With wedding guest lists changing so much over the last year, wedding invitation etiquette is more important than ever. Although in this past year wedding invitations have often been sent at the last possible moment, that is definitely not the norm. We have all had to learn to roll with the punches this year but as things start to return to normal, we wanted to go over some more traditional wedding invitation etiquette. Often, it requires you to send your invitations a lot sooner. This is especially true if you are navigating an A list and B list. If you are planning a destination wedding weekend, like we often see here in Hudson Valley, you also want to make sure you are giving your guests enough time to plan their trip accordingly.

Before we dive too far into it, managing RSVP’s is just one of the services we include for our full planning and design couples. If you are looking for a wedding planner to guide you through the process and make your life a lot easier, you can learn more about our services and packages here. We have planned over 100 weddings here in Hudson Valley and we know how much work it takes to plan and execute an incredible destination wedding weekend. We specialize in untraditional wedding venues – ballrooms aren’t for us – and if that sounds like something you are looking for, we would love to hear from you!

Speaking of Hudson Valley weddings – and their invitations – make sure to read this post about what to include in your wedding invitations. Most of the couples we work with don’t live in Upstate New York (at least not full-time). If you are inviting guests from New York City and surrounding areas, there are a few extra details you’ll want to include when you are ready to send the invitations! You can read about what you need to include for your destination wedding weekend invitations here.

Hudson valley rental store

How far in advance should you mail your wedding invitations?

This is always a frequently asked question when it comes to wedding invitation etiquette. As your wedding planner, we like to work backward to decide on an ideal send date. What date do you need your final RSVP’s? Consider when your venue and caterer require your final numbers. Typically, we recommend having your numbers finalized at least 4 weeks before the wedding. If there are external circumstances that might cause your guest count to change dramatically (like a global pandemic), you might want to add a few weeks to the below timelines. On top of that, it changes when you are managing an A list and B list. We saw this even more during the last year when wedding guest lists were kept smaller.

Floral wedding invitations in Upstate New York

A list and B list Wedding Invitation Guidelines

We know that sometimes you may have a hard cap on your guest list. Whether you have budget or venue restrictions, you may decide to split your guest list into an A-list and a B-list. What this means, is that you only send out the B-list invitations if you receive back a set amount of “No” RSVP’s from your A-list. The key here is, balancing the invitations so you aren’t sending the A-list so early that they know there must be multiple lists, but also not sending it so late that by the time the B-list guests get their invitations, they know it’s last minute. This is especially true if you are getting married in the Hudson Valley or any destination wedding weekend location that might involve travel.

Once you have a date in mind that you need your final RSVP’s by (typically 4 weeks before the wedding), use that as a guide for the following timelines:

When you don’t have a B-list (ie. everyone on your guest list is invited at the same time), mail your wedding invitations 6 weeks before the final RSVP date (10 weeks before the wedding).

When you do have an A-list & B-list, send your A-list their wedding invitations 10 weeks prior to the RSVP date (14 weeks before the wedding). Hopefully, your RSVP’s will start to come back right away, and then you can plan to mail your B-list wedding invitations 6 weeks before the wedding RSVP date.

Classic wedding invitations in Upstate New York

Managing your Own RSVPS (without a wedding planner)

We always recommend having your wedding planner manage your RSVP’s. However, if you do want to tackle it on your own, we recommend using a site like Minted or Zola. What can seem fun at first can quickly become overwhelming. It’s so important you create a system to keep track of everything if you are doing it yourself. In a perfect world, all of your guests will RSVP as soon as they receive their invitations. In reality, don’t be afraid to follow up if you don’t hear back right away.

Managing an A-list & B-list and Navigating Wedding Invitation Etiquette with your Hudson Valley Wedding Planner

Although there are a few wedding invitation etiquette timelines to be mindful of, don’t forget that this is also such an exciting time! If you are sending invitations, it means your wedding is only a few short months away. As wedding planners, we can guarantee we are almost as excited as you to watch it all come together. If you are planning a wedding in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, or beyond, we would love to hear from you. There are a million tiny details that make a wedding, and we would love to help you bring them together. You can learn more about ways to work with us more here! Invitation etiquette is only a tiny piece of what we guide you through!