Wedding Invitation Timeline
I recently asked on Instagram what confuses you or feels overwhelming about wedding invitations, and over and over again, you asked me about when to send wedding invitations and save the dates. The answer has a few complexities to consider depending on the length of your engagement (the current average is 14 months, according to Wedding Wire) or the location of your wedding. Planning a luxury wedding involves meticulous attention to detail, especially when it comes to your wedding invitations. As a seasoned wedding stationery designer, I understand the significance of timing in ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience for you and your guests.
You may also be interested in The Ultimate Wedding Stationery Timeline & Checklist
Save the Dates
TIMELINE: 9-12 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING
Before you even think about your wedding invitations, consider sending out “save the dates” – the initial hint of the extraordinary celebration that’s to come. To secure your spot on my calendar and allow plenty of time for creativity, I recommend inquiring 9-12 months before your wedding date. For local weddings, aim to mail your save the dates 6-8 months before the big day. For local weddings, sending out save the dates 6-8 months beforehand is ideal. However, if your celebration is a destination wedding or falls on a holiday weekend, consider sending them out 8-12 months ahead. This early heads-up ensures that your guests can mark their calendars and make necessary arrangements to be a part of your special day.
LEARN MORE: Save the Date Etiquette
TIMELINE: 6-8 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING
As the heart of your wedding stationery suite, your custom wedding invitations deserve meticulous attention and careful planning. Connecting with me 6-8 months before your wedding provides ample time for us to collaborate on designs that resonate with your vision. Custom wedding invitations often require 4-6 weeks of design time followed by 4-5 weeks of production and assembly time (as of Fall 2023). Very quickly, the timeline for custom wedding invitations can creep toward that 6-month mark. Once your invitations are completed and perfectly capture the essence of your celebration, mailing them out 8-10 weeks before your wedding day ensures that guests have the details they need. I recommend you mail invitations for destination weddings 10-12 weeks in advance. This timeframe gives your guests the information they need while allowing them enough time to RSVP and prepare for your celebration.
LEARN MORE: Wedding Invitation Wording
Reply By Date
TIMELINE: 4-6 WEEKS BEFORE THE WEDDING
With your invitations sent and the excitement building, you can expect RSVPs to start flowing in quickly. I recommend setting your reply-by date to 4-6 weeks before your wedding, with plenty of time to follow up on missing RSVP cards. This crucial window gives you the information to finalize seating arrangements, catering numbers, and other logistical details. Setting this deadline provides a buffer for last-minute adjustments while ensuring a smooth and coordinated wedding day.
Wedding Day Stationery
TIMELINE: BEGIN DESIGNING 4-6 WEEKS BEFORE THE WEDDING
Elevate your wedding experience with thoughtfully designed wedding day stationery that ties every element together. Begin the design process for ceremony programs, reception menus, bar menus, and place cards 4-6 weeks prior to the wedding. This timeframe gives us plenty of time to craft stationery that complements your invitations while also allowing for any last-minute adjustments. The beauty is in the details, and your wedding day stationery is where those details shine.
Thank You Cards
TIMELINE: SEND WITHIN 2-3 MONTHS AFTER THE WEDDING
After the celebrations have concluded, it’s time to show your gratitude to the guests who made your day unforgettable. Custom-designed thank you cards are a heartfelt way to express your appreciation for their presence and well-wishes. Aim to send these cards within 2-3 months after your wedding, striking the perfect balance between timely and heartfelt. This practice echoes the thoughtfulness you’ve woven into every detail of your celebration. All of my wedding invitation clients receive 20% off their Thank You Card orders.
Frequently Asked Questions
ARE SAVE THE DATES THE SAME AS WEDDING INVITATIONS?
Nope, wedding invitations and save the dates serve slightly different purposes in the wedding planning process. Save the dates are like a pre-invitation heads-up and contain much less information than a traditional wedding invitation. They’re sent out ahead of the formal wedding invitations to give your guests a heads-up about the upcoming wedding date. They’re especially helpful for guests who might need to make travel arrangements. Wedding invitations, on the other hand, are the formal invites to the event itself.
DO I NEED TO SEND OUT BOTH SAVE THE DATES AND WEDDING INVITES?
Sending both save the dates and wedding invitations is a great idea, especially if you’re planning a destination wedding or have many out-of-town guests. Save the dates give your guests plenty of time to prepare, and then the formal wedding invitations provide all the nitty-gritty details like venue, time, and RSVP instructions. It’s a one-two punch that helps ensure your guests are well-prepared.
ARE SAVE THE DATES NECESSARY?
For most weddings, yes. If you are having a destination wedding or the wedding requires guests to set aside an entire weekend for festivities, consider save the dates a requirement. Many brides with short engagements or intimate celebrations skip the save the date altogether.
WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE ON MY SAVE THE DATES?
Save the date cards need to include, at a minimum, your names, the wedding location, and the wedding date. It is also customary to include “formal invitation to follow” so that guests can expect to receive further details later. Many couples add the wedding website address as well.
HOW LONG DOES THE PROCESS TAKE?
The timeline can vary based on the complexity of your invitation design and the printing processes selected. Generally, the design portion of the process takes 4-6 weeks, and production, as of August 2023, takes 4-5 weeks. I always suggest inquiring sooner rather than later so we have ample time for design, revisions, production, and assembly.
CAN WEDDING INVITATIONS OR SAVE THE DATES BE EMAILED?
Technically, the answer to this question is yes. While digital save the dates and invitations can be a convenient option, guests miss out on the tactile and elegant nature of a paper invitation. For some guests, an electronic version might be a practical option if they live in a location that doesn’t have a reliable postage system. In this case, we will often put together a digital mockup for clients to e-mail directly to these guests.
WHAT TYPES OF STATIONERY DO I NEED FOR MY WEDDING DAY?
Coordinating day-of stationery creates a sense of unity and cohesion in your wedding design. Day-of stationery includes menus, ceremony programs, escort and/or place cards, welcome bags, wedding weekend itineraries, etc. Leave room in your budget for these day-of items. Book day-of details with your stationer 4-6 weeks in advance.
Timing is everything when it comes to planning a luxury wedding that leaves a lasting impression. From save the dates to thank you cards, each piece of your wedding stationery plays a vital role in creating a cohesive and meaningful experience. As your wedding stationery designer, I’m committed to guiding you through each step of the process, working alongside you, transforming your visions into reality, and ensuring that your invitations set the tone for the extraordinary event you’ve envisioned. Let’s work together to bring your unique ideas to life and make your wedding a truly unforgettable occasion.
Wedding Stationery Timeline
Keep your wedding planning stress-free and on budget! Refer to this simple cheatsheet when ordering your stationery.