Never has the phrase ‘by failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail’ been so pertinent. Because when you’re distilling your life and love into a single day, everything needs to be perfect; a succinct, condensed reflection of what brought you and your partner to this point in time, the single most vital moment in your life. Of course the planning begins long before the ‘I do’s’, with the invites often representing the point of no return, when things suddenly feel very real. It’s important to get this part right, then. Well, we’re here to be your bridesmaids, best man, ushers and everything in between, with this; our IDEAL wedding invitation checklist. 

DID YOU SAVE THE DATE?

Obviously, it’s too late to remedy this now, unless you’ve got a time machine, but you should check back with your save the date announcement to cross reference the details included there and check they’re still up to date. Hopefully you’ll have a spreadsheet or list online of everyone who received one, which will serve as your guide for who to send the real-deal invitations to. Now is your time to check if anyone was missing from that list.

DOES YOUR WEDDING DAY HAVE A STYLE & COLOUR SCHEME?

If so, this ought to be reflected in your invitations. Most couples will choose to, for want of a better word, brand their wedding, with a certain colour scheme, style and posture. The framing of this all starts within the four walls of the invitations. If your wedding reception is going to be decked out in fauna and flowers, perhaps a border of the same planned plants would look good? Should your big day be taking place in a barn, then some tastefully arranged hay could frame the card. You get the picture, right? Now, paint it.

Now is also the time to consider the level of formality you’d like the wording to imply, as this will carry through to the day itself. If you’re getting married in a church, on a Wednesday, with a service steeped in tradition, a bride donning a little blue, a champagne reception, a cake which is nicer to look at than eat….then the tone of the invitation should pay lip service to customs, too. So, that’s the bride’s parents requesting the presence of the guest(s) to witness the marriage of their daughter. If you intend for your wedding to be a little more laid back, then the posture of the invitation should recline accordingly. 

Once you’ve decided on the style and colour scheme, it’s time to get designing. If you want to save a few pennies, consider designing your own wedding invitation. However, if your graphic design and art skills are lacking, it’s better to get a professional on board. If you’re looking for a something on the fancy end, these wedding invitations by Downey would do the trick

WHEN IS THE PERFECT TIME TO SEND THEM OUT?

Received wisdom suggests there is a fairly narrow sweet spot for the optimum time for invitation distribution. Traditionally this should be roughly three or four months prior to the big day, much earlier is considered impolite – pushy, even. Obviously, attendees will already be aware of the wedding owing to the save-the-date card, so the actual invitation serves more as a gentle reminder and official confirmation of numbers. The true purpose, then, is the RVSP. It’s important to get this right…

HOW WILL PEOPLE RSVP?

Tradition dictates that each wedding invitation include a stamped, addressed envelope with your return address to make RSVPing convenient for guests. But in recent years our idea of convenience has shifted hugely. So much so, in fact, that having to walk to a post box now seems a serious hindrance to the day’s natural flow. It’s more common now for guests to request a confirmation of attendance on a specifically designed wedding website, which also provides a lot of the other key information which would in the past be provided in a larger invitation package.

There are benefits to both approaches. The former, for posterity’s sake, is a wonderful way to keep the memories of the day tangible. But the latter saves money, effort and most importantly, on paper. The choice is yours.

IS THERE A DRESS CODE?

Formal, semi-formal, dressy casual, beach formal; the wedding invitation should have some sort of indication as to what your guests should wear. If you’re not one for all the for strict dress codes, then you could even make up your own –  ‘cool and whimsical’ and ‘whatever makes you feel like Beyonce’ are two we’ve enjoyed getting into the spirit of recently. Just be sure to give a detailed description on your wedding website of what you actually mean to avoid confusion.

ARE CHILDREN INVITED?

There are two types of wedding; one with toddlers going crazy on the dance floor, and one with wild, drunk adults trying to stand up on the dance floor. Before the invitations go out, decide which type of wedding you want. Is it going to be a family friendly affair, or one where the parents have a rare chance to get loose without having to worry about nappies, bottles, bedtime stories and all the other things that go hand-in-hand with being responsible. Whichever option you go for, make it clear and explicit on the invite.

IS EVERYONE BRINGING A PLUS ONE?

Ah, the politics of the plus one. Of course, Jeff’s long term partner has more claim to a seat at the table than Ciara’s on and off (mostly off, actually) Tinder romance, but to say this out loud is to tread dangerous ground, etiquette wise. As a very general rule of thumb, married, engaged and cohabiting friends and family receive a plus one. Choose your words carefully to avoid ruffling feathers, or choose no words at all; simply state a single name on the invitation if you’ve decided they’re flying solo, and a ‘plus guest’ if their partner is invited, too. Make sure you ham up the old ‘intimate affair with our nearest and dearest’ to cover your back.

HAVE I LEFT ANY ESSENTIAL DETAILS OUT?

Put yourself in the mind of the receiver and scrutinise that invitation thoroughly before sending it out. Make sure that every detail is clearly spelled out in unambiguous language, and that nothing is left to misinterpretation. Then, take a deep breath, and send.