Wedding Planning Guide

top wedding etiquette questions

Save The Date Etiquette


When do you send save the dates?

Mail your save the dates six to eight months before the wedding. This will give guests ample time to request days off from work and make travel plans, if needed. However, if the wedding falls on a holiday weekend or is a destination wedding, aim to send them nine months to a year in advance.


What should we include on our save the dates?

Your names

The bride’s name traditionally appears first; for same-sex couples, consider alphabetical order.

Wedding date

Spell out the entire date if you prefer a formal tone.

Wedding location

List just the city and state (you’ll share the venue details later on the actual wedding invitation).

Formal invite to come

This line lets guests know they should expect to receive a wedding invitation in the coming weeks.

Wedding website URL

Nice to have but not necessary.


Who gets a save the date?

Anyone you're sure you're going to invite to the wedding. If your guest list is not entirely finalized, refrain from sending save-the-date cards to guests on your B-list; once someone receives a save the date, you’re obligated to send them a wedding invitation, too. If an unforeseen issue has caused you to postpone your wedding date, you should mail out change the date cards to all guests you originally sent save the dates to. Be sure to read through our post on popular change the date styles and trends for design ideas.


Invitation Etiquette


When should I order and send out my wedding invitations?

Aim to order your invitations 4 to 5 months out so they're ready to mail 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. If it’s a destination wedding or you’re marrying over a holiday weekend, send out your invites even earlier (3 months ahead of time).


Who gets a plus one and who doesn’t?

Oooh, we get this tricky question a lot. Here’s our stance:

• Married, engaged, and cohabitating guests should get a plus-one

• Give your wedding-party members a plus-one

• Also, guests who’ve been with their S.O. for so long that it’d be awkward not to invite them

• For everyone else, make a blanket rule, such as “only immediate or close family can bring a date” and stick to it (though you can always make exceptions!)


How should I word a reception-only invitation?

The wording should say guests are invited to a reception in celebration of your marriage—this implies you will already be married by the time they arrive.

For example:
Allison Hsu & Stephen Chen invite you to celebrate their union at a wedding reception following the ceremony

Join us for hors d'oeuvres, drinks, dessert and dancing at Tank18 in San Francisco at 4 p.m. on April 15, 2019


How long do I wait after the RSVP date to follow-up on non-replies?

Allow three or four days (or a week if you can spare it!) before following up with guests. Chances are many guests mailed their RSVP card right as the deadline hit.


Ceremony & Reception Etiquette


How do we politely let guests know we're having an "unplugged ceremony"?

  1. Let guests know in advance about your “unplugged ceremony” via your wedding website.
  2. Display an explanatory sign at the ceremony.
  3. Include a subtle reminder in your ceremony program.
  4. Ask your officiant to make a quick, friendly announcement before the ceremony begins.

What percentage of guests should I expect to attend the wedding?

    There’s no magic formula, but here’s how to make your best guess.

    • A local wedding, with most guests living within driving distance: estimate ~75-85% will attend. Same goes for intimate weddings (immediate family and very close friends).

    • Destination weddings may see a lower “yes” rate due to cost/logistics required: ~65-70%.

    • What you need to do: Go through your guest list line by line and consider each person's likelihood individually. This is the only way to determine your most probable guest count in order to make accurate budget estimates and know how many invitations to send.


How long does a wedding typically last?

About 6 hours

• Ceremony: 30 minutes

• Cocktails: 1 hour

• Dinner & dancing: 4 hours


How long should the gap between our ceremony and reception be?

If your ceremony and reception will be held at different venues, try to keep the intermission between 60 to 90 minutes. Anything longer and guests might get antsy.

But in some cases, a longer break is unavoidable (i.e., if you're hosting a church ceremony that can only happen at noon).


Do I have to have a flower girl?

You don't have to have a flower girl or a ring bearer, especially if you don't have anyone in mind for the role. You can skip those altogether or get creative and give the honor to another friend or family member who isn't a bridesmaid or groomsman (or pet!).


When should you start putting wedding favors together?

Start early! Couples underestimate how busy they'll be the week of the wedding.

• Non-edible favors: Start assembling them 2 weeks before the wedding.

• Edible favors: Package them 2 days before the wedding—we suggest delegating this task to a detail-oriented pal.

Thank You Card Etiquette


Who gets a thank-you note?

Everyone who has given you a gift at any of the wedding festivities (the engagement party, bridal shower, wedding).


How soon should we send out thank-yous after? When are we considered late?

Aim to mail your thank yous within one to three months of your wedding. (P.S. The idea of mailing them within a year is a myth!) Pro tip: Don’t cram them all into one session. Tackle them in chunks and be sure to split the “work” with your partner.


Do thank-yous need to be handwritten and personalized?

Some wedding details are best left old-school and handwritten notes are one of ‘em—they convey sincere gratitude more so than a typed message, email, or text. But don’t feel pressure to write a unique message for every guest—instead, work with a thank-you formula and insert personal details for each:

• Thank the guest for the specific gift they gave you

• Add a line about how you plan to use it

• Close by mentioning a fun moment you got to share with them


I want to feature a wedding photo but we haven’t gotten pics from our photographer yet. Can we wait until we’ve received them?

Your thank-you notes are a great opportunity to show off your first pictures together as newlyweds; however, if personalizing your thank-you cards with a wedding photo means missing your deadline, use an engagement photo instead.