April 04, 2018
Answers to Your Invitation Dilemmas
I get a lot of questions about how to handle wedding invitation dilemmas and protocol. So today I’m going to share with you some wedding invitation planning tips, born from the most common questions I receive from my wedding clients about their invitation process. Sound boring? Read on because you’ll likely find yourself experiencing at least one of the scenarios I’m getting ready to discuss…
Mail your invitations at just the right time. Resist the temptation to send invitations too early because that will give people too much time to forget about sending back their RSVP. If you’re having a destination wedding where most of the guests will have to arrange flights and hotel accommodations, the invitations should be sent 8-12 weeks before the wedding. If it’s not a destination wedding, then send the invites 6-8 weeks in advance. If you’re sending invites to an “A List” and “B List,” see my next tip.
Handling the “A List” – “B List” situation. Sometimes couples don’t invite everyone to their wedding in the first round of invitations. There may be venue space limitations, disagreements about who should be invited, or even doubts about who will be able attend the wedding. It’s tricky, but it can be handled discretely. When you order your invitations, you’ll need to order two sets of RSVP Cards that list a different RSVP due date. Send the “A List” (the top priority guests) their invite 12 weeks before the wedding, giving them 4 weeks to respond, putting you at the 8 week mark before your wedding. Once you see who isn’t coming (AKA how many more people you can invite), send invites to your “B List” of guests, also giving them 4 weeks to respond. No hurt feelings, and no one will be the wiser.
Code your RSVP cards. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people send back their RSVPs with a head count and meal choice selected, but without including their names! Have a master list of who you are sending invites to, and assign a number to those people (one number per family invitation is all you need). Put that same number on the back of their RSVP card so you can cross-reference it if it comes back to you without the guest’s name(s).
Your RSVP due date should allow you enough time to do what you need to do. As your wedding date nears, there will be a lot of last minute tasks such as giving a final head count to your caterer, creating reception seating assignments for your guests, purchasing/making gift favors, assembling welcome bags, etc. In order to do all of those things, you’ll have to know how many people will be attending. I recommend your RSVP date be 4 weeks before your wedding date so you’ll have ample time to complete everything on your to-do list. If you will have absolutely nothing to do (which isn’t likely) except give your caterer a head-count, then 2 weeks before your wedding should suffice.
Address your worries in the Reception Card. The most common invite worries I hear from wedding couples is that they don’t want children at their reception, or they want their guests to dress a certain way. A Reception Card invites people to your reception and is included as a separate stationery piece with your invitation. It’s the perfect place to communicate specific requests to your guests in a polite-yet-straight-forward way. Here are some wording examples you could include:
“Please join us for an adult-only reception”
“Adults are invited to join us for dinner and dancing under the stars”
“Black Tie Optional” (if very dressy attire is desired—gowns, tuxedos, suit with tie)
“Cocktail Attire” (cocktail dresses, suit with no tie is acceptable)
“Resort Chic” (for more casual affairs—sundresses, casual pants and shirt, but no jeans or shorts)
It’s a big no-no to list gift registry info on your invitation. I hate to tell you, but, gifts are optional. That’s simple wedding etiquette. Happily, our social norm is to give wedding gifts. (Yay!) So, how do you communicate where you’re registered? First, be sure you have your wedding website ready. That’s the appropriate place to list your registries. If you’re sending registry info with your wedding invites (which I highly discourage), create a separate insert card that refers guests to your wedding website for more information about your wedding. The insert card should not list your actual registry information.
Your invitees aren’t rude, they’re just uninformed. Sometimes guests will RSVP that they’re coming to your wedding…with a date (otherwise known as a “Plus One”) who was not invited. A couple may respond that they’re coming to your wedding…with their children who were not invited. Usually this happens because they assume you’re including those extra people in the invite. To avoid these situations, you have to be crystal clear about who you’re inviting by listing the specific invitee names on both the outer and inner envelopes of your invitations. The outer envelope is addressed with names grouped more formally (“Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill and Children”) while the inner envelope lists the individuals (“Andrew and Katherine Thornhill, Jonathan, Kaitlyn, and Sarah”). If you’re inviting someone and their “plus one” date, list both guest names on both envelopes. If you don’t know the “plus one’s” name, you would include them on the invitation envelopes as “and guest.” (“Ms. Natalie Strauss and guest”)
If you have any questions about how to handle an invitation dilemma you’re struggling with, feel free to leave a question or comment here. I’d love to hear from you, and I’ll respond with my best advice.
And if you’re in the market for invitations, that’s a service that we offer in addition to wedding planning. Visit our invitation boutiques to shop online. Here are our direct links:
About the author: Christine Terezakis is an award-winning South Florida Master Wedding Planner, Event Designer, and Owner of Dreamday Weddings, with planning studios located in Palm City and West Palm Beach. Specializing in the planning of luxury weddings, Florida Destination Weddings, and social events. For inquiries about planning and design services for your wedding or celebration, please contact Christine by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 772-285-9147. www.DreamdayWeddingsFL.com