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Amber
Beginner October 2021

How to Stagger Invites?

Amber, on November 2, 2020 at 3:16 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 21
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Our wedding is in October of next year. I got the preliminary invitations and save the dates today (I designed them myself using an art program and wanted to make sure they'd print correctly) and I love them. We're planning to send out Save-the-Dates by the end of January as it is 3-4 hours for pretty much everyone. Due to various reasons, we wound up going with a smaller venue.

I've been told for anything that requires guests to travel a fair distance, invitations should be sent out as much as 10 months in advance. We have more than our venue can hold (Capacity is 96, our guest list currently has 160 with others that we want to add if at all possible) so we need to stagger invitations which we have basically divided into three groups. Some of those people have told us there's only a small chance they'll able to make it (about 20-30) but wanted to receive Save the Dates and Invitations anyway, so the first group is the biggest group to go out (About 60% of the list).


This is our plan at this time:
January 31st - Send out Save the Dates

March 1st - Send out group 1 of invitations

April 30th - Cutoff For group 1 to have received their invite and RSVP

May 1st - Send out group 2 of invitations

June 31st - Cut off RSVP for group 2 of invitations

And in July if we aren't full, we would send the last round of invitations to group 3.


With the way that the venue is setup we have devised a way to have some extra seating that won't count against capacity, but it won't be a ton (maybe 10-20 people at most).....and we've gone over the list like 30 times and can't figure out anyone else to take off the list.



21 Comments

Latest activity by Karen, on November 3, 2020 at 9:53 AM
  • T
    Super April 2021
    Tiger Bride ·
    • Flag

    There really isn't a good way to do this. A bunch of people on here will tell you that having a B and C list is rude, and it kind of is. If any of these people talk to each other, share a "so excited!" story on social media, etc. or even mention it at the wedding you're going to have people who get offended because they were on the B list.

    But also, logistically speaking, invitations generally have RSVP dates that are a month or so before the wedding. Your first round of invites has a RSVP deadline 5-6 months (!) before the wedding. That's way too early. You'll get people not responding because they don't know (especially if corona is at all a thing), people will RSVP yes and forget about it, etc. Even 3 months ahead of time is too far.

    You need a bigger venue...160 invitees and a 96 person capacity is math that just isn't going to work out for you.

    • Reply
  • M
    Super October 2022
    Michele ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Agree with this. Get a larger venue and do not under any circumstances send A and B lists.
    You can a new venue at Eventective.com
    • Reply
  • Stacey
    Expert May 2021
    Stacey ·
    • Flag

    I think you might be getting Save the Date timing confused with Invitation timing? For destination weddings, 10 months totally makes sense for a Save the Date so that your guests can plan travel/time-off accordingly. But, sending out invitations six months before the wedding is WAY too soon. People aren't going to commit, or they will and then their plans will change, or they will decline and then later tell you they can make it. Once you've invited them, you can't take it back (i.e are you really going to tell Round 1 people, sorry, you missed your chance! That would not be a great experience). RSVPs are generally due 4-6 weeks before the wedding date. Anything longer than that will really set up you for disappointment and frankly a lot of extra hassle when people change their minds later on.

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  • Caytlyn
    Legend November 2019
    Caytlyn ·
    • Flag
    Don’t do this. Cut your guest list to fit your venue or find a venue that fits your entire guest list.
    • Reply
  • Amber
    Beginner October 2021
    Amber ·
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    View Quoted Comment

    That's fair, I didn't see it that way but that does make sense. We unfortunately won't be able to get a larger venue as my parents are paying for it. They're also basically the ones who told me I needed to stagger the invites. We will just have to make a very hard decision and cut more people from the list, I guess.

    • Reply
  • Sarah
    VIP September 2019
    Sarah ·
    • Flag
    There’s no way I could tell you (even when we’re not in a pandemic) whether I can make it to a wedding in October. My husband’s work just doesn’t approve time off that far in advance. I think this plan has a lot of flaws, including the potential for a lot of people being hurt that you’ll consider them a no if they can’t rsvp 6 months in advance.
    • Reply
  • Amber
    Beginner October 2021
    Amber ·
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    View Quoted Comment

    I guess I did, but y'all are right I definitely don't want to be that kind of person to my guests. I'm glad I asked here first instead of just going with it. We will just have to look over the list again and make some calls and get it as close to 96 as possible.

    • Reply
  • M
    Super October 2022
    Michele ·
    • Flag
    You can send save the dates now since October is a popular month. But invites dont go out untl 6-8 weeks before the wedding with a reply due by 3-4 weeks before.
    • Reply
  • Amber
    Beginner October 2021
    Amber ·
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    Okay! I'll get them ordered and send them out as soon as they arrive (I only got the sample one today).

    • Reply
  • mrswinteriscoming
    Rockstar December 2021
    mrswinteriscoming ·
    • Flag

    I agree with Tiger Bride, there is not going to be any way to do this without offending someone. Personally, if I knew someone who received an invitation for a wedding in March, and then only in June/July, I received an invite to that same wedding, I would take offence being the ‘B/C list’ invitee. I never plan any event for 100% attendance because it is completely unrealistic that every single person will attend. With our (local) wedding, we have estimated a ‘no’ rate of about 15-20% of people, but for a wedding which will require people to travel, I’d safely say at least 20%+ of people will not attend. In saying this, if a bigger venue isn’t an option, look to reducing your guest list – that’s the safest way to approach this without accidentally offending anyone/going over the number restrictions.

    • Reply
  • Amber
    Beginner October 2021
    Amber ·
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    What would be a good number for a "max" considering those numbers? Like around 125?

    • Reply
  • Amber
    Beginner October 2021
    Amber ·
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    View Quoted Comment

    What if we ask guests not to bring children? Or offer a virtual event for those we know would not be able to make it? Are those "acceptable"?

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  • mrswinteriscoming
    Rockstar December 2021
    mrswinteriscoming ·
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    View Quoted Comment

    The ‘no’ rate depends on a lot of things. For us, we straight away deducted 10% because some guests who come from FH’s home town would need to travel a fair distance to attend our wedding, so we know the likelihood of them attending is slim. We ultimately are anticipating 15-20% of RSVPs to decline because; our wedding is on a Sunday, it is December 12 so some people will be planning for their end of year holidays and may already be away/close to leaving, some guests are elderly and may not be in the condition to attend but we’ve invited as a courtesy etc.

    These days most people agree that not inviting children is totally a ok. Regarding virtual invites, IMHO, I think those should be limited solely to those who cannot attend (i.e. immunocompromised, can’t travel etc).

    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Rockstar April 2021
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    I feel your pain girl! I’m glad it’s been brought out that staggering invites is rude. What would you have done if by some chance they all said they would attend?
    I have a large family & if my FH & I invited all of them our numbers would have been around 250. We cut & cut & cut some more to bring the numbers down to around 90. Hard choices aren’t easy.
    • Reply
  • V
    Master July 2019
    Veronica ·
    • Flag

    There isn't a nice or really acceptable way to do this. You need to cut your guest list to the max number of people the venue can accommodate. As you should plan on everyone being able to attend. The best way to cut down on invites is to have an adults only wedding and limit plus ones which are for people that are single.

    • Reply
  • A
    Expert September 2020
    Alli ·
    • Flag
    I think it’s unreasonable to have your A list people RSVP in April during a pandemic?! We aren’t RSVPing for a wedding 6 months ahead... and I would never expect my guests to either. People are not RSVPing until literally the wedding month maybe a month before. Pandemic isn’t going anywhere soon...
    Definitely need to revamp your process.
    • Reply
  • Hanna
    VIP June 2019
    Hanna ·
    • Flag

    Even if this system weren't rude, I don't see how it could actually work. Nobody knows what the future is going to look like with Covid, and even in non-Covid times, you can't ask people (in this case your A-list) to RSVP 6 months before your wedding. My advice would be to either find a new venue that can accommodate all of your guests, or cut your guest list accordingly.

    • Reply
  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith Online ·
    • Flag
    To send Save the Dates to all at 10 months is only necessary for traveling continents, or thousands of dollars, or a destination that is a 3-8 day period. But Saves have disadvantages: once you send them, you must invite them, no changing your mind. Given changes with Covid, no one is taking any dates seriously now. If your people are traveling a long drive or short flight, for a day or two on the weekend, 5 months or less is fine for a Save the Date.
    And you are less likely to have to cancel and resend if things change. As to inviting in waves or having an A list, B list of invitations, the others are right. It sends a message about some guests being important and some not. And as you have figured, is a bad idea. Sent 1 round of invitations timed to arrive about 8 weeks, and set a RSVP date less than 25 days out. Many workplaces and schools do not do time off schedules until 4 weeks or a month out. Do not sign any contract that requires final numbers sooner than 21 days, and people will have a chance to know their schedules before they RSVP.
    • Reply
  • Amber
    Beginner October 2021
    Amber ·
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    View Quoted Comment
    Ah gotcha. That does make sense and that's very fair. We are working on trying to work out another plan and hopefully if we do have to change venues we can negotiate something with my parents like maybe us paying the difference of what we would've been paying.
    • Reply
  • Meghan
    Rockstar October 2019
    Meghan Online ·
    • Flag

    Sorry, but this sounds like a terrible idea. First, you can't send a save the date to someone and then not follow up with an invitation (what I read sounds like everyone gets a save the date...?). Second, sending invitations in groups is considered rude and will ultimately hurt your 2nd and 3rd class guests feelings. If your venue is not big enough to hold everyone you would like to invite, you need to either switch to a larger venue or cut the guest list. If your venue can only hold 96(ish) people, then you should only invite 96 people!

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