Are you tackling your invites and want to know proper wedding invitation etiquette? We have everything you need to know about invitations: addressing them, the difference between an inner envelope vs. an outer envelope, whether you really need to handwrite them yourself, proper wording, where to use the zip code, and more.
Wedding invitations are one tricky etiquette game, but we have all the rules you need to know — along with helpful time-savers, money-savers, and tips along the way.
In this post, we’re bringing you everything — from A to Z — about wedding invitation etiquette: the good, the bad, and the ugly rules and mistakes to avoid so you follow wedding invitation etiquette.
Wedding Invitation Etiquette
Let’s begin with A: Addressing.
Addressing Wedding Invitations
When addressing invitations, you’ll want to avoid this BIG headache: “Do you I need to handwrite return addresses on wedding invitations?” No! That’s a lot of time spent and hand-cramps made.
Instead, use a clever return address stamp like this, made especially for weddings. As a bonus, you’ll reuse it on your own stationery (even bills, making them way more tolerable to mail) at home.
This stamp is by PaperPeachShop.
However, if you are stuck on the wedding invitation etiquette dilemma of a return address stamp OR a printed label from your computer, the answer is never to use a label from the computer. A return address stamp or — yes, handwriting each one — is considered the proper etiquette.
A belly band is considered a “finishing touch” to an invitation. There is no mandatory belly band requirement, so don’t freak out or anything if you don’t have one yet. A belly band is used to hold invitation papers and enclosures together in a cohesive, polished way. If you don’t have a lot of enclosure cards such as entree cards or reception cards, don’t worry about it. Most couples who choose the belly band like the way it looks, and I’ll admit, it’s pretty!
Here is one example of a belly band in action (invitation by Petra Kern for Minted). The band in the middle: that’s the belly band!
And here is an example of a vellum-style belly band; this is by OliveYouByPearl.
Cheap Wedding Invitations
If you’re looking to save a little money on invites, we did all the digging for you: here are where to find the cheapest wedding invites that look beautiful. They won’t look budget-friendly, but they are. :)
D is for… details. What are the proper details to include in your wedding invitations?
Here is what every wedding invitation etiquette expert will agree for what to put on your invitation.
-Names of the couple
-Host(s) names (if applicable)
-Date and time
-Where the ceremony and reception will take place
How you word the invitation is very important: read 7 Etiquette Tips for Wedding Invitation Wording.
And if you’re a very casual couple, you’ll really love these 9 Funny Wedding Invitation Wording Examples.
What is the proper wedding invitation envelope etiquette? Do you need inner and outer envelopes for wedding invitations?
This depends largely on the formality of the wedding and the invitation style. Traditionally, the outer envelope is the one guests will open first in the mail and has the address, return address, and postage. Inside, an inner envelope reveals the first names of guests invited.
The whole ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ envelope was used as a formality to ensure guests understood exactly who was invited to the wedding. The outer envelope was for mailing addresses, while the inner envelope was used to state exactly who is invited to the wedding.
It is recommended to have an inner and outer envelope, but certainly not a requirement.
The proper format for addressing wedding invitation goes like this:
-Who is hosting
-The request to attend the wedding ceremony
-The couple’s names
-The date and time
-Reception information on a separate card
-Dress code, if applicable
This is the classic and most traditional format for proper invitation etiquette rules.
Guidelines for Mailing Invitations
When should you mail your wedding invitations?
Most wedding invitations should be mailed no later than 6 to 8 weeks before the event.
For destination weddings, plan on mailing them out approximately 12 weeks before the event (and be sure to send a save the date card as early as possible).
If you’re wondering the proper etiquette on handwriting the addresses on your wedding invitations, yes, according to proper etiquette. You can write them yourself if you have nice handwriting or hire a calligrapher. One resource is Stylish Calligraphy, who does a beautiful job and offers examples and reviews on her site here.
If you plan to write them yourself, this handy invitation addressing template is so helpful to have It will help you keep your lines perfectly straight. It is available at Ink Me This. It’s an affordable tool that will come in handy for addressing invitations, thank you cards, and more.
Here’s what the addressing template looks like:
HOWEVER, thanks to modern technology, handwriting fonts on wedding envelopes now look so real that you — and certainly, your guests — won’t know or care about the difference. You can print envelopes from your home printer in a handwriting font.
To save money, time, and paper jams, we recommend the free custom addressing service offered at Minted. If you order your invitations through them, just upload your guest list with addresses and they’ll print your envelopes for you. Plus, they look amazing!
Here is an example:
Before you buy wedding invitations, figure out what kind you like by viewing tons of inspiration. We wrote a comprehensive guide to the most unique invites to get your creativity going! Read: 50 Best Wedding Invitations on Etsy (PHOTOS).
A vellum wrap or invitation jacket is another “extra” — but a very affordable one! — and it looks beautiful on formal wedding invitations. Here is an example of what a vellum jacket looks like, finished with a wax seal. By PrimPrettyPrints.
One interesting wedding invitation etiquette tip you don’t hear very often is to order one extra invitation as a keepsake. You will want to have an invitation remaining to remember what it looked like, whether for your scrapbook, memory box, or as a wedding keepsake.
