Wedding Invitations – Checklist and Timeline

photo by Heather Chipps Photography

You’re engaged and trying to navigate all of the crazy that is planning your wedding – andddd it’s just about to make you lose your ish. You’ve got your super cute Save the Dates up on the fridge, but now you’re wondering how in the world to start on your invitations.

Here’s what you need to know in quick easy bullet points so that you can check your invitations off your to-do list and get back to binge-watching the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!

Wedding Invitations Timeline

You should send out your wedding invitations 6-8 weeks before your wedding. If you’re having a wedding that is in another country or on a popular holiday/holiday weekend, you can increase that to 8-10 weeks! In this case, it’s very important that you’ve sent your guests a Save the Date, as holiday plans may already be made, and travel accommodations can become expensive or unattainable!

That means that you should book your stationer (and calligrapher, if you are dreading the hand cramps that come from writing out all of those addresses) no later than 6-8 months before your wedding day! That is especially important if you are interested in custom wedding invitations, as that will allow ample time for the design process so that you’re sure to have a design you love. As with any vendor, project schedules fill up fast (especially for popular wedding months) so if you know you just HAVE to have a particular vendor, book with them earlier than that. I frequently get inquiries up to 8-12 months in advance!

light blue white calligraphy

Wedding Invitations Checklist

If you’ve looked at a wedding invitation lately, there are #allthethings to remember to include. What if you forget to include something important? Like the wedding date?! To help you avoid costly re-prints and extra stress I’ve put together a checklist for you with all of the items I walk my couples through remembering to include!

Things to Include in your Invitation Suite:

  • Your Names – This seems easy, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised! Make sure that both of your names are included – you don’t have to include your middle name, but I advocate for your first and last names to be included somewhere on the card (even if it is just as part of your parent’s name) so that there isn’t any confusion about whose wedding your guest is being invited to. This is especially important if you have a common name, like me. If I sent someone an invitation inviting them to Lauren Kelsey’s wedding there are quite literally thousands of people that could be!
  • Hosting Line – Traditionally, this is the bride’s parents, but in today’s modern world sometimes it is the couple themselves, the groom’s parents, some combination, or someone else entirely! Whoever the hosts are (the ones writing the checks) be sure to honor (and thank) them by including them in the hosting line at the top of the invitation. Typically this looks something like “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the pleasure of your company” or “Together with their families”.
  • Date of Ceremony – this should be spelled out, and I like to include the day of the week too. Friday / Sunday weddings are becoming more popular, but most people still assume weddings are on Saturdays. You wouldn’t want your guest accidentally showing up the day before or after the wedding! The perfect format would be Friday, the fourth of January on one line, then two thousand nineteen on the next.
  • Time of Ceremony – don’t forget to tell your guests when they should be there! I personally do not recommend building in unnecessary padding on the ceremony time (i.e. telling people 5:00 on the invitation when really it is 5:30 to avoid late guests). Fifteen minutes is okay if you’re really nervous, but any more than that is rude! Many guests plan to arrive 15 minutes early, so you don’t want them sitting there bored (and thinking you’re late to your wedding).
  • Location of Ceremony – make sure to give your guests the name of your venue, and the city (many churches in different close-by cities share similar names). You don’t have to include the address, but if you feel your venue is difficult to find or get to, you can include it on your invitation or your details card. Don’t include the zip code, though! That is only used by USPS to send mail and actually has nothing to do with your address outside of the postal system!
  • Location of Reception – this only needs to be included if it is different from your ceremony venue. If both will be held at the same venue, no need to specify!
  • Time of Reception – this would only be included if your reception starts considerably after your ceremony (we’re talking hours) and your guests will need to know to head back to their rooms after the ceremony. If each event happens in succession, no need to include this!
  • Clear Request for an RSVP – make sure you are clearly asking your guests to RSVP if you want them to, and let them know how and where (whether that is sending back an RSVP card or heading to your wedding website). I love cute creative wording for RSVP responses, but make sure they’re clear – don’t make your guests feel like they have to decode the puzzle to figure out if they’re saying they are coming or not, or your RSVPs will not be correct!
  • Entree Options – if you are giving your guests an option to choose their entree, make sure to include that for them to fill out with their RSVP! Just stating “chicken”, “beef”, “vegetarian”, etc. is sufficient, unless you feel really compelled to have their mouths watering with all of the ingredients when they get their invitation. You can add a line requesting them to list and dietary restrictions or allergies if you’re worried.
  • Date to RSVP by – without this, you may have guests RSVPing at their leisure – and you need those responses! Check with your vendors to see when they need final counts by, and give yourself some extra time. Click here to read more about how I calculate RSVP dates!
  • Accommodations / Travel Information – if you’ve booked room blocks for your guests, or have a bus to take them from the ceremony to the reception – make sure you include that information either on your invitation or on your wedding website so that guests know the plan!
  • Wedding Website – Last but not least, my favorite catchall – if you have a lot of information to include but don’t want your invitation to start feeling like small novel, you can include the information on your wedding website and include its address on your details or response card!

Things to Check on your Envelopes:

  • Stamp on RSVP Envelope – this will make it easier for your guests to pop their response in the mail promptly!
  • Correct RSVP Address – check, double check, and then triple check this one! Can you imagine having all of your RSVPs going to the wrong address? Eek!
  • Postage on Invitation Envelope – I weigh all of my couples invitations for them and tell them what the postage likely will be but I always recommend taking a stuffed, ready to mail invitation to the post office that you will be sending them at to double check postage before dropping them all in the mail. Believe it or not, different post offices sometimes tell you different things, and the last thing you want is to drop your suites in the mail and have them come back with ugly “insufficient postage” stamps all over them. That probably doesn’t match well with the pretty gold calligraphy you had done on the envelopes! Save yourself money, time and headaches by taking it to the post office and getting it right the first time! If they tell you it needs extra postage, don’t risk it by adding less and hoping it works. The extra $50 or less in postage isn’t worth the cost of re-prints, lost invitations or ruined envelopes.
  • Check Guest Addresses – before you send out your invitations, double check the guest addresses! Were they written/printed/calligraphed correctly? Did you have the correct address on your list? Did this guest move between when you sent them their Save the Date and now?
  • Check Return Address – worst case, if your invitations cannot be delivered to your guest, they will be sent back to your return address and you’ll know to send them another. But if your return address isn’t correct, what happens? This is one of the many great mysteries of life – is there a USPS Black Hole somewhere that has all of Grandma Sue’s missing letters? We may never know. Don’t be like Grandma Sue and double check that your return address is correct. This is also likely the address that people will use if they mail you gifts!

Count up how many invitations you’ll need for your guests (keeping in mind that # of guests does not necessarily equal # of cards!) and then add 10-15 extra in case you have any last minute additions, a pristine copy to be photographed, and a few extra for you to keep!

If you’re like me, you’re probably going to be going “where was that blog post that told me what I needed to do and when?” in about a month, so I’ve created an easy download that has all of the information in it that you can print out and pop into your wedding planner binder (or save in your Google Drive folder if you’re the tech type).

Ready to knock out your wedding invitations? I offer custom wedding invitations with unique to watercolor illustrations and calligraphy. To make your invitations a beautiful first impression of what is to come on your wedding day, click here to learn more about my process!


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