Let’s Have a Wedding! Part 1: The Invitations

So, you are getting married!  Congratulations!  I hope this man/woman is going to make you the happiest person in the world.  Now that you’ve got the asking and answering down, you are probably going to start planning your dream wedding.  You are going to want to invite people to said wedding.  That means you are going to want to get some invitations for the event and maybe a bridal shower.  I’ve seen quite a few people get this important thing wrong.  Like, horribly, horribly wrong.  Let’s learn about how to get this basic thing correct so you don’t look like an idiot!

The most recent of reasons to send a invitation in concern to a wedding happens after you get engaged.  This if for what has become known as an engagement party.  This party happens as soon after the engagement as possible.  The people that are invited to this party will expect to get an invitation to the actual wedding.  So, you don’t typically send an invite to people if you don’t want them at your wedding.  However, people change and some engagements last for years.  Yep, I’m pointing my finger at you Bobo!  My brother and his now wife were going to stay engaged forever.  They are now married, but were engaged for quite a while.  Either way, if your engagement lasts for several years you may not be friends with some of the people that came to your engagement party and don’t want them at your wedding .  That’s okay.  Don’t invite them if that’s the case.  You don’t need a registry for this kind of wedding because you don’t get gifts for being engaged.  You basically just get a “congratulations” and then people eat.  Yep, no real reason to have an engagement party.  It is basically an excuse to have a party.

In recent times it has been the norm to send out what is called a “Save the Date” card.  If this card or postcard is going to be sent, it is sent first.  These are cards that are sent out to announce the date of the wedding.  You only send these to people that are going to be receiving and invitation to the wedding.  This lets the person know that the wedding invitation is coming at a later date.  If you don’t send these out if you don’t intend on inviting the person to the wedding and definitely not to people who are not invited to the shower.  There really isn’t any protocol for how these are sent out.  Just that they are sent out first and as soon as you actually set a date.  You don’t have to send these, but if you are it comes first if you are going to send the actual wedding invites after the bridal shower invites.

Alright, we’ve got the date settled now.  Good job!  We’re all super excited about your big day!  Now you’re going to want to start getting ready for your big day and for your new life.  This means that you are probably going to want to have a shower.  Your best friend, that is not a member of your family, is the one to host this little shindig.  That means that she is going to be in charge of getting everything ready.  These invites usually go out at least 6 weeks before the shower!  No later!  This gives people the chance to get a gift from the registry and the people catering the event to have an adequate amount of time to get things together.  Do not, under any circumstances, send a person an invitation to the bridal shower if you do not plan on inviting them to the wedding.  The one and only exception to this is if you are having a wedding where only family members are present and you have discussed this with all the people that you are inviting to in advance.  You can hurt people’s feeling by doing.  Not to mention it makes you look like you are begging for gifts which make you look like a snob (to put it nicely in the extreme).  Don’t be surprised if you do this action, intentionally or not, and you lose friends or your friends become stand offish.

Let’s say you did send out save the date cards so that you would have an extra bit of time to get your actual wedding invitations ready and sent out.  Now it’s time to send out the wedding invitations.  These can be complicated if you don’t really know proper wedding etiquette and I have seen so many of them done wrong it’s not even funny.  A wedding invitation includes several things in one envelope.  You first have the actual invitation, then the RSVP card with its own envelope that is already addressed to who gets the response, reception card, attire card, and accommodation card.  That’s a lot of things in one envelope!  However, that is how wedding invitations are done.  Now, there are a few exceptions to this.  These are few and far between.  First is if you are having a church wedding and are inviting the entirety of the church congregation.  I received one of these a few weeks ago.  Second  if you are going to hand them out by hand.  If that is the case, you may want to include an RSVP card for them to RSVP.  The other time is if you are going to invite people by the paperless route.  One of the girl’s I went to Cottey College opted for this.  Oh, and one more thing about the outside of the envelope.  Do not, I mean this very seriously, DO NOT put mismatched stamps on your envelopes.  Wedding invitations typically take two stamps and you don’t want those stamps to be mismatched.  It makes it look aimless and trashy.  I mean, I’m not you, but I wouldn’t want my wedding invitations to look like I don’t care one way or the other about them.

Alright we’ve got the big invite out of the way.  Now what else is there?  Two more really and one other important card if you want to not look like a huge jerk.  So the next card sent out is for the Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties.  These are pretty informal and some people don’t even have these parties. If you are going to have one, the cards are sent a month before the party.  Phone calls, email, text, or a form of social media message is also acceptable since these parties are usually not overly formal.  Like the other invites, don’t invite people you don’t want at the wedding.  Like the bridal shower, the maid-of-honour plans the bachelorette party.  The best man plans the bachelor party.  The most common activities for these parties are drinking and going to see strippers.  Some are much more tame though and some girls that I know had slumber parties/movie nights for their bachelorette party.  The only one that I have been to ended up taking us to hang out in another one of their friends’ hotel room with the guys and the girls all talking and drinking.  Not exactly my idea of fun, but if nothing else, watching drunk people try to play games was rather funny.

The final invite to be sent out is for the rehearsal dinner and they are sent out between three to six weeks before the dinner.  The people invited to this event are family, close family friends, the officiant, and the wedding party with their dates.  These are typically held in a banquet hall or at a restaurant with a separate room for special events and are hosted by the grooms family.  If you are having a church wedding, the church may allow for use of their dining hall or host the dinner.  Be sure to give a time that an RSVP must be given by as having a proper headcount is an absolute must.  You don’t want people showing up to the dinner and not have anything for them to eat.

The last card to be sent out is not an invitation at all.  Thank you cards are sent out whenever a gift is received and within a couple weeks of it being received.  The only exception to this is for gifts that you get at the actually wedding.  Since the honeymoon is typically right after the wedding and can last for a week to a month, depending on where the honeymoon trip is to, sending one thank you notes are typically sent within a couple of weeks after returning from the trip.  If a honeymoon is postponed though, send the cards as soon as possible.

Now that you’ve got all the invites taken care of, the wedding out of the way, and your thank you cards sent out, go enjoy your married life!  Congratulations and I wish you all the happiness in the world!