It’s that time of year when everyone is now preparing for their summer wedding. I’m getting a few questions regarding timelines, so I thought it was easier to create this post – bear in mind, a more detailed break down of invitations is in my book which can be found in my shop. Full summary at the end of article.
Photo credit: The Little Wedding Studio
Save The Dates:
I love Save the Dates, not because they are shiny and cute but because they get you moving with some core elements of your planning earlier on. Your save the dates will push you to collect addresses which you may need if you are sending everything by post later on for actual wedding invitations. There’s a big difference to getting this all sorted maybe a year to 9 months in advance versus 2 months before your big day. Secondly, the great thing about the save the dates is that those who immediately know that they can’t attend will let you know so you can start refining your list. Also, save the dates are fantastic if you have guests coming from abroad as they need plenty of notice. Thirdly, once you clear out some who are definitely not able to make it, you may have people who you wanted to invite but didn’t have enough room, you can then start to invite them instead. If you leave that to the full invite stage then it’s fairly obvious that they were on the last minute B-List.
A tip I strongly advise, when you are writing your guest list, within your spreadsheet, start grouping cohorts of guests in to groups of 10-12. This will come in handy later when you go to make your table plan. Rather than starting from scratch grouping everyone a few weeks out from the big day, earlier preparation of light grouping at this point will clear the heavy lifting.
It is customary to send out your invitations 2 months before the wedding with an RSVP date of 2-3 weeks before the actual date. I think this should be earlier and you’ll see why.
My advice would be to send it out two and half months before and with an RSVP date of 5 weeks before the wedding. A few reasons for this is that most of you will do your final details meeting 1 month before the big day with your venue. You don’t have to give ‘final final’ numbers until maybe 48 hours in some venues but the main body of finalising gets done at that month before meeting and sop many couples have those meetings with half baked final details.
Also, I spent a long time following up with invitees to respond. We also had to get our dining order in as we were doing a caterer so the order had to be precise, particularly for any dietary requirements so that there were no issues on the day. You can image the craic with that! Another consideration is time of post if you are sending via post. Plus! Many of wedding invitations didn’t land where they were meant to so I had to resend! Painful.
Many guests assume you know they are going and don’t send the formal RSVP back. Others just purely forget. This is by far the most time consuming and frustrating part for many as it means you have to pick up the phone and text/call to see where they are at.
If you have all of these details just before your month before meeting, it will mean that your one month meeting with your coordinator will be a lot tighter as you can talk specifically about table plans, numbers and any special requirements. Not having this ready at your venue meeting means that you have loose ends and then have to spend even more time phoning and emailing your coordinator after that meeting. The more details you have, the less back and forth you’ll need.
So, if you are looking for 2.5 month timeline to get invitations out, that means that you will need the physical invitations with you 1-2 weeks in advance so that you can write them, pack them and send them. If you are doing digital, you just need an evening or two to fill in the template and load in all of the email addresses. For my own, I had two of my lovely friends come to my house for the evening and help me write them. They had lovely handwriting so were the perfect candidates.
If you are getting a professional calligraphist to write your invitations and it’s not a person that is designing your invitations, then you need to check their timelines and again work back from that. At present, some calligraphists are giving quotes of 3 – 4 weeks as it’s so busy. If your invitations are a bespoke design, your timeline for production will be a few weeks to months as well. Your stationery or calligraphy person will want to know the date that you need them, many will aim to get you well in advance of the 2.5 months period but you should be giving yourself 3 months minimum to get invitations in hand. You won’t need to worry about 3 months if your stationery provider is writing and posting everything for you. You just need to tell them to press go 2.5 months out.
If YOU are going abroad:
Save the dates as soon as you can but do an extended version with location, and closest airport. This way people can crack on with booking flights. Some say 3 months is enough for abroad wedding invites but I would say 4-6 months in advance and not because you have to manage the numbers in great details but for guests to be able to book their flights (if they haven’t already) accommodation, car rental and budget well in advance. Any time i’ve gone to an abroad wedding, as soon as i get wind that I’m invited I start booking flights and start coordinating child care. Remember, the longer you leave flights, the more expensive they get. Also, if you are in a sun destination, guest accommodation can be scarce or expensive so you want to get as many people booking themselves comfortably as quickly as possible, particularly in key summer season.
Other than that, that’s it!
Save The Dates: Anytime
Invitations Out: 2.5 Months / 4-6 if going abroad
RSVP Deadline: 5 weeks in advance (One month + 1 week)
Confirm Numbers with Venue: 1 month before
Final Final Numbers: 2 weeks to 48 hours
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