Wedding Invitations 101: Everything You Need to Know for Every Step of the Process

Invitation Guide

You’re going to want to bookmark this one. We’ve got wedding inspiration for days here on GWS, but if you’re the pedal-t0-the-metal type, get excited! This post is for you. Taryn is the artist, founder, designer, and creative force behind the calligraphy + design studio, Twinkle & Toast. A wedding invitation expert, Taryn has all the know-how you need to prep that ever-important piece of wedding planning—and she’s sharing it all with us today!

First up, here’s why those pretty little packages matter: Your wedding invitations will be the first taste your guests get of all the hard work you’ve been putting into the design of your wedding, so now is your chance to show that off. With just one little envelope filled with goodies, they communicate to your guests the mood you are trying to set: formal, playful, classic, rustic, party… and they subconsciously guide your guests what to wear and maybe even how much to splurge on your gift!

 We like the sound of that! Read on as Taryn walks us through every step of the process, along with photos of her beautiful work by Jenna Joseph Photography:

Invitation GuideTimeline:

6-8 Months Prior to Wedding Date

Save the dates are not required, but if sending, mail out around the 6-8 month mark. These can be informal with information such as your names, location, date and perhaps your website if you have one.

4-5 Months Prior to Wedding Date

For a custom invitation suite design, allow around 2+ months for the whole process. This might sound like a long time, but it generously permits time for communication, design brainstorming, initial mockups, revision requests, artwork changes, paper orders, print production, specialty services, envelope calligraphy and assembly.

2 Months Prior to Wedding Date

Invitations should go out about 2 months prior to your wedding date, or closer to 3 months for a destination wedding. Although you may feel antsy to get these out much sooner, consider that some guests may not feel urgency to reply if they receive the invite too early then ultimately forget.


Pro Tip: Start researching and try to secure your invitation designer about six months or more before your wedding to book availability and allow for design time.

Invitation Guide

What to Include:

A standard three-piece invitation suite would have 1) a main invitation (the largest piece), 2) an RSVP card and 3) at least one insert card.

You’d have a corresponding RSVP envelope with the return address of whoever is collecting RSVPs pre-printed on the front.

Everything would be inside an envelope with the return address of who is hosting printed on the back, and guests’ names on the front, preferably hand addressed. Very traditional invitations would have both an inner and outer envelope, but this is certainly not necessary. Arrange all your pieces from largest at the bottom, to smallest at the top, and optionally you can wrap around with a bellyband or decorative element.

Invitation Guide

Main Invitation

WHO: You’ll obviously want to include your names, but also perhaps your hosts, such as your parents. A formal invitation with the bride’s parents hosting would have: [Bride’s Parents’ Full Names] inviting guests to celebrate the marriage of their daughter [First & Middle Name] to [Groom’s Full Name], with option to include son of [Groom’s Parents’ Full Names]. To make a little more informal or modern you can simply state “together with their families” with either your full names or just first names listed. If family particulars get sticky, advise with your stationer.

WHAT: A wedding of course! State a line inviting guests to a wedding, or get creative here with your matrimony celebration lingo.

WHEN: A formal invitation would have the full date and time spelled out, but this is your preference. As long as you have the month, day, year and ceremony start time.

WHERE: Your venue location would be listed here, but not necessarily the full address on a modern invitation. But do list the city and state underneath.

OPTIONAL: Add a quick note about reception to follow and/or make a note about attire on the very bottom, if you want to communicate this information.


Pro Tip: This piece is the star of your invitation suite, so try something special here like a foil print, a special shape or extra thick paper, and go a more cost effective route for the other pieces.

Invitation Guide


Include a line for guests to write in their name. Have you seen that “M” in front of the line here and wondering what that is all about? This stands for Mr., Mrs., Ms., etc.

If your guests are preselecting an entrée, have a selection choice for them to initial on the card.

Set your reply by date 3-4 weeks prior to the big day. Make sure to leave enough time for yourself to set your final seating chart and get final counts over to vendors.

Make it easy for your guests to reply – don’t forget a stamp on the response envelope!


Pro Tip: Have multiple events going on over the course of the weekend, such as a welcome cocktail party or farewell brunch? Have your guests check a box to reply to these events to make it easier on yourself.

Invitation Guide

Insert Cards

You can have as many or as little insert cards as logistically makes sense for your celebration. They convey pertinent information but also add design dimension to your overall suite.

Details you can include on your insert card(s): reception information (if it is at a different location), accommodations or hotel information (include date to book by, phone number and block name), welcome party or farewell brunch events, weekend itinerary or a custom illustrated map of the area or venue.

It is also acceptable to just list your wedding website (if you have one) on an insert card to direct the guests to more information. Look into getting a custom shortened url to make design and readability on your card more concise, it’s more affordable than you may think!


Pro Tip: If you’re having a rehearsal dinner for just a handful of guests, do a smaller run of a rehearsal card to include for just these invitees. It will save you postage and envelopes to send out separately.

Invitation Guide

Invitation Guide

Final Notes

It’s not proper etiquette to include your registries in the suite, but you can find a spot on your website if you prefer to mention it.

If you’re having an adult-only event, it’s also not advised to list this, and should be word of mouth. If you must do so, do not have it on the main invitation piece.

Keep in mind that these are guidelines, and not strict rules. This is YOUR wedding and you should do what makes you feel most comfortable and true to you two. As with every element of wedding planning, you should make rules that make sense to you!

Invitation Guide

SO thankful to Taryn for this thorough guide—super helpful, right? Plus, we love all Taryn’s beautiful designs. Look at that—this post offered more inspiration, after all :)

stationery: Twinkle & Toast // photography: Jenna Joseph Photography // florals: Catalina Neal // rings: Marrow Fine // ring boxes: The Mrs. Box // ribbon: Type & Title // styling surfaces: Simply Rooted // vintage postage: Little Postage House