Wedding Stationery Timelines

While sending paper invitations may not seem green at first, it can be very green when choosing the right kind of paper. If you select invitations that use 100% post-consumer recycled paper, then no trees are harmed. One of the biggest questions engaged couples will have is when to send save the date announcements and wedding invitations.

Save the Dates (10–12 months)

There isn’t anything that makes your wedding more official than sending out save the dates (okay, maybe the actual proposal and rings do as well). These should be sent out as soon as your location and date have been confirmed to give your friends and family as much advance notice as possible. Save the dates don’t necessarily need to set the tone of the wedding. In other words, you can use a playful image with fun copy even if you decide to have a more formal wedding. That said, some brides like to incorporate an entire theme seamlessly, from the save the date cards to the thank-you notes. Whatever direction you take, consider the paper and design quality – these will make a lasting impression on the wedding.

Key information you want to include:

  • “Save the Date”
  • Couple's names
  • Date
  • Location
  • Wedding site URL (if you have one at this time) or “more information to come”

Wedding Invitations (3–5 months)

Once you have all your wedding details, it’s a good idea to get started on your invitations. Typically, these are sent out 6-8 weeks ahead of time if you are planning a local wedding. If you are having a destination wedding, send them out 3+ months in advance. The wedding invitations should include all the pertinent information regarding the wedding details. Decide on the tone of your wording prior to sending your wedding invites so you can personalize them with the same sentiment. If you are having a more formal wedding, you may address names with titles, whereas a more casual tone may just include names without titles (Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Smith request your presence vs. Herbert and Anna Smith request your presence). In a formal invitation, you would spell out the date, whereas with a casual invitation, you could use just numbers (e.g., Saturday, the twenty-eighth of April vs. 4.28).

Here are the most common components:

  • Wedding InvitationInclude the host (if one), bride’s name, groom’s name, wedding date, location, and time.
  • Wedding RSVP Card: Include space for invitees to write their names, whether they will or won’t attend, and dinner choices if they need to preselect food items.
  • Reception Card:  If the ceremony is at a different location from the celebration, we recommend including a reception card. Include the location, time, and what to expect.
  • Accommodations Card: This is often included for out-of-town guests with recommendations and pricing on local hotels and B&Bs.
  • Directions Card: This will include directions to the ceremony and wedding location if it is in a different place. Maps have become less common to include, as people often navigate with their GPS location, but it’s still helpful to include general directions.

Questions to ask your vendor about invitations:

  • What is the turnaround time from ordering to receiving your cards?
  • Is there designer assistance available before purchasing the cards?
  • Are you able to speak with a designer directly?
  • Are you able to make customizations on the cards (changing color, fonts, or layouts)?
  • Is the paper made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper?
  • What is the weight of the paper stock?
  • Does the vendor have any etiquette advice?

Wedding Thank You Notes (2–3 months)

Between the showers and wedding gifts, you’ll definitely need to stock up on wedding thank you notes. While many things can be done via social media and texts, thank you notes are not one of them. These can be ordered with the same theme as your invitations, but you can also select a different design. The most important thing to remember is to send thank you notes typically within 2 weeks of receiving a gift. If you are taking an extended honeymoon, take them with you or wait until you return—your gift givers will understand. 

Ceremony and Reception Items (4 weeks)

Once you have your final guest list and seating arrangements figured out, you will want to order "day of" stationery with enough time before the big day. Day of stationery, or ceremony and reception cards, include wedding programs, ceremony, menus, table cards, and place cards. Unlike invitations which can be addressed to multiple people, most of these items are given to every guest attending the ceremony. 

Here are the most common components:

Wedding Programs: Give one out to each guest before the ceremony begins. Include the sequences of events at the ceremony, the officiant, and names of people in the wedding party (Maid of Honor, Best Man, Ring Bearer, etc). 
Table Cards: These are large cards that are designated for each table at the reception and are generally numbered or named so that guests can find their assigned seat.
Name Cards/Place Cards: Smaller cards with the guests’ name and table number on it. If your guests have already indicated what meal they selected on the RSVP card, you can note their meal selection on their name card to make it easier for the servers. 
Wedding Menus: When hosting a plated dinner reception, menus should be provided to each guest with all the food item options.