Invitation Etiquette

There is an elegance to paper invitations that is unmatched by electronic ones. Still, in this age of informality mailing invitations can feel daunting. Don’t fear. Physical invitations are worth the extra time and effort. Here are a few common invitation rules of etiquette to consider for weddings and general parties.

Wedding invitations

When to mail: Ideally you will have sent save the date cards at least four months prior to your big day. Invitations should be mailed 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. Ask guests to respond with their intentions at least three weeks before the event. Three weeks will give you enough time to finalize totals for food, drinks and seating.

Spell it out: Invitations are used to communicate more than the event and date. They should also set the tone and convey your expectations for the day.

  • Avoid abbreviations – Spell out words like street, junior, and time (six o’clock). July 23 is appropriate and should not read July 23rd. Professional designations, such as M.D. or esquire should not be included.
  • Name your guests – Write the full name of each intended guest on the invitation. Doing so makes it clear if you intend a child free wedding or want to avoid the unpleasant surprise of an unwelcome guest. As a rule, invitations are not transferable without your permission. Use full names rather than initials.
  • Include the full name of each of the betrothed as well as the names of wedding hosts. Traditionally, only the bride’s parent’s names are listed on the invitation. If parents have divorced and remarried you can list the name of the mother and stepfather followed by the father and stepmother on the invitation.
  • Do not include wedding registry information on the invitation.
  • Do include information about attire.
  • If invitations are not personalized, the entire invitation should be completed in the same handwriting.

Party Invitations

When to mail: Planning a housewarming, birthday, holiday or dinner party? Inform guests two to six weeks in advance of the event. Particularly if guests are traveling long distances you will want to allow more time.

Set the tone: Your invitation helps guests know what to expect. Choose invitations that match the event. Fun and casual for informal gatherings or more understated for elegant, formal events.  Include information about attire for formal events.

Know your guest list: Ask that everyone respond. Using a regrets only RSVP may leave you with more guests than you planned on hosting.

Check for typos: Remember invitations set the tone for your event.

For any invitation, be sure to include complete information. Be sure that everything guests need to know about who, what, when, where and why is included on your invitation. Enjoy the party!