It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time where you see all of your best friends, classmates, co-workers and neighbors completely ecstatic because they are finally engaged! Let me be the first to congratulate all of the new brides-to-be and grooms-to-be! If you are a newly engaged couple, you’ve probably noticed a few things have changed in your life: – You’ve suddenly become left handed (it’s okay, you can’t help it – that bling is mesmorizing!) – Pinterest is your best friend – You know the difference between ivory, white, cream, ecru, winter white and bone – You are in a whirlwind of peonies, charger plates and bridesmaid dresses! Once the initial excitement of being engaged subsides, many ladies find themselves stressed out since they are now faced with a quite daunting to-do list! One of the biggest components of your day is your invitation suite! You are planning this gorgeous occasion, so you want your invitation to your dear friends and family to set the tone for your occasion. From the minute they receive that invitation, they should see the color scheme for your wedding, the formality of your event, and get a taste of you and your husband-to-be’s personality! Each wedding is different, and each timeline is different, but here are some general guidelines on when you should send out each component of your invitations!

Save the Dates – Six to Eight Months Before the Big Day Your Save the Dates need only to include the basic information – the date of the wedding, and the location! This will alert your guests that a formal invitation will be following, and let them “save” that date on their calendar for your wedding day early, while you get a little more time to nail down the ceremony time and details that will be included on the invitation later. If you’re having a destination wedding or most of your guests are coming in from out of town, you may want to send out your Save the Date up to 12 months before the wedding! Note: Save the Dates typically do not require a response. For some of your more organized guests, you may hear that they are unable to attend – but most will wait until the RSVP to tell you yes or no. Etiquette states that even if a guest alerts you after the Save the Date that they are unable to attend, you should still send them an invitation. Make sure to wait to receive their official RSVP before counting them as “attending” or “not attending”!

Bridal Shower / Bachelor Party / Bachelorette Party Invitations – Three to Four Weeks Before the Event If you’re new to being a Best Man or Maid of Honor – you may be a little confused about the timing of everything! Speak with the bride (or groom) early on to compile the list of guests that they’d like for the event. Make sure to collect accurate and up to date addresses as well! After that, invitations should be sent out no later than three to four weeks before the event. Invitations can be paper invitations if you’re going traditional, or some are opting for a paper-less approach and sending cute e-cards via e-mail or Facebook! Regardless of how you send the invitation, make sure to include these important pieces of information – date, time, location, and cost! Since you may not be able to accurately predict the exact cost (if you’re planning on splitting hotel rooms, etc.) give a range! Most importantly, unless there are special circumstances, do not invite any guests to the Bridal Shower, Bachelor Party or Bachelorette Party that are not ALSO invited to the wedding! This can cause hurt feelings!

Rehearsal Dinner Invitations – Four to Five Weeks Before the Big Day Rehearsal Dinner invitations should be placed in the mail just after the invitations are sent out. This gives the guests plenty of time to ensure that their hotel arrangements are in order for them to attend!

Invitations – Six to Eight Weeks Before the Big Day Invitations are typically sent out six to eight weeks before the Big Day. This gives you plenty of time to have nailed down the final details with your venue, vendors and wedding planner before sending out the details to your guests! You should have your RSVP’s due back about a month before your wedding. You’ll want to have plenty of time to organize your RSVP’s and track down any late ones before you have to give your final count to your caterer. Most caterers require the final count 2 weeks before your wedding date – but make sure to talk to them about their policies so that you aren’t stuck purchasing extra food!

Menus, Place Cards, Programs, and Other Paperie – One Month Before the Big Day Other than just invitations, there are many other paper components that play a part in your wedding day! Many brides and grooms like to have a program for their ceremony, place cards for their reception tables, and other fun signs and paperie for their event. You’ll want to make sure that you have these in hand at least a month before the wedding, to give you plenty of time to get them to your wedding planner or venue for setup, or to organize them yourself and create “set-up instructions” for your family members or friends who are helping to set up your wedding!

Thank You Cards – within Four Weeks of the Big Day The rule of thumb for thank yous is that if the gift is received before the wedding, the thank you card should be sent within two weeks. After the wedding, you have up to four weeks to allow you time to return from your honeymoon, adjust and unpack! You should have your thank you notes ordered and in hand early so that you are ready to go for any bridal showers, couples showers, or bachelor/bachelorette parties! We recommend having them in hand no later than a month before your wedding. Here at Lauren Perry Studio, we believe strongly in a prompt thank you! Contrary to popular belief, you do not have a year’s grace period to write your thank you notes! That will only leave you stressed out with one last wedding task, and looking like an ungrateful gift recipient. As tempting as it might be to put off that stack of thank yous, sit down with a big glass of sweet tea, and tag team them with your new hubby! Use the same spreadsheet that you used for your invitations with your guest’s names and addresses, and fill in a detailed summary of their gift as you open them. This will also help you narrow down who the gift giver is for some of those gifts without cards!

We suggest that you create a timeline / schedule for yourself early – and consult it often! While our list only includes the paper side of your wedding timeline, there are several very useful timelines available online from Pinterest, and Real Simple that we highly recommend!