Ask an Expert: Wedding Invites 101

The dos and don'ts of invitation etiquette.

September 27, 2017

By Dominika Lirette / Photo: Stationery Bike Designs

Wedding invitations are the first impression guests receive of your special day. The colours, language and design give them a sneak peek of what to expect. Think of them as a road map pointing your guests in the direction you want them follow. And while presentation and details are personal to each couple, there are some key things to consider. To help make things easier, we asked Valerie and Stephanie Chin, creative directors and co-founders of couture bridal company Val Stefani, to share their tips on what to include and what not to include on your wedding invites.

Floral Couple Suite by Rifle Paper Co.

Nuptial Necessities

“Details are very important,” say Valerie and Stephanie. To start, the invitation should include the names of the hosts (usually parents or families) and the couple. Next, you’ll want to include the date (day, month and year), time and the full address of both the ceremony and reception. Ideally, your invitations should be clear and easy to follow, that way there are no mix-ups on the wedding day.

Digital Details

Sharing a link in the invitation to a wedding website is a growing trend, and it’s not hard to see why. “Its an easy way to share your personality with your guests and make everything organized for what to expect for the wedding weekend,” say Valerie and Stephanie. The website can include everything from an FAQ (couples, prepare for millions of questions), dress code, location map and registry information. “The domain doesn’t die, so it’s something digitally you can look back on.”

Backyard Suite by Rifle Paper Co.

Black-Tie vs. Rustic-Chic

The Chins say that a dress code can be included, typically in the lower right-hand corner of the invitation, however there are other ways to indicate the formality of the event. “An invitation with calligraphy and formal language in a couple colours will show your guests that the event will be more on the formal side,” say Valerie and Stephanie. “A colourful, more relaxed language invitation shows that your wedding day and dress code will be more on the casual side.”

Pro tip: incorporate your wedding colours into the invitation so your guests get a taste of what’s to come.

Arm Candy

While it’s nice to roll in with a dashing date, the bride(s) and/or groom(s) are not obligated to give all guests a plus-one. It is up to the couple to decide how large or small they want their wedding to be. “If you have a big group of single friends, let them know that there will be plenty of people for them to mingle with.” Valerie and Stephanie recommend seating your single friends together so they have lots of people to talk to. And remember, “invitations are non-transferrable.” If your invited date cancels and you want to bring a different one, clear it with the wedding couple first.

A destination wedding invite and ‘save-the-date’ design by local company Stationery Bike Designs.

Time Management

Sending a ‘save-the-date’ is a newer trend (with some really cute designs), however this step is optional. “Your parents didn’t send one out and guests still showed up to their wedding and had a good time,” say Valerie and Stephanie. If you don’t send one, try to mail your invitations out as far in advance as possible, this way everyone has lots of time to plan ahead (and find a babysitter!). For local weddings, aim to send your invitations out no later than two months in advance. For destination weddings, try for at least three months in advance.

Attendance List

Ask your guests to RSVP no later than three weeks before the wedding date so you have plenty of time to adjust numbers for catering and seating arrangements (warning: expect to receive some late responses). RSVPs can be sent via email or snail mail. If you choose snail mail, Valerie and Stephanie recommend that you include a return envelope in the invitation with the address and postage already on it.

Sophia Suite by Rifle Paper Co.

Gift Giving

Yes, weddings are expensive, and yes, gifts are very nice. However, according to Valerie and Stephanie, you should never put your registry information on the invitation. “Instead, let your bridal party, family and close friends know about your registry and have them relay the information to guests in conversation.” That way you avoid making your guests feel like you invited them just for the gifts. Another option, is to put the registry information on your wedding website, but not on the first page (after all, we’re trying to be subtle here).

The bridal couple show off their love of coffee and the groom’s glasses in this invitation by Stationery Bike Designs.

Pretty Packages

Last, but not least, let your personality shine in your invitations with colours and illustrations. “Invites that include an infographic with a love story timeline and pop-up/3D invitations are unique and great ways to personalize your invitations.” Some of Valerie and Stephanie’s favourite places to find wedding invitations are Rifle Paper Co., Etsy and Paper Source.

A pop-up wedding invitation by Stationery Bike Designs.

Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.