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If the business card is the key to networking, the wedding invitation is the key to getting married. Both are informative, formal, and aesthetically pleasing. (Well, hopefully.) Neither is technically necessary, thanks to iPhone contacts and wedding websites, but both are a good look. How much more savvy do you look handing someone a crisp card over doing the “how do I put my number in your phone”-fumble? Which wedding are you more likely to go to: the one with the embossed invite, or the one with the Sans Serif mass Gmail? Treat your wedding invitation like you treat your networking opportunities: with care.

Sending your guests a proper wedding invitation says, “It’s official!” It also says, “Here’s what you need to know about our special day, and all of the things you’re going to have to organize on your end!” You want to make sure all of the details are worded properly because let’s be real: it’s 2018, and people know how to take offense.

Certain information is objectively inoffensive: date, time, place, address. But other wedding details can be thorny: registry information, children, and plus-one situations. Crafting the language you use to invite your family and friends to come celebrate your love is tricky, but if you follow a few rules, you’ll be able to convince Grandma Betty to come to your wedding in a salt mine. (My favorite idea ever.) So let us be the Jennifer Lopez circa The Wedding Planner to your wedding invitations: here are the cardinal rules of invite etiquette.

Send Invitations In A Timely Manner
Invitations should be sent six to eight weeks before your wedding. If possible, send save-the-dates three or four months before the wedding. Your guests are busy people juggling more than one wedding this season, and don’t you want them to come to yours?

Address Your Guests Properly
If you’re inviting a doctor, address them as such. If two married partners have different last names, address them in alphabetical order. If a woman is under 21, she’s a “Miss,” but if she’s a single woman over 21, she’s a “Ms.” Yes, it’s all a bit old school, but isn’t old-fashioned just a synonym for classy? Err on the side of classy.

Use Proper Wedding Invitation Language
All names, addresses, and even the time of the wedding should be full expanded — from the front of the invitation to the RSVP card. Traditionally, there are no zip codes on the inner cover of the invitations. (Google Maps will take care of that!)

Instead of:
Amy Smith
52 Jones St.
No. 11

Put:
Ms. Amy Smith
52 Jones Street
Apartment 11

For a formal wedding, write the time and date out in full as well. Instead of “July 8, 2018 at 2pm,” your invite should read “on the eighth of July, two thousand eighteen, at two o’clock in the afternoon.” For more casual weddings, writing “July 8, 2018,” is fine.

Make The Number Of People Invited Very Clear
Be explicit about who’s invited by addressing your invites properly. If you’re inviting an entire family — children included — If someone has a plus one, write “Mr. Smith and Guest,” You can also fill in the “number attending” line for your guests on the RSVP card, or better yet, just leave enough spaces for those invited to choose chicken or fish to RSVP.

An Adults-Only Wedding
Don’t want little George and Charlotte to crash your wedding? Write “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” instead of “The Smith Family.” Traditionally, it is impolite to write “Adults Only” on the actual wedding invitation, but you can put that information prominently on your website. You can also ask family or friends to spread the word.

Make Sure The Details Of The Wedding Are Clear
After taking a look at your invitation, your guest should have no confusion as to whether the wedding and reception are in the same place or not. Double check that the start time and address of the wedding are listed correctly, and that if the reception is in the same place, the invite reads “Reception to follow.”

Don’t Forget The Dress Code!
It’s a buzzkill if guests are worrying about what they are wearing, and it’s also a bummer if you’re worried about your estranged uncle showing up in a Canadian tuxedo. Whether it’s White Tie or Cocktail attire, make sure to include the dress code on your invite.

Provide Lodging And Transportation Details
Even if you haven’t planned a destination wedding, lodging opportunities and flights should be booked well in advance. Provide your guests with a transportation and lodging info card, or a information on where to find those options on your website.

Provide RSVP Instructions
Make sure the best way to RSVP is clear to your guests, whether it’s a reply card or a URL. Remember to provide an “RSVP by” date. Deadlines work! Pro tip: if you provide an envelope, you must provide a stamp.

Don’t Put Registry Information On The Invitation
Everyone and their mother knows that attending a wedding means giving a gift, so there’s no reason to put your registry information on your invite. Instead, provide a card with a URL, where you can link to whatever you’d like.

Ask For Cash With Care
It’s completely acceptable to skip the registry and ask for money, but do it tactfully. Attending a wedding shouldn’t feel transactional. Provide a little background on what exactly you’re saving up for — whether that’s a honeymoon or your future home. There are also sites you can link honeymoon funds to. Check out Zola or Tendr — no, Grandma, not Tinder.

Feeling a bit shy? You can also write “No gifts please, but we’d love your well wishes as we embark on our new journey together, and there will be a table for cards at the wedding.” Or set up a small registry for those guests who’d like to get you a physical gift. And remember, all of these details stay off the actual invite!

A polite invite begets polite invitees. Plus, providing all of the proper info means that you’ll field less texts and calls about the details of the big day. Phew!

Written by: Kimmy Foskett

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