{Advice} When to mail your wedding invitations?

Coral and Jade Green Save-the-Date

The date you mail your wedding invitations is important.  Send them too late and your guests won’t have adequate time to book travel.  Send them too early and you risk (dare I say it?) being forgotten amidst the chaos of the rest of life.  And how does sending a save-the-date affect your invitation mailing date?  Here are some guidelines for mailing wedding invitations:

1.  If the majority of your guests are local:

Mail your wedding invitations 4 to 6 weeks prior to your wedding date.  This is the traditional mailing timeframe, and because local guests won’t need to book travel, this should leave adequate time for them to put your wedding on their social calendar.

If you sent a save-the-date and most of your guests are local: Still mail your wedding invitations 4 to 6 weeks prior.

2.  If a significant number of your guests live out-of-town:

Mail your wedding invitations 6 to 8 weeks prior to your wedding date.  This gives out-of-town guests time to book travel, but it isn’t so far in advance that your wedding will be overlooked.

If you sent a save-the-date and many of your guests live out-of-town: Still shoot for mailing your wedding invitations 6 to 8 weeks prior, but since your guests have been well-informed, if you can only manage 4 to 6 weeks prior, don’t fret.

TIP for inviting out-of-town guests:  Be a hero to out-of-town guests by including information about lodging near your wedding venue.  Let them know how far the suggested lodging is from the nearest airport, and give them some idea of the transportation situation:  will they need to rent a car?  Is there public transportation available?  Are you providing a shuttle service between the suggested lodging and your wedding venue?  Include this information on an enclosure with your wedding invitation, if possible.  Otherwise, include this information on your wedding website, or ask family members to share it with others.

3.  If you’re having a destination wedding:

Mail your wedding invitations 2 to 4 months prior to your wedding date, depending on whether your wedding will be held in this country or another country.  Mailing your invitations out early allows guests to obtain a passport, if needed, and arrange for travel.

If you sent a save-the-date and you’re having a destination wedding: Mail your wedding invitations 2 months prior if you included travel information with your save-the-date.  If you did not include travel information with your save-the-date, mail destination wedding invitations at least 3 months prior to your wedding, and include travel information with the invitation.

TIP for destination weddings:  Consider using the services of a travel agent to help your guests book their travel.  A travel agent will ensure that all your guests understand your weekend itinerary and know when to arrive and when to depart.  She’ll also help your guests get the best rates, prepare properly for travel, and serve as a singular point-of-contact during their trip.  Send your travel agent’s contact information in your save-the-date or with your wedding invitation.

So when should you order your invitations?

After you’ve determined the appropriate mailing date for your wedding invitations, the next step is making sure you order your wedding invitations far enough in advance to get your invitations in the mail.  Here’s a quick guide for turnaround time on wedding invitations, from first thought to mailbox:

Online/Mail-Order Invitations: Order pre-designed invitations from online and mail-order sources 1 to 3 months in advance.  Expect delivery of your invitations in 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the company you’re ordering from, and the type of printing process you select.  You’ll need at least week to address your envelopes if you’re doing it yourself.  If you hire a calligrapher, give her at least 3 weeks to address your envelopes.

Custom Invitations: Contact your custom stationer at least 3 months in advance to allow time for a design consultation, sample creation and revisions, and order fulfillment.  If time is an issue, ask your custom stationer to send your mailing envelopes in advance so you can have the addressing done by the time your invitations are complete.  Custom stationers will often arrange for calligraphy services on your behalf, also.

Save-the-Date: Dogwood Blossom Stationery & Invitation Studio, LLC

The save-the-date in the photo above was created in a coral and jade green palette.  It uses multiple layers, including textured white, pearlized coral, a custom modern geometric wallpaper design in jade green, and a final printed layer included a circled-date calendar.

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4 thoughts on “{Advice} When to mail your wedding invitations?

    • Hey, thanks for asking. My timeline for the destination mailing date was written primarily from my experience with destination clients I’ve worked with, which I then compared to research/consensus done online, and also with consideration of destination invitations I’ve personally received. I did find a few sources online that pushed for mailing invitations 6 mos out, but I do believe that invitations can be mailed too early. I feel that save-the-dates are a more appropriate notifier for guests more than 4 mos out. Also, I was keeping in mind that not all destination events are international, and in cases where they’re held in the same country that you and most of your guests live in, there’s no real reason (other than excitement) to mail your invitations more than 2 mos out. Domestic travel can be booked in that timeframe.

      Interestingly, for the largest destination event I’ve created invitations for, the bride mailed her invitations only 6 weeks out (it was an international destination with close to 400 guests). For the smallest destination wedding I’ve worked with, the bride insisted on mailing her invitations almost a full year out (it was an international destination, and she had about 60 guests in all). My other destination clients have fallen into the 2 to 4 mo range. Almost all of them sent save-the-dates of some sort. So I do think a little personal preference plays a part in the mailing date, too!

      Your question caused me to think of a good point that I neglected to discuss in my post, though, which is that some destination event venues require your guest count 2 months ahead of time, and in that case, you’d want to send the invitations earlier (still only 4 months out, though). I’ve seen this in the case of cruise-based events and some international resorts.

      I would like to hear what you think. It sounds like you might have had different experiences with destination events than I’ve had! When do you think a person should send an invitation for a destination event?

      Thanks again for your question, and for reading my post, and I do hope you’ll share your point of view!

  1. I think I may be a bit uneducated on the issue, but I has always thought the DW guests, (especially when your asking your guests to spend a good chunk of change) would need more time to save and plan for the wedding. I really appreciate the explanation, I understand it much better now.

    As an engaged person myself having an international DW, I wanted to give my guests ample time to plan and save, since for some of my older guests will be the last large trip of their lives and for most guest it will be a considerable chunk of change to spend. I was thinking Save the Dates 1 year out and then invites 8-9 months out. I know that some resorts and airlines give better rates the earlier in advance you book (to some degree). And in general I think my circle of friends and family tend to be very busy and I want to give them ample notice, which I think the STDs would be perfect for. Thanks for the clarification!

    • I think you’re good to send a save-the-date well in advance and include lots of travel info/suggestions with that save-the-date. If you choose to send the invitation 8-9 months in advance, I would still follow up with guests at the 2 to 4 month mark. Maybe send a “looking forward to it” or something, especially if you don’t know for SURE that they’ve booked their travel (which is where a travel agent and/or DW Planner comes in really handy). People are busy, and (this is going to sound terrible and I don’t mean it that way) they put things off (like booking travel) until they just forget. The final follow-up doesn’t have to be fancy. It could truly be a postcard (maybe from your destination), a handwritten notecard, or even an email. In the end, you know your guests better than I do, so your opinion counts way more than mine!

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