First off, congratulations are in order. You or someone you love is newly engaged! Take a moment to bask in this, because it is, in fact, a big deal. No offense to Tolstoy, who began Anna Karenina with the line, “Happy families are all alike,” but we believe every couple (and family) is different, which means every wedding is different. The only real “rule” of wedding invitation etiquette is that anyone invited to pre-wedding day events should be invited to the wedding itself. The rest of the details are up to you.
So, you’re wondering, when do you have a bridal shower or engagement party? (Or a bachelorette party, bachelor party…) The wedding is, of course, the main event, but each of the parties leading up to the Big Day should be carefully considered as well. With that in mind, here is our comprehensive timeline of all your wedding-related events—and when to send the invitations and wedding announcements.
“Prairial Photo” by Putnam and Putnam for Paperless Post.
While a traditional engagement party is not necessary for shorter engagements (read: under a year), friends and loved ones will want to toast the happy couple, so why not give them the opportunity? Plus, they are fun and relatively simple to plan.
When to host an engagement party
Give the guests of honor a chance to enjoy the moment before the festivities begin, and throw the engagement party a few months after the proposal, before the wedding planning kicks into high gear
When to send engagement party invitations
Give three to four weeks notice so guests can make sure they are in town and able to join.
Things to consider for your engagement party
An exact headcount is key since the venue is probably your home or a local restaurant with limited capacity, so use a classic engagement party invitation with advanced guest list tracking features. Also, surprise engagement parties are trending. Our card RSVP features allow guests to discreetly message you within the invitation to help keep the surprise exactly that. There are also numerous eco wedding supplies that you can use to throw the perfect engagement party and wedding!
Save the dates
“Centro – Toast” by Venamour for Paperless Post.
When to send your save the dates
Four to six months before the wedding is standard, but earlier is best if the wedding will require travel arrangements.
Things to consider when sending your save the dates
As soon as you’ve locked in your date, get your save the dates out the door so guests can start making arrangements. Use a design that hints at your wedding style or keep it modern with an engagement photo. Be sure to include all the high-level information like the date, location, and a heads up on any additional wedding weekend events. Guests can add your event to their calendars, or you can collect mailing addresses or direct guests to a wedding website from your save the date.
“Chincoteague” by Paperless Post.
And now, the main event. Whether you’re planning a massive multi-day blowout or an intimate backyard wedding, you’ll need a wedding invitation. For small or destination weddings, we suggest one of our online invitations. If paper invitations are more your style, our exclusive printing partner Paper Source can bring our designs to life.
When to send your wedding invitations
Mail invitations six to eight weeks before the big day and twelve weeks before if it’s a destination wedding or you have international guests.
Wedding invitations things to consider
From traditional to modern, we’ve decoded wedding invitation wording and the etiquette behind it. Not finding exactly what you’re looking for design-wise? Let our Personal Design Services step in to help design motifs, invitation suites, menus, programs, location maps (your out-of-town guests will thank you), custom language placement, and day-of paper. Or, browse our collections from Oscar de la Renta, kate spade new york, Rifle Paper Co., and more.
“March Herbarium” by Rifle Paper Co.
The bridal shower is your opportunity to celebrate with close friends and relatives. It’s often during the day (think elegant luncheon) and can include bridal shower games and traditions like opening gifts from the couple’s wedding registry that the shower guests have brought. We’re all about simple, classic bridal shower and bridal shower invitations to match.
When to host a bridal shower
The timing of the wedding shower depends on logistics, but generally, a bridal shower is held anywhere from two weeks to two months before the wedding.
Who plans the bridal shower?
Bridal shower planning can usually fall on the bride’s mom, sister, a best friend, the bridal party collectively, or a mother-in-law… or all of the above.
When to send bridal shower invitations
Corralling a bridal party isn’t always an easy task, so send your bridal shower invitations six to eight weeks prior to the event to give everyone time to sort out any travel details. Need to go virtual? Luckily virtual bridal shower ideas abound now. Plus, you can send virtual bridal shower invitations closer to 4 weeks ahead of the shower.
Things to consider when throwing a bridal shower
If you’re hosting in a restaurant or any venue that requires an exact headcount, the RSVP tracking on our bridal shower invitations will come in handy. Don’t forget to include registry information for bridal shower gift ideas since it is still a faux pas to have it on the wedding invitation itself.
“Bach and Boozy” Flyer.
The difference between an enjoyable bachelorette party and an overwhelming one, we find, is in the planning. A well-organized bachelorette weekend can be an opportunity to celebrate your friend and raucous fun for all involved
When to host a bachelorette party
The goal of a bachelorette party is to help the bride blow off some steam amidst all the wedding excitement before embarking on the next chapter of her life. With that in mind, hosting too close to the wedding itself will likely add stress to the bride (not to mention everyone else), and the absolute last thing you want to do is be the reason she shows up on her wedding day looking like she spent the last three days raging in South Beach. Host the bachelorette about a month before the wedding to give everyone time to recover.
When to send bachelorette party invites
Send bachelorette party invitations three to four weeks in advance, or at least eight if guests will be traveling or celebrating for more than one night.
Things to consider
From a relaxing spa day to a boozy night on the town, we have an invitation for every kind of bachelorette. Add dress code details or, ahem, the best way for everyone to pay you back for putting all the reservations on your credit card.
Thank you notes
Our wedding timeline wouldn’t be complete without the mention of thank you notes. Show your guests your gratitude for taking the time, effort, and expense to take part in making your Big Day great.
When to send wedding thank you notes
Try to thank anyone who gave you a day-of wedding gift within two weeks. For gifts received after the wedding, there’s traditionally a three-month window for wedding thank you cards. You can also choose to send wedding announcements anytime after you are married to loved ones who were unable to attend.
Things to consider
If you are the bride, it’s polite to thank your engagement party host, your bridal shower and bachelorette hosts, and anyone who attended, your bridesmaids, groomsmen, officiants, and of course, your parents. Even the smallest bit of personalization is always appreciated, so be sure to take a moment to reflect on how exactly each person contributed.
Bachelorettes, bridal showers, save the dates, oh my. Once you’ve got the pre-wedding parties planned learn how to save money on wedding invitations. Find online invitations for every kind of wedding party’s party, and tips on wedding thank you note wording. Paperless Post can assist you in all of your bridal shower festivities!