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Invitation Etiquette

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Invitation Etiquette

  1. Although you think someone might not make it, either because they are in poor health or due to distance, they might appreciate an invitation and the fact that you cared enough to invite them. A word of caution. As invitations usually carry an obligation to send a gift, it might look like you’re inviting them, despite knowing they can’t travel, only to receive a gift. In such a case, it might be a good idea to restrict invitations to those who are very close friends/relatives and will be hurt if they were not invited. And to let the rest in this category not feel totally excluded through a wedding announcement that carries no obligation of a gift.
  2. Anyone you invite to the bridal shower, should be invited to your wedding.
  3. It is nice to send invitations to your wedding party and the celebrant performing your church/religious ceremony.
  4. It is advisable to invite partners of guests in long standing relationships, especially if you are close to them. If a guest has just formed a new relationship though, you are not obliged to invite their partner, unless the guest is a very close friend and you would feel uncomfortable not to invite his/her newly acquired partner. The decision is yours.
  5. Whether or not to invite children will be determined by your venue and your budget. Also, if you are close to many of your friend’s kids and have a large number of nieces and nephews or your cousins have kids who you are familiar with, you might like to include children.

If you are inviting children, a few tips…

  1. At the ceremony, you could instruct ushers to seat guests with children towards the back, so that there is minimum disruption to the ceremony and so the guest can quickly exit along with the child if he/she gets too rowdy, without causing too much distraction or disturbance to the proceedings.
  2. If you’re looking to save on the catering, you could request kiddie’s meals and negotiate a special rate for it.
  3. You might like to hire a children’s entertainer to keep them occupied.
  4. Alternatively you may hire a child minder to keep an eye on the children.
  5. You could provide activity packs to keep the children creatively occupied.

Why you might choose not to invite children /how to go about conveying the same

  1. Venues do not ordinarily differentiate between children and adults in terms of numbers and catering could prove a costly affair if your caterer refuses to compromise.
  2. If you invite certain children but not others, it would cause hurt feelings. Applying a blanket rule and not inviting any kids at all might be the best approach. Once you decide this, it is best to make no exception to this rule.
  3. Adults may have a better time on their own without the kids running riot.

How to specify that children aren’t included

Clearly mention, by way of your addressing, both the invitation as well as the envelopes, that kids are excluded, for instance, Mr. & Mrs. Steve Jones. In case you get the feeling guests may not get the message, or at least certain guests may not, you could convey your ‘adults only’ rule to close relatives and friends and have them spread the word around. Remember however, that it is inappropriate to write ‘No children’ on your invitations. If specifically asked, it is best to have a standard response ready, along the lines of number constraints or limited capacity of the venue, etc.

Sending out the invitations

Traditionally, it is the bride’s parents who host the wedding and ordinarily they are responsible for sending out the invitations, receiving replies, etc. If the bride and groom are footing the bill for the entire wedding, they might take on the responsibility of sending out the invitations. Once everybody’s individual list is ready, it is time to compile all the lists and have a master list handy. An organized guest list can be extremely helpful for the following…

  • To keep track of the head count
  • To address invitations
  • To keep track of details such as out of town guests, those needing directions etc.

You might like to divide your final guest list into several columns that include…

  1. Contact Information – The guest’s full name, address, telephone number and possibly e-mail address too, if available, to update them on any sudden or last minute plans.
  2. RSVPs – Next to the guest’s name, for entries regarding replies received and the number of guests expected to attend from the family is invaluable for a definite idea of the head count.
  3. Gift – To keep track of gifts received prior to, or during, the wedding.
  4. Thank-you To record when and if a thank-you has been sent.
  5. Out-of-town guests – To mark reminders regarding accommodation to be taken care of and whether or not the guest has been intimated about the same.

When to send invitations

It is a good idea to send invitations about two months prior to your wedding date in ordinary circumstances, but if your wedding falls during the holiday season, as early as possible, about 3-4 months in advance might be a good idea, as your guests might want to plan their holidays accordingly. If you delay, they might have already made alternate arrangements or bookings for a holiday and will have to decline your invitation, which would result in disappointment on both sides.

Along with your invitations, you might like to request/ give guests additional information along the following lines…

  1. RSVPs regarding their attendance/availability.
  2. Directions/ maps to the ceremony site/ venue of the reception.
  3. Whether it is going to be an outdoor ceremony/reception, so they can plan their outfits accordingly.
  4. Accommodation information or a list of hotels in different budgets, for out of town guests.

Accommodation for out of towners

While the couple is not obliged to make accommodation arrangements for out of town guests, it is considered courteous to do so, or at least to make some suggestions for the same, especially as they are unfamiliar with the place.

If you are expecting a large number of out of town guests, you may be able to negotiate a good rate at a certain hotel or reserve a block of rooms.

If many of your relatives are willing to put up guests at their homes, it might be a good idea to arrive at the best match possible. For instance, an elderly couple might prefer putting up a senior guest/guests, while younger couples or those with younger/teenage children might be a better option for hosting those in the younger age group or a couple who are bringing their kids along.

In the event an out of town guest is being hosted by a relative/friend, provide them with the name, address, phone number and directions of their host, as well as request your guest to convey complete information to the host, on probable arrival and departure dates and closely coordinate with the host once the same is confirmed.

It might be a good idea to convey your gratitude to the host/hostess for thoughtfully hosting your out of town guest, with a thank-you note and a small token of your appreciation.

Guest etiquette

Guests also have to display certain common courtesies towards the bridal couple…

  1. Reply as soon as you know whether or not you will be able to attend the wedding, and more so if you are going to decline. This helps the bridal couple have a clearer picture of their numbers to plan the catering, etc. and also to invite another guest if they so choose.
  2. Respect the ceremony and refrain from talking or distracting others during the service.
  3. Whether or not you’re able to attend a wedding, being invited to one, means that you should send a gift. Wedding announcements, on the other hand, carry no gift obligation.
  4. The gift registry is a good place to look when thinking of what is appropriate to gift, though most couples are happy to accept cash.
  5. If it is possible, it may be a good idea to send the couple your gift directly, even if you are attending the wedding, especially if the gift is cumbersome. This has two advantages – it eliminates the possibility of theft/loss at the wedding and in the latter case, it minimizes the burden on the couple/family members when they have to transport the gift.
  6. Do remember that the invitation is extended specifically to the one(s) whose name(s) are on it. Don’t invite your own guests or assume your children are invited, if their names are not specifically mentioned on the invitation. Do not resort to underhand tactics like including your children’s names on the RSVPs, thus creating an awkward situation for the couple, whereby they have to call you or clarify that your children aren’t included. It is embarrassing for all concerned.