Stationary Etiquette


The stationary tells guests about your wedding and is the first glimpse of the style and feel. Be sure to give them the right message! You not need to follow a traditional way of writing, as long as it is stays CLASSY! Things like “Sweet or Bummer” instead of “Accepts or Declines”; “Join us for dining and dancing” rather than, “We request the presence of…..” are all great ideas!


Just be sure to stay within the formality of the wedding. If it is a very formal affair, go a little easier on the cute humor and just have a few touches. If it is a picnic wedding, then have a little fun! The style and wording of your stationary sets the tone for your wedding. It can be used to make the event seem more formal or less with just word choices. A great tool to have!


If you do not want your black tie affair to feel too stuffy, adding a little bit of cuteness to the wording helps. If you are having a casually elegant affair, but want it to feel more formal despite of the plans, keep it more traditional. Be sure your style and wording match your wedding, please. Do not have a black tie-esque invitation for your picnic style Sunday brunch wedding. On the flip side, do not have your black tie wedding with a picnic, DIY wedding invite.


Save the Dates (S.T.D.s)

Important:  take an S.T.D. to the post office to get weighed. It may need extra postage!


What is a Save the Date?

A Save the Date (S.T.D.) is something the bride and groom send out to say “Hey, heads up, do not book this date, keep it open, this date is ours." People are busy busy busy and you should always give a warning about the date you picked so they do not book anything else! Also add a link to your wedding website or hotel info.


When should I send them?

I do not think it is ever TOO early to send out those S.T.D.s. OK, maybe 2 years in advance is a bit much. They are not engagement announcements, so do not send them out immediately after you say "Yes."  The proper rule is 6-9 months, but that is bendable.  If you have a lot of people coming in from out of town, sending a little earlier is nice. Be aware of big holidays where cards can get lost in the mail. I have, unfortunately, seen S.T.D.s and invitations get lost in the Christmas and Easter mail craze.


What should they be?

Along with your invitation and announcements, these should reflect your style and your wedding. For these you can go super creative. Photo strips, pictures of the bride and groom holding the date, a drawing, silhouettes and more. The big thing in the past used to be magnets, but keep in mind those stainless steel fridges don’t let you hang magnets. How about a little ribbon for them to hang or have it come with a cute paper clip or clothespin?  Be sure it reflects you and the wedding.


What information should go on it?

Usually, your date and location (and names if there is no picture) is all you need. Or, just the date and a link to your wedding website is enough, too.  Feel free to put it all down if you have everything all booked and ready to go!




*The most important thing to do is to take an invitation to the post office to get weighed. It may, and probably will, need extra postage!


*When ordering, always, always get a proof and 10 extra!!!


*Number the back of the RSVP cards to correspond with each address. If you fail to get all RSVP cards back without a name, you know who it is! (This happens a lot!)


What information and parts must be included in an invitation?

Invitation: Your names, Date, Time, Place, Address, and RSVP date.


RSVP card: Lines for name and attending or not attending (think outside the box! use stickers, art or even let them write their own)

*NEVER EVER PUT  "# of guests______”. If guests aren’t invited, they will be now. If this guest wasn’t invited with a guest, they are bringing one now.


RSVP envelope: Already addressed to you & stamped.


Information cards: (optional) Any information for the guests would go here. Maps, directions, wedding websites…. here you can let them know cute-ly if it is an outside reception so they are prepared with an umbrella, low heels and/or shawl.


How many invitations should I send out?

Say you have a guest list of 150, but your venue only holds 120. Send out invitations for 120, but order enough for 160. So many people invite over their budgeted amount of guests because "not everyone will come." Yes, sometimes it works out this way, but sometimes, and too often, it does not. You will be surprised who does and does not come! Some guests you think will not come ---will.


 Do not send out more than your venue or your budget holds. Separate your guest list into an A, B, & C list. Send the 60 (for 120 guests) invitations to "A list's". As you receive declines, send out invites to the "B list". If this means sending out your invites a little earlier, so be it. The last thing you want is an unexpected guest list surprise. It is perfectly appropriate for guests to get invitations up to 2 weeks before the RSVP date.


When should invitations go out?

Invitations should be put in the mail 12-8 weeks before the wedding. This gives guests plenty of time to clear their schedules, make travel arrangements and get a head count earlier


When should the RSVP Date be?

I always say 4 weeks before the date is perfect. 6-8 weeks at the earliest, 2 weeks at the latest. If you have an A & B list, 6 weeks is best!


Do I have to make the invitations proper and traditional? What about etiquette?

No! Proper grammar is always a must, but other than that, get creative!  As long as it contains the right information, you are set on whatever you would like to do!


The only guideline I give is that it should represent your wedding. If you are having an elegant, formal, night wedding at a castle, your invitation should not have clowns on it (well, no invitation should have clowns on them…). If you are having an informal wedding in your backyard, do not have a man in a tux hand deliver them. The S.T.D. and the invitation should go together in the theme of your wedding since this is the guest's first taste of your celebration.  If your wedding is outside in spring, think pretty pastels with the silhouette of an oak tree and hanging tire swing. If it is a fall soirée at a downtown hotel, how about a maroon, brown and cream pocket invite with personalized wording. Classy think letterpress. Fun and informal think adorable. Even experiment with your own drawings and printer and/or Kinko's.


