Post-It Notes – 4th November 2011: Invitation Etiquette

Credit: Valerie & Craig’s wedding invitation – how cute? (full wedding on the blog soon!)

This week’s Post It Notes topics have turned into quite long answers so I’ve decided to split the post into two. Pop back at 12pm today for this week’s Business Note on how to get more blog comments.

Knowing how to word your wedding invitations can be tricky. Should it be from you or your parents? What if your parents are divorced? If they’re paying for the wedding does it make a difference?

Luckily these days wedding invitations can be a little less formal than times gone by, especially if you’re having an informal wedding – after all they do say that the invitations set the tone for the day.

Here are a few of my top tips for getting those invitations right…

♥ ‘Proper’ etiquette states that the invite should be sent by the parents of the bride (if they’re paying for the wedding). However these days it’s getting more and more common for the invite to read “bride name & groom name, along with their parents, would like to invite you to attend etc etc…”

“I never have set wording for my brides and grooms”, stationery guru Lucy Ledger advises. “I tell them that it is a great opportunity to let their personalities shine through. Having a carnival themed wedding? Why not start with ‘roll up roll up’! A theatrical theme? Why not have your parents names as ‘Jones and Smith company presents…’ You certainly don’t have to stick to the traditional approach and It will create a great buzz of excitement for your big day.”

♥ If you’re sending Save the Dates out I’d recommend posting them as soon as you’ve decided on your wedding date. Final invitations should be sent out around 3 months before the wedding day.

♥ Have a separate invitation (usually just a simpler version of the main invite) for any guests that you are just inviting to the evening reception. Be sure to make it clear that they are just invited to this part of the day – you don’t want extra gusts showing up for the sit down meal!

♥ Including some extra info with your invitation will make it easier for your guests and save you having to answer the same questions over and over. You can either simply include a word document print out or your stationery designer can work it into your invitation. Things to think about including are a map or directions to the venue, local accommodation recommendations, asking guests about any dietary requirements, gift list info and dress code.

♥ Order a few more invitations than you need in case some people can’t come. “I always advise my brides to order 5 or so extra day invites with a later RSVP date, then if some of your day guests can’t make it you can bump up some evening guests without it looking like an after-thought,”Lucy Ledger advises.

♥ Get creative with your RSVPs. For example the couple behind this wedding that I featured this week, included a postcard of London for the guests to post back. They then displayed them at their reception! If you have a postal RSVP its nice to include prepaid postage and give guests a deadline to get them back. You can save money by setting up a wedsite ( for example) or even a facebook group and asking guests to RSVP online.

♥ Excel is your friend when it comes to keeping on top of your RSVPs. Set up a simple spread sheet with the guest name (and +1 name if you’re allowing them), if they’re attending or not, any dietary requirements and their postal address. Having everyone’s addresses in one place was a lifesaver for us when it came to sending out thank you cards afterwards.

Thanks to Lucy Ledger for helping me with this article. love you Luce!


  1. We’ve decided to break from tradition on the invitation front and do it all electronically. This is mainly a financial decision, but as my other half is a website developer and we met via twitter it just feels like the right thing for us (but I know some people will not be happy with that!).

    We recently sent out save the date ‘cards’ out as an email with a link to our wedding website. Obviously having a boyfriend who can develop this really helps, but you can get free websites via and free email campaign software such as Mailchimp or icontact which also help you keep track of who has opened the emails, whether they have clicked the links etc.

    We will use the website to collate RSVPs and dietary requirements, but also to contain all the usual useful information for guests like accommodation, transport, timings for the day. And evening guests will be directed to a separate landing page.

    With a guest list of 125 there were only 3 people that did not have email addresses (like grandparents) so for them we have just printed off a simple version of the save the date, and will post a basic invitation too.

    I am also using Excel as a backup for everything just in case!!

    I have linked above to our save the date website in case anyone is interested in having a look.

  2. Cat

    We also had a completely electronic invitation. It worked brilliantly as my husband owns a web development company so we sat and designed the whole thing together.

