digital and print invitations and keep everything right on time and in line.

There are a few things you must include on your wedding invitations and lots of things you might include so here are our tips to help get you started.

A Wedding Invitation is So Much More….

When you start researching invitations you’re going to find out that it’s not just a wedding invitation that you’re mailing, it’s a packet.

It’s like a little introduction to your wedding theme and all the plans surrounding it.

You wedding suite might include:

  • The Invitation Itself
  • A Reception Card
  • A Gift Registry Card
  • A Direction Card
  • A Response Card
  • An Outer Envelope

And you thought it was just an invitation!

When to Send Your Wedding Invitations

There aren’t as many hard and fast rules about when to send out your invitations these days.  So many of the item’s on the “to do” list and timeline have changed because we can easily get things done online.

The main thing you need to remember is that your guests need to time to plan for attending your wedding and celebration.  We generally recommend making sure that your invitations are sent out about 6-8 weeks in advance so that you have time to receive your RSVP’s.

If you’re planning a destination wedding, or a large part of your crowd will be traveling in for your wedding, you may want to consider sending out “Save the Date’s”.  These go out as soon as you’ve planned a date and venue.  This gives everyone time to organize travel and work details so that they’ll be able to join you.

The Wedding Invitation

Whether you are sending out digital invitations or having them printed, you’ll want to be sure to include the following information:

  • Who is Hosting/Inviting
  • Who is Celebrating
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • How to RSVP
  • Reception
  • Dress Code (optional)
  • Website (optional)

The Hosts

This seems like a small detail on your invitations, but it can be a tricky situation in some instances.

In the past, the hosts were the brides parents and you would typically see your invitations worded with their names inviting you to celebrate. “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe invite you to celebrate the marriage of…”

Today, there may be many more considerations than just the brides parents when you’re creating invitations.  If parents are divorced/remarried, if both families are contributing or a family member is deceased.

Who knew that the host line could be such a sticky subject?

The hosts are generally the people who are paying for the wedding so if the family’s are splitting costs you’d want to include them all on the host line of the invitations.  And then you have to consider if you’re contributing to your own wedding, or if you have a grandparent or extended family member that is contributing.

What you may see is a line that says “Together with our family’s”  or “together with their family’s” which is a great way to be classy and inclusive without having a long list of everyone who’s helping out.  This is something that you and your fiance will want to spend some time working out in advance.

The What, Where, When

The wording of the invitation is meant to spell out all the details about your celebrations in an easy to read format.  Of course it’s important to give your guests the date, time and place so that they will know when and where to help you celebrate.

If you’re having a reception you’ll also want to include the information for that in your invitation either separately or online.  You can simply ask them to visit your website for more details, include the information on the invitation or have a separate card for the reception that’s included when you mail your invitations.

You’ll want to only include the important information so that your wedding invitations retain their beauty and do their job.  Your best bet will be to include enclosure cards to provide the details that don’t fit on your invitation.

The Reception Card

This is generally just a small card that matches your wedding invitation suite.  It has the information regarding the location of the reception and if it starts at a particular time.

Think of this as an invitation to another event.

The Direction Card

The direction card can be as simple as a small piece of paper with directions or notes on it.  It can be as elaborate as you want it to be.  Along with the directions you may want to include other information such as:

  • Valet Parking
  • Group Transportation
  • Child Care Arrangements
  • Weather/Attire Information (outdoor wedding, etc.)
  • Your Wedding Website

Just think of this as your chance to add in any important information you want to share with your guests.


In a perfect world your guests will fill out their RSVP and mail it back immediately.  In the real world they’ll open your invitation, read it and then move it around several times before remembering that they never mailed the RSVP.

You should include a pre-addressed and stamped envelope for your RSVP’s to be returned in.  You may also want to consider a postcard option for a less formal wedding.

It’s a great idea to include a deadline for your RSVP’s so that you can follow up with any of them that didn’t respond.  You’ll need an accurate head count for your caterer and if you’re creating a seating chart you’re going to want to be sure that everyone has a seat and knows where to find it.

Addressing the Envelopes

The etiquette of a wedding includes so many tiny tiny details and the addressing of the envelopes is definitely one of those.  Whether you choose to send your invites digitally or by mail, the same etiquette applies to both.

The design and wording of your wedding invitation can give your guests a hint at how formal the affair is.  Using formal titles in addressing a classic invitation will present a more formal affair.  Using a shaped invitation and just first names will lend itself to a less formal event.

Names:  Be sure that you have the titles and spelling correct for your guests, ie; Dr. or Mr. and Mrs.

Who You’re Inviting:  The people designated on the wedding invitation are who the invitation is directed toward.  If you’re inviting children then you can address your invitations to the family.  “The Doe Family” as opposed to only the adults which would be “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe”.  If you’re inviting a single friend and a plus one you can say “Mr. John Doe and Guest”.

A Wedding Website

A wedding website is a great way to share stories, photos and details about all the upcoming events with your guests.  It can make your life a lot easier to only have to update information in one place and not have to track down each person that’s involved in each aspect.

Yay for technology!

Your website can include the story of how you met, some cute pictures of you both when you were little and some information about your family or your jobs or even your pets.

You’ll want to include all the information that you would include in a written invitations and RSVP but you have a lot more space to include maps and even a few activity ideas for those that are traveling.  You can share your registry and they can click right through to it for easy shopping.

And don’t forget about your wedding hashtag!  This is where you share it so that all of your guests can start using it.

It’s very common to have a wedding website and also mail traditional invitations.  This is a great way to embrace technology while staying with tradition.

Now get that hand warmed up and ready to write.  You’ve got lots of wedding invitations to address!

Be sure to check out our Wedding Planning Timeline for more information and tips!

Leave a Comment