Wedding Invitation Etiquette: Who Should Get a Card?

Wedding etiquette can be tricky! There are many informal “rules” that we are expected to follow, but they’re not always straightforward! I often have clients ask me about how to determine exactly how many copies of their save-the-dates or invitations they will need. While there is flexibility depending on your wedding size and style, I want to share tips about the proper wedding etiquette of determining who needs a card!

Save-the-Dates vs. Invitations: How many do I send?

I like to think of save-the-dates as one-and-done! Typically, you only need to send one save-the-date per family because these cards are slightly less formal than the real invitation.

They serve as a “heads-up” that there is a big event coming up so they will keep it in mind. Because of this, a single save-the-date card for the whole family is sufficient.

Wedding invitations, on the other hand, are more formal. This is your proper invite in which every person who is invited should be specified. Accordingly, every couple should receive their own card. If children are invited, it is typical that they receive their own invites. And, if the kids are old enough to receive a plus-one, they should each get their own card; otherwise, one card that includes all the children is acceptable.

Sometimes, this multi-invite approach can depend on the formality of your wedding, as couples can also opt for a single invitation for the whole family (i.e., “The Smith Family”). However, proper wedding etiquette typically follows the more individualized approach. This also makes counting your RSVP cards simpler!

More Wedding Invitation Etiquette:

Make sure you let your invitees know if they can bring a guest!

As I mentioned, you want to be sure to specify who you are inviting on your invitations! It’s important for your attendees to know whether they can bring a plus-one or not. If you already know who their plus-one will be, it is typically proper to list their name on the invitation as well. If you don’t know their name in advance, you can instead add “and Guest” on the addressed envelope. As a general rule, anyone who is receiving a plus-one should receive their own card.

Stack of slate blue wedding invitations with printed calligraphy addresses.

It’s YOUR big day: Only invite who YOU want!

While everyone has different opinions and preferences about guests, there are no hard-and-fast rules about who you have to give a plus-one to. Some people follow the “rule” of inviting the significant others of those who are engaged or married; however, this is a more traditional attitude and is not necessarily the best way to determine your invitees.

Realistically, the main considerations for your guest list should be the budget, space, and size of your wedding! First and foremost, you should prioritize who you want to be there. After all, you’re paying for them to come to celebrate with you! No one is guaranteed a plus-one, so never feel obligated or pressured to offer someone a guest!

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