{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.

{Etiquette} Addressing Your Wedding Invitations

Grace Edmands CalligraphyCalligraphy by Grace Edmands Calligraphy (thanks Grace!)

Today I wanted to share some outer envelope addressing etiquette with you.  I’ve been collecting this information for years from various sources as different scenarios have come up for my clients.  Family situations have grown more complex in recent years, so I’ve tried to include the basics as well as the more complicated scenarios.  Though I’m not a bonafide etiquette expert (as proven by my personal story at the end of this post), if you need help with addressing an invitation to a family whose situation is not covered in this post, let me know, and I’ll see if I can track down the answer for you!

FIRST, a few basic tips:

  • Always use proper titles for doctors, PhDs, military officers, etc.
  • Address the invitation to all who are invited, by name
  • Medical doctors should be addressed using “Doctor” and PhDs should be addressed using “Dr.”
  • Address both active duty and retired military officers with their proper titles
  • Always spell out names of cities and states, and words like “Street”, “Avenue”, “Suite”, “Apartment”, etc., with the exception of “Washington, D.C.”

 

MARRIED COUPLES
Same last name: Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

Wife uses her maiden name, use “Mrs.” and place her name on the line above his:
Mrs. Jane Jones
Mr. John Smith

Same last name, but wife has a proper title and the husband does not, place her name above his:
Doctor Jane Smith
Mr. John Smith

Husband has a proper title and wife does not: General and Mrs. John Smith

Both the husband and wife have the same proper titles: Drs. John and Jane Smith

Husband and wife have different proper titles, put wife first:
General Jane Smith
The Honorable John Smith

 

INVITING CHILDREN UNDER 18
Place children’s names on a separate line below their parents.  If children have the same last name as their parents, only write their first names.  If children have different last names than their parents, include their last names.  Invited children over 18 should receive their own invitations, whether or not they reside with their parents.  For them, use the rules for “single guests.”

Invited children under 18 with the same last name as their parents:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Mary, Elizabeth, and Joseph

Invited children under 18 with different last names than their parents, use separate lines:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Mary and Elizabeth Jones
Joseph Smith

 

SINGLE GUESTS & UNMARRIED COUPLES
Single guests use Ms., Miss, or Mr., or their proper title: Ms. Elizabeth Rogers   -or-  Doctor Henry Jones

Unmarried and/or same-gender couples living at same address should be addressed alphabetically by last name:
Ms. Mary Jones
Ms. Elizabeth Rogers

 

SO NOW FOR A TOUGH ONE
How do you address an invitation to a military husband with a medical doctor wife with five kids under 18 (who are invited) who all have different last names?
Doctor Jane Smith
General John Jones
Mary, Elizabeth, and Ryan Smith
Joseph and Henry Jones

 

AND NOW MY EMBARRASSING STORY
When I got married, I addressed my own invitations.  (I didn’t have the pleasure of hiring a great calligrapher like Grace Edmands.)  I researched proper etiquette for addressing, of course, but I still made an embarrassing error:  I addressed the invitation to my husband’s boss as “Mr.” when it should have been “Dr.”  Now that I think about it, his wife might be “Dr.” too!  I feel badly that I didn’t show the proper respect for his title.  I simply forgot that he had a proper title, because I usually just call him “Bob.”  But you know what?  I don’t think he ever held it against me.  He’s never mentioned my error.  And my husband still has a job, lol!

So the lesson is twofold:  First, do your best to address your invitations properly.  Second, if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up.  Reasonable people will forgive you for your oversight.  In the end, we’re all just human.