For most couples, wedding planning is venturing into uncharted territory. With such a large number of unknown factors, from picking the right venue to how far in advance you need to book vendors to even when to send out your invitations, it can be daunting. Luckily, The I Do List and Earnest Bee Calligraphy + Design have partnered together to help you through all the ins and outs of wedding stationery. This month we’ll be discussing the importance of building your guest list early, mailing timelines, and whether or not to send along save the dates.

Let’s start with building your guest list. This is one of the first tasks to dive into when wedding planning before you even begin to search for a venue. You can’t choose a properly sized venue without knowing how many people you’re inviting, and having an idea of how many are likely to RSVP yes. Roughly 10-20% of your guest list will have to politely decline your invitation, although on some weddings I’ve worked on, couples have ended up with over 90% of their guest list attending. You know your guests and can formulate a pretty good guess of how many will be able to attend. You may want to opt for a “B List” so when someone RSVPs no, you have the opportunity to add someone from the “B List” to your main guest list. This is another good reason to order more invitations than your guest list requires – but we’ll talk more about that in another post.

So who actually gets a spot on this list? I have a soft spot for intimate gatherings, good manners, and Emily Post. I recommend first listing those who are near and dear. Limiting a wedding to friends and family members whom you’re close with can give you room in your budget and your mind to create an intentional event. If you have the budget and the space, as well as the desire, to celebrate with everyone, by all means include them. This very special and intimate event should be filled with all of those who love and support you and your love.

One of the biggest places of controversy on a guest list is the whether or not to give guests a plus one or include their significant other – part of the answer is manners and part is up to your discretion. The manners part: if they’re married or engaged, then yes, it’s polite to extend an invitation to their (soon-to-be) spouse, even if you’ve never met them. It’s polite to extend an invitation with a plus one to friends and family if they are in a serious relationship, meaning they’ve been together for an extended period of time or live together.  Beyond this it’s up to your personal discretion. If you have room, giving plus ones to your single guests does allow for them to have a bit more fun – although you can risk them bringing someone who may be disruptive.

After your get your basic guest list together, you can use it to find the right venue and start working on your wedding stationery. Your timeline depends heavily on whether your guests are mostly local, if they’re traveling or if it’s a destination wedding. Feel free to use my guided timeline below.


The ultimate wedding stationery timeline from @eb_calligraphy for @theidolist

Save the dates are great to send out if you’ve secured your venue more than six months before your wedding, if you’re planning a destination wedding, if you have a substantial number of guests traveling, or if you love paper goods. Save the dates build the excitement and help guests to start coordinating their travel arrangements. If you’ve set up a website with travel information, including any hotel block information, you can include that on your save the dates for guests.

Now that you have the timeline for your wedding stationery, is there anything you need help getting started on?

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Samantha Elliott