A Practical Guide on When to Send Wedding Invitations
If there’s anything couples consult various wedding planners and wedding guides on most often, it’s when to send wedding invitations. Given that the average American engagement is 14 months long, many couples know their wedding date close to a year in advance. And if you’re getting married during a busy season and want to make sure your wedding doesn’t get skipped in favor of others (remember, there are approximately 2.4 million weddings performed each year in the U.S.), you might be tempted to send your invitations months ahead of time. But if you send your invitations too early, it’s likely people won’t be able to give accurate RSVPs. What’s the sweet spot? Of course, you should feel free to adjust the timeline based on individual concerns. But here’s a basic guide on when to send wedding invitations:
- If You’re Keeping Things Traditional
The traditional guidance on when to send wedding invitations is that you’ll want to send your invitations approximately six weeks in advance with an RSVP date of about three weeks prior to the wedding. This is intended to give people plenty of time to check their schedules and get back to you well before you’ll need to give final head counts to the vendors. (And, of course, keep in mind that there will always be people who don’t RSVP, so you’ll need to leave time for someone — traditionally the maid of honor or the mother of the bride — to give them a call or otherwise track them down to get responses).
- If You’re Expecting Travel
For many modern couples, the traditional timeline simply doesn’t work. That’s because far fewer people now meet and marry in their hometown. And even if they do, their friends and family are likely to be spread out across the country or world. On top of that, about 16% of wedding are destination weddings. In these cases, six weeks’ notice is clearly not enough time. If you expect a large number of people to be traveling, it’s a good idea to send out a save-the-date card at least six months in advance so people can book airfare and lodging. Many couples choose to send these cards regardless, and often opt for a less formal feel than the actual wedding invitations (they’re a great spot for showcasing engagement photos). If you’re expecting just a few out-of-town guests and don’t feel that a save-the-date card is warranted, at least give those guests the courtesy of a personal phone call giving them about the same amount of time to plan.
- If You’re Keeping a B-List of Guests
B-lists are a delicate issue. They’re inherently practical when it comes to accommodating as many people as possible, but you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by making it obvious they didn’t make the first mailing — and nothing does that like sending someone an invitation just a week or two before the wedding or RSVP date. If you want to have time to invite some B-listers after people in the first mailing have declined, you’ll want to send the first round of invitations around eight weeks in advance, setting the RSVP date four or so weeks before the wedding. That increases your likelihood of getting responses in time to send a second round of invitations at least a month before the wedding.
Do you have any other caveats regarding when to send wedding invitations? Join the discussion in the comments.