Invitation Etiquette :: Part 3: The "Official" Wedding Invitation

If you missed the first two parts of our Invitation Etiquette Series, take a look at Part 1: The Invitation Suite, and Part 2: Save the Dates!

C/O Invitation Crush

Your wedding invitation...that beautiful little package of joy!  It includes so many important pieces of information, and yes, each one does serve a specific purpose.  Do I have to put the meal selection on the rsvp card?  Do I really need a reception card?  What if my wedding is uber casual?  It can really be quite confusing, but don't fret!  Besides the actual invitation and the envelope itself, a reception card, information card, activities card, RSVP card, and RSVP envelope should all be included.  Although it sounds like a lot, not all pieces may be necessary or they simply may not be important for you to include depending on the formality of your wedding. The best part?  Make it creative and add personality!

The "Official" Wedding Invitation

What to include:

  • Names of the hosts (typically the bride & groom, or bride or groom's parents)

  • Couples' full names

  • Ceremony date, day of week, and time

  • Ceremony location

  • If you are not including children, you can politely state a version of: "Adults only please" or "We welcome you to enjoy an adults only ceremony and reception."

When to send:

  • Start to address your invitations at least 12 weeks prior to your wedding date {the earlier the better!}. Although you should be collecting formal names and addresses as early as possible (keeping an excel document will save you time, I promise!), there will always be a few guests that will require an extra phone call or email for their address.

  • Generally, send out your invitations 5-8 weeks prior to your wedding. For destination weddings, send these 12 weeks prior.


  • Appropriately spell out each piece of information out, such as street names. However, if you choose to use abbreviations, be consistent on all parts of the invitation.

  • If the ceremony and reception are located at the same venue, there is no need to include a reception card. You can simply state, "Reception to follow." If the ceremony and reception are not located at the same venue, you will need to include a reception card {see below}.

  • A List and B List...Don't do it! You are either inviting your guests because you want them there, or not inviting them because you don't. There is no in-between, no matter how you try to convince yourself. You aren't just 50% of a friend, are you? Also, having a huge gap in invitation time is just tacky {give your guests a little more credit, they will catch on if they get an invite only a few weeks out}. Save yourself the hassle and headache.

  • Keep in mind, depending on wedding location, time of year, and number of out of town guests, you can count on anywhere from 10-15% of your guests who will not be able to attend.

C/O Hoot Design Co.

Reception Card

If your ceremony and reception are located at the same venue, there is no need to include a separate reception card.  However, if the ceremony and reception are not located at the same venue, then your reception acts as a separate event from the ceremony, therefore needing a separate information card.  This card should detail the reception information and accompany the wedding invitation. What to include:

  • Names of the hosts (typically the bride & groom or bride or groom's parents)

  • Couples' full names

  • Reception date, day of week, and time

  • Reception location

  • If this is an "adults only" reception {no children}, politely state a version of: "We welcome you to enjoy an adults only dinner and reception."

Information Card

The information card accompanies the invitation and notes accommodations provided by the hosts of the wedding.  These accommodations can include transportation and lodging information.  This information should already be noted on your wedding website, but for those less technologically savvy {think grand-ma}, it is always a good idea to provide {or remind} your guests with this information anyway. Activities Card Activities cards inform your guests of various planned activities during your wedding weekend, and are is especially valuable for your out-of-town guests.  Similar to the information card, the activities card accompanies the invitation but is not necessarily needed if this information is already located on your wedding website.  Some activities that you might want to include are the rehearsal dinner, farewell brunch, or even local attractions for your guests to do separately.

RSVP Card/Envelope

You can get a whole lot of information out of this little reply card!  Make this as simple and easy as possible for your guests to read, check off, or write in. What to include:

  • Pre-addressed {and stamped} mini envelope

  • RSVP Card: checkboxes or spaces for guests to write in their name(s), if they are attending, how many will be attending, entree choice(s), how to send the card back {via the envelope included}, and RSVP deadline.

When to send:

  • Make the RSVP deadline 2-3 weeks prior to the wedding date {or halfway from the time you sent out the invitation}. For destination weddings, make the deadline 3-4 weeks prior.

  • If you do not receive an RSVP by the deadline, it is perfecty acceptable to give your guest a phonecall. You are on a deadline yourself, so it is okay to be aggressive this stage of the game!


  • Consider noting the back of each card with a number to coordinate with each guest {I even had a bride use invisible ink!} to keep track of who sent back which card. Again, this is where your excel document will come in handy. Guests forgetting to write in their name or to check off their entree is actually more common than you realize, so save yourself from the hassle of having to contact each guest for missing information.

  If you designed your wedding invitations, do you have any additional invitation advice for other brides? Stay tuned for 3 more parts of the Invitation Etiquette Series; Rehearsal Dinner Invitations, Ceremony & Reception Stationary, and Thank You Cards!

Love, Nicole