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One of the most common questions I see from couples is when to send their wedding invitations. Between save the dates, wedding announcements, invitations, advice for local versus destination, it can be a bit confusing. Plus just because it’s traditional advice, doesn’t mean that it’s the latest best practice for couples today. So, we did some research to see when engaged couples actually send out their wedding invitations.
When to send wedding invitations
We analyzed the responses of over 100 brides and found that the average timeframe for mailing out stationery was 10 months before the wedding date for save the dates and 4 months for invitations. RSVPs were due on average 2 months before the wedding.
In general, send your wedding invitations 2-4 months before the wedding. Wedding professionals usually recommend 6-8 weeks. What we’ve seen from our own research is that brides and grooms are sending invitations out even earlier – an average of 4.25 months before the wedding date.
Not sure what a save the date is? Learn the key differences between a wedding save the date and an invitation here.
As a stationery designer, I’ve also noticed couples sending out their wedding invitations earlier than the recommended guidance for 6-8 weeks in advance. I’ll cover why that is later in the article.
When to send wedding invitations calculator
No need to do the math yourself! Take a look at the table below and find your wedding date and the date you should send your invites. This handy calculator will take all of the guess work out of when to send your invitations.
Based on these findings, here is when you should send out your invitations based on when you’re getting married:
|Month of Wedding||When to send out invitations|
|January||September (year prior)|
|February||October (year prior)|
|March||November (year prior)|
|April||December (year prior)|
And here’s a handy infographic you can print or pin for reference that has all of the common stationery dates.
A good rule of thumb is to send your invitations a season before you’re getting married. So Spring weddings should send their invites in Winter. Summer weddings should mail them out in Spring. Fall weddings can send invitations in Summer. And Winter brides and grooms can send out their invites in Fall.
How early is too early to send out wedding invitations?
Earlier is not always better. You can definitely send out wedding invitations too early.
Generally, sending out invites more than nine months in advance is considered too early by most wedding professionals. The exception is international destination invitations which can be sent 9-12 months in advance if you’re not doing a save the date.
The risk you run with sending out local invitations so early is that your guests will lose the invitation (and details that go along with it), forget to RSVP, or forget about the wedding. And if you ask for RSVPs too soon, your guests will not be able to commit that far in advance or their plans may change closer to the wedding date.
If you want people to be able to plan ahead and you’re excited for people to hold the date in their calendars, you can send out a save the date prior to your wedding invitation. This is a best practice for both local and destination weddings.
Is it rude to send out wedding invitations too early?
It’s not rude to send wedding invitations out too early. But as I mentioned above, you run the risk of guests losing their invitation, not being able to commit to plans so far in advance, or having to change their RSVP status after they’ve RSVP’d.
When do you send destination wedding invitations?
The exception to the 6-8 week rule is for destination wedding invitations. Typically, you send out destination wedding invitations early so your guests can make travel arrangements. It also helps you plan a wedding that’s far away
Wondering if your wedding is considered a destination wedding and more information about sending invitations and collecting RSVPs for destination weddings? I have a guide to destination wedding invitations here.
Why are couples sending out invitations earlier than before?
There are a few reasons why couples are shifting to sending out their invitations earlier than the traditional guidance.
First, with Covid 19 disrupting so many wedding plans, couples are anxious to get married as soon as they can after possibly waiting years until it was safer to do so. Second, couples are excited to get married and want to announce it as soon as possible to the world. Third, many brides and grooms on a budget are skipping save the dates so they send out their wedding invitations earlier instead of sending save the dates. (You can read when to send save the dates here.)
And lastly, many couples want to know how many people are attending as soon as possible so they can send additional invitations out to people who didn’t make the first round. This is called sending b-list wedding invitations. You can read more about what a b-list is and how to send multiple waves of invitations out here. When you’re collecting RSVPs from multiple waves of invites, you’ll need extra time before your true RSVP deadline to gather information and determine if you can send out additional invitations.
How long before the wedding should guests RSVP?
The last key date you need to consider when it comes to wedding invitations is the RSVP deadline.
Wedding guests should RSVP before it is required by your venue or caterer. According to our research the average timeframe for responses is two months before the wedding. That way you have a few weeks to follow up with anyone who hasn’t responded, give your venue and caterer a final head count, and make a seating chart.
Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of when you should ask guests to reply yes or no:
|Month of Wedding||When to ask for RSVPS|
|January||November (year prior)|
|February||December (year prior)|
How early is too early to ask for an RSVP?
You can ask people for an RSVP too early. You shouldn’t ask for RSVPs earlier than two months prior to your wedding because it makes it difficult for your guests to plan and commit.
It may be tempting to ask for a reply more than two months before your wedding or when you send out save the dates. But here’s why it’s a bad idea to ask for an RSVP more than two months before your wedding. Your guests can’t commit that far ahead because something might come up unexpectedly. So your guests end up doing one of three things. One, they say yes and possibly decline at the last minute when a conflict arises. Two, they say no because they can’t commit that far ahead and they don’t want to risk canceling. Three, they don’t get back to you because they’re unsure.
Some exceptions to this rule do apply. For example, if you’re planning an international wedding and need to book some rooms in advance as part of a block, it is reasonable to ask for RSVPs earlier than two months ahead. Your guests should be booking their travel that far in advance anyway.
Another instance where this is appropriate could be if you know there is a major event happening at the same time as your wedding weekend that will cause accommodations to be hard to come by. For example, your wedding is in a college town the same weekend as graduation weekend. Make sure you let your guests know to book their hotels far in advance otherwise they’ll be all booked out!
How do you ask someone to RSVP by a certain date?
To let your guests know when they should RSVP to your wedding include “RSVP by” or “kindly reply by” with the deadline on your wedding invitation, wedding website, and/or your response card.
Here’s an example of how this looks:
What do I do if someone doesn’t respond by the RSVP date?
If someone doesn’t respond by the RSVP date on your wedding invitations, follow up with them by calling, texting or asking them in person.
If they can’t give you a firm yes when you reach them let them know when your venue / catering deadline is and tell them that if they can’t commit by that date you’ll have to count them as a “no” in your head count to avoid being charged for a no-show plate. Most people will understand this and give you a response by your deadline. If they still don’t get back to you, mark them as a “no” for your head count.
You don’t want to get charged for a plate that isn’t spoken for. Most people who are not sure 4-6 weeks from your wedding date will not show up. If they do, your venue can usually squeeze them in either by swapping out an unexpected no-show or adding a plate onto your bill. This is inconvenient for your vendor but out of your control. It is therefore less inconvenient for you than being charged for an extra plate.
Can you have multiple RSVP by dates?
You can have multiple RSVP by dates if you’re sending out invitations to multiple lists of people. For example, if you’re sending invitations out to an a-list and a b-list, the a-list RSVP date would be due far enough in advance that you still have time to send out a second (or b) wave of invitations and collect RSVPs at a later date.
Generally, most couples send out their wedding invitations 2-4 months before their wedding in order to collect RSVPs in a timely manner. There are a few instances when you would send out wedding invitations earlier, such as if you’re having a destination wedding or sending out multiple waves of invitations. But you can send them out too early for your guests to be able to respond so it’s important to stay close to the recommended timeline of 6-8 weeks.
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