When to Send Wedding Invitations – Wedding Invitation Etiquette Guide

when to send wedding invitations
wedding invitation suite: Gold Dust Design Goods | photo: Ashley Clayton, as seen in this 1970’s inspired desert wedding

Not sure when to send wedding invitations? We’re about to break it all down for you. Sending out wedding invites can arguably be one of the more complicated steps in the wedding planning process.

When do you need to send wedding invitations for a destination wedding vs a local one? When should the RSVPs be due? Are save the dates necessary? And if so, what exactly do you put on one?

We’ll answer all your burning questions on the when and what of wedding invitations in this guide to wedding invitation etiquette.

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When to Send Wedding Invitations For Non-Destination Weddings

colorful Palm Springs example of wedding invitations suite
wedding invitations: Cecile’s Paper Co // photo: Jenn Emerling, as seen in this elegantly colorful Palm Springs wedding

So you’re planning a non-destination wedding and are trying to sort out when to send wedding invitations. What does that wedding invitation timeline look like?

Local weddings don’t require nearly as much heads-up as destination weddings (unless you have guests flying in from international locations, in which case, you’ll want to at some time to your wedding invitation timeline!).

Typically, it’s standard to send wedding invitations 2 months in advance of the wedding date (we’ll discuss the rules for destination weddings in the next section).

This two month buffer is intended to give enough time for your wedding guests to receive their invitation, consider any travel plans and respond accordingly.

If you send the wedding invitations too early, there’s a chance guests won’t know their schedule yet and may forget about the invite altogether. Send the invites too late, though, and your guests will have to scramble to arrange their plans.

Two months is that sweet spot for when to send wedding invitations for non-destination ceremonies.

Green Wedding Shoes Pro Tip: When sorting out when to send wedding invitations, you want to account for the time it takes for custom wedding invitations, if you want a fully custom design. Allow around 2+ months for the whole design process. This time generously permits time for communication, design brainstorming, initial mockups, revision requests, artwork changes, paper orders, print production, specialty services, envelope calligraphy and assembly.

taryn of design studio Twinkle & Toast

When to Send Destination Wedding Invitations

destination desert wedding example of wedding invitations
wedding invitations: Summit and Sage // photo: The Shepards, as seen in this desert inspired destination wedding

As we hinted at earlier, the wedding invitation timeline varies a tad for non-local weddings. So when do you send destination wedding invitations?

The general rule of thumb is to give an extra month for destination wedding invites to be sent out. Why? It gives you guests ample time to sort out their travel plans. And if you have guests coming in from an international destination, we recommend adding on some additional time to account for lengthier mailing times.

How long will it take for your wedding invites to travel to your international guests’ homes? Double that time to account for mailing back an RSVP, and add that time to your wedding invitation timeline.

What Goes Into A Wedding Invitation?

vibrantly colorful wedding invitation suite with rsvp cards, menu, drink cards, and wedding website information
wedding invitations: Megan Roy // photo: Mary Costa Photography, as seen in this quirky, colorful backyard wedding

So what exactly goes into a wedding invitation? A little more than you might expect, and you don’t want to miss any details when you send those wedding invitations out to your guests! Let’s break it down.

Here’s what you’ll need to include in your wedding invitation envelope, at a minimum:

  • the wedding invitation card itself, which will include the date, time, venue address, dress code, and your wedding website (so you can share accommodations and travel info with your guests)
  • an RSVP card and return envelope, with postage included

Those elements cover the minimum needed to give your guests the information they need to RSVP.

When sending your wedding invitations, there are also some additional elements that make for really nice additions to your invite suite. These include:

  • a dinner menu, so your guests can see what they’ll be served and choose accordingly
  • a dedicated accommodations and “things to do” card, so your guests can make travel arrangements with confidence (perhaps even with an illustrated map of your venue!)
  • a keepsake postcard for your wedding destination, especially if your guests are traveling somewhere fun

When Should the RSVP Be Due for the Wedding?

Wedding RSVP Deadline Etiquette

modern script wedding invitations rsvp card
wedding invitation rsvp cards: Splendid Moment

Set your RSVP due date for 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding day. This has a few key benefits:

  • Setting your RSVP deadline 3-4 weeks from the big day gives you the chance to follow up with anyone who hasn’t responded in time.
  • You are able to finalize your seating chart when you set the RSVP deadline a few weeks before the wedding day, rather than waiting until the last minute.
  • Securing all RSVPs at the deadline allows you to share that information with your caterers, so they can begin to prep for the wedding day.

You want to set your RSVP deadline to be at least a couple weeks in advance of when you actually need that information from your guests. There will inevitably be wedding guests who do not send their RSVPs back in time, and this gives you the time you need to follow up with them after sending the wedding invitations.

Green Wedding Shoes Pro Tip: Make it easy for your guests to complete and send back your RSVP card before the deadline – don’t forget a stamp and a response envelope when you send your wedding invitations!

Return Address on Wedding Invitations

Palm Springs wedding invitations suite
wedding invitation suite: Gold Dust Design Co

Let’s chat all about the return address to include on your wedding invitations when you send them. The address you choose plays a pretty important role in the planning process!

Is someone in your family helping you confirm the guest list and contact the caterer? You can have their address as the return address, if they’ve offered to collect and make note of guest responses.

When sending your wedding invitations, if the mail is unsuccessfully delivered, it’ll go to this return address, so you’ll want to consider who will be collecting that returned mail or following up with those guests in another way.

