The question “can I send wedding invitations early?” is common, and we can’t blame brides worried about the timeline.
Professionals insist that the best time to send wedding invitations is 8-12 weeks before the big day.
But what if your guests make plans earlier? What if your invitations get delayed in transit? What if you don’t receive RSVPs on time?
These are valid concerns, but sending wedding invitations too early may cause even more problems than sending them late.
Don’t stress it. There’s no need to rush things – your guests will find a way to attend your wedding. However, if you have a destination affair or the guests live abroad, feel free to adjust the timeline.
Table of Contents [show]
You’re No Longer Flexible
The golden rule is to send wedding invitations about eight weeks before the event when every major detail like the venue and menu is finalized. The main problem with sending wedding invitations too early is that you lose flexibility.
Wedding plans often change. You may already have the preferred venue, menu, or ceremony time in mind a year before the wedding. However, it isn’t yet time to send wedding invitations until you’ve signed all contracts and made deposits.
The desired venue may be booked, the caterers may be unable to find seasonal ingredients out-of-season, or you may find cheaper vendors.
Sometimes, the circumstances don’t depend on the couple – your hotel may close for renovation, your caterer may go bankrupt, or a global pandemic may happen. The scenarios aren’t to cause fear, but wedding planning is fluid.
Sometimes, plans are altered simply because the couple has changed their minds. The wide variety of great wedding ideas is overwhelming, and many couples make significant changes at the last moment.
For this reason, most couples prefer to send save-the-dates about six months before the big day. Save-the-dates give your guests a heads-up, indicating that a formal invitation is yet to come.
Save-the-dates don’t contain any details about the wedding location, time, theme, dress code, or menu, allowing the couple to make changes until about two months before the event.
If you send the invitations with wedding details early and make changes, you will need to call each guest individually to deliver the update. That’s a lot of hassle, considering the average wedding guest count of 167 people.
Guest List Changes
Wedding detail changes often cause guest list adjustments. Maybe you reevaluate the budget and understand you can’t afford to invite 200 people. Maybe you move the reception to a different venue that accommodates more guests.
Inviting extra people is always easier than explaining to guests they are no longer welcome at your celebration. In fact, the latter is a big no-no in the wedding invitations etiquette.
Telling someone they are no longer expected at the wedding because you don’t have the budget or the venue is too small is rude and may ruin your relationship forever.
Remember that your wedding guests also need to make plans. They may have to sacrifice other events for the sake of your wedding, so respect your guest timeline.
The issue may also occur with save-the-dates, so be careful when creating the guest list. Your budget and the guest list should be finalized months before the big day to avoid uncomfortable situations.
If you send the wedding invitations no earlier than eight weeks before the wedding, you allow yourself to change the guest list as much as you like without appearing impolite.
Budget is the main reason for most wedding changes. We’ve already talked about the guest list adjustments, but the budget may also affect your venue, menu, and theme choice, and you will have to call everyone with updates.
Stationery typically isn’t on the top of the wedding essentials list. Couples who don’t have enough money will more likely spare on wedding invitations than on the food or photographer.
The problem with sending wedding invitations six months in advance or earlier is that you won’t be able to adjust the stationery budget.
At the start of wedding planning, expenses don’t seem as tremendous, and couples tend to overbudget unnecessary features.
You may think that a set of foil-stamped wedding invitations on luxurious paper with two envelopes, reception card, separate RSVP card, tissue paper, and custom wax stamp, all designed by a professional, are worth it.
However, such a set may cost you well over $400. If you spend the money early and later find out you don’t have the budget for other wedding features, you may have to compromise on something more substantial.
The wedding RSVP timeline can be tricky. You may think that if you send invitations early, you’ll also receive the RSVPs early, which will help you in planning. Unfortunately, most people aren’t great at responding to formal invitations.
Suppose your wedding is scheduled for July 1 with a June 1 RSVP deadline. If you send the invitations in February, your guests will read them, realize they don’t yet know their July plans, and put the invitation aside until they do.
This may even lead to some guests missing the RSVP deadline because they’ve tossed the invitation in a pile of other mail. Keeping in mind that you need to respond to an invitation for a week is simple, but not for six months.
Receiving the invitation too early may make some guests procrastinate, thinking they have all the time in the world. Finding an excuse to remind them about the RSVP deadline as the date approaches isn’t simple.
Assume your guests decide to respond to you right after receiving the invitation. That would be very considerate of them, but their plans may change. They may have to relocate due to work, fall sick, or have more important obligations.
Parent schedules are especially fluid, so you shouldn’t expect families to give you an early reply. If the guest’s plans change, they would have to give you a call and apologize. Therefore, you’re putting them in an uncomfortable situation.
You shouldn’t expect your guests to prioritize your wedding over anything else unless that’s your parents or maid of honor. Even then, they may have valid reasons to change their attendance plans.
On the other hand, if you send your invitations about two months before the big day, your guests will better grasp their schedule and potential pitfalls that may prevent them from attending.
Guests May Lose the Invitation
Imagine that you receive an invitation to a wedding that’s scheduled for a year ahead. The RSVP deadline is ten months from now. What will you do? Most likely, leave the invitation in your office table drawer or toss it with other mail.
One may argue that doing so is disrespectful to the couple who put in a lot of effort and money in designing and mailing the invites. However, you can’t expect people to keep your invitation on their bedside table for a year.
The most responsible guests may pin your invitation to a corkboard in their office or place it in their planner. But they won’t constantly keep it in mind because they likely have plenty of obligations.
A year is a lot of time to forget where you’ve put a small piece of paper, even if it’s a genuinely beautiful and expensive piece of paper.
If you don’t want your guests to lose your invitations and call you afterward with questions, don’t send them early.
Cases When You Can Send Invitations Early
There’s no universal answer to how early is too early to send wedding invitations. Mailing them two to three months before the event is only the general recommendation. However, in some scenarios, sending invites earlier is wise.
The most apparent case when you can send wedding invitations early is if your guests live abroad or in a distant state. Traveling requires planning and budgeting, and two months may not be sufficient to arrange everything.
Your international guests may need to ask for leave at work, save money for plane tickets and hotel, and move other obligations to visit your wedding. In this case, send the invitations a minimum of 12 weeks in advance.
Alright, but how do you deal with plan changes if you send invitations to international guests early? The best way is to create a wedding website and post any updates there.
Leave a link on your invitations and mention that the time, menu, or location are subject to change. This way, your guests can book the travel but be prepared for changes.
You may also need to send the invitation early if you plan a destination or weekend wedding. Same as in the case with international guests, your friends and family will need to book tickets and hotels.
Destination wedding invitations timeline is complicated. You should send the invitations as soon as you know the date and location because your guests will need to work around their schedules, take vacations, and save money.
Lastly, you may send the invitations earlier if you skip save-the-dates. Some plans are made months in advance, so give your guests 16 or more weeks before your big day to figure out their schedules.
Image credit: Flickr