Congratulations! You’re engaged! Right now is one of the most exciting times you’ll ever experience in your life. It’s a period filled with excitement and wonder, and years from now, it’s a time you’ll look back on fondly, wishing you could relive every moment — even the chaotic ones. Speaking of ... read more

Congratulations! You’re engaged! Right now is one of the most exciting times you’ll ever experience in your life. It’s a period filled with excitement and wonder, and years from now, it’s a time you’ll look back on fondly, wishing you could relive every moment — even the chaotic ones. Speaking of chaos, planning a wedding can be an overwhelming task. There are so many different things to do, from contacting vendors to booking a venue to sending out save-the-dates and invitations. The latter is a point that confounds many engaged couples, but we’re here to clear things up for you.

Many engaged couples planning a wedding often wonder when they should be ordering and sending out various wedding stationery including save-the-date cards, invitations, rehearsal dinner invitations, and other items. Lucky for you, we’ve created this easy-to-follow wedding stationery timeline that tells you exactly when you need to handle each task.

1. Create your guest list
(ASAP)
Before you can start ordering your wedding stationery, you need to figure out who’s getting invited to the wedding so you know how much to order and whom to mail everything to. So, after you’ve had a little time to enjoy the engagement, it’s time to start planning.

First, you’ll need to come up with a rough list of family members and friends you’d like to potentially invite to the wedding. Make sure to consult with your close family members and friends to ensure you’re not leaving anyone important out. Once you have a rough list you’ll start whittling it down.

Of course, a lot of this will depend on your budget. Weddings can get quite expensive, so set a budget early on to get an idea of how many people you can afford to invite.

2. Get your save-the-dates taken care of
(6 to 12 months before the wedding)
First, it’s important to note that save-the-date cards aren’t required by etiquette. It’s optional, but these days, a lot of couples choose to include these announcements as a fun way to spread the news of their engagement and upcoming wedding.

The great thing about save-the-date cards is you get a chance to be more creative and informal than you might want to be with your actual wedding invitations. Many couples will book a photographer for an engagement shoot and use those photos on their save-the-dates.

As far as what information needs to be on your save-the-date, there is no set format, but at the very least you need the date and your names — and the location, too, if your guests will have to travel far. You don’t have to include all the details of your wedding, as that will be on the real invitations.

3. Order your wedding invitations
(4 to 5 months before the wedding)
This is the most important step in the entire timeline. It’s going to require a good deal of your time as you’ll need to find the right stationery and the right design for your invites. You have to make sure you get your invitations ordered in time to send them out and give your guests enough notice to make arrangements and RSVP for your big day.

Make sure you have all of the necessary details about your wedding: location, ceremony times, reception info and so on. Remember, it can take a little while to print wedding invitations, particularly if you use any specialty options, so don’t procrastinate!

4. Send out your wedding invitations
(2 to 3 months before the wedding)
Some couples think they need to send out their invitations way in advance of the wedding, but that’s not the case. You should be just fine sending out your wedding invitations two to three months before your wedding. If you are inviting guests who live outside the country, you may want to send their invites a bit earlier. Make sure you don’t cut it too close, as some invitations may bounce back to you due to an incorrect address or other issues. Give yourself enough time to accommodate for those complications.

5. Order other wedding stationery
(2 to 3 months before the wedding)
Around the same time that you send out your wedding invitations, you’ll need to order any other wedding paper you’re going to use, such as rehearsal dinner invitations, menu cards, place cards, programs, thank-you notes and so on.

6. Send out rehearsal dinner invitations
(1 month before the wedding)
The rehearsal dinner isn’t just about making sure everything is all set for the wedding, it’s also about honoring your wedding party and those loved ones who have helped make your big day a reality. It’s a good idea to send out a specific invite for the rehearsal dinner, since it’s a separate event that likely only a select number will be invited to.

7. Mail out your thank-you notes
(1 month after the wedding)
It’s proper etiquette to send out personalized thank-you cards to guests who attended your wedding or sent gifts. This small token of appreciation can go a long way to maintaining goodwill with your loved ones. This is a task that’s often easy to ignore or procrastinate on, but make sure you take care of it as soon as you’re able to. Your friends and family will appreciate the sign of respect and thanks.

With this simple wedding stationery timeline, planning your big day will be a little easier for everyone involved. Best wishes!

{Top Image by Jen Huang via 100 Layer Cake}

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