When to send party invitations for your next get-together

A person’s hands set down a board of cheese, figs, and nuts among wine glasses filled with rosé.
Paperless Post > Get Togethers > When to send party invitations for your next get-together

When it comes to sending out party invitations, timing is everything. If you send an invitation too early, it may sit at the bottom of your guests’ inboxes, forgotten. If you send it too late, your guests may already have other plans. 

Birthday party invitations have different timing requirements than weddings, and a baby shower probably requires a longer lead time than a last-minute backyard BBQ. Whether you’re planning a graduation party or a Halloween gala—yes, that’s a thing—here’s the lowdown on when to send invitations for a party for a great turnout.


When is the best time to send party invitations?

A rainbow-colored chart succinctly spells out when to send out various types of party invitations, depending on the event.

The general rule of thumb is to send party invitations 2–8 weeks before the event. Add an “RSVP by” date of 1–4 weeks before the event. This gives guests ample time to check their calendar and RSVP to your get-together.

The difference between two and eight weeks is a big one, so how do you decide when to send your party invitations? Plan on sending invitations earlier—6–8 weeks before the event—if:

  • Guests need to make travel arrangements and find accommodations
  • The event requires formal or black tie dress attire
  • Your venue or caterer requires a headcount several weeks in advance
  • The event takes place during a holiday season or weekend
  • You have a large guest list—more than 30 people—and need to track RSVPs
  • Your invitation includes a gift registry

You can send invitations later—2–4 weeks before the event—if:

  • Most or all of the guests live locally
  • The event has a casual or cocktail dress code
  • You only need a headcount a few days in advance for food and drinks
  • The event takes place during a non-holiday season or on a weekday
  • You have a short guest list—fewer than 30 people—and can easily reach out to individuals for RSVPs
  • Your invitation doesn’t include a gift registry


When should you send save the dates?

Left: A wedding save the date with a full-bleed black and white photo of a couple eating takeout food and the words “SAVE THE DATE” in script over the image. Right: A closely cropped photo of a smiling couple embracing, the woman wears an engagement ring.
Markham” by Paperless Post; Image via Isaiah and Taylor.


For parties planned far in advance, save the dates typically go out around 6–9 months before the event. Sending save the dates is a good idea for any occasion that requires substantial lead time, such as destination weddings or events in which guests will need to travel. These events will also require earlier invitation send times, but adding save the dates lets guests know to start preparing for the event even earlier.

Weddings, galas, and other formal parties often use save the dates to not only alert guests of the event but also to communicate with them long before invitations go out. That way, if guests have questions about the event, they can have them answered before they need to officially RSVP—even if you don’t have every single detail ironed out yet.


When is the best time to send dinner party invitations?

Left: A banquet table shown from above has a plate of lemons and green leaves as a centerpiece with yellow patterned napkins on plates with rattan chargers and gold cutlery. Right: An invitation for “Dinner & Digestifs” has a blue and white tile-like border with bunches of lemons in two corners, above a navy blue envelope.
Image via To Have To Host; “Amalfi Lemons” by Paperless Post.


Dinner parties are often intimate occasions hosted in one’s home. Because these parties have smaller guest lists, they require less planning, food, and preparation. 

  • To plan accordingly, send invitations 2–4 weeks before the event
  • Send the invitations earlier if guests need to travel or you’re hosting the event at a different venue that needs a headcount. 
  • Send Paperless Post celebration invitations to ask friends, work colleagues, family, neighbors, or anyone else to attend your dinner party if it’s a celebratory occasion.


When is the best time to send formal party invitations?

Left: A black Silent Auction invitation with a gold outlined rectangle in the center and brushstroke gold on top and bottom, above a white envelope. Right: A catering staff member in a black vest and white shirt holds a plate with passed hors d'oeuvres.
Gold Brushstroke” by Paperless Post; Image via Aleka’s Get Together.


Formal parties, such as fundraising galas or black tie balls, often require a longer invitation timeline so guests can plan their travel and formal attire. Event planners typically work with a number of vendors who also need to know official headcounts in advance, as well as potential sponsors, donors, and guests of honor who may require travel arrangements and accommodations. 

  • Send invitations at least 8 weeks before the event.
  • Plan on adding event marketing strategies into your invitations by adding ticketing links and a Speaker Block if you have featured guests.
  • Sending online gala invitations will help you to track RSVPs as they come in and arrange guests with custom tags, no matter how long or complex your guest list may be.


When is the best time to send birthday party invitations?

Left: A white frosted birthday cake on a pedestal stand with rainbow sprinkles and 5 gold candles on top. Right: A pink invitation with a disco ball in the center reads “We’re having a party” in black font.
Image via Bryan Gardner; “Have a Ball” by Paperless Post.


Birthday parties come in all different shapes and sizes. Depending on the type of party you’re hosting, the timeline for when to send birthday party invitations can vary. Some quick guidelines are listed below. 

  • For casual birthday parties held at someone’s home, plan to send birthday party invitations 2–4 weeks before the event
  • If you’re throwing a bigger birthday party or a party at a venue that requires a headcount, aim for 4–5 weeks before the event. Add an “RSVP by” date 2 weeks before the event, as well. 
  • Consider removing a few weeks from your timeline if the party is a surprise party—it’s a lot harder to keep a secret for 5 weeks than 3 weeks.
  • Choose the perfect birthday invitation template to help set the tone, theme, and details.


When is the best time to send invitations for weddings and wedding-related parties?

