Today we'll continue our series on communicating with your wedding guests by talking about sharing information before your wedding.
Prior to the wedding your goal is, of course, to share information about the wedding. Easy, right? Send the information to your guests. Done. But of course there's a little more to it than that.
Let's look specifically at some of the more common types of pre-wedding communication.
Save-the-dates are a relatively new phenomenon. The idea's been around for a long time, but it's only recently they they've become almost as widely used as the invitation itself.
Now, popular trends aside, save-the-dates aren't always necessary. You should definitely send them if:
- You're marrying on a holiday weekend
- You're having a destination wedding
- You're having a wedding that's local to you but will involve travel for many of your guests
- You just know that your guests are so busy that they'll require advance notice
If none of those bullet points apply to your wedding but you want to send save-the-dates anyway because they're so much fun, go ahead! Your guests will enjoy receiving them.
Your save-the-dates should include the following information:
- Your wedding date
Your save-the dates may also include:
- Dates of other wedding-related events that will be open to all wedding guests, if you know them. For example, if you're marrying on a Saturday and hosting a brunch on Sunday for all of your guests, then share that so people can make travel plans accordingly.
- Lodging information, if you already have room blocks set up at area hotels
- Travel discount information, if you're arranging discounted air or rail fares
Do not include:
- Information about events to which you aren't inviting all of your guests. Common examples are the rehearsal dinner, a bridesmaids' luncheon, or a golf outing just for the groomsmen.
- Your wedding registry information.
Send your save-the-dates about six months prior to your wedding date, or earlier if your wedding falls on or near a major holiday (like if you're having a 4th of July wedding in Washington, D.C.) or the travel required is significant (like if you're having a destination wedding in Paris).
Invitations are, of course, a necessity. If you want people at your wedding, you have to let them know about it.
Invitations don't just communicate the essential information; they also communicate the tone or perhaps the theme of your wedding. You probably wouldn't send a very traditional engraved invitation for a wedding to be held at a circus museum, for example. Clueing guests in to the style of your event will help them feel like part of the festivities before they even arrive, so do your best to find invitations that suit your wedding.
Your invitations should include the following information:
- Your wedding ceremony date, time, and location
- Your wedding reception location, if it's different from your ceremony venue
- RSVP card and stamped, addressed envelope
Your invitations may also include:
- Information about lodging and travel discounts
- Specifics (date, time, and location) for any other wedding-related events
- Maps or other instructions to help guests get from place to place
- Within-the-ribbon cards, if you're using them
Do not include:
- Your wedding registry information
Send your invitations six to eight weeks prior to the wedding date, and set your RSVP date one week prior to your caterer's cutoff date. This will give you (or your wedding planner) time to follow up with people who don't reply.
Like save-the-dates, wedding websites have been around for a long time, but it's only in the past few years that they've become as popular as they are today. Wedding websites are nice because they give you an opportunity to share more information than it would be appropriate to include in the invitation.
Your wedding website should include the following information:
- Time and location specifics for both the ceremony and reception, plus any other wedding-related activities.
- Links to all important venues, along with maps and/or directions for getting from place to place.
- Contact information for one or more designated point persons in town. This obviously shouldn't be you — you're going to be busy getting married! — but good choices are your parents or some members of your wedding party.
Your wedding website may also include:
- A bit of backstory: Your individual bios, how you met and fell in love, your proposal story, maybe even how and why you chose your wedding date and venues.
- A brief introduction to the members of your wedding party.
- A list of your favorite sightseeing spots, local eateries that are convenient to guests' hotels, fun trivia about your town, and other things to keep your guests entertained while they're on their own.
- Recommendations for services your guests might need while they're in town. Some that are always appreciated are a reputable barber, hair and nail salons, dry cleaners, taxi service, and a babysitting or nanny service.
- Links to your wedding registry information
Let's not leave out social media. Most of the people attending your wedding will probably have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest . . .
If you plan to take advantage of social media to share wedding information, then you might want to start using a hashtag now so your guests will get used to seeing it. This can be especially handy for gathering up guests' smartphone photos after the wedding.
Do be careful not to overshare your wedding on social media, though. One of the things that makes being a wedding guest so much fun is watching the day or weekend unfold, so be sure you don't reveal all of your surprises in advance of the wedding. Share important logistical details on social media, but don't use public posts on Facebook and Twitter to do your wedding planning.
Be sure to check back tomorrow, when we'll be discussing how to communicate with your guests at the wedding ceremony!