Invitation Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

Lisa Wong Jackson, founder of Good on Paper, and Heather Lowenthal, founder of Posh Parties & Paper, tackle a bride’s everyday concerns and questions about invitations and etiquette.

Lisa_Wong-Jackson11WI: I want to be as clear as possible about who is and isn’t invited to my wedding, particularly children and new boyfriends or girlfriends. How do I convey that without being offensive?
LISA WONG JACKSON: I think the best way to convey this is to write exactly the names of the guests on the inner and outer envelopes, as well as through word of mouth.

It is inappropriate to write “No Children” on the invitations. It is up to the couple whether or not they would like to invite a single friend’s new boyfriend or girlfriend. If invited, the envelope should be addressed to the friend and include “and Guest” to indicate that he or she may bring a friend or date.

 

WI: What are the rights of the person who is paying for the wedding in terms of the invitation list?
JACKSON: This one can be a little tricky, and there may be some sensitive negotiation involved. It is customary that the person who is paying for the wedding be allowed to invite more guests. Whether it’s the bride’s parents or the groom’s parents who pay, the side with the larger family should be allotted more spots. If the couple is paying for the wedding and the guest list becomes a strain on the budget, it’s reasonable to ask their parents to limit their lists.

HEATHER LOWENTHAL: Typically a guest list is split on 3 ways – bride’s parents, groom’s parents, and bride and groom. There is typically no distinction between who is paying more or less for the wedding when it comes to the guest list. However, you have to keep your budget in mind when deciding on who or who is not invited. Once the lists have been devised, you may have room for extra guests to be invited. In that case, it is most appropriate to see if the hosts have any additional guests they would like to add first.

 

WI: How far in advance should a couple mail their save-the-dates?

LOWENTHAL: Save the dates should be mailed 6-9 months before the wedding and should include hotel accommodation information so guests have everything they need to plan ahead.

WI: How do I let people know where we are registered?
JACKSON: Registry information should never be included on the invitations. It could be included on the couple’s wedding website or on an accommodations card. It is also spread through word of mouth. Couples should let their parents and bridal party know where they are registered. Most likely, guests will ask them rather than the couple.

WI: What do you do with people who have not responded?

LOWENTHAL: This is a sticky situation. I tell my clients to have the response date on a Friday. Evaluate your RSVPs the Monday following your due date. For those who have not responded, the best thing to do is to have the host or your maid of honor call and ask if they will be attending or not.

WI: How long is too long to wait before writing thank you notes?

LOWENTHAL: Guests may have traveled far and taken time out of their busy schedules to come to your wedding; you should make their thank you just as important. Most importantly, guests want to know that you have received the gift that they gave you, so I advise the sooner the better. Thank you notes should be written as soon as you return from your honeymoon and no later than 3 months after your wedding date.

WI: If the bride’s parents are divorced and both remarried, how should the invitations read?

JACKSON: So if both sets of parents are hosting the wedding, the invitations could read like this:

Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Anderson
and
Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Williams
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Abigail Rose
or
Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Anderson
and
Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Williams
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of the daughter of Mr. Anderson and Mrs. Williams
Abigail Rose

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