Not only do your wedding invitations tell your guests all the vital information about when and where your big day will be, but they also set the tone for the style and theme, too. So, where do you start?
A date for the diary
If your wedding is at a popular time of year, or you’re marrying abroad, then you might want to send out save the date cards when you’ve booked your venue. “This means family and friends can put the date in their diaries, and have time to save up for flights and hotels if necessary too,” says Amber Hunter, senior tutor at The Wedding Planner School.
But, beware of sending them out to everyone you know, especially if your wedding is still some time away. “As the big day gets closer, you may find you can’t afford to invite everyone you initially thought you could, or you may simply not be as close to someone you work with now, in 18 months time.” warns Amber.
[Related gallery: The most unique wedding invitations]
Choose a theme
"The style and formality of the invitation should reflect the wedding. It's the guests' first indication to how the wedding will be, so choose something that gives a flavour of your big day,” says Jo Bryant, editor of Debrett’s Wedding Guide.“Although we’re in a recession, couples don’t seem to be reigning in their wedding plans that much, just finding ways to have what they want for less money,” adds Amber. You can design your own invitations and have them printed at a local printers, so the invitations can still be unique and individual.”
Just a formality
“If you’re having a traditional wedding, the invites may follow a formal template, e.g. ‘Mr & Mrs A Smith request the pleasure of [guest name] at the marriage of their daughter Emma with Mr James Jones,’” explains Jo Bryant. “But if you’re hosting the wedding yourselves; marrying abroad; or just want something a bit less formal, your wording could be something simple like ‘Emma Smith and James Jones are tying the knot! Please join us…’.”
It’s all in the detailDon’t forget to include information on the following if relevant: dress code; dietary requirements; who the RSVPs should come to, and by what date; plus details of local hotels and taxi companies; whether children are allowed or not; and what time everything will finish.
“Some of your guests probably just need a date and postcode for the venue, and they would happily (and easily) sort out all the logistical arrangements,” says Amber Hunter. “But there are also guests, such as older relatives who don’t have internet access, who will need more details, so these should be the people you have in mind when putting the information together.”
Does etiquette rule?
Traditionally it isn’t considered polite to include details of your gift list with the invitation. However, people do generally want to buy you something, and if you don’t want them calling up or emailing to ask if you have a list, you may want to give them some direction here. "Although it isn't tradition to include wedding list details with the invitation, it is the most practical option and nowadays guests will expect it," says Jo Bryant.
You have a lot of information to fit onto a card, so use the space wisely, otherwise guests may miss something vital. “On the whole, guests don’t like lots of separate bits of paper as they can be confusing, and are easily lost,” says Amber Hunter. “The preference is to have the invitation, which often includes a tear-off RSVP card, and one other information sheet. Regardless of how much info you provide, people will probably still forget something and call you up for confirmation of details at the last minute!”
Well it does when it comes to postage costs. It’s not just the width of the invitation you need to think about: a regular sized card with embellishments can easily make your invitation too deep to be sent with a regular first class stamp. So you don’t want the first impression of your wedding to come via a postage charge to your guests! “Weigh and measure your prototype invitation first so you can make adjustments if needed,” advises Amber.
If your name’s not down…Following traditional etiquette, children over 16 should receive their own invitations, but couples should receive one invite between them. You should also indicate whether single guests are allowed to bring a plus-one. This should avoid any embarrassment later if your cousin calls to ask if he can bring his new girlfriend but you’ve already done the seating plan. It’s not foolproof, but if you’re clear on the invitations, it will definitely help.
It sounds obvious, but it’s worth a gentle reminder: read and re-read your invitations to make sure there are no mistakes, and then get someone else to check as well. There’s nothing worse than sending them out and then realising there’s a typo in the venue name. Actually, there is something worse: sending them out and then realising there’s a typo in your fiancé’s name…
Keep track of your RSVPs
Once the invitations have been sent, you’ll start receiving replies. So make sure you’re on top of who is coming. “A spreadsheet is the best option if you have additional information like dietary requirements to include, plus, this information will help you do your seating plan nearer the wedding,” says Amber Hunter.
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with all your wedding tasks, don’t be afraid to ask for help. “Addressing the invitations or collecting the RSVPs is a useful job to delegate to a parent or sibling who’s keen to get involved,” adds Amber. “As the bride, excitement often overtakes logic, so a fresh pair of eyes checking the details is a great idea.”