What to send and when: your wedding stationery timeline

Sending out your save the dates isn’t a matter of life and death, but it can be a race against the clock

If you’ve never paid much attention to when they land on your doormat, how do you know when to post out the wedding stationery essentials? The thank-you cards are more obvious than the others, but what about the save-the-dates and the invites? Are there deadlines, like the ones the Post Office issues for sending Christmas cards?

“Save-the-dates can be sent anywhere from six months to one year before the wedding,” states Lyndsey Hunter of the Hunter Press. “The purpose of these is to give advance notice to guests, particularly if overseas or long-distance travel is involved.”

Colin Kirkwood of Piccolo Press recommends giving your guests even more time to get prepped for the big day: “Save-the-dates can be sent out 12 to 18 months before the wedding,” he says.

So basically it’s up to you, but we’d say at least six months ahead for a Scottish wedding and a year if you’re marrying abroad. If you’re extra-cautious and want to give your guests plenty of warning, 18 months in advance will do.
You might think this gives you ages to get organised, but before you know it, it’ll be time to send out invitations.

“Formal invites should be sent out a minimum of six to eight weeks prior to the wedding,” advises Jenny Ironside at CreateFour. This is do-able – but only if you’ve ordered the necessary stationery in advance. “If your invitations are handmade or are being designed to your specifications, you’ll need to give your stationer plenty time to complete your order,” she warns.

These extra processes can sometimes add four to six weeks to the stationer’s job. For that reason, says Lyndsey, “We would always advise having your invitations ordered a good four months before the wedding, if not earlier.”
Send the invites out too late, and there’s a possibility your guests won’t be able to make it. And some of them might start to think they were on the reserve list…

Save-the-dates and invitations are the most important elements of wedding stationery, but there are probably quite a few other bits you’ll need as well. Among these are menus, orders of service, table plans, place cards, table numbers and the guest book, so it’s worth working out when these should be ordered to keep everything ticking along nicely before the big day.

“These items are generally not required until the day (or day before) but you should allow at least two weeks,” recommends Jenny. And in some circumstances, it could take longer: “Couples need to think about whether they want all the various items to match. If they do, they should contact their stationer in plenty of time to allow them to finalise everything.”

You may be holding off printing the place cards because the RSVPs are slow coming back (aargh!) so if you are getting these from your stationer, it’s worth sending out invites even earlier than the average eight weeks before the big day. “Aim to have these items ordered as soon as you have the information ready,” suggests Lyndsey.

If your ceremony or reception is slightly off the beaten track, you may want to consider sending out extra information with the invitations to keep your guests on the right track. “A clearly printed information sheet with directions to the venue, suggestions for hotel accommodation and travel details such as flights, trains, taxis etc is always helpful,” adds Colin. “These should be ordered along with invitations in time to go out eight to ten weeks before the big day.”

Once you’ve returned from honeymoon and opened all your lovely gifts, it’s time to sort out your thank-you cards. To keep admin to a minimum after the wedding, it’s worth ordering these alongside your invitations. “That way there will be no delay when you get back and you can write them straight away,” advises Colin.

It’s always best to get this task over and done with and send the cards out ASAP to avoid any awkward phone calls from disgruntled family members. “Sending thank-you cards should be done as soon as possible and probably no later than two months after the wedding,” advises Jenny. The earlier you send them the better, leaving you free to enjoy married life. Bliss!