    Everything was on there and each guest was posted a funky postcard which was blank except for a logo with our first names in, the website and a unique passcode. There were no instructions on the invite at all but every single person, including several 70-year olds worked it out!!

    Everyone RSVP’d and we even added a comment board which was fun to read 🙂

    After the wedding, everyone uploaded their photos to the site!

    We even had a link to our justgiving site as we didn’t want gifts.

    Loved it and it really got everyone talking.

    It fitted in with our at-home, informal, fun wedding day which had no formalities and gave our guests a taste of what to expect!

  3. Natalie

    Aaaahhhh than you so much for this, we’re just about to start compiling our invites and wasn’t sure what to do in terms of more modern wording when parents are contributing for some and we’re paying for the rest. Having our parents as the hosts would make us all feel like we’re in Jane Austen era!

    About the gift list – Lucy, you say this could be included in the invites – so is this really common for couples to do this? I personally agree and think it is ok. But I have been pondering over this for weeks because most wedding forums say it’s a big no-no in terms of etiquette. It’s not like we’re demanding gifts, in fact we would rather they didn’t, but I know a lot of some of our family will want to. These people realise we’ve lived together for a few years, and so wouldn’t have any idea what we would need. So we created a list on honeyfund where guests can buy you bits of your honeymoon. Do you think it will be ok to put a link and instructions for this in the invites (on a separate sheet perhaps?). Also, do you think it should be included with the evening invitations, or just the day invitations?

  4. Post author

    I think its ok Natalie and people expect it. its certainly not as big a taboo to ak people to contribute to a honeymoon buy purchasing bits of it rather than just asking for money. You can do it on both invites i reckon. ive been invited to just evening bits and got all the extra info sheet too.

    just maybe wording it something like ‘if you would like to get us a gift, we have set up a gift list at xyz’ or in your case ‘we’ve lived together for years so dont need any gifts, however we are planning the honeymoon of our lives to xyz, if you’d like to contribute you can find our honeyfund here’

    Ive seen some where they say ‘your presence is better than any present we could want, however…’ although i think that’s a little cheesy!

  5. Natalie

    Thanks Kat, yes, I’ve seen that last sentence too and thought cheesy! I’ve only been to 3 weddings as an adult and seen different things, one didn’t have a gift list at all and insisted on no gifts, one just put a simple sentence saying that they don’t expect a gift but a contribution towards their honeymoon would be much appreciated, and another had a full gift list from a department store included. And I thought all 3 were fine.

    Thanks again for some really good wedding note posts x

  6. This advise is going to my save folder for future reference point as this is great advise and fab pointers for B & G. At each step of wedding planning things can get complicated – this makes it all a bit more straightforward go with what your hear says and what marries up with your personality.

  7. Kat – really great advice and thankyou so much for featuring my wedding invite design today…it’s so great to see it on your wonderful blog!! Val and Craig’s wedding invite went down a storm with the guests and the fun design really speaks volumes about their personality and got people excited about the wedding day. We had great time shooting the ‘photobooth’ style photos too – we even had their dogs in the shot at one point 🙂

  8. Rachel

    Totally agree with the other commenters about setting up a free website – it worked really well for us. We used moonfruit (which wasn’t that easy to use) but there’s lots of others out there if you google it. We then just included in both the day and evening invitations a line saying “For additional information and giftlist, please visit:” and the web link. That way, people knew where the giftlist was if they wanted it, but it felt less obvious that putting one of the department store cards in. On the website, we (nicely, I hope) asked for money towards a new carpet, but also provided a link to a giftlist for the more traditional.

    The little department store cards always remind me of a scene in 4 weddings and a funeral when Hugh Grant opens an invitation, the store card falls out and he says “and a list, lovely”!

  9. Sarah

    Yaay! I literally screamed in excitement on seeing this post! Val is one of my oldest friends and I had no idea her wedding is going to be featured.

    It was an amazing day…filled with so much love and brilliant details from start to finish and wait till you see the entertainment! Seriously cool…I only hope my big day next year can live up to it.

    Very proud to call these guys my friends 🙂

    Sarah x


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