There are two types of brides. Those that are ready to start on invitations a year or more from their wedding date, and those that are ready to start about 2 months prior to the big day. Any wedding vendor will tell you (and especially calligraphers!) that the former bride is the preferred bride. It takes time to design, script, order paper and mail. And between April and August, wedding vendors have schedules packed to the brim! Rush orders are often accommodated, but they aren’t the best route as they force a lot of shortcuts and add stress to your wedding day. There's nothing worse than worrying that your guests aren't going to actually get invited to your wedding! To avoid them, follow these wedding invitation etiquette tips:
When should I book my calligrapher or wedding invitation artist?
If you’re going the pre-made invite route, like Minted or Wedding Paper Divas, allow yourself a couple days to select invites and about a week for them to be processed and shipped to you. Assembly on your end will take a day or two, and voila - you can have invites out in a matter of one to two weeks.
If you’d like those pre-made invitation envelopes to be scripted, you’ll need to work with a calligrapher. Booking your calligrapher for this 3-4 months out is safe but can potentially be accommodated 2-4 weeks out from your desired mail date. This also means you’ll need to order invitations a bit earlier than last-minute. Contact your calligrapher about four months out to get on their calendar. Then be sure to order extra invitation envelopes (20% overages are industry standard), ship them to your calligrapher with about 2-4 weeks for scripting time depending on the time of year.
If you’re interested in completely custom invitation design, you’ll find that a lot of calligraphers only take on a select number of clients. Getting the process started one year prior to your wedding is smart, but up to 6 months prior should leave you enough time to get on their calendar. Invite design can take as long as 6-8 weeks, paper procurement, samples, printing and processing, and envelope scripting can take another 2-4 weeks. You’ll want a 3 month buffer between starting the process.
Are you working with a designer but going through a printing service to have your invites foiled or letterpressed? Give the designer 4-6 weeks and the printer another 4 weeks to avoid rush fees. Be sure to book with both early in the season.
Note: Be sure to add in enough buffer time with any vendor to account for proofreading for typos, errors, reprints, or out-of-stock snafus! Usually a week of extra time between receipt of your invitations and the date you’d like to mail them to your guests gives you a comfortable buffer.
When do my invitations need to go out?
There’s a Goldilocks timing to sending invites. You don’t want them there so early that the RSVP is forgotten, or so late that guests can’t make reservations. If your wedding is local to most of your guests (are 50% of your guests coming from the area?), 6-8 weeks is the sweet spot! If your wedding is a destination, but only requires domestic travel, be sure to give guests a save the date about 6-8 months prior to your wedding and an invite 8-12 weeks prior. Getting married abroad? Follow the same Save the Date etiquette and be sure to send invites out 3 months (or 12 weeks) prior to the wedding.
What is a good RSVP deadline?
Count backwards: when is your wedding? What date does catering need to know your guest count? What date does the venue need to know your guest count? How long will it take you to contact pesky non-responders? This time-frame usually lands you at about 2-4 weeks prior to the wedding. If venue and caterer need info 2 weeks before your big day, you can plan in a buffer of 1 week to call guests that declined to return their RSVP.