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When Do I Send Invitations and Save the Dates?

Another reader request! Thank you Hayley for using our 'Ask Rhonnie' feature! We love hearing about your wedding plans and helping out where we can.

Hayley asked us "When do we send out our save-the-dates and how long do we wait before sending our invitations?"

Some couples follow wedding etiquette to the letter (much to the delight of Emily Post we're sure) and other couples choose to eschew save the dates altogether, especially if their wedding is less than 8 months away - it really depends on the couple, your budget and how formal you wish to be but we've put together the 'ideal' timeline for your full stationery suite so that you can pick and choose the elements you'll use and ignore those you won't!

9-12 months before your wedding

  • Start putting together a guest list - remember that this will probably go through many drafts before it's fully refined and will likely go through a further 2-3 refinements down the track once the RSVP cards are returned.
  • Create a Pinterest board of images that inspire you, search the net for suppliers and samples you like and consider your budget.
  • If you're planning a destination wedding, are inviting guests from far away or are planning a holiday wedding, we recommend sending your save-the-dates now to avoid disappointment. Think about what your invitation siute will look like or the formality of your wedding so that your save-the-dates will be in line with your invitations.

6-9 months before your wedding

  • Refine your invitation options - these should be emblematic of the style and formality of your wedding. If you're planning a boho wedding, a formal letterpressed invitation will send the wrong message, and similarly, an overly floral or relaxed tone of invitation will not fit with a black tie wedding.
  • Reach out to vendors for quotes and consultations to discuss the style of your invitation suite
  • Review the wording of your invitations - this is another nod to the formality - for reference, see our post on invitation wording.
  • To ensure your theme carries through all of your stationery, we recommend purchasing it all from one vendor in the same style. A full suite might include save-the-dates, invitations, seating charts, table numbers, place cards, menus, programmes, envelopes and liners, seals, RSVP cards, thank-you cards, note cards, aisle runners, backdrops and more so decide which elements you'll include before your meeting so that you don't get carried away.
  • Review what other cards, envelope liners, invitation enclosures, embellishments, seals, stickers and envelopes you'll need to complete your suite.

4-6 months before your wedding

  • Ensure you have an up-to-date address list with full names, postal addresses (or email addresses if sending electronically), post codes and postage requirements.
  • Place your order for invitations (including calligraphy)

3-4 months before your wedding

  • If your vendor doesn't assemble and deliver as part of your package, this is the time to create an at-home assembly line ensuring all embellishments, enclosures, addressing and postage are included.
  • Order any of the additional stationery you need from the relevant stationery suite.

  • Mail your invitations and wait with anticipation for the responses to arrive - keep a tally of who has responded, who hasn't and your back up invitations to send out if your first wave of guests includes apologies.

6 weeks before your wedding

  • Contact any non-responses to confirm attendance

4 weeks before your wedding

  • Provide your final guest count to all vendors - your planner, caterer, venue, hirers and florist.

1-2 weeks before your wedding

  • If you've ordered menus, placecards, ceremony programmes or table numbers (or all of the above), ensure that the person setting them up has them the day before your wedding (or delivered direct to the venue) to avoid any set-up delays.

Within 2 months after your wedding

  • Send out thank you cards

Remember that Harlow Garland offers a bespoke stationery service, Bespoke by HG where you can pick and choose from a selection of stationery elements to create your ideal stationery suite or allow us to dream something up specific to you.

Or if you'd prefer, our online store offers ready-to-go stationery options that you can personalise yourself on the spot!

Art Deco Laser Embossed Invitations - BUY NOW

Art Deco Laser Embossed Invitations - BUY NOW

Bistro Bliss Wedding Invitation - BUY NOW

Bistro Bliss Wedding Invitation - BUY NOW

Black & Gold Opulence Invitation - BUY NOW

Black & Gold Opulence Invitation - BUY NOW

Vintage Boarding Pass Style Invitation - BUY NOW

Vintage Boarding Pass Style Invitation - BUY NOW

Invitation Etiquette

You've found the perfect invitation, now what should it say?

If you'll be tying the knot in a less traditional setting, the wording of the wedding invitation can be as creative as you want -think meaningful quotations, song lyrics or any other phrases that will give your guests a sense of the style of your wedding.

