Expert-Approved Wedding Invitation Etiquette Tips
When it comes to wedding etiquette, few details are as nuanced (and confusing) as the invitations: From your main card's wording to how you address each guest on the envelope, there's a lot to consider—and several places where things can go wrong. To help you get the etiquette down pat, we asked an expert to share her top wedding invitation tips. After all, your wedding invitations are the first glimpse your guests get into your big day. Don't you want to start off on the right foot? Luckily, etiquette advisor Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, who is best known for dispensing protocol and manners-training services at The Etiquette School of New York, has all of the insider knowledge you need.
Inviting guests to your wedding isn't as simple as choosing stationery you love. Conveying the pertinent information in a clear and concise way is key to ensuring everyone knows where and when to celebrate your upcoming union. This suite, which was created by Southern Fried Paper, has all of the necessary information, and it's laid out in a way that makes it easy for guests to follow. Most stationers help their clients get the etiquette just right, but if you're going the do-it-yourself route or have questions along the way, a helpful guide (with all the information you need in one place) is essential. And that's exactly where we come in. Here, Napier-Fitzpatrick covers everything from when to send your save-the-date cards and what your design should look like to the wording on your envelopes and how to address an "adults-only" event.
Planning your wedding should be a time of joy and excitement, and with these helpful tips, you'll have more time to spend counting down the days until your ceremony and less time worrying about an etiquette faux pas.
You Can Never Give Too Much Notice
Save-the-dates typically go out three to four months prior to the wedding, but if guests are spread far and wide—or you're throwing a destination wedding—more time is better. No one will complain about having extra leeway to plan. Send invitations six to eight weeks beforehand, with an R.S.V.P. request of two to three weeks prior to the event so you can get a final head count. This suite, by Jen Simpson Design, has the details just right.
Be Creative (But Clear)
From telegrams to invisible ink, couples are doing fun things with their save-the-dates and invitations. If you're getting innovative—like these invitations by by Hand-Painted Weddings—just make sure that all pertinent information is included. For save-the-dates, the names of the couple getting married and the date should be most prominent, along with a note that invitations will follow. You don't have to name the venue, but if you have a website, save-the-dates are a great place to share the URL.
Keep It Simple
Wedding invitations should include the full names of the couple getting married, those of the hosts (if they're different), and the place and time of the ceremony—that's it. These invites, by Epoch Designs, do just that. Phrases like "no children" or "adults only" should not be included on the invitation card; who is invited will be implied by the names on the envelope. You should also leave off registry information—family and members of the wedding party can spread the word when asked about it, or you can provide it on your website.
Spell It Out
"Street," "Post Office Box," and "Apartment" should all be written in full, as seen in these gorgeous invites by Isidore Augustine. The same is true for city and state names and house numbers smaller than 20. "Mr. and Mrs." generally are abbreviated.
Play the Name Game
Your guests' entire names should be written on the outer envelopes, as seen on these beautiful invitations by Brown Fox Creative. Address married couples as "Mr. and Mrs.," followed by the husband's first and last name. It's also fine to list both full names. When a woman keeps her maiden name, the names are written in alphabetical order: Ms. Susan Jones and Mr. John Smith. For an unmarried couple who live together, write the names on two lines.
Titles Do Matter
If the wife is a doctor, her full name comes first, as in "Doctor Aharon and Mr. Gary Lawrence." When the husband is a doctor, the titles appear as "Doctor and Mrs." and if both husband and wife are doctors, the envelope should say "Drs. Sharon and Gary Lawrence." A single woman (unless she's a doctor) should be addressed as "Ms." If she's under 21, use "Miss."
Be Gracious—In a Timely Fashion
Thank-you notes should be treated with a sense of urgency. Send them within two weeks of receiving the present to express your true appreciation.
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