The ring is on your finger and the planning is underway — time to get your guests in the loop. Your first step: Send a wedding save-the-date card. This pre-invitation mailing officially announces your wedding date and lets guests know that they will, in fact, be invited to the celebration.
As destination weddings and three-day weekends have become more standard, so have save-the-dates. And if you’re marrying during high-travel times like a holiday weekend or summer in a beach town, a save-the-date is an expected courtesy. Between travel arrangements and busy schedules, sending a save-the-date will increase guests’ chances of attending your celebration. And that’s the goal, right?
If someone receives a save-the-date and will be unable to attend, they are likely to offer regrets far in advance. You still need to send a wedding invitation as a common courtesy.
As a general rule, it’s best to start spreading the news at around six months prior to the ceremony (eight months for a faraway destination). This gives wedding guests plenty of time to book their travel, save a bit of cash, and ask for days off from work. Any earlier, and they may toss the notice aside. Any later, and it might as well be an invitation.
TIP! Save money and use postcards for RSVP and save-the-dates
Postcards are $0.28 versus a letter which is $0.44. Save $0.16 per mailpiece by making your RSVP and save-the-date cards in postage form.
Setting the Engagement Party Date
An engagement party usually takes place within a couple months of the proposal. That said, if you’re planning to have a longer engagement, feel free to wait several months. Just make sure that your engagement party takes place closer to the time of your engagement than it does to your wedding date.
Compiling the Engagement Party Guest List
Anyone invited to your engagement party should ultimately be invited to your wedding, so the size of your engagement party guest list is really dependent upon your actual wedding day guest list. You might have as few as 10 or as many as upward of 100. When the host asks you to come up with a guest list, set it up so your closest family is first, followed by your best of friends, then go from there.
Engagement Party Invites
Your invites can be as simple or formal as you like, and really depend on the style and vibe you’re going for. A casual design is totally appropriate for a small gathering at home. If your parents are throwing an elegant dinner at the country club, you may want to look into sending out more formal invites. Get those invites out about a month in advance to give guests a good heads-up, or within four to six weeks if guests are from out of town.
The bridal shower (or couple shower) is the maid of honor’s pre-wedding piece-de-resistance. Rise to the challenge! Even if someone else is hosting the bridal shower (like the bride’s aunts) or you’re holding it at a restaurant or spa, it’s up to you to take the reigns. So here’s a handy bridal shower checklist to help you plan a perfect party for the bride-to-be. Feel free to adjust the timing to suit your showering style.
3+ Months Before
Set the date — shoot for a month or two before the wedding. If certain bridesmaids and important family and friends can’t convene until a few days before, hold off until then.
2 Months Before
Send a “save the date” email and/or call important guests such as the bride’s best friend from high school, her favorite cousin, the groom’s mother, etc. to see if there are any scheduling conflicts.
1 Month Before
Assemble. address and mail invitations. Be sure to include information about the couple’s registries. And, if it’s a theme party, make sure to provide proper gift-giving instructions.
Bachelor parties have been a wedding tradition since the so-called Olden Days, when they gave the groom a chance to “sow his wild oats” before marriage. We are well out of that dark age (thank goodness!), and these days women celebrate imminent weddings with their closest pals too.
Virtually anyone can host a bachelorette party. Often the maid of honor and bridesmaids, who are close to the bride, do the honors, but any friend, relative (a cousin, for example), or even coworkers who feel the urge can plan this party.
The Guest List
Shower guests must all be invited to the wedding, but this isn’t necessarily true for bachelorette parties. Chances are that most bachelorette party guests — who are generally the bride’s best gal pals — are wedding guests, too, but it’s fine to invite coworkers or neighbors who may not be invited to a small or out-of-town wedding. Just be up front with them about your limited wedding guest list — you don’t want to disappoint any well-wishers. It’s usually best to keep this party pretty small — definitely under 20, and under 10 is probably ideal.
Decide on a Date
Steer clear of the night before the wedding — the last thing the bride needs is a hangover! She’ll be nervous enough; she shouldn’t have to worry about getting sick. (The rehearsal dinner is usually scheduled for that night, anyway.) If the wedding is in a town other than the bride’s hometown, you might want to have the bachelorette party before she leaves; even if the wedding is local, party at least 2 or 3 nights before the big day.
Spread the Word
Choose or design with a theme in mind, even if it’s as simple as the bride’s favorite color. Create official invitations depending on the type of party you’re planning. Remember if you need to make reservations for a show or other activity, you’ll probably want guests to officially RSVP.
The Guest List
The bachelor party began as a gentlemen’s party: a civilized evening of drawing-room drinking, smoking, and toasting to the bride’s health. Boy, have things changed. While most of today’s bachelor parties have ditched the civilized bit in favor of a raunchy night on the town, the list of attendees has stayed the same. The best man throws the shindig and invites friends and relatives of the groom, usually male-only. The only caveats: The list shouldn’t include 100 of the groom’s closest friends, nor should it include people who don’t get along.
Pick the Location
Bachelor parties can take place almost anywhere. The typical bachelor party usually involves some combination of the following: booze, strippers, gambling (maybe not in that order). But, the trend these days is toward old-fashioned guyness — a weekend spent bonding in the woods, for example. Others plan high-adrenaline adventures such as white-water rafting, skydiving, or rock climbing. Tamer bachelor parties might involve a weekend in Atlantic City gambling, a round of golf and a nice steak dinner, or a fancy night at a cigar bar. Of course, weekend trips involve travel and related expenses. If time is of the essence or all parties involved are on a budget, then a local bar, a hotel room, or the best man’s apartment are fine bachelor party locales.
Time It Right
If you think the night before the wedding is the perfect time for a bachelor bash, think again. The last thing the nervous groom needs on the big day is a hangover. Plus a big night on the town before the walk down the aisle will surely stress the bride out (which is to be avoided). You should schedule the main event up to a month before the wedding and, at the very least, schedule it a week in advance, preferably on the weekend. Some people from out of town won’t be able to attend, but if they do want to show up they can use the advance notice to make plans. Be sure to send out invitations at least three weeks before the party. This way, you’ll be able to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Just when you think you have every detail of your wedding accounted for, you realize you haven’t given too much thought to the other wedding-related parties, like rehearsal dinners, post-wedding brunches, or a wedding luncheon! Don’t worry, we’ve got your primer to all the pre- and post-wedding parties. First, determine your guest list for each event. Traditionally, only the bridal party must be invited to the rehearsal, but it’s a nice gesture to send rehearsal dinner invitations to any out-of-town guests who will be traveling for your wedding. But don’t worry about all those extra guests blowing your budget — rehearsal dinners can be as formal or as low-key as you want (pizza party, anyone?). The rehearsal dinner, post-wedding brunch, or wedding luncheon is also a prime time for wedding toasts. Don’t forget about planning a killer reception after party to keep the good times going! Not sure whom to invite? You may have only sent rehearsal dinner invitations to your nearest and dearest, but anyone who was invited to the reception should be invited to the after party as well (although some of your older guests might pass on the late-night festivities). Remember that the pre- and post-wedding parties don’t have to match the formality of your wedding exactly — even if you’re having a formal wedding, feel free to incorporate fun themes, like a luau, BBQ, or even a trip to a bowling alley.