It could be argued that the invitation is the most important thing in your entire wedding. Without it, your big day is going to be a very small affair with just you, your partner and an officiant to seal the deal.
Not only does your wedding invitation ask your nearest-and-dearest to come and witness, support and celebrate this incredible milestone in your lives; but it also sets the tone for the entire day.
If you’re choosing a formal, tiaras-and-tuxedos wedding then you’ll want a beautifully ornate invitation printed on heavy stock, with all the details embossed in gold calligraphy on a card that’s the same color as the bride’s dress. The guests will be so impressed, they’ll be double-checking they haven’t been invited to the next royal wedding at Westminster Abbey!
Alternatively, perhaps you and your partner are planning a more relaxed / less traditional wedding: where the barefoot bride wears a brightly colored sarong, the guests are sporting Hawaiian leis around their necks, and the nuptial vows are sung by a ukulele-wielding officiant. In this case, you might opt for a more vibrant invitation. You could even forego the printed invitation entirely and send out your invites by email! Less expensive, easier to track RSVPs and better for the environment (if reducing your wedding carbon footprint is important to you, be sure to check out this article on How to Make your Wedding more Eco-friendly).
Whatever approach you decide on, there are still essential details that must be included on your invitation:
Information you 100% must include on your wedding invitation:
Names of Guests
Fairly obvious, but write down the names of those being invited. If you’re including a couple’s children, then you’ll need to include their names too. This is to avoid any assumptions or confusion. Like being on a guestlist at an exclusive nightclub: if your name isn’t on the list, then you’re not coming in!
If you’re allowing a guest (Emily) to bring a plus one, then find out the plus one’s name and include it on the invite. If it so happens that the plus one falls by the wayside (i.e. the couple breakup), then Emily cannot just bring someone else. No substitutions, unless you approve the person first.
The invited guests’ names should be written in full:
Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Angove
Or, if they’re an unmarried couple living together, alphabetically on separate lines:
Ms. Shannon Albert
Mr. Justin Perez
And be sure to include appropriate titles:
Dr. Harry and Mrs. Rosie Trotter
Miss Roberta Franklin (if she is under 21 years old)
Ms. Shira Goldstein (if she’s single / unmarried, but not a Dr.)
Date + Location of the wedding / reception
(note: you might ask some guests to the wedding + the reception, and others to just the reception – so put the appropriate location(s))
Time of the wedding / reception
Definitely include when the guests are expected to arrive.
On very formal invitations you can add “Carriages at Midnight (e.g.)”, meaning the party will wrap up at that time – so their guests can arrange their transport ahead of time.
This can be a little bit of a minefield, because interpretation comes into play. An ulta-formal, letter-pressed traditional invite should give the guests a good idea of what to expect, vs. a jazzy postcard with bright colors. Either way, you’re probably going to be getting some phone calls / emails / texts from people looking for a little clarity!
The basic options are:
- Black Tie
- Tropical / Themed
And if you really want to help your guests out, you can expand a little on what the guests are expected to wear on your wedding website.
RSVP by mm/dd/yy
RSVP stands for Répondez s’il vous plaît, meaning “Please respond” in French (although it’s barely used in France anymore). It was first seen on invitations in England in the 1870s with the intent that the person being invited would only respond if they couldn’t come. Today, however, it is expected that the recipient will let the host know either way.
You want your RSVPs back to you at least 3-4 weeks ahead of your wedding day so you can give your caterer and wedding venue the final head count. Some couples forget to add an RSVP by date – meaning there is no deadline for the guests to reply by. Don’t fall into this trap, be sure to write “RSVP by mm/dd/yy”!
Warning: there will be some laggards who blow through the deadline, so you’ll have to chase them down to see if they’re coming, or not.
To improve the timeliness of your RSVPs you can include a response card as part of the wedding package, addressed to you with: can come / cannot come (+dietary restrictions, etc.) on one side and your address on the other. To really improve the timeliness of the RSVPs, you can add a stamp to the card too; although this will definitely increase the overall wedding cost…
If you decide against including the RSVP card, then be sure to put your return address on the back of the original wedding invitation envelope…
Optional: including the parents names
On more formal / traditional invitations, the bride’s parents may actually be doing the inviting:
Mr. and Mrs. Jose Medina <bride’s parents>
request the pleasure of the company of
Dr. Angus and Mrs. Isabel Elphinstone <guests names>
at the marriage of their daughter
Caroline Rose <bride’s first and middle name>
William Harry Davidson <groom’s first, middle and last name>
The Crystal Plaza, Livingston NJ
on Saturday, the twenty-ninth of August, two thousand and twenty
(note: you can also add the groom’s parents, and if the parents are divorced and remarried just put the additional names on new lines)
Additional important things you need to know about wedding invites:
What else do I send with the invitation?
- RSVP / Response card.
- Directions to location card – make it as simple as possible for your guests to arrive at the right place at the right time.
- Reception address card – if the reception is not at the same location as the ceremony.
- Accommodations card – it’s helpful for the out-of-towners to have a recommended list of places to stay that are close to the venue. Tip: be sure to include options at various price points.
- Itinerary – if you’re having a weekend of activities, let people know what the plan is.
And remember to include this information on your wedding website too.
When do I send out the save-the-date cards?
These need to go out 4-5 months in advance of the wedding day. If it’s a destination wedding, consider 6-8 months.
What information goes on the save-the-date card?
- Whomever is invited. If you’re offering a “plus one” then you should include their name. Similarly, if children are / are not invited, then it’s helpful to let people know as early as possible so they can arrange sitters, etc.
- You and your partner’s names
- Date of the wedding (or dates, if it’s multi-day / weekend extravaganza)
- Location (town or city – particularly important if this is a destination wedding)
- Wedding website URL / name
- Notice that formal invitation will follow
Can the save-the-date be emailed?
When do I send out the invitation?
Local wedding: 6-8 weeks ahead of the big day.
Destination wedding: at least 3 months beforehand.
Where do I put wedding registry information?
Do not list this information on either the save the date card or the wedding invitation. It is considered very bad etiquette. The best place is to link the wedding registry details on your website; although some couples opt to put a little card in with the invitation package.
Your wedding invitation is your announcement to the world about this incredibly important occasion in your lives. And it is something that you will want to cherish forever. In fact, some couples are so proud of their invitation that they end up framing it and putting it on the wall of their new home!
A beautiful invite is as critical as the venue you choose, the food you serve, and the speeches that are going to be told – so be sure to take your time and get it right.
About The Crystal Plaza
The Crystal Plaza is widely regarded as one of the finest wedding and event venues in the US. Based in Livingston, NJ we offer impeccable white-glove service to meet the exacting needs of our guests. Our newly renovated garden can be rented for any function that you wish to host, while abiding to all proper social distancing protocols and procedures – including weddings, birthdays, graduation parties, photo shoots, corporate gatherings, reunions and family gatherings.
Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.