Then, the burning questions are: What if you're holding a church wedding but your parents are divorced? How do you handle stepparents?

Before you deal to the hard stuff, let’s start with the basics.

  • Your name and the name of your fiancé including surnames
  • The date, location and time of the wedding
  • Reply information

Your parents are divorced but are still hosting the wedding together The proper way to word an invitation when the Bride's parents are divorced is to list the names of the Bride's parents at the top of the invitation. The Bride's Mother's name should be on the first line and her Father's name should go on the line beneath it, do not separate the lines with “and”.

Your divorced parents have remarried Traditionally, only the parents’ names appear on the invitation but if you would like to include your step-parents, it's perfectly acceptable to list them as well. Place your Mother’s name (and her husband if she's remarried) first and include your last name. Then do the same with your Father’s (and his wife’s if he’s remarried), on the second line.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Angus Williams Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Albert Barrie request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter, Katrina Melody Barrie

One or both of your parents are deceased If one parent is still living, that parent should issue the invitation. If your Mother has not remarried, you should place 'Mrs.' before her name. If neither of your parents is alive, the invitation may be issued by other relatives such as your grandparents or of course, you and your fiancé.

You have been married before If your parents are issuing the invitation, use your married name:

Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Albert Barrie request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Katrina Melody Barrie

Or, if you and your fiancé issue the invitation yourselves:

Katrina Melody Barrie and Robert Percy Hughes request the honour of your presence at their marriage

You're paying for your own wedding If you have a good relationship with your parents, honour them by placing their names at the top of the invitation, especially if this is a first marriage and you are holding at traditional ceremony.

You don't want guests to bring children Not everyone knows that the only people invited to an event are the ones to whom the invitation is addressed. If you have friends who feel their little ones are always included, a quick phone-call to tell them that your reception isn't set up for children, will get your point across and is nicer that printing 'no children please' on the invitation or response card.

You don’t know whether to invite friend’s new partners or allow single guests to bring dates This one is a difficult dilemma and should be approached on a case by case basis.

Tips • Handwritten invitations add personal flair but unless you have ample time and beautiful penmanship, hire a calligrapher • Choose a motif to feature throughout your stationery such as your initial or favourite song lyric • Showcase your creativity by adding embellishments like ribbon or dried flowers • Wording of the stationery should match the feel of you day. Choose formal wording or a traditional occasion or casual phrasing for a relaxed affair.

Formal Wedding

Invitation Wording Formal Wedding • Invitations should be written in the third person • Dates and times should be spelt out i.e. Eleventh of February at Three O’clock • If it’s a church ceremony, ‘the honour of your presence’ are used while a non religious ceremony tends to use ‘the pleasure of your company’ • The Bride’s name should appear before the Groom’s • The time and date should be written first, followed by the venue

Here are a couple of examples to inspire you:

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Smith


Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jackson

Request the pleasure of your company

at the marriage of their children

Maria Shannon Smith And Mr. Samuel Luther Jackson

On Saturday, the nineteenth of January Two thousand and thirteen

At three o’clock in the afternoon

St Patrick’s Cathedral

43 Wyndham Street, Auckland

Maria and Sam

Together with their parents

Warmly invite


To share in the celebration of their marriage

On Saturday, the nineteenth of January Two thousand and thirteen

At three o’clock in the afternoon

St Patrick’s Cathedral

43 Wyndham Street, Auckland

Informal Wedding

Invitations are usually written in the first person and titles and surnames, omitted.

Here are a couple of informal examples:

Together with our families

Maria Smith


Sam Jackson

Would like to invite


To our wedding

On Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 3pm

St Patrick’s Cathedral

43 Wyndham Street, Auckland

Maria and Sam

Are tying the knot

We would love you to come

and join the celebration

On On Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 3pm

St Patrick’s Cathedral

43 Wyndham Street, Auckland

If you've read to the end, we have a surprise just for you - Harlow Garland will be launching two huge new brand developments in the next few weeks, one of features our custom luxury calligraphed stationery range where you can choose each element right down to the envelope liner and create your own completely bespoke wedding stationery suite. 

Stay tuned, we'll be posting a bulletin about it in full detail soon!