Left: A wedding invitation with a thin gold wedding canopy draped with sheer white fabric and greenery installations. Right: a newly wed couple dressed in white walk in a celebratory fashion on a beach boardwalk under a wooden frame with sheer white curtains and white floral installations.
Lush Canopy” by Paperless Post; Image via Through the Glass.


Wedding invitation timing is also dependent on the size and location of your event, but generally, newlyweds-to-be send their invitations 8 weeks in advance of the event. 

  • Guests can RSVP with around 3–4 weeks to spare, giving the planning couple enough time to double check their headcounts. 
  • For destination weddings, add a few weeks to the timeline to account for travel arrangements.

Other wedding-related parties and events also require planning time, but invitations don’t need to be sent as early as those for the wedding itself. 

    • Engagement parties: 2–4 weeks in advance, depending on formality and dress code
    • Bridal showers: 4–6 weeks in advance
    • Bachelor and bachelorette parties: 4–6 weeks in advance, depending on travel and accommodation requirements
    • Rehearsal dinners: 2–4 weeks in advance


When is the best time to send anniversary party invitations?

Left: A wooden dining table in a brick-walled room with fall-colored flowers in vases and a tropical plant installation on the ceiling. Right: A 50th birthday party invitation split in two, one side white and the other gold, with a 2-toned champagne glass at the center.
Image via Isaiah and Taylor; “Split the Tab” by Paperless Post.


If you’re wondering when to send anniversary party invitations, it largely depends on the party itself. Anniversary party ideas range from large, formal affairs to small, friendly dinners, depending on the couple and their celebration style. 

  • If your anniversary is a formal party at an outside venue—especially if you’re celebrating a big year—plan on sending anniversary invitations 6–8 weeks in advance of the event
  • For dinner parties that are more intimate or have smaller guest lists, you can send them 4–6 weeks before the event
  • Couples planning on renewing vows should consult the wedding invitation timeline above and plan to send invitations closer to 8 weeks in advance.


When is the best time to send baby shower invitations?

A white invitation reads “Baby’s on the way!” with delicate greenery and a few birds forming a border. Right: A layer cake with “mushrooms” growing off of it on a wooden pedestal stand.
Love Leaves” by Stephanie Fishwick for Paperless Post; Image via Must Love Herbs.


Timing for baby shower invites and the actual event can get a little tricky. Moms-to-be may not feel well enough for a shower early in their pregnancy, and they may feel too uncomfortable to travel in the later months. 

Most baby showers happen about 2 months before the baby is due, so baby shower invitations should go out about 4–6 weeks before the event—around weeks 26–28 of the pregnancy.

  • Make contingency plans if the guest of honor goes into labor early or is put on bed rest.
  • Include baby registry information and links when you send out your invitations.


When is the best time to send graduation party invitations?

Left: A black, white, and gold balloon installation floats from the floor to the ceiling in front of a modern fireplace. Right: A graduation party invitation with a black and white photo of a young woman in a robe beneath the date of her graduation party.
Image via Sweet Gifts Ava; “Grand Day” by Paperless Post.


Graduation party invites should go out about 4–8 weeks before graduation day, depending on the type of event you’re planning. Many schools release information about their graduation day in the beginning of the school year, helping you to figure out exactly when to send graduation party invitations.

If you’re hosting a…

  • graduation dinner at home or in a restaurant, only 4 weeks of advance notice is necessary. 
  • larger graduation party or you have relatives who need to factor in travel time, you may want to send invitations 6–8 weeks in advance.

To ease the load of planning a graduation party:

  • Use a list of graduation invitation ideas to send out and celebrate the graduate.
  • Coordinate with other parents to host a graduation party with multiple members of the graduating class, which will help spread out some of the planning duties and expenses.


When is the best time to send holiday party invitations?

Left: An invitation for “warm company & hot drinks” has a border of poinsettia, holly berries, and gold fir branches. Right: A round, stemless glass of mulled cider filled with fruit and spices on a tray.
Holiday Potpourri” by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post; Image via Half Baked Harvest.


When you’re planning a holiday party, timing seems obvious—it’s the holiday season. But that’s the case for all the other hosts planning winter holiday parties, as well. To make your party the holiday event of the year, send your invitation early enough so that your guests can actually attend it.

  • Send winter holiday party invitations 4–8 weeks in advance of the event—depending on party formality and number of guests.
  • For other holiday parties, such as Halloween parties or 4th of July parties, plan on sending invitations 4 weeks before the event.
  • Set an earlier “RSVP by” date—around 3–4 weeks before the event—to ensure that your guest list is locked in early.


Find your perfect timing with Paperless Post

An online invite with the number “30!” in large shimmering gold font and a rotating pink, gold, and silver balloon arch above it.
Shimmer Balloons” Flyer by Paperless Post.


Now that you know when to send invitations for a party of any kind, it’s time to choose the best invitation design for the event. No matter the occasion, dress code, time of year, or guest count, Paperless Post has the invitations you need to throw the best party ever. You can schedule your sends with our online Cards and Flyers to make sure they go out exactly when they should—and then let us automatically track RSVPs as responses come rolling in. 

Share Paperless Post invites via email, text message, or shareable link to ensure everyone knows when and where the party is. When you’re further along in the planning process, visit  Paperless Post Party Shop for all your party supply needs. From festive birthday balloons to sparkling gala decorations, you’ll find everything you need to make a lasting impression on your party guests.


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