When to send wedding invitations and when to order wedding invitations are the two questions we are asked most by our couples!

There are so many milestones in wedding planning and even within the realm of paper there is often a lot to keep track of. Not only are the mega-lists provided by so many wedding websites overwhelming, we have also noticed that couples are finding competing information when doing their wedding research.

To make the process a little easier, we created a quick, definitive timeline to help our clients easily track and plan when to order and send the different parts of their invitation suite, including the save the dates, thank you cards and day of suite in addition to the  main invitation set. Think of this is your go-to resource for all of your paper timing questions. We promise that we’ve done our homework, so you don’t have to.

Wedding Stationery Timeline

When to mail wedding invitations:

SAVE THE DATES | 6-10 months | Typically, save the dates should be mailed 6-8 months prior to your wedding date to give guests advance notice and allow them time to make plans to attend. For destination weddings, we recommend sending a little sooner so your guests can make travel arrangements and request time off from work. Order date: 7-13 months before your wedding so you have a month to assemble, stamp and mail.

INVITATIONS | 6-8 weeks | Plan to mail your invitation suite between 6 and 8 weeks in advance of your wedding. Earlier than this and guests may forget to rsvp, later and you may not have enough time to get an accurate headcount for your venue and caterer. For destination weddings, plan to mail a little sooner, closer to 10-12 weeks so guests have plenty of time to make any necessary travel arrangements. Order date: 12-14 weeks in advance of your wedding, but plan to order sooner if you will be using a calligrapher to address your envelopes.

REPLY CARDS | 2-4 weeks | The optimal timing for reply by dates is 2-4 weeks in advance of the event date. Keep in mind, some guests may forget to rsvp, in which case you or your wedding planner will need to follow up with them, so give yourself a little extra time to wrangle the late replies! If you will be placing an order for guest-specific day of items, like escort cards or place cards, it is always best to err on the side of caution and use the four week reply date. You may also want to check with your caterer to see if they require a final headcount and when they will need those numbers.

DAY OF CARDS | 1-3 months | We suggest placing an order for programs, menus, place cards, escort cards, and any other day of wedding stationery no less than a month before your wedding date! Production time is usually several weeks and this will give you enough time to receive everything before your busy wedding week. Keep in mind, you may want to select an earlier reply date if you will be ordering place and escort cards, both of which require guest names and sometimes meal choice.

THANK YOU CARDS | 3 months | Thank you cards should always be sent within 3 months of receiving the gift. The myth that you have one year after your wedding to send thank you cards to your guests is just not true. Promptly sent notes of gratitude are a must! We suggest ordering your thank you notes prior to your wedding for gifts that arrive early and for those you receive at your bridal shower.

We know that as you begin to think about when to send your wedding invitations and start checking things off your to do list, you’re going to have more questions. Here are a few we think are most important to keep in mind:

  • How do I know how many guests will rsvp “yes” so I have a better idea of how many to invite? The standard rule of thumb is that for invitations sent 6-8 weeks in advance of the wedding date, about 80-85% of guests will accept if they are local. For out of towners, that number will usually stay steady for family, but will drop closer to 40-50% for friends.
  • Should I have a B-list? When do I send B-list invitations? We don’t love B-lists because often guests end up realizing they are B-listers, but if you have to have them, there are a few steps you can follow to make sure you take care of your guests’ feelings: 1) Order two sets of reply cards with different dates. This will ensure that B-list guests don’t receive a reply card with a response date a couple days after the invitation is delivered, indicating that they didn’t make the first wave of invitations. 2) Don’t post on Facebook or other social media sites when you do end up mailing your invitations. In a world where everyone is so connected, hold back a little to ensure guests who don’t receive invites right away don’t feel slighted.
  • How much postage will I need to mail my invitations? Before you lovingly slide your completed invitations into the mail box to be sent to your guests, make sure you take a little extra time to visit the post office and have them weigh your suite. Weight, rigidity and envelope size will all play a role in determining how much postage each envelope will need. If your envelopes are extra thick, consider asking USPS to “hand-cancel” them so they aren’t run through the machine for canceling of the postage. This will help keep them in the best condition possible. If you are ordering custom stamps, we definitely recommending chatting with USPS when they are weighing them and letting them know how important it is that you have an accurate postage amount ahead of time.

Deciding when to send your wedding invitations shouldn’t be mysterious and confusing. This should be one part of the process that is quick and straightforward, and we hope our guide has helped put this decision in the “easy win” category of planning. Have more questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments! We’re happy to help.

xo, A

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