7 wedding invitation etiquette mistakes to avoid

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When it comes to creating and sending your wedding invitation, there’s more to it than just pasting a card in the mail. We asked our experts to weigh in on the top invitation etiquette mistakes and share their tips on making sure your invitations are all you want (and need) them to be.

Bailey Mariner / Brides

1. Set an incorrect start time

While it can be tempting to put in an earlier ceremony start time than you have planned, you might want to reconsider this idea. If there’s one thing wedding guests know, it’s to introduce themselves early at a wedding ceremony. If you plan to start your ceremony at 5:00 p.m., expect guests to arrive between 4:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. and walk down the aisle no later than 5:15 p.m. If you tell guests that the ceremony will start at 4:45 p.m., they will arrive closer to 4:00 p.m. and wait an hour to see your grand entrance.

2. Not including all the necessary information

A knowledgeable guest is a happy guest, so be sure to keep your guests in the know. Include the date, time and location of the ceremony, among other important details, on your wedding invitation. If your reception will be at the same location, indicate “reception to follow” to let guests know that they do not need to go elsewhere. If you are hosting a reception at another location, you can either include it on the invitation or, more formally, print a reception card with the time and location.

On your information card, you’ll want to include all pre and post wedding events, hotel information, and a link to your wedding website. And don’t forget the dress code!

3. Send them too late

Look at the date of your wedding and count eight weeks back (for a wedding without a destination). This is the last time you should send out your invitations to give your guests enough time to RSVP and plan their trip. Have a destination wedding? Allow 12 weeks back so that your guests don’t feel rushed and can search for the best travel prices.

4. Do not provide RSVP instructions

Remember an “RSVP by” date on your RSVP cards – this one is a big deal. Give your guests three to four weeks to let you know if they will be attending. The RSVP date should be at least two weeks before your wedding so you can give your caterer a more accurate workforce. And, of course, let the guests know how to respond. Include a self-addressed envelope they can use to resend their response, or direct them specifically to the email, phone number, or URL they should use for RSVP.

5. Do not stamp the RSVP envelope

If you want your guests to return an RSVP card, make sure the envelope is self-addressed and includes a stamp. Does that mean you’ll have to buy a whole bunch of extra stamps? Yes. But asking your guests to pay to respond (even if it’s just one stamp) is a no-no etiquette.

6. Include information from your registry

We all know you shouldn’t put your registry information on your invite, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it altogether. Instead, include the link to your website (not directly to your registry) on an information insert. Then make sure that the Registry tab of your site is clearly marked so that guests can find it easily.

7. Do not specify who is invited

It’s all about the names on the front of the envelope. If you are inviting a couple but not their children, do not use “The Smith Family”. Instead, put “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith”, which implies that they are the only two guests. If you’re inviting someone with a guest, be sure to write “and guest” on the envelope, or put their significant other’s name if you know them. Invite the whole family? Write “The Smith Family” or “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Susie, Alex and Michael,” with the children’s names in the line below their parents’ names.

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