When should I send my wedding invitations?
Traditional etiquette dictates that wedding invitations should be sent 6-8 weeks before the wedding. But if you have a destination wedding, you may need to send your invitations much earlier so guests have time to make flight and hotel arrangements. On the other hand, if you're having a local wedding with few out of town guests, and you've already sent out Save the Dates, you can get away with sending your formal invitations later.
Here, we'll dig a little deeper into your wedding invitation timeline - we'll talk about when you should order your invites, how much time to allow for addressing them, when guests need to send back their RSVPs and how much time that leaves you to finalize seating arrangements and catering head counts with your final guest list.
Keep in mind that there are so many factors here, your dates may differ from those offered here and that's perfectly ok - don't panic if you're a little later, and don't fret about etiquette if you're a little earlier! Keep in mind that the point of the wedding invitations is to give your guests a head's up about everything they need to know for your wedding, in time for them to let you know whether they can make it - as long as you achieve that, you're doing just fine!
Send your Save the Dates
6-12 months before the wedding
Destination Weddings: 9-12 months before
Local Weddings with out of towners: 6-9 months before
Local Weddings: 4-9 months before
You have a lot of wiggle room as far as when to send your Save the Dates. If you're having a local wedding but a lot of out of town guests, consider sending them at least six months early to give your guests a head's up for travel planning. Otherwise, sending them 4 months in advance of the wedding is still plenty of time - but it never hurts to be early!
All the information you need to send Save the Date is the date and location - so it's easy to send them out far ahead of time! Save the Dates are also a great opportunity to send gorgeous engagement photos, so if that's what you want make sure to book a session early!
Order your Wedding Invitations
1-2 months before mailing
Destination Weddings: 6-9 months before the wedding
Local Weddings: 10-14 weeks before
You'll want to begin thinking about your wedding invitations at least a month or two before you want to mail them. The timeframe for printing and delivery of your invitations will depend on your vendor. If you're hiring a designer to create a design for you from scratch, or if you're using a calligrapher for your invitations, you should allow extra time. Similarly, you should allow extra time for fancy printing methods like letterpress and embossing, and for very complex invitation sets with layered invitations, pocket enclosures and/or embellishments like ribbons or jewels. On the other hand, if you want to print your invitations at home, you can have them the same day. But we don't recommend this - there are plenty of discount invitations available online, and you can even use your own design.
Printing and shipping any of the invitations on this site from our printer, Zazzle, will take anywhere from 2 (express shipping a small number of invitations) to 11 (standard shipping a large number of invitations) business days. Make sure you give yourself enough time to find your perfect invitations, order them, and have a little time leftover in case the printing is off or the invitations are otherwise defective. (We, and many other stationers, will offer refunds and return shipping of replacements in these cases.)
Address your Wedding Invitations
2-4 weeks before mailing
Destination Weddings: 4-8 months before the wedding
Local Weddings: 8-12 weeks before the wedding
A couple of weeks before mailing, you should be addressing your invitations – allow an additional month if you're using a calligrapher for addresses. If you're short on time, you can always get the addresses and return address pre-printed on the envelopes (for a formal look, you can print addresses in calligraphic script), or use address labels. If you do use address labels, make sure they are really nice ones - this is your wedding invitation we're talking about, after all!
Another option to save time on the return addresses is to use a sticker seal with your return address on it to seal the back of the envelope - which has the added advantage of looking formal as well!
Mail your Wedding Invitations
6-8 weeks before the wedding
Destination Weddings: 3-6 months before the wedding
Local Weddings: 6-8 weeks before the wedding
Generally, 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding is considered the ideal time to send invitations. But it mostly depends on when you need to finalize your guest list - if it's important to you to get a final head count a few weeks before the wedding, then be sure to send out your invites and RSVP cards well ahead of time. If you're having your guests RSVP online or by phone rather than mail, you can send your invitations a few days to a week later, since you won't need to wait for the cards to come in by mail.
On the other hand, if you're raring and ready to send your invitations out months before the wedding, save them for a little closer to the date (unless you are having a destination wedding). This will keep your wedding date fresh in your guests' minds within a few weeks of the weddings. If you are super excited to let your guests know about your super exciting wedding 9-12 months in the future - that's what Save the Date cards are for!
For destination weddings in particular, this timeframe should be shifted much farther back in order to provide guests with information about booking flights and hotels well in advance. Recommendations for sending destination wedding invitations vary widely and it depends on your circumstances, but generally 3-6 months before the wedding is considered appropriate, especially if you have already sent a Save the Date. If you haven't sent Save the Dates, send your invitations closer to 6-8 months before the wedding.
RSVP By Date
Three weeks after the invitation postmark
Destination Weddings: 2-4 months before the wedding
Local Weddings: 3-5 weeks before the wedding
Respond by dates should be approximately three weeks after your invitation is postmarked. If you've sent your invitations later and are short on time, you can shorten this deadline by a week - but avoid shortening it more for the convenience of your guests. Don't make this deadline any longer than three to four weeks after guests receive their invitations - otherwise they may postpone returning their RSVPs and then forget about them altogether!
RSVPs back in - and you've got your final head count!
2-3 weeks before the wedding
Destination Weddings: 7-11 weeks before the wedding
Local Weddings: 2-3 weeks before the wedding
Assuming your guests met the RSVP deadline, your responses should be back within a week of the RSVP by date. If you're accepting your RSVPs online or by phone, you'll have them back even faster. The sooner you have them back, the sooner you can finalize seating and catering arrangements with your vendors. If you're making your own seating chart or table plans, you'll appreciate the extra time to get those things done before the final rush in the week before the wedding!