Let’s be real – weddings require a LOT of invitations, because there are a LOT of wedding-related events throughout an engagement/wedding period. Whether you choose to use paper or paper-free invitations, you’ll need to send out invitations for at least 4-5 events over the course of your engagement period – not including your wedding itself! Here’s our handy guide of what to send out, when, and the appropriate deets to include.

Engagement Announcement

Pinterest (original upload), ImgFave

When: As soon as you can, after you get engaged.

Who: Anyone you won’t be telling personally (so anyone who isn’t in your family or among your closest friends). It’s appropriate to send engagement announcements to those who you won’t be inviting to the wedding.

What: No need to include the date or make your announcement match your theme – chances are you haven’t picked either yet! Basically, engagement announcements are just share the good news.

Save-the-Date Cards

Blushing Bride, Design Sponge, Oh Happy Day

When: As soon as you pick a date – this gives guests time to make travel arrangements, etc.

Who: People you’ll be inviting to the wedding – giving save-the-dates to those who you’re not intending on inviting will get pretty awkward, pretty fast.

What: Including the wedding day date, the approximate location, and a picture of the engaged couple is pretty standard, though people haven been upping their game and coming up with more and more creative save-the-date ideas. This invite doesn’t have to follow your wedding theme, though it could if you already have it picked out.

Wedding Party Invitations (aka Bridesmaids/Groomsmen invites)

Once Wed, Wedding Chicks

When: As soon as you decide on your wedding party

Who: Your bridesmaids and groomsmen, of course!

What: It’s different for the guys and girls, obviously, but the basic deets should be as follows: The date/time/location, a list of the other bridesmaids/groomsmen, the basic wedding theme and what they should wear, where they can order the dress/tux/etc (if it needs to be ordered), and a small gift.

Engagement Party Invitations

Yellow Brick Graphics, Wedding Paper Divas, The Memory Trunk

When: 4-6 weeks before the engagement party

Who: The jury is out on this one – from what I’ve read, it seems that you should only invite those invited to your wedding. However, there are still a few who claim that your engagement party guests don’t need to be on the wedding guest list. In my opinion, just invite those on your guest list, as it may prevent future snubs.

What: An engagement party is a wonderful opportunity to invite friends and family to celebrate your engagement and future nuptials. Include all the normal party details – who, what, when, why – you get the idea. The invitation should match the party theme, if have one. If not, matching it to the general wedding theme is a good idea as well.

Wedding Invitations

Un Beau Jour, Rifle Paper Co.

When: 3-5 months before the wedding

Who: Only those who you’re planning on inviting, with a couple plus-ones for designated guests sprinkled in here and there.

What: There are a number of components that should make up a wedding invitation. The first should be the usual things – what, when where, etc. Besides the basic information, you should include the separate enclosures:

-Response cards – These will have the guests RSVP response, and should either be postcard-style or include a separate envelope so that they are able to mail the response. It’s convenient if you have already addressed and stamped the response card or envelope.

-Reception cards – These are becoming optional, as many couples now choose to include a small “reception to follow” note on their invitations. However, if the reception’s location is in a different venue, or if some guests are not invited to the reception, an enclosure is necessary.

-Direction cards – Provide a neat, professionally printed map of directions to your wedding day venue(s).

-At-Home cards – These state where the couple will be residing if one or both will be moving after the wedding, and what name the bride will use. These are probably optional, but might be nice for guests to have when sending wedding presents, cards, etc.

NOTE: Always make extra! They’ll be handy as keepsakes, and for last-minute guest invites. Extra envelopes won’t hurt either.

Bridal Shower Invitations

Invitation Crush, Tad and Faboo, Wedding Paper Divas

When: 4-6 weeks before the shower

Who: All guests should be invited to the wedding. Bridal showers typically include close friends and relatives of the bride or couple.

What: All the usual party details, and a theme. Themes could be anything you want them to be, and inform guests of the appropriate gift to bring. Ideas include home, lingerie, linen, kitchen, stock-the-bar themes…you get the idea. Remember, the bride or groom (and their families) are never the ones to throw the shower. That’s the maid-of-honor and bridesmaids’ responsibility.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Party Invitations

Etsy, Root Down

When: 3-4 weeks before the party

Who: The groomsmen/bridesmaids, and any other close friends.

What: This is the responsibility of the best man or maid of honor – it is up to them to organize and plan the bachelor/bachelorette party, though the groom or bride-to-be can give their own input, as well.

Wedding Rehearsal Invitations

Cadence Paige, Two Pooch Paperie, Eden Wedding Studio

When: 4-6 weeks before the rehearsal, if not already included in the wedding invitation

Who: The wedding party and any plus-ones, relatives, and other close friends or family that may have traveled far for the wedding. Traditionally the officiant is invited, as well.

What: Typically a formal dinner hosted by the groom’s parents, the wedding rehearsal should be a tasteful lead-up to the wedding day. Include the usual invitation information, in the same theme as the wedding invitations.

Wedding Annoucements

Really Quite Lucky, Photo Affections, Minted

When: After the wedding (never send them before!)

Who: Those who weren’t invited or able to attend the wedding.

What: A small card or postcard informing the recipient of the couple’s marriage – just when and where is fine.

Thank-You Notes

Wedding Bee, Intimate Weddings

When: 2-4 weeks after gifts are recieved

The rest you should know… unless you’ve never written a thank you card before! Always order extra thank-you cards…it can’t hurt.

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