Let’s talk wedding invitations. They’re one of the first tangible items you will select when planning your wedding and are a key element of your day. For one, they are your guest’s golden ticket into your wedding. They have all the important details - the who, where, and when - so chances are high they will be looked at a few times. Some guests will likely put your invitation on their fridge or on display elsewhere to enjoy for the months leading up to your big day. Invites are also typically the first glimpse at your wedding. Use them to subtly show people what to expect and what style you’re planning. Trust us, your guests will appreciate it!
You have one shot to get your wedding invitations right, so we’ve created a planning guide to highlight some often-overlooked considerations to make your life easier, and your invites a total success.
Here are 5 things you need to consider when creating your wedding invitations.
1. The theme of your wedding
A wedding theme sets the tone for the overall look and feel of the wedding. While many themes aren’t obvious to the guests (in our opinion that’s clever design), they create a comfortable and visually pleasing level of cohesiveness to the event.
While wedding theme is certainly a whole topic on its own, it is important to note when we’re talking about wedding invitations. Your invite is the first introduction your guests have to your wedding and the overall feel of the event. The invitations don’t need to scream “Ahoy Matey! This is a nautical themed wedding!” but it should tie in with the overall aesthetic, mood and colour scheme you have planned. It should also match, or at least coordinate, with all other stationery at your wedding (think menus, place cards, table numbers, and favour tags). There’s actual psychology behind this - the design continuity puts guests at ease with its familiarity.
- Pick a theme and colour scheme before creating or selecting your invitations and any other stationery.
- Coordinate all stationery.
2. Guest List & Out of Town Guests
Out of town guests who need to make travel and lodging plans should be notified of your wedding earlier than local guests. This is where Save The Date cards are extremely helpful. Even with Save The Dates, you will want to send out-of-town wedding invitations out at least 10-12 weeks before the wedding day.
Depending on where your guests are travelling from, they might require a visa to visit Canada for your wedding. In this case, they may require a formal invitation in order to apply for the travel visa. You can view a list of countries requiring visa, along with a list of visa-exempt countries, on the Government of Canada website. Grandparents and Parents of the bride and groom can apply for Super Visas, which allow for longer stays and multiple entries over a 10-year period. If there’s reason to worry they will not get a visa in time, send these invitations 6 months before the wedding, if possible.
- Start thinking about your guest list early on in the planning process. Make special note of out of town guests who will need to book travel and lodging in order to attend your wedding.
- Get formal invitations out to guests from countries requiring travel visas. You can check approximate visa processing times and requirements, here.
3. Formality of Your Wedding
Your wedding invite says a lot about how formal your upcoming wedding will be. This continuity isn’t just important for aesthetic reasons, it also helps your guests understand the attire and overall formality of your wedding. An email indicates a casual wedding. So does an invite that breaks away from traditional wedding etiquette, or uses slang and punctuation (did you know that o’clock is considered slang?!). If you are printing invites, flat print has traditionally conveyed a semi-formal event. Raised print (aka thermography) is considered formal, and engaged (or letterpress) is considered ultra-formal.
- Decide the level or formality for your wedding. This will determine the formality of the invitation design and invitation wording. Is it going to be a casual, semi-formal, formal, or ultra-formal affair?
4. Invite Etiquette
Etiquette exists so that we don’t upset or offend anyone. With that being said, if we are planning your wedding, we will always inform you of what’s considered “proper etiquette.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that we believe it’s necessary or even the correct way of doing things. It is your day, and you can do things however you’d like. We have your back!
Some Etiquette around wedding invitations (that you may or may not want to consider):
- “The honour of your presence” is used when the ceremony is held in a religious establishment. Otherwise you can use “the pleasure of your company”.
- The order of names appearing on the invitation is based on who is hosting (AKA paying for) the wedding. If it’s the bride and groom, the bride’s name appears first. If it’s a same sex marriage, names appear alphabetically by last name. If a set of parents are hosting, their names goes first on the invitation.
What we personally call “don’t be a dick” etiquette:
- Don’t mention gift preference (i.e. cash only) or registry information on your invite. Your guests get to decide how they will congratulate you on your marriage.
- Don’t state “adults only”. If you don’t want children there, simply put only the invited adult’s names on the RSVP card and/or the number of invited guests.
- If you’re inviting a guest who has a significant other you want to invite, find out their full name and include in on the invite instead of simply writing “plus one” or guest.
- You do not have to give all guests a plus one. If they aren’t in a serious relationship, it’s not required.
5. Invite Timeline
Follow this timeline for ease and peace of mind during your wedding planning:
ASAP - draft your preliminary guest list. This will also impact early wedding planning decisions like venue selection.
ASAP - Gather mailing addresses and full names of all guests, including any significant others and children you plan to invite.
6 months out – send invites to guests with significant travel or those who require a travel visa.
10-12 weeks out - send invites to out of town guests.
6-8 weeks out – all remaining invites out .
Note: if you have a primary and secondary guest list (ie. you’d love to invite everyone, but your venue can’t accommodate), send the primary guest list invites out 10-12 weeks out. For every guest(s) who can’t attend, send an invite out from your secondary guest list. All invites should be out 6-8 weeks before your wedding.
3 weeks out - R.S.V.P. due date. Call any guests who have not sent in an RSVP and begin planning reception seating.