Paper or digital? ‘Save the Dates’ or just straight-up invites? Location maps, reply-paid RSVPs, long weekend itineraries? If you thought what to include in your wedding invitation was a simple ‘be here on X date at X time’ affair, sorry to burst your bubble.
There are some standard things that an invitation needs to communicate, but there are also some additional things that are very useful to both share with your guests (like accommodation and gifting options) and to collect (like dietary requirements) to help with catering.
We’re going to cover the following
- The different forms your invitation might take
- The essentials: what info to include on your wedding invitations
- The timing of your invitations: when to send them out
- What’s an appropriate timeframe for RSVPs?
- How to ask for a wedding gift
Let’s get into it.
The medium: paper vs. digital invitations?
Before we dive into what details to include in your wedding registry, let’s think about the medium. You’ve got two main options: paper or digital.
If you’re creating physical paper invites, you might as well make them something that deserves pride of place on your guest’s fridges. Thankfully, there are a load of amazing stationery co’s out there that offer pre-designed invitation suites, or will create something custom for you. For your guests, there’s nothing quite like the experience of opening up an envelope that doesn’t contain a bill and it’s a sure-fire way to get some anticipation rolling for your wedding among your guests and make them feel special.
The catch with paper invitations is that printed stationery costs more, plus you have postage to consider as well. So make sure you’ve factored this into your budget.
The other option is to take things online and use a tool like Paperless Post to deliver your invitations digitally. The upside here is that it’s more affordable and your RSVPs can be managed at the click of a button, however it might not suit any friends or family that aren’t tech-savvy. At the risk of being ageist, if you think your grandparents may struggle, then it’s worth creating some printed versions just for them.
What to include in your wedding invitations
We can break this down into two categories: the essentials and the optional extras.
Here, we’re talking anything that’s vital for your guests to be able to make it to your wedding (the logistics), as well as some info to make your life easier:
- Who (the couple)
- The occasion (your wedding)
- The date
- The time
- The location
- The RSVP details (more on this later)
- Info on gifts (more on this later)
The Optional Extras
You may want to provide additional information on your invitations, depending on the type of event you’re hosting and where the wedding will be (i.e. whether it’s local or at a destination that requires travel for most guests):
- Dress code. It’s in no way mandatory – everyone knows that trackies are off-limits for a wedding, but if you’re doing something a bit special like black tie or a particular theme, then your invite is the place to communicate this. We debunk all the most popular wedding dress codes here.
- Music requests. You could ask for a song request in your RSVP – not necessarily for the band but for your own playlist if you’re having a pre or post wedding get-together.
- Transport info. If you’re organising a bus for guests, you’ll need to share details on pick-up times and locations. Or if there are any special provisions around parking, it’s worth noting these too.
- Accommodation details. If you’re making a weekend or multiple-day event out of your wedding, it’s worth sharing details on local accommodation (or simply directing people to Airbnb if that’s more appropriate).
- Itinerary. If you’re making a long weekend out of your wedding and plan on getting guests involved in some events (e.g. wine tour, golf tournament), share an itinerary and also suggested accommodation with your invites.
- Kids. Are they welcome or not? This is entirely up to you and you’ll want to make it crystal-clear whether children are welcome or if it’s an adults-only affair on your invitations. Here’s some advice on communicating you wish to have a kid-free wedding.
It’s fair to say that it’s a stretch to fit all of this onto your wedding invites if you’re looking to keep your paper costs to a minimum. It’s why you might consider a wedding website – a custom URL that you can populate with all ‘optional extras’ info above, and simply include the link on your printed invitations.
The timing: when to send your invites out
This depends on how long your engagement is going to be. If you’re planning a longer engagement (12 months or more) and/or a destination wedding, it’s also not a bad idea to send out a ‘Save the Date’ to allow people enough time to factor your wedding into their life plans and book accommodation.
We’d suggest sending out your wedding invitations for guests to receive them around three months before the actual day. If you’re planning a destination wedding and you’re not planning on sending Save the Dates to your guests earlier, send out your wedding invitations six months ahead of time to allow your guests ample opportunity to make travel arrangements, arrange childcare and request time off work if needed.
What’s an appropriate RSVP date?
If you’re doing a sit-down meal and organising a seating plan, we’d ask for RSVPs at least six weeks in advance so you’re not having to rush this. There’s several reasons for this:
- There’ll always be feet-draggers on the RSVP front (bless, we see you, our fellow unorganised humans) so set the date earlier than you need it to be on the safe side.
- If you were thinking of organising wedding favours of any sort, you’ll want ample time so you can make/order these gifts.
- Your caterer will need to know final numbers ideally a fortnight before the wedding too, for food-ordering purposes.
- If you’re hiring seating, cutlery and plate-ware for your wedding, you or your hire co/wedding stylist/planner will need to make sure they reserve the right amount of goods required.
- If you’re BYO’ing alcohol, the earlier you can firm up your RSVPs, the sooner you can get a handle on how much alcohol you’ll need (and start purchasing).
Decide how you want your RSVPs communicated – and by when. A basic option is to pop a mobile number on the invite and request a text by [X] date. A nicer option is to include a pre-stamped postcard where your guest can physically tick a ‘hell yes, count me in’ and pop it in the post box for you. And if you’re doing a digital ‘Save the Date’/Invitation, there’ll be a nifty RSVP tracker that you can use that makes this process a breeze.
A note here, your caterer will want to know any dietary requirements, so it’s great to request that guests share this info with you when they RSVP.
Gift giving at weddings is a tradition that began long, long ago (we’re talking about a time when brides themselves were ‘gifted’ in exchange for animals and land) and has evolved significantly over time. Praise be!
In today’s modern world where couples are usually already living together and with everything they need, receiving gifts has essentially become an added bonus. And let’s not play fiddlesticks, it’s sometimes a way to recoup some of the costs of hosting a wedding. It’s why cash-gifting, and online or digital wedding gift registries that facilitate cash-gifting, is the new norm.
The only catch? For some people asking for cash as a wedding gift still feels awkward, despite this being the most common gift requested and received by modern couples.
For couples that still want to receive money (or couples that don’t want cash, but know their guests will want to give *something*), we’d recommend checking out Gravy. It’s a digital wedding registry that allows you to receive gifts of money in a beautiful way, but also of time, good deeds and human skill.
What does this mean? You can ask for things that won’t necessarily cost your wedding guests a cent, like help painting the house, to donate blood on your behalf, to join the organ register, to dog-sit for you next time you’re away. Anything you can think of, you can ask for it – it’s a brilliant way of leaning on your community to kickstart your married life.
What’s more, you can still receive financial contributions but you can communicate what you’ll use those cash-gifts for (e.g. honeymoon fund, crypto, surf lessons, IVF, continued study, new rug, etc), which make the experience much more personal and fun for everyone involved.
Simply add your unique Gravy URL to your wedding invitation or wedding website so your guests know where to find your wedding registry and watch pledges of help and good deeds roll in. You can check out a sample Gravy registry here.
Set up an online wedding gift registry over at Gravy: it’s the most unique, heart-felt registry in the world.
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