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Jessica Photography


Weddings Newsletter




The first impression most people will have of your wedding will come from your invitation. It sets the scene for a formal or informal celebration, reveals the wedding's theme (if you've chosen one), and reflects your style.

You can match the style of your invitation with the style of your wedding. An invitation to a mediaeval theme wedding could be written in "Olde English" and presented as a scroll, a message in a bottle could be just right for a nautical theme, or a garden wedding invitation could have beautiful flowers printed on the envelope or a pressed flower tucked inside the card.

When to send

Invitations are usually sent out about two months before the wedding. If you are being married at a popular holiday time, for example Easter, Christmas, or during a long weekend, you will need to send them out earlier.

If you have had to cut your list - getting your invitations out early may mean that you can use any spare places from people who can't attend, to invite people you've had to remove from your list. Be careful about this though, no-one likes to think they are a second-choice.

If you have friends and family overseas, you may wish to send them advance notice as soon as your dates are confirmed, followed by a formal invitation.

Compiling the guest list

The bride's family and groom's family should have the opportunity to invite a similar number of guests each. However, if one side of the family is larger then an even split might not work. It wouldn't be right for one side to be scratching around for acquaintances, while the other has to exclude close friends.

If the number on the finished list fits the budget, then all is well. 

If not, you might like to ease the pressure on numbers by inviting close family and friends to the reception and your wider circle to a dance afterwards, or you may decide to cut expenses elsewhere (for example type of food or drink) so you can include everyone.

Otherwise the list will need to be reviewed to decide who could be left off.

Who to invite

Whoever you like! but usually:

  • family - brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins
  • close family friends who have watched you grow up and participated in your life at other meaningful stages
  • close friends of the bride and groom
  • work colleagues
  • close family friends of the bride and groom's parents

To make sure no-one has been overlooked in the excitement have a quick check through your address book, Christmas card lists, club membership lists, etc.

Traditionally, formal invitations are also sent to your attendants and their partners (or parents for the little ones). 

If the bride's parents are hosting the wedding, an invitation is sent to the groom's parents, or if the couple is hosting the wedding, then formal invitations could go to both sets of parents as a record of the occasion. 

It is customary to invite the priest or minister and spouse to the reception.

Who sends the invitations?

Even if the cost of the wedding is being shared, it is usually the bride's mother who writes, posts and receives replies to the invitations.

What kind of invitation?

You have a few choices:

  • custom printed invitations from a printer 
    including all details of the wedding, with space for the guests names
  • pre-printed invitations from a stationery shop
    with spaces for the hosts' and guests' names, the name of the bride and groom, the venue (ceremony and reception) and the date and time
  • customised invitations created on your PC
    including all details of the wedding, along with the guests names
  • hand written invitations
    are a lovely personal touch for a small wedding, but if you're having more than 25 guests the task might overwhelm you. 

Wording the invitation

The invitation comes from the host (whoever is footing the bill).  

If either parent is widowed, the invitation goes out in the name of the living parent.

If the parents are divorced but are hosting the wedding together, both names are used, e.g., Mr John Smith and Mrs Mary Smith or Mr John Smith and Mrs Mary Green.

If the parents are divorced the name of the parent who is hosting the wedding and the new spouse (if there is one) are used.

Traditionally it is written in the third person. 

It should contain all the relevant information:

  • name of host
  • names of each guest separately to make it clear who you're inviting
    (e.g. Robert Brown and Sally White or Robert Brown and guest: or Paul and Jenny Smith and Catherine, not 'The Smith Family')
  • who is marrying whom
  • ceremony and reception where and when
    including the address and anything else relevant, for example on the beach or in the garden
    if outside, include the bad weather alternative (this could be on a separate card)
  • anything else, for example if the reception includes dancing
  • RSVP date, address, e-mail and telephone number

Spelling out all the details will help your guests plan what to wear and estimate how long the celebration will be (especially useful for parents organising babysitters).

Click here for some wording ideas

Reply cards

Making it easy for guests to reply means you'll get their responses more quickly - useful if you've got a stand-by list! 

If they don't have e-mail, they'll appreciate a reply card.

It's a good idea to include a stamped address envelope for the reply cards.

Reply cards should include:

  • space for the guest's name
  • spaces for accepting or declining the invitation
  • space for the number of guests attending

Example  +click here

Including further information

It can be helpful to include general directions on how to get to the ceremony venue, along with a detailed map showing the ceremony and reception venues and parking. 

Suggestions for appropriate footwear, a request for costumed attire, location of gift registry, or bad weather arrangements can be made on a separate card. 

If you're having a bad weather alternative venue, think about how your guests will know which venue to go to (for example if it's overcast but not actually raining they might not be sure). One idea is to have an answer phone with a recorded message that they can ring if in doubt.

You might also include accommodation prices and e-mail/telephone contact information for any out-of-towners.

Number required

If you're using custom printed invitations you'll need to order extra to cover mistakes, late additions to your list, etc.

You'll also probably want some extras as keepsakes for you, your mother and your groom's mother.

Receiving the replies

Make a list of invited guests. Tick (or cross off) their names and note the number attending as the replies arrive. You can also use this list to record their gifts as they arrive and when you sent the thank you letter.

You'll need to give an e-mail or telephone reminder to anyone who has not replied.

Postponement and cancellation

If your wedding has to be postponed or cancelled, you need to advise your guests as soon as possible. If time doesn't allow a written card, then all the guests will have to be e-mailed or telephoned. 

Examples +click here