Typically, the return address on the wedding invitations and the return address on the envelope for the RSVPs will be the same, but you can always mix that up if necessary!

modern rose wedding invitations suite with RSVP card and details insert

Pssst…wanna see the prettiest wedding invitations you can buy online?! We’ve rounded up only the finest invites!

Are Save the Dates Necessary?

boho save the dates
save the dates: Paper Minx Weddings

Are save the dates necessary to send to your wedding guests? Will an invitation suffice? We typically recommend sending save the dates if you know that your guests are going to need plenty of time to plan for your wedding.

This is especially important if you’re getting married at a destination where your guests don’t live, particularly if you have guests that are traveling internationally.

Generally speaking, the smaller your wedding is and the more local your guests are, the less necessary save the dates become. But we personally think it’s a good rule of thumb to send them.

Save the dates are a nice way to ensure your guests have a heads-up about your plans, before you even send your wedding invitations. So in that sense, we’d argue save the dates, while not completely necessary, kind of should be!

When to Send Save the Dates

floral letterpress save the dates
save the dates: Sal Studio

The general rule on when to send save the dates is about 6-8 months before your wedding date. This gives your guests enough time to mark the date on their calendar and arrange for travel.

What to Include on Save the Dates vs Wedding Invitations

modern handwriting letterpress save the dates
save the dates: Tatiana Soash

Curious about what to include on save the dates? Save the date cards are not meant to be super formal or full of information, unlike wedding invitations.

Treat your save the dates like a sneak peek of what’s to come. It’s like your own little teaser for the big day!

When crafting your save the dates, you’ll want to include:

  • you and your partner’s names
  • your wedding location
  • your wedding date

And if you’re really ahead in the planning process and have already created your wedding website when you’re sending out save the dates, drop that link on the card, too!

Wedding Invitation Timeline

A Recap of When to Send Wedding Invitations + Save the Dates

textured paper blush pink full wedding invitations suite with save the dates
wedding invitation suite: Papira Design + Letterpress

Let’s do a quick review of our etiquette recommendations and when to send wedding invitations to ensure you have more than enough time to hear back from your guests!

This is our recommended wedding invitation timeline:

6 – 8 months before your wedding: This is when we recommend sending your save the dates to your wedding guests.

5 – 6 months before your wedding: Are you planning on hiring an invitation designer to craft a custom wedding invite suite? When figuring out when to send wedding invitations, you’ll want to factor the design process into that timeline. 5-6 months before your wedding date, secure that designer!

3 months before your wedding: This is when to send wedding invitations if you’re planning a destination ceremony or have guests traveling from abroad. When it comes to wedding invitation etiquette, it’s best practice to give more notice for destination events.

2 months before your wedding: 2 months before the big day is when to send wedding invitations if you’re planning a local ceremony.

3 – 4 weeks before your wedding: This is when the RSVP should be due for the wedding. Plenty of time to follow up with anyone who doesn’t respond before the RSVP deadline!

Examples of Wedding Invitations

neutral earthy letterpress full wedding invitations suite example with save the dates
wedding invitation suite: Papira Design + Letterpress

Ready to see the dreamiest examples of wedding invitations?! Now that we’ve broken down when to send wedding invitations and save the dates, let’s go invitation suite shopping! These are the top four invitation sets we’re in love with.

Bright Retro 1970’s Style Wedding Invitations

retro floral wedding invitations suite in bright orange and pink

When sending wedding invitations, there’s nothing like making a bold, fun, and punchy statement. And this retro 1970’s inspired wedding invitation suite is the absolute cutest!

shop the retro wedding invitation suite

Delicate Floral Watercolor Wedding Invitations

watercolor floral wedding invitations suite including rsvp cards menu and guest information card

Ready to ooze elegance when sending your wedding invitations out? This floral watercolor style wedding invitation suite covers all the bases.

Besides the invitation itself, it also comes with a gorgeous dinner and desert menu, guest information so your guests can plan their accommodations, and the RSVP card. And the design of this wedding invitation suite is so delicately pretty. Perfect for a garden or forest wedding!

shop the watercolor floral wedding invitation suite

Colorful + Warm Watercolor Wedding Invitations

modern watercolor wedding invitations with calligraphy script font

We love the way this wedding invitation card incorporates gorgeous shades of pink and orange in a watercolor design. The blocky brush strokes have a modern feel to them, while also feeling boho, too (and you know we love a good boho moment!).

shop the modern meets traditional watercolor invitation suite

Sunset Vibes Retro Wedding Invitations on Textured Card Stock

sunset tone desert inspired retro wedding invitations with rsvp cards

Printed on theeeee most stunningly textured ecru paper, this suite is sure to turn heads when you send your wedding invitations out. We’re loving the retro sunset vibes this suite is giving off.

Perfect for a desert sunset wedding. We can’t help but dream of warm sunny days and pink sunset skies when looking at these wedding invites!

shop the retro sunset tone wedding invitation suite

Now That You Know the 411 on When to Send Wedding Invitations…

You Ready for More Wedding Invite Inspiration?

wedding invitations in translucent floral envelopes with olive green wax seals
wedding invitations: Papira Design + Letterpress

Need more examples of wedding invitations? We’ve rounded up even more invitation suites in our curated list of gorgeous invites you can buy online. Get ready to be inspired!

Love a minimalist look to your wedding invitation suite? You are going to fall head over heels for our roundup of simple and modern invites.