Life is complicated. Weddings are even more complicated and proper etiquette is really, really complicated. Actually it’s not, it is really just common sense and it is not intended to make you feel better than other people, it is supposed to make other people feel comfortable with you. The most common etiquette mistakes are made with written correspondence.
When you begin to work your invitations, there are some fairly easy to remember tips:
-Save the Date cards, once reserved for only wealthy and important people, are almost standard fare these days. They should be sent 4 to 6 months prior to the wedding and only sent to people who will be invited to the wedding. Your wedding website ( if you have one) can and should be listed on the Save the Date.
-Never list any gift registries on your invitation. Save that for personal correspondences and your website. This is where a website comes in very handy for sharing information!
-Do not invite anyone to a pre-wedding event that you will not invite to the wedding. You can’t expect someone to come to your shower and give you a present if you’re not planning to invite them to the wedding. It would seem like they were good enough to give you a shower gift but not good enough to celebrate with you on the big day. The shower is meant to be a party for the women closest to the bride (and often her mom and the groom’s mom too). All these close female friends and relatives should also be invited to the wedding.
-Invitations with reply cards still need to have “RSVP” printed on them. This is just to remind them and it is a common courtesy. Many won’t send it back and someone will have to be delegated to make phone calls two weeks before the wedding to check on them. It’s a pain – but, there is one in every bunch… just be polite.
-Always add the right postage!!! Check and double check.
– It is not in bad manners to say ‘no children’ on the invitation. It would actually be bad to NOT mention it. Spell it out clearly and leave nothing to the imagination.
-Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding. The RSVP date should be 2 weeks before the wedding date.
– Thank You cards should match the invitations and should be sent out as soon as you return from the honeymoon.
Invitation wording is trickier than ever; with blended families, multi-cultural parents, same-sex parents, all kinds of different combinations, it is hard to know where to draw the line. Your invitation specialist should be able to help you with grammar, spelling and protocol. If you choose to DIY on the invitations, consult an etiquette handbook of some sort to walk you through the proper phraseology, you will not be sorry.
It’s a tough world out there, folks and etiquette makes it bearable for those of us who don’t answer the phone during dinner, who let old ladies sit on public transportation, who hold doors open for someone carrying a large package. It makes them feel more comfortable and that’s the way it should be.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago