Assembling wedding invitations can be confusing, considering the wording and proper etiquette, whom to invite as well as special instructions.
Save the date
"Ideally invitations are sent six to eight weeks in advance of the wedding date. For more formal weddings or for weddings where many guests will be arranging travel, eight weeks is best," said Heather Wiese Alexander, creative director with Dallas, Texas-based Bell'Invito stationers.
If a wedding is planned during a common holiday season or your guests have to travel to a special destination, save-the-date cards are highly recommended, Alexander said. Put them in the mail about four months ahead, she suggested.
For people trying to keep the budget down, inviting people to only the ceremony and not the reception may seem like a way to save money, but Alexander said it's never acceptable.
"This is definitely not OK. If you have an intimate ceremony and can't have everyone inside the venue, there is an argument for inviting people to the reception but not the ceremony. The reverse is always considered poor taste. If you need to exclude guests from the ceremony, only do so while following the Majority Rule. The Majority Rule is that the majority of the guests should not be invited to the ceremony if the ceremony is indeed intimate or limited. It is never a smart move to exclude a minority," she said.
Dress code and other suggestions
Wording an invitation so your guests will know how to dress is tricky.
"Speaking in the manner of traditional etiquette, a gracious host never tells guests what to wear. This is acting outside of an understood demeanor that is an unwritten rule of the practice of correct etiquette," Alexander said.
There are clever and polite ways to inform your guests what the tone of the event will be.
"It is broadly accepted and arguably even considerate to indicate to guests what type of occasion the wedding might be by indicating an attire," Alexander said.
If you choose to go the modern route and indicate the formality of your wedding by a statement of attire, there are two things you need to know.
"First, the directive should be placed in relation to the reception, not the ceremony. For weddings taking place in a church, synagogue or other religious sanctuaries, it is never OK to require formal dress ... If you are to be married in a church and your reception is in a ballroom, your attire should be placed on the reception card, not the ceremony card," Alexander said.
Second, the attire should be clear, such as "black tie," rather than something vague like "festive chic" or "creative formal."
"Your attire directive should simply indicate a level of formality in the case that your guests might not know how to dress by the hour of day on your invitation. This is definitely not the place to give descriptions that are meant to style your Pinterest-perfect wedding photos," Alexander said.
Extra information should be given cautiously and politely by word of mouth, which can include social media.
A little extra help
An informed wedding guest is a happy and prepared wedding guest.
"If you have traveling guests, an information card is useful. This can have hotels, recommended restaurants and a line that sends guests to a website to get more information, including the attire suggestion for the wedding," Alexander said.