What if I do not want children to attend?

If you do not want children to attend, then only address the invitations to, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and not “The Smith Family.” If you think it will not be obvious- simply put "An Adult Affair" on the information card or invitations. If there is going to be babysitting or options for them, put this information on the information card as well. If it is a day wedding, stating who is invited will be easier. If it is a night wedding, it should be known etiquette that children are not invited. On the other hand, if it is a night wedding and you WANT children there, make sure you address it to everyone who is invited.


What if the ceremony & reception are in the same place?

Simply state on the invitation, "Reception to follow". You can also jazz it up a bit with something like, "Dining & Dancing following I Do."


How on earth should it be worded?

-If an information/map/direction card will be included, no need to put the address on the invitation.


-Depending on who is paying is who should be mentioned in the invite. If the bride and groom are paying, mentioning the parents is still optional, but not mandatory. There are so many ways to write an invite and (thank goodness) we are expanding away from the boring. Think about what you want to say, but make sure credit is given to who is paying.



If the bride's parents are paying (and reverse if the groom's parents are paying):

Bride's Parents invite you to join them as their daughter, Bride’s name, takes Groom's name, son of Groom's parents, to love forever.


If the bride & groom's parents are splitting the wedding:

Bride's Parents & Groom's parents invite you to join them to watch as Bride's name & Groom's name are joined by their love.


If the bride & groom are paying and want to mention their parents:

Bride & Groom together with their parents, Bride's Parents & Groom's Parents request the honor of your presence…


If there are step parents?

You may choose another clever way to list them, but this is the easiest way so no one's feelings get hurt:

Mr. and Mrs. Edward William Burch

Mr. and Mrs. John Albert Smith

request the honor of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter


In the unfortunate case, one of more is deceased?

If one parent is still living, that parent should be on the invitation. The mother should still have a "Mrs."


If neither of your parents are alive?

The invitation may be issued by you or other relatives, such as your grandparents.



How do I properly address these things?


What if the woman is a doctor and the man is not? Does the woman's name come first because of her title?

-Yes, the spouse with the professional title is listed first. Outer envelope: "Dr. Kate Randolph Mr. Brian Randolph." Or, "Dr. Kate Randolph and Mr. Brian Randolph" (if it fits on one line). The inner envelope would read: "Dr. Randolph and Mr. Randolph" or "Dr. and Mr. Randolph."


How do I address an invitation envelope to a lesbian couple? I want to invite my sister and her partner, who had an exchange of vows ceremony a few years ago, where my sister took her partner's last name.

-You have a couple of options, depending on how formally you want to address the envelopes. Because you won't be saying "Mr. and Mrs.", for a formal invite you'll probably want to address it this way: "Ms. Joan McDermott Ms. Theresa McDermott." This way, you're not saying "Ms. and Ms.", which would sound awkward. Joan comes before Theresa alphabetically. Another option, if you don't want to use titles or put the two on separate lines, since they are, in effect, married: "Joan and Theresa McDermott." No matter which way you address the outer envelope, the inner envelope should read: "The McDermotts."


We're having a small wedding. Do we have to invite Mr. Smith "and Guest"? One friend told me that if a guest is not seriously dating someone, I can just address the invite to Mr. Smith, and he'll know he's not supposed to invite someone. Is that true? What do I do if such guests reply for two anyway?

-Most guests will understand that without "and Guest" or another name on the invitation, it's meant for them alone. Especially if you are having a small wedding, you probably aren't going to invite everyone to bring an escort, unless it's a fiance(e) and/or a serious significant other. Technically, you're never supposed to write "and Guest"; instead, you should find out the name of the significant other. What to do if some clueless souls reply for two? Call them up and explain that you're having an intimate wedding and, unfortunately, you were not able to invite everyone with a guest. They should understand that.


Is it improper to have the outside envelope addresses printed in a fancy font on the printer, or should they be handwritten?

-Remember, a wedding is an extremely intimate and personal event, and your invitations should reflect that. If it's a matter of time -- or you've got 500 invitations to address -- enlist the help of your mom, your sisters, your bridesmaids, and anyone else who's got nice handwriting to plow through them. It's just one of those polite, personal, I'm-a-great-hostess touches that isn't totally obvious -- unless such touches are absent, in which case they're glaringly obvious.

-Some Computer fonts look SO much like handwriting, it is amazing...

-Hire a calligrapher….nothing says elegant like a calligrapher!


Do you put a return address on the wedding invitations?

-You do not necessarily have to have one printed on your outer envelopes (that would probably up your invitation costs), but it's a good idea to handwrite a return address on the back flap. Just in case you get a guest's address wrong, the post office will know where to return the invitation. The return address should be that of the person whom you've designated to receive response cards -- be it the bride's mother, the groom's mother, or the couple themselves. The response card envelope or postcard should be printed with this address.