February 25, 2009

Wedding Etiquette: Invitations and the Guest List

Your wedding day is a time to celebrate you and your future spouse: your love, your relationship and your future. How you plan and organize this special event is up to your discretion, but when you need reliable etiquette information for your trip down the aisle, you can trust FineStationery.com’s expertise to help you put your best foot forward.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our customers regarding wedding guest lists and invitations. If you do not see the answer to your question below, please feel free to leave it in the comments section below. We would be happy to assist you.

How do I decide whom to invite to my wedding?

Have a sit down meeting with the bride, the groom and anyone else who is contributing financially to the wedding (such as your parents) to discuss the guest list. When creating the list, the most important things to take into consideration are family size, preferred location (how many people the venue will be able to support) and catering expenses.

We've got too many people on the list! How should I go about downsizing?

First, try to cut costs elsewhere. You may be able to save money by offering less expensive menu choices or by eliminating an extravagant venue. If that is not an option, the best thing to do is to put family first, followed by your closest friends.

Should I invite my co-workers?

When eight to ten hours of each workday are spent together, co-workers can begin to feel like an extension of your own family. Some of your best friendships may have been forged at work, so it makes sense to want to invite these people to one of the most important days in your life. The challenge comes in deciding where to draw the line in terms of who is and who isn’t invited. One way to handle the situation is to give the co-workers you wish to invite an invitation discreetly. Tell them that that you will be unable to invite the entire office, so you would appreciate it if they would not discuss the matter with others. They will understand and should abide by your wishes.

Should I order extra wedding invitations?

Yes, it’s always a good idea to order extra wedding invitations. Whether an invitation gets lost in the mail, or you suddenly realize that you need to add another guest, there is bound to an occasion in which having a few extras will be handy. It is certainly easier to have extra wedding invitations printed and at your disposal than to attempt to have more printed at a later date. Extra invitations are also great keepsakes to include in your wedding album or give to your parents in a decorative frame.

When should the invitations be mailed out?

Traditionally, wedding invitations should be mailed 6 – 8 weeks prior to the date of your event. If your guests have very busy lifestyles and have things booked well in advance (which is becoming more and more common), you may want to consider sending a save-the-date card 6 months prior to your event. You would then follow-up with an invitation 6 weeks before the wedding date.

We're having a no-children policy at our wedding. How do I address this situation on the invitation?

This is better left off of the wedding invitation entirely. Instead, have friends and family spread the word that the event will not be an ideal place for children.

The time for our wedding ceremony is on a half hour, how should I word this on the invitation?

Ceremonies starting on the half hour should, like whole hours, be written out. For example, if your ceremony is set to start at 2:30 p.m., your invitation should read “half past two o’clock.”

Why do my wedding invitations come with two envelopes? Should I use both?

Outer envelopes were used as protection against the elements in days when messages were delivered by horse or hand. However, many brides continue to adhere to double envelope use, even in present day, as a way to specify whom in each household is invited to the event. For example, if you send an invitation to Mr. Matthew Miller and you want to encourage him to also bring a guest, you would address the outer envelope to Mr. Matthew Miller and address the inner envelope to Mr. Matthew Miller and Guest.

I’ve decided to not send children under 18 years of age an invitation of their own. How should I go about explaining that they are also invited to the wedding?

The best way to approach this situation is to use a wedding invitation with double envelopes. Address the outer envelope to the parents. On the inner envelope, write the parents’ names as the first line, and below it on a separate line, write the names of the children.

We’ve decided not to go through with the ceremony, but we already mailed out invitations. What should we do?

This really depends upon how much time remains before the planned event. If there is time, the best thing to do would be to mail a new card stating that the wedding has been postponed (if this is the case) or that it has been canceled. You need not go into details, simply say “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Garcia must recall their invitation to the marriage of their daughter Anna Marie to Mr. Douglas Peters as it will not take place.
If the decision is sudden, or made too close to the ceremony date for printed cards to be sent, a personal phone call must be made to each guest to notify them of the change in plans.

What is the correct order to put our initials if we are creating a married monogram?

The order of the initials in a married monogram should be: Last name initial in the middle, wife’s first name initial first and husband’s first name initial last. For example, if Jane and Tom Miller were to create a married monogram, the order of the initials would be JMT.

Our wedding is going to be a black-tie affair. How do I communicate this to my guests?

Traditionally any reference to dress, like any reference to children and gifts, should be left off of the actual invitation. If you prefer that your guests arrive in black-tie attire, it would have been recommended that you specify that information by having it printed on a separate reception card. However, if you were thinking of completely forgoing the reception card, the best plan would be to have the phrase “black-tie” printed in small font on the bottom right-hand corner of the invitation.