Relax, we’re here to help. From your engagement announcement, to your Save the Date and thank you notes, we will act as your guide during the process so you can rest easy and get back to planning your dream ceremony. Wedding etiquette rules have changed and relaxed over time, but there are still some basic guidelines that anyone planning a wedding should be familiar with.
Engaged – start by doing some research; bridal magazines and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration. You will want to ensure both people getting married are on the same page and determine your budget. Talking about this right away with your fiancé will make the planning process much easier. No one wants to start planning a wedding only to realize they spent too much money on one thing, and have to sacrifice something else. You don’t have to nail down the exact dollar amount, but best to come to an agreement of roughly how much money you will be working with. As you begin the process, remain conscious of how much time, money and resources you are allocating to each aspect of your event, and subtract that from your initial budget. And if you and your fiancé are in agreement from the get-go, when you begin to hear opinions from friends and family members down the road, because everyone will share their opinions with you about how they think you should do certain aspects of your event, it will be much easier to say “The two of us actually already came up with an idea for this”.
Guest List – you don’t have to finalize your guest list at this time, but you need to determine an estimation of how many guests you would like to attend your event.
Venue – begin looking at where you want to have your event. This is why it is important to have an estimated number of guests in mind. Certain venues will have capacity limits, and other capabilities based on the number and types of guests. For example, if you have a lot of children attending your event, or perhaps friends and family flying in from other parts of the world, these factors could influence your venue decision. Do you need somewhere with room accommodations as well? A kid-friendly atmosphere? Are there any other amenities your guests might need? Are you planning to have your ceremony and reception at the same venue? Venues usually have a preferred vendor list to help you with other products and services you may need the day of your event like florists, event decor and entertainment. Although most venues don’t require you to choose from their list, the choices they offer are trusted vendors whom they have worked with before that resulted in happy customers and good experiences. Your venue can usually make some suggestions and provide solutions to help you achieve your vision.
Caterer – once you have your venue selected and an estimated guest list – the food usually comes next. After getting an idea of how much the food will cost per person, you may or may not need to edit your guest list. Remember that guests can make your wedding, and it’s better to cut down on the menu or the extravagance of the food or wine before you cut out people who you truly want to be there. This is never an easy task; make sure you and your fiancé work out a fair way to make these adjustments and be willing to compromise.
Attire – You can begin looking for proper attire for you and your bridal party.
Save the Dates and Invitations – Once you have the venue booked, and the date and time set, you are safe to order either of these two things. Although Save the Date Cards are not required, they are very helpful when you are planning 1-2 years in advance, or if you are planning a destination wedding. Save the Dates are typically sent out anywhere from 6 months to a year in advance and give people extra time to plan if they need to travel or simply to reserve time on their calendar. The actual invitation to your event is typically sent out 6-10 weeks prior to the event date, but can be ordered anytime from 4 to 6 months in advance. It is usually wise to get your thank you notes as this point too. Determine what information you will need to communicate to your guests; do you need reception cards or direction cards? Table cards, or a program, maybe even a menu? It is also wise to get a proof or a preview of your invitations before you place your final order to have them printed. Double check that there are no misspellings and all of the information like the date, time and addresses are correct. Always order a few extra more than needed. It is much easier to get extras now then trying to re-order them in the future. Extra envelopes will come in handy also. If you are using a calligrapher, give them at least a month to hand address, assemble and stamp your envelopes.
Gift Registry – Create your registry (if you plan on having one) or call ahead and make an appointment with the consultant at whatever store you choose to register. List items in different price ranges to help your guests’ budget and purchase the items on your list. It’s ok to register for more gifts than guests you have attending your event. Gift cards are ok too. It is recommended that you use your family and friends closest to you during this event, to spread the word about where you are registered, as well as suitable gift alternatives, such as contributions to charities. Make sure you check your list every now and then, especially in the final month prior to your event.
Entertainment – Book the entertainmentyou plan to have at your event. Photographer, DJ, etc. Make sure they have a chance to walk through your venue, or at least see images, so they have some familiarity with the venue and layout. This may be especially important for photographers who strive to get the lighting just right when capturing your most special moments. Determine what kind of favors or charitable donations you plan on having at your event also.
Enjoy your event!
Thank You Notes – Keep a detailed list of who sent you what gifts along with receipts; this will make sending out your thank you notes after your event much easier.
The Wedding Invitation
Your wedding invitation does two things. The wording provides essential information and details of your event, while the appearance of the invitation gives your guest the first glimpse of what they can expect at the event. Begin by determining whether you and your groom want a formal, traditional or more contemporary style wedding, and make your invitation selection accordingly.
The traditional invitation is elegantly simple; usually in black ink printed on a white or cream colored card. The card may be either flat or folded, with the printing traditionally on the front. The formal couple who loves tradition will find a wide array of suitable papers, plain or variously paneled, and be able to distinguish their personal style through the large selection of beautiful typestyles.
