That really is the question, isn’t it? The short answer is, it depends on the kind of event you’re having. There are obviously a few details that you should make sure your guests know, but how you do that can be a bit more flexible.
I’m no expert on how to word wedding invitations and still, to this day, always end up looking up the most appropriate language. My general rule is, if you’re having a formal and/or religious celebration, the invitation wording itself should be a bit more formal (i.e. “We request the pleasure of your company…”) If your celebration is low-key, just a reception and not a ceremony, or you’re paying for the event yourself, there seems to be a bit more leeway in my opinion. [Side note: I’m a calligrapher so probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I really don’t mind the e-vite either. I know, I KNOW. It seems counterintuitive to my business. It is. BUT, I planned a wedding and let me tell you – e-vites would have been a LOT less of a headache. Just saying.]
The below is not an exhaustive list by any means, but meant to help guide you when deciphering what you should include:
This seems pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re having an event that you want people to attend, you’re going to need to invite them. DUH. Is your venue a one-stop shop where you’ll get married, have cocktails (if applicable), and host the reception? Great! You can fit all of those details on this one sheet of paper.
If you have a separate venue where your reception will be held, it’s a good idea to include a separate reception card with the details of the locale including address and timing on when guests should arrive. Some weddings have a break in between the ceremony and the reception, some don’t. Planning to take photos before the ceremony? Head right on over! Taking photos after the ceremony and before the reception? Determine what works best for your situation and plan accordingly.
RSVP Card + Pre-Stamped Envelope
You want to know who’s coming, right? Leave a space for the guest’s name, a place for them to “accept” or “decline”, and a deadline. Also, pre-address and pre-stamp your envelopes. It takes a little time and the cost for stamps can add up, but it makes it that much more likely that people will respond promptly to your invite, eliminating the need for you to stalk them to find out if they’re coming to your wedding or not. [Pro tip: discretely, or not so discretely, mark your RSVP cards before you send them out so that each card correlates to a specific guest(s). You’d think this never happened, it’s possible that the guest filling out an RSVP accepts or declines your invitation without writing down his or her name. Yes, it happens. And it’s REALLY annoying playing “guess the guest” if you haven’t done this.]
Map or Direction Card
This is not generally necessary, but a really nice touch, especially if you’re planning a destination wedding or in a small town where all of the weekend’s festivities are close-by. Neither of those apply to you? Still want a map? OK! After all, it’s your wedding and if you want to include a map, you go girl.
Especially if you have out of town guests, this is a great thing to include. Let guests know where you’ve blocked rooms (if applicable), what the rates are, and perhaps how close they are to the wedding venue(s). [Pro tip: it’s nice, but certainly not required, to block rooms at multiple hotels with varying price points. That way, guests have some flexibility when booking their accommodations.]
Another great thing to include for a destination wedding: what should guests do during their downtime? A great place to grab breakfast away from the hotel? A gorgeous hiking trail that leads to a cascading waterfall? Your favorite local bar? Share it with your guests!
Save the Date
OK, so this isn’t a part of your wedding suite, per se, but they are very nice to send out to give your guests a heads up about your big day. If you’re planning a destination wedding, make sure to get them out sooner, say at least 6 months before the event. Really, the more notice you give your guests, the more likelihood they’ll be able to attend so just keep that in mind.
So there you have it! One woman’s take on wedding invitations. Part of the fun of planning a wedding is getting to showcase your personality and style so have fun with it!