Your wedding stationery is one of the most important components of the entire wedding planning process. Along with providing information about the date and location of your event, the wedding invites set the tone for your big day—but there's more to this step than simply picking out a wedding invitation suite and heading to the post office. Most importantly, there's a general wedding invitation timeline you'll want to follow when mailing your save-the-date cards, wedding invitations, and thank-you notes to ensure that everything is distributed in a timely manner and order. We've outlined the process below, along with some basic wedding invitation etiquette rules to help you navigate this major step of your to-do list. (And if you're ready to shop for your wedding stationery, check out WeddingWire Invitations where you can buy personalized save-the-dates, invites, thank-you cards, and more all online.)
One Year to Six Months Out
When it comes to your wedding invitation timeline, save-the-dates are the first order of business. The sooner you can mail them, the better—your save-the-dates should be mailed out at least six months before your wedding, but you can send them eight months to a year in advance as long as you have your date, guest list, and wedding location finalized. If you’re having a destination wedding, sending your save-the-dates ASAP will give your wedding guests more time to block off their calendars, start budgeting for the trip, and make additional plans if they're going to spend time traveling before/after the wedding.
Six Months Out
Choose and order wedding invitations.
The second (and arguably most important) step of your wedding invitation timeline is choosing the actual invitations, which will set the tone for the whole wedding by giving guests a glimpse of your theme and color palette. Start researching wedding stationers and browsing invitation styles at least six months before your wedding. Leave plenty of time for yourself to choose a design and place your order, especially if you're creating a custom design—you'll want to avoid rush fees and allow time to look over invitation samples and proofs. In addition to the invitation itself, your stationery suite should include:
- A response card with pre-posted envelope
- Details about your wedding website
- Where to find travel or hotel room block information
Love the look of calligraphy? This is also the time to contact wedding calligraphers to help you with addressing envelopes if your wedding invitation designer doesn't offer that service. Since most wedding calligraphers work solo, their schedules can book up quickly, so we recommend reaching out to potential vendors sooner rather than later.
Six to Eight Weeks Out
Send wedding invitations.
Wondering when to send out wedding invitations? They should be mailed to your guests between six and eight weeks before the wedding. For destination wedding invitations, we recommend sending them even farther in advance (up to three months before the wedding date) to give your guests plenty of time to make the necessary travel arrangements if they haven't already.
Send welcome party and rehearsal dinner invitations.
If you're hosting a welcome party for your guests the night before the wedding, that information should be included with the invitation suite or posted on your wedding website after they're mailed out. You can also add RSVP information, such as who to contact (we recommend listing the phone number and/or email address for a trusted relative or wedding party member), the location, and dress code if applicable.
When you mail your wedding invitations, you should also share final details about your rehearsal dinner for anyone invited. This will typically include everyone in your wedding party, their plus-ones, your parents, and other close family members or close friends.
Finalize miscellaneous stationery.
After you’ve mailed your wedding invitations, it’s time to discuss and finalize the miscellaneous wedding stationery you’ll need for the wedding day. You might have already figured out some of the details, especially if you're working with a wedding planner or wedding stationer, or if paper elements are part of your decor (for example, an escort card display wall). Other than the wedding invitations, your wedding stationery checklist will typically include any of the following:
- Welcome bag/hotel room inserts
- Ceremony programs
- Escort cards or a seating chart
- Place cards
- Menu cards
- Table numbers
- Welcome signage
- Bar signage
- Other decorative signage
Three Weeks Out
Set your RSVP deadline.
When you send out the RSVP cards with your invitation suite, be sure to provide a specific “reply by” date for your guests. The RSVP date should be two or three weeks before your wedding day. This will leave enough time for you to give your wedding vendors a final headcount (most importantly, your wedding venue and caterer), follow up with guests who didn’t respond, and create your wedding reception seating chart once you know who will be attending.
Six Weeks Post-Wedding
Send thank-you notes.
If you received registry gifts or cards at the wedding, aim to send the thank-you notes within six weeks following the big day (no, you shouldn’t wait a full year). This timeframe is longer compared to thank-you notes for gifts that arrive before the wedding—those thank-you notes should be mailed within two weeks of receiving the items. Writing your thank-you notes on a rolling basis as you receive gifts will make them seem less daunting, and you can use our wedding thank-you note templates to help save some time as well.