Wedding Invitation Do's and Don'ts

Even though your wedding invitation should be as personal as the day itself — there are still three must-follow etiquette rules.

I love wedding invitations. Not only do they give you a chance to have some fun and be creative within any budget, but they also give guests the first glimpse into your big day. Your choice of card stock, fonts, and designs will help set the tone for your wedding and let your guests know if you’re going casual or over-the-top formal.

After you’ve selected the design, there are three main rules of etiquette to keep in mind before you send out your invites.

Once you’ve picked a date for the wedding, count back five months. That’s when you should start narrowing down the types of invitations you like and the vendors you may want to work with. Give yourself a month to make your final decision and to place the order. If you order invitations online from a site like Wedding Paper Divas, where you can personalize existing invitation designs, expect to receive your invitations within a few weeks. If you work with an independent graphic designer, the process may take longer to account for in-person meetings and custom sketches. Build in an adequate lead time, as many designers outsource the printing. When determining an RSVP date, most reception venues and caterers require a final head count at least three to four weeks prior to the wedding, so plan to send your invitations out two months in advance of your wedding date.

The issue that tends to come up most with invitations is how to address “the host line” — that is, the first lines of the invitation that state who is hosting (read: paying for) the wedding. Years ago, it was common for the bride’s parents to host and pay for the wedding. Today, most couples pay for some portion of — if not the entire cost — of their wedding. Peter Hopkins, the historian for Crane & Company, tells us how to handle one particular scenario where the parents are divorced and the father has remarried. “Traditionally, you are “given away” by your parents. Therefore, it is generally only the names of your natural parents that properly appear on your wedding invitations. However, you may choose to set your own course for handling the matter by having your mother’s name with a social title, either Mrs. or Ms., appear on the host line. Your father and his new wife can be represented on the second line with Mr. and Mrs. followed by your father’s name. Your father’s new wife’s first name should not appear.” Check out Crane & Company’s etiquette Q & A section on if you are unsure how to address your personal situation.

Now what?
A few days have passed since your RSVP date, and there are a handful of guests who have yet to respond. What do you do? At this point, it’s perfectly acceptable to contact those individuals and kindly ask if they plan on attending. Don’t be embarrassed to ask — you can simply say, “I just need to provide my caterer with the final number.” Remember that you’ve given them more than enough time to respond, and the planning must go on!

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