Every bridal website will tell you something different about when to mail out your wedding invitations. And every bride thinks, “That’s not enough time for me to get RSVPs for my vendors!” and will inevitably send them out far too early. I was one of those brides and I am here to tell you the tried and tested timeline to send out your invitations.
In hindsight, I wish I would have sent out Save the Dates. They are a great way to alert your potential guests that you are engaged and that they will be receiving an invitation in the mail closer to the date. This helps get the thought into their head to take off work or make arrangements so they can attend. I recommend sending these out no later than six months before the wedding day or else they become irrelevant. For longer engagements, you should send out Save-the-Dates a year before.
Generally, the rule is to send invitations out between 8 and 12 weeks before the wedding. I believed that 12 weeks was not enough time to get the responses I needed for vendors. Invitations not only tell guests the details of the wedding day, but the responses will give you an indication of how many guests will be coming. This is used to set out the right number of seats and tables, order enough food for dinner, make sure there is plenty of dessert available, enough drinks to keep the party going, and so the DJ can bring the right equipment for the number of people.
For all of these reasons, I wanted to send my invitations out very early. I thought I would get responses early and not have to worry about the guest count. This completely backfired. Either the invitation got buried under months of other mail pieces until it was forgotten, or people RSVPed “yes” early then forgot about the wedding and didn’t show up.
Trying to get a guest count was very, very difficult for me. What I should have done (and what I recommend all brides do) is go through the guest list with both sides of the family and mark what people would absolutely come, what people might come, and what people most likely would not show up. Even though there will be strange mix ups in that number, it will be close enough to get an accurate guess without having to stress and rudely call up people and ask if they were coming. I was one of those rude brides because wedding websites assured me it was perfectly fine to do this. It still didn’t help me with the people who said yes then forgot to show up or something else came up.
Because of my dilemma, I have the perfect answer for the age old question. Send out the invitations between 12 and 16 weeks before the wedding. Include an RSVP method, even if you take my advice and estimate your count. Keep track of these RSVPs and who did not answer.
One month before the wedding, create a cute postcard with a picture of you and your fiance on the front, preferably from your engagement shoot. On the picture, put the date of the wedding. On the back, say something like, “We are so excited that our wedding day is only a month away and hope you are too! (Name) and (Name) are looking forward to seeing you on (Date).” Underneath this friendly reminder message, I would also put, “If you have not RSVPed, please call (Number) or email (Address).” This gives people a direct line to contact you without having to go through the trouble of putting something in the mail. This way you can get more RSVPs and remind those who responded yes that your wedding is coming up.
The guest count and RSVPs were the hardest part of wedding planning for me. Luckily, you get to learn from my mistakes and find out the best way to let your guests know when they get to enjoy your special day with you.