One of the most common questions from couples is about when to send destination wedding invitations and save-the-dates. Add an at-home-reception to the mix and things get really confusing. What do you send to who and when? How do you distinguish between the destination wedding and at-home-reception, so as to avoid confusion? And when the heck should you ask for RSVP’s? Here is a complete cheat sheet to guide you and answer all your questions.
When to Send Your Personal Website
Personal websites are becoming increasingly popular and common, especially for destination weddings. It’s a great – probably the best way– to communicate all the details.
You should aim to have your personal website up as soon as you get engaged and have confirmed your venue and date. Even if you don’t have all the details yet, the date and location are enough to get people started. You can always update the site on a regular basis once you start confirming additional details.
I wrote a post reviewing the best personal websites for destination weddings and I also give some tips for the information you should include on it.
Timing: As soon as you know the date & location
When to Send the Save-the-date
Your personal website can double as your save-the-date, or you can go the more traditional route and mail out a paper save the date. If you choose to mail something out, it’s best to keep it simple. Include your destination, wedding date, and the URL of your wedding website. Check out this post for more destination wedding save-the-date tips & ideas.
Timing: 9-12 Months before
When to Send Destination Wedding Invitations
By the time formal invitations go out, your guests should’ve known all about your destination wedding for quite a while via your website or save-the-date. I personally think that when you send destination wedding invitations too early, guests tend to procrastinate because they think they have all the time in the world. And then, what excuse will you have to remind them of the destination wedding as the date approaches? That’s why I view the invitation as merely a formality and a reminder that this is real, it’s happening soon, and they need to go ahead and book their trip ASAP!
Timing: 2-3 Months before
When to Send Invitations & Save-the-date for an At-home Reception
If you’re having an at-home reception (also known as post destination wedding receptions), I suggest mailing separate save-the-dates for your destination wedding and at-home reception – but send them at the same time. Here’s why – if someone who’s not invited to your destination wedding gets wind that you’re getting married, but they didn’t get a save-the-date in the mail, they could get upset assuming they’re not invited to the wedding at all. But if they get a save-the-date to the post wedding reception, then they’ll know it’s just the more intimate destination wedding they’re not invited to, which is usually understandable. You can send destination wedding invitations at the same time or before your at-home-reception invites.
Get ideas on how to distinguish the wording of your at-home reception & Destination Wedding invitations.
If you’re looking for design or wording inspiration, check out this post where I feature 21 gorgeous post-destination wedding invitations.
Save-The-Date Timing: Same time as your Destination Wedding
Invitation Timing: 6-8 weeks before
The RSVP deadline depends on a lot of factors so it’s really hard to generalize because it’s different for everyone. I suggest you write down the deadlines from each of your vendors (i.e. caterer, travel agent, venue, resort). Then take the earliest deadline, and make your RSVP deadline one week before that.
- Your wedding date is August 9
- Your Travel Agent wants all final guest payments by July 12
- Your caterer requested final headcount by August 2
You should choose the earliest of all those deadlines and ask for RSVP’s one week before that. So in this example, you would take the July 12 date your travel agent requested and pad it by one week so that you give yourself enough time to gather all the info and send it to her, the caterer, and everyone else who needs to know. In this example, the RSVP deadline for an Aug 9 wedding would be July 5 (one week before the July 12 deadline from the travel agent). Giving your guests plenty of time to RSVP is another reason why it’s important to send destination wedding invitations months before.
Timing: Varies, but 4-6 weeks is usually safe.
Still have questions on when to send destination wedding invitations or save-the-dates? Ask in the comment box below.
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Cynthia is the founder and editor of Destination Wedding Details.She has over 15 years experience in the Marketing and Event industry and launched Destination Wedding Details in 2010, shortly after planning her own destination wedding. Cynthia uses her experience and genuine passion, to inspire brides who are planning their dream wedding away from home.