I'm starting a short series here on the blog where I talk about wedding stationery etiquette! I'll touch upon topics like timeline, wording and addressing etiquette! Today's Part 1 is all about the stationery timeline. When should you contact your stationery designer? When should you request RSVPs back from your guests? Let's get started!
The timeline for sending out your invitations is slightly different depending on your situation, but there are general rules of thumb to follow, and if you have a slightly different situation, you can then tweak these! Most people will be following the general timelines below.
LOCAL / IN-COUNTRY
- 8 months before your wedding | Contact your stationery designer about Save the Dates
- 6 months before the wedding | Send out Save the Dates in the mail
- 4-6 months before your wedding | Contact your stationery designer to get started on invitations
- 2.5 months before the wedding | Send out invitations in the mail (this timing makes sure to factor in actual time in the mail!)
- 2 months before the wedding | Your guests receive their invitations
- 1 month before the wedding | Deadline for guests to send back RSVPs (or even a bit more time than that, again, factor in time in the mail!)
DESTINATION / OUT-OF-COUNTRY
- 9-13 months before your wedding | Contact your stationery designer about Save the Dates
- 8-12 months before the wedding | Send out Save the Dates in the mail
- 8-9 months before your wedding | Contact your stationery designer to get started on invitations
- 6.5 months before the wedding | Send out invitations in the mail (this timing makes sure to factor in actual time in the mail!)
- 6 months before the wedding | Your guests receive their invitations
- 4-5 months before the wedding | Deadline for guests to send back RSVPs (or even a bit more time than that, again, factor in time in the mail!)
Don’t be afraid to schedule more time if you feel it's necessary.
I’ve found it’s usually better to give a few weeks’ extra buffer for each targeted date for unexpected circumstances. These can include the postal service being unpredictable, needing a larger quantity of things late in the game, needing add-ons or extras later on, issues with print production that your stationery designer will need to take care of, etc. It's always better to plan ahead!
Let's do a little example for fun!
Let's say you would like to hire a custom stationery designer and you contact them 5 weeks ahead of when you want to send out your invitations. It sounds like a lot of time, right?
- Depending on how fast you and they communicate and respond via email (or in person or the phone), it takes a few days to understand what you want, get you a quote, have you approve the quote, put down a deposit and send back a signed contract. It could be anywhere from a few days to more than a week.
- Then let's say on average that it takes about 2 weeks to design a few pieces in your suite, including getting your approval on pieces, making text edits and design changes, sending it back, etc etc.
- Another 1-2 weeks are usually allotted to getting your pieces printed, making sure they are right when they are returned from the printer, and assembling your pieces. If for some reason the pieces come back incorrect from the printer, it will take a bit more time for the designer to get the issue fixed and right for you.
So you can see how 5 weeks may sound like a lot of time, but there are a lot of components that have to go perfectly smoothly in order for that to be enough time!
Moral of the story.
It’s always better to have extra time in the schedule! For my own wedding, even though I was designing the invitations (which made things quicker as I didn’t have to communicate back and forth with a designer), I made sure to add a few weeks’ extra buffer, especially for the RSVP date because I knew that guests would probably lag in sending the RSVPs back. And you know they always will. ;)
Do you have any other questions about the stationery timeline? I'd love to hear them!