Invitation Social Graces Part 1: Addressing the “Who” of Wedding Invite Etiquette

Happy July, Party People!

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It’s true, we at Marisa Nicole Events are obsessed with gorgeously designed, customized printed items! Quite awhile back we shared a bit of a tutorial on how to approach putting together your invitation suite as a whole. We talked about how to jazz up your printed designs so they reflect your style and what your guests can expect to experience on your day. Today, we are revisiting the topic of wedding invitations and launching a new series on the subject. This time we are broaching the topic of etiquette when it comes to your wedding invitations. Oh happy day! If you take a peak at Part Two of our last Invitation Blog Series, you’ll see that we only scratched the surface in this area, but this time we are all in! Invitations can be a tricky business, and similar to a lot of things when it comes to weddings, issues on what to do and not to do can often fall into a gray area. Being clear, kind, appropriate and on target with the message that your invitations are giving is important, so we are here to help you out and give you the who, what, when and how of wedding invitation etiquette! This week, we’re attacking the who part alone – but have no fear, we’ll be back next week with the what, when and how of it all!

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Plus-One or Fly Solo?

The general old-school rule of etiquette is that if one of your guests is a single adult, then they should be invited with a “plus-one” to your wedding. However, I totally understand that not everyone’s budget allows for all single adults to bring a random date. As a couple, you need to do what feels right for you and your celebration. In general, I suggest that you make a rule (i.e. – must be dating for at least six months time at the point when the invitations are sent, must be engaged, or must be friends of both the bride and groom) and stick to it. With that being said, I do encourage you to think through each of your single guests’ experience at your party. If you feel as if they are not a solid part of a group of guests at your wedding and might feel awkward without a date, please give them a “plus-one” so that they can look back on your day as a wonderful time, not that wedding where they had no one to hang out with.

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Who Makes the Cut?

While putting together your guest list, it is a common practice for couples to put together an “A-list” and a “B-list.” The “A-list” is comprised of the must-invites and the “B-list” includes people that you’d like to invite if you have room, but can’t really fit in unless people from the initial guest list decline. I am going to be honest with you, I am not a fan of the multiple list approach and here is why: the people on the “B-list” always know that they weren’t on the initial guest list (because they didn’t get a save-the-date from you months ago asking them to set aside your wedding date). Do what you will, but usually about 10% of your guest list won’t be able to make it for some reason or another (hard to believe, but if your friend’s sister is graduating on your wedding date, she is most likely going to have to miss it), so I suggest making just one list comprised of 110% of the max number of guests you want at your wedding, and then letting the chips fall where they may. If you do end up having more than a 10% decline rate and feel inclined to extend the invitation to a few guests not on the initial list, send their invitation as soon as possible. I might even suggest following up with a phone call honestly explaining the situation (“My father’s family can’t make it from the other side of the country, very sad, but that means I get to include you! We’d love to have you at our wedding, please join us!”).

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Name Drop!

Once you have gone through the work as a couple (likely with some sort of input from your families) to create your perfectly cultivated 110% guest list, you will want to be abundantly clear who is (and is not) included in the invitation by specifically naming guests you are inviting on the envelope. This is important when you are inviting someone who has a significant other or children because if they are also invited then their name(s) should be on the envelope as well. If you have decided to invite someone with a plus-one, just name the person and then write “and guest” on the envelope to indicate that you’d love for him or her to bring a guest. Once you write a person’s name or “and guest” on the envelope of a save-the-date or invitation, it is then set in stone that the persons listed are invited to your wedding (and there are no take-backs here!). Specificity is the key to a well-maintained guest list.

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On A Formal Note…

In case your wedding is a more formal affair, the etiquette listed above applies to a more modern version of what people are doing for their invitation suites, where only the outer and RSVP envelopes are included in the suite. For a more formal wedding, you will want to list the name of the guests(s) with their formal title(s) on the outer envelope. Then on the inner envelope, you can informally write the guest(s) first name(s). This way the details of precisely who is invited are again reiterated from the outer envelope to the inner envelope. We will be sharing more on the specifics regarding exactly how to address the envelopes in next week’s blog.

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And that’s a wrap on the who part of Wedding Invitation Etiquette, but don’t worry, we will be back next week with all you need to know about what, when and how… so stay tuned!

Photo Cred: Image 1 by Dinglewood Design, Image 2 by Rustic White Photography , Image 3 by Spark Letterpress, Image 4 by Ashleigh Hobson, Image 5 by Grey Snail Press, Image 6 (left) by Iris & Light, Image 7 (right) by Lukas & Suzy Van Dyke Photography 

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