If you choose a more contemporary invitation, you have an immense selection of exciting possibilities. Many contemporary couples love the freedom that modern invitations give to tailor the invitation uniquely to their personalities. If you have a theme or color scheme in mind (Lace, Gold, Green...), look for invitations that echo this.
Once you have picked out the invitation you want, the wording part comes next, which is something that some people may struggle with, so here are some basic guidelines and suggestions based on the type of ceremony you are having.
If you like the formal wording of traditional invitations, in which the bride's parents (and often the groom's) request an invitee's presence, you can use it regardless of your wedding's style, formality, or who's paying. Likewise, an invitation to even the most elegant wedding can use less conventional language.
Some suggested guidelines:
a) All phrasing is in the third person (no "we" or "you")
b) No abbreviations are used. This means that everything is spelled out: middle names, streets, numbers, etc. However, there are a few exceptions. The abbreviations "Mr." and "Mrs." are proper. And while it is preferable to spell out 'Doctor" and "junior" (note the lower case "j"), the abbreviations "Dr." and "Jr." are acceptable.
c) Punctuation is not used at the ends of lines (commas, periods, colons, etc.); however, commas are used within lines to separate the day from the date, the city from the state, and a man's surname from "Jr./junior/II/III", etc.
d) Days, dates, and times are always spelled out. Only proper nouns are capitalized (names of people and places, cities, states, name of the day of the week, month name, etc.) Exceptions are the year line ("Two thousand") or where the noun is the beginning of a new sentence or thought ("T" in "The favour of a reply is requested" or "Reception to follow".)
e) The phrasing "request the honor of your presence" implies that the ceremony will be held in a place of worship, such as a church or synagogue. The phrasing "request the pleasure of your company" implies that the ceremony will not be held in a place of worship, such as a country club, museum, etc.
f) Be consistent with your usage of "honour/favour" or "honor/favor." Traditionally the formal, British spelling with the "u" is preferred in proper wedding etiquette but whichever form you choose, use it in both words.
g) If you want to suggest a specific dress code, the words should go in the lower right corner of the reception card -- i.e., "Black tie" or "Beach casual."
Accessories to complete your Invitation Ensemble
Every event doesn’t need all the same accessories; determine what your event will specifically need.
Reception Cards - Traditionally, reception cards are included when the reception site is in a place other than the ceremony site. If reception cards are not used, put the reception information in the lower left corner of the invitation.
Response Cards - Response cards and envelopes ensure a thorough response from your guest list, as they provide a convenient fill-in-the-blank format together with a self-addressed envelope, which the host pre-stamps.
Please note the wording "will____attend" is correct, rather than "will attend_____." The line is intended for the guests either to write in the word "not" or to leave blank to indicate their presence.
Thank You Notes - This is the personalized stationery on which to write thank-you notes. Most couples prefer to include both their names on their stationery. Remember sending out a Thank You Note as soon as possible after the gift is received is best, but it is never too late to send your gratitude.
Table Cards - If you are planning assigned tables at your reception, these cards, which guests pick up as they enter the reception, will tell them where to go.
Place Cards - If you are planning assigned seating at each table, these will inform your guests of their assigned seats.
Menu Cards - At the reception, a menu card describing the dishes you have selected will tell your guests what to expect.
Outer envelopes and single envelopes should show full names and titles, with the address information on the line below. Do not use abbreviations other than "Mr." or "Mrs." Spell out Avenue, Road, and Street as well as the State name. When you're addressing inner envelopes, only the last names of the invited guests should appear, preceded by titles (Mr., Mrs., Doctor). Invited children's first names appear under parents' names. (Invited children over eighteen still living with their parents should receive separate invitations.) If you are allowing single people, who are not dating anyone in particular, to bring a guest, you would say so on this inner envelope by adding "and guest" to their title and surname. If you are using a single envelope, you must put this information on the outside of the single envelope by adding the children's names below the parents' names or the "and guest" line beside the single guest's name.
Remember! Before purchasing stamps, have one fully assembled invitation weighed at the post office to determine proper postage. Don't forget to purchase stamps for the respond envelopes as well.
Return Address on Envelopes - Printing a return address is neater and easier than calligraphically adding it. Traditionally, only the address shows on the envelope flap (no name).
Assembling & Mailing Your Invitations
When inserting a fold over invitation into an envelope, the fold goes into the envelope first. Insert the basic components of the ensemble into the envelope in the following order from bottom to top:
Place the respond card face up on top of the respond envelope, which is face down, with its flap overlapping the respond card (see diagram 3).
Accessories are never inserted inside a fold over invitation.
Remaining pieces (directions, accommodations, within-the-ribbon, etc.) are usually layered on in ascending order of size from largest just above the respond set, to smallest on top.
Mailing your Invitations
As a general rule, wedding invitations should be mailed six to eight weeks before the event date. However, if the wedding date falls on a long weekend (Labor Day weekend, for example) they should be mailed eight weeks before the event date, since people tend to make their holiday plans far in advance. You might even consider sending save-the-date cards. Before you apply stamps, one completely assembled invitation should be inspected and weighed by the post office to determine the correct amount of postage.