If you wish to preserve your wedding invitation, you can get a custom copper invitation replica made from Copper Art Designs. It looks like this:
For an alternate style, try this acrylic invitation keepsake from EngraveIt, shown below.
Finally, for a rustic look, this invitation is turned into a keepsake plaque by BusyandBossy.
One of the most straightforward ways to save money on your wedding is by cutting your guest list. It’s not always easy, but sometimes it is necessary to save costs, simply by inviting fewer people. Here are tips on trimming your guest list without guilt. You can also listen to it here: How to Plan Your Guest List (PODCAST).
If you are designing your own invitations, start with a monogram. Even better? Use this free monogram maker. It is so easy to use and kind of fun; I made so many myself just to see how it works! Guests will think you had a wedding invitation monogram professionally made. :)
Here are just two examples of the many that I made!
Try it for yourself here for free! Then, just save it and use it on your stationery.
No Gifts Wording
According to proper wedding invitation etiquette, there is not an acceptable time to include “no gifts” on an invitation. Experts say you should never mention gifts, desire for no gifts, or a gift registry anywhere on the invitation.
The order of invitations when assembling them is one of the pinnacles of invitation etiquette. To help you assemble your wedding invitations properly, here is a great visual from Invitation Consultants.
Once you have assembled one complete invitation with all outer and inner envelopes, enclosures, a map, rsvp card, etc., take it to the post office and have them weigh it for correct postage. They will be able to tell you exactly how much postage you need per invitation.
If you do not do this and, let’s say, guesstimate… here’s what could happen. Your invitations will be sent out, promptly returned with cancellations all over the front of the envelopes, and you’ll have to start over on assembly PLUS repurchase all the (correct) postage. Yikes! Good to know.
Also, if and when you buy postage, you can buy it directly from USPS on Amazon. Their new boutonniere stamp is popular and it ships free, plus you can buy in large quantities.
It will look something like this, customized with your code.
An invitation should always include a response card or RSVP card. Make sure the card includes a place for guests to write their names on one line and select whether they are able to attend or must decline. It does not need to include an entree selection, but it may if you prefer.
An RSVP card should always include an envelope with it, self-addressed to you, and pre-stamped with proper postage. This makes it easy for guests to fill it out and place it in the mailbox.
If you wish to save money and your wedding is less formal, a postcard RSVP eliminates the need for an extra envelope. As a bonus, postcard postage is also less expensive.
This is an example of an RSVP postcard designed by Design Lotus.
You may also like: Here’s When Your Wedding RSVPs Should Be Due
Adding a wax seal is a beautiful way to complete the look of wedding invitations. You can buy pre-made wax seal “stickers”, which simply affix to your envelopes, from MeganBruceDesigns as one resource.
If you want to do the actual wax sealing yourself, you can get a do-it-yourself kit here.
A wedding invitation template is a popular choice for couples who wish to make their own wedding invitations — but with the help of a design professional.
A template works like this: you purchase the digital file, then edit it yourself for complete customization. Then, you print it at your favorite printer.
Sounds simple enough, right? It really is!
One of the best places to buy wedding invitation templates that are professional, easy-to-edit, and available with stellar customer service, try Elmwood Paperie as one resource. (Sarah is so helpful!)
NOTE: If you need a place to print invitations online, here is a top recommendation.
Upload Your Own Design
If you want to completely make your own wedding invitations, you can upload your own design here and then choose your paper, add to cart, and print. Voila!
It is imperative, especially to avoid any wedding invitation etiquette faux pas, to include the name and full address of your ceremony and/or reception venues. Many guests input the address into their GPS; a simple double-check on your venue information could make a huge difference on the wedding day for guests.
One of the biggest mistakes couples make on invitations is with proper invitation wording. For proper etiquette when wording your invites, read: 7 Etiquette Tips for Wedding Invitation Wording.
Oh, and W is also for WINE. Invitations are a crazy-stressful part of planning, or they can be, so you’ll want your dedicated wedding planning wine glass at the ready. :) This one is under $10 and is super-cute! We spotted it at MCDesignsandMore.
X is for… Extras! As a rule of thumb, you should always order ten extra wedding invitations just in case. You never know — and it is a lot cheaper to buy a few extras now than to reprint just a few later on. Plus, you’ll often save on shipping if you bundle other stationery into your order at the same time such as ceremony and reception essentials.
You Can Plant These Invitations
So, Y is for… yes, you can plant these! And they’ll leave behind seeds for wildflowers to bloom. How cool is that? There’s no wedding invitation etiquette advice here, just that we think that’s a pretty awesome idea. It is printed on seed paper. By BotanicalPaperWorks.
If you’re wondering about wedding invitations and zip codes, here’s the scoop: you do NOT include any zip codes on the wedding invitations according to wedding invitation etiquette. Zipcodes should only be used on the outer envelope for mailing purposes.
And there you have it: the most helpful wedding invitation tips from A to Z! What do you think of this list?
We hope it helps as you navigate the crazy world of wedding invitation etiquette! Tell us: what kind of invitations are you planning to use for your wedding? We’d love to hear all about them! We’re kind of nerds about this stuff. :)