Look, this isn’t some four year olds birthday party we are talking about here, it’s your wedding, and you damn well need to make sure you get the invitations done right and in time – otherwise you may find that you have no one turn up at all.
The Save the Date
It goes without saying that before you can invite anyone to the wedding you need to have finalised your guest list and confirmed the date with your chosen venue. Often this all has to be done well over a year in advance – which is far too early to send out your invites – but how do you ensure that your preferred guests don’t go off and book a holiday over your wedding day?
The answer lies with the ’Save the Date’ notice. These helpful little messages, usually in the form of a printed postcard or short letter serve two purposes. Firstly, they pass on the good news of your engagement to anyone who hasn’t heard yet; and secondly they tell all your guests to pencil the planned wedding date in their diary. This should hopefully prevent them from going and making any other plans, so that when the actual invites go out you won’t be bombarded with ‘sorry I can’t make it’ replies.
There is no real correct ‘form’ for writing a save the date notice, but you should try and include some essential information for the benefit of the recipient. Obviously you need to mention your names, the fact you’re getting married and the date; but also try and tell them where the wedding will be (so they can think about travel) and the rough timings (so they can think about hotels). Save the Dates need to be sent out as soon as you have the venue and guest list sorted so that you give people as much time to plan as possible.
The formal invitation
The real invitations to the wedding should go out about 2 months before the big day. Everyone who received a save the date will expect to receive an invitation too, so don’t go chopping and changing your guest list willy-nilly – it’s just not cricket!
The invitation is the first chance you will get to convey the theme or design of your wedding to the guests. If you have already chosen your colours and styling for the day try and include these in the design of your invitation as much as possible.
You also need to decide if you want to use the traditional wedding invitation format or not. Historically it was the bride’s parents who paid for the wedding and as so the invitation actually came from them. An example of the accepted traditional wording is:
Mr & Mrs [Father’s Name]
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Mr [Groom’s Name]
at [Wedding Venue, Town]
on [Date] at [Time]
and afterwards at [Reception Venue, Town]
Please RSVP by [Date]
There are plenty of variations on the above template which can be used to suit your own needs. If the bride’s parents are no longer together you may want to address them differently at the top of the invite; alternatively if your parents are paying for everything, then perhaps you should address the invite from them instead. Speak to all parties concerned and find out what they would all prefer.
You can of course throw this out the window completely and use whatever wording you want. Many modern couples avoid using this traditional wording altogether now and produce something that better reflects their own sensibilities. Don’t feel restricted by history – do only what feels right to you. Have a look around the internet and at some of the fantastic wedding design blogs for inspiration.
If you are inviting some guests to the after dinner dancing only, don’t forget to produce a secondary invitation with altered wording to reflect this. The last thing you want is too many guests and not enough tables or food!
What else should be included?
Aside from the invitation you may want to enclose some other pieces of information in the same envelope.
If your venue is particularly out of the way, or far from where many guests live, it might be wise to include some travel and hotel information. Most designers will be used to drawing little maps for their clients so don’t be afraid to ask.
An RSVP form should also be included. This should be a pre-printed, tick box questionnaire that your guests can quickly fill out and return to you. There should be a space for guests to indicate if they will be coming or not and you may want to collect menu option choices or information on dietary requirements as well. The RSVP should be pre-printed with your address so all they have to do is pop a stamp on it and send it back to you.
You may also want to enclose details of your gift list (if you are having one), along with how and when gifts can be purchased. Whilst it may always seem a little ghastly to ask for presents as part of the invitation, your guests will be expecting this so don’t fret.