If you’ve received a wedding invitation in the past, you know that the formal invitations come with multiple components. That full envelope of cards and information is just a part of everything you’ll send to your guests about your wedding, formally called the wedding invitation suite. Even if you put all of this information on your wedding website, you’ll want to send most—or all—of it to your guests in the formal, print invitations.
Each component of the wedding invitation suite should be purchased together, so you can make sure they all match each other and match your décor for the day. So when you’re shopping around for wedding invitations, check to see whether the packages have all the components that you need before purchasing.
Save the Dates
The couple’s names, the general location, and the date
Save the dates are the first piece of the wedding invitation suite that your guests will receive. They’re typically just a single card with pictures from your engagement photo shoot and the basic details about the upcoming wedding. At this point, you should also include a location, but it can be general, like a city and state. That way, guests can start budgeting for flights and hotel rooms as needed. In addition to a city and state, guests need to know the date and the person whom you’re marrying. That’s it!
You should send save the dates 6 to 8 months ahead of the wedding for local weddings and 8+ months ahead for destination weddings. Don’t forget to add a “Formal invitation to follow” note so guests know that they’ll be receiving more information in the future.
The couple’s names, the specific location, and the date
The formal invitations have mostly the same information as the save the dates, but they are directly inviting the guests (instead of just letting them know there’s a wedding coming up).
You should include the location of the event, but what exactly you include depends on what else is in your wedding invitation suite. At minimum, the formal invitations should include the venue name, city, and state. You can list the address on the formal invitation, but if you’re also including a directions card in your wedding invitation suite, it’s not necessary. And of course, don’t forget a “Reception to follow” note!
RSVP Cards & Return Envelopes
Space for the guest’s name and their food choice
The RSVP cards are how you find out who’s attending your wedding. There should be space for the guests to write their names and choose their meal option. Typically, one RSVP card is sent per invitation. So whether you’re inviting a couple and their three kids or a single friend, each invite includes just one RSVP card.
Some couples want a little more engagement from their guests, like song recommendations. If you want guests to request a song for the reception, you’ll need space for that, too. It all goes on the RSVP card!
Along with the RSVP card, you should send a return envelope addressed with your address and stamped. It might seem like a hassle, but you can likely order address labels along with your wedding invitation suite. And the stamps ensure that you actually receive the RSVPs!
Directions & Accommodations Cards
Detailed directions to the ceremony venue, the reception venue, and/or the hotel and instructions for reserving a room
Of course, your guests need to get to your wedding! The directions and accommodation cards include instructions for getting around on the wedding day. This is especially important if your ceremony and reception are at different venues. Yes, guests will still probably use their preferred GPS to get there. But having the card will ease their worry and it will make it easier to find the venue itself. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell exactly where a driveway is on the GPS.
If you’re reserving a room block at a nearby hotel, you should include instructions on booking, too. This could be a URL to visit or a phone number to call. And it will probably include a name or a code to tell the hotel along with a deadline. Each hotel will provide their own instructions, so be sure to ask them before printing the cards.
Weekend Itinerary (Optional)
The dates and times of any surrounding events
Some couples plan welcome bonfires the night before or evening fireworks after the reception. If you’re hosting any special events outside of the ceremony and reception, you can include the details in your wedding invitation suite. For this card, you’d need to include the events, their time, and their location. These events are usually hosted at the hotel or wedding venue, so guests shouldn’t need additional addresses.
Reception Cards (Optional)
Details about the reception venue
Reception cards are most necessary if your reception is taking place somewhere other than your ceremony or if you have special requirements for your reception. You can also choose to put directions to the reception on this card, and save the directions card for instructions on getting to the ceremony only.
Thank You Cards
A personal note, thanking each guest for their gift
Thank you cards aren’t sent with the formal invitations, but they are part of the wedding invitation suite. After you start going through your gifts, you should hand write personal thank you notes to everyone. Of course, you can wait until after the honeymoon!
The notes should mention the specific gift(s) they gave and a personal anecdote, if possible. For example, you could thank your aunt for the gravy bowl and mention how excited you are to host your first Thanksgiving with it. Typically, thank you cards should be sent within three months after your wedding.
The wedding invitation suite has many components, and the busier your wedding weekend is, the more components you’ll need. If you’re not sure how many parts your invitations will need, you can always buy a set that has them all. Then, you can skip the pieces you don’t need. Plus, if you end up changing your plans, you’ll already be prepared!
How many pieces are you sending for your wedding invitation suite?