A Guide to Important Wedding Deadlines

Posted by csancho on Aug 17, 2012

When you start your wedding planning, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with deadlines. How long do you have to write a thank you note if someone sends you a gift way early? Is a year too early for save-the-dates? A registry? Here’s a quick run-down on some of the more important wedding deadlines:

Wedding Website – (8-12 months out)
A wedding website is a great way to organize the details of your wedding in a way that your guests can access and enjoy. This is where you’ll put details about hotel blocks, directions, registries, and even your proposal story, so feel free to make one as soon as any of those details are finalized. You can always add information as you go and spend the extra time tweaking style and aesthetic details.

I’ll warn against sharing your wedding website info with everyone, however (including Facebook). You don’t want any surprise guests on the day of!

Save the Dates – (6-8 months out)
Save the Dates are specifically to let your guests know to make travel plans way ahead of time. If you’re having an entirely local wedding, don’t even worry about it. If not, it’s important to balance when you send them out. Your guests need to book hotels, find a way to get time off of work, and maybe even book an extended stay babysitter. Six months is usually plenty of time for this, but if you’re planning a summer wedding (high traffic vacation time) or a Christmas/Thanksgiving date, send them out as early as eight to nine months ahead of time. Just don’t send them out so early that everyone forgets about them.
It’s also important to note that you should have your guest list finalized before you send them out. A save-the-date is as good as an invitation, and guests will be confused and potentially offended if they don’t “make the final cut” and receive an invite. Everyone who gets an STD gets a wedding invitation.

Registry – (6 months out)
You can bump that registry deadline up if your circle is into engagement parties, but there really isn’t any reason to put together a registry until there’s a gift giving occasion (bridal showers, etc.). You don’t want your favorite items being discontinued way before your wedding date, especially if they’re part of a set and you end up with the yellow finch teacups but not the pot.
If you do end up setting up your registry early, avoid registering for sets of things and just throw some items on it that can be purchased singularly (stand mixer, spice rack). You can always go back and add/remove items at your convenience.

Invitations – (8-10 weeks out)
It’s important not to send your invitations out too soon, as you don’t want them falling behind the fridge and being forgotten about. If you didn’t do save-the-dates, however, it’s equally important that your guests get their plan together well ahead of time. That butter zone is in the 8-10 week zone, leaning toward 8. If you simply can’t help yourself and the invitations are burning a hole on your kitchen counter, send them off at 10. Any more notice than that and your guests are going to forget about their RSVP date.
Your RSVP cards, by the way, should carry a date of about two weeks or so before the wedding. Ask your venue and caterer when they need the final headcount by, and give your guests a few days of a buffer zone, that way you have plenty of time to make a few calls to guests who missed the deadline.

Thank You Notes – (within 2 months… 2-3 weeks if it comes before)
Get your thank you notes done as soon as you can. Any time between a month and two months after you return from your honeymoon is fine, but you can only help yourself by doing them as soon as you can. If you wait much longer, a note will just draw attention to the fact that it took this long to send a note.
If you receive a gift before your wedding, you generally have a few weeks to send one out, but don’t wait too long. Your guests like to know that everything arrived in one piece. As always with thank you notes – be specific, be gracious, and be timely!