Tldr: Local weddings: order save the dates about 8-10 months in advance and wedding invitations about 3-4 months in advance. Destination weddings: order save the dates about 10-12 months in advance and wedding invitations about 6-8 months in advance. Allow 1 month for wedding invitation proofing and production.
Deadlines were extremely helpful when planning our wedding. It was nice to know how to prioritize tasks and make sure you stay on track. With that being said, as soon as we booked our major vendors, we turned our focus to stationery.
When to send out your invitations
I’ve found traditional etiquette on this subject to be a bit outdated. For example, The Knot recommends “sending out invitations 6-8 weeks in advance so people have enough time to clear their schedules.” (source) I’m not sure if I just have very busy family and friends but that seems a bit stressful, in my opinion. When my clients ask me, I usually recommend about 2-3 months for local weddings, assuming save the dates went out 6-8 months in advance.
Destination weddings are a bit different. We had a destination wedding in Yosemite and most of our deadlines were 90-days out (rather than the typical 14-28 days), therefore, we sent out our wedding invitations about 6 months in advance with save the dates 10 months in advance.
Whether you’re having a local or destination wedding, I would check with your venue on deadlines and work backwards from there. Every case is different so feel free to reach out to me for specific recommendations.
When to order your invitations
Now that you have a good idea of when your invitations should be mailed out, let’s work backwards to figure out when to start the ordering process.
Most of my clients start with submitting their order details using the website order form. From there, we spend an average of 1 week* working on the estimate, deposit, initial proofs and any revisions. Once approved for printing, our production is 2 weeks for digitally printed invitations and 3 weeks for letterpress and foil invitations. Then account for about 3 days for shipping then time to add postage and mail them out. Overall, I recommend about 1 month for the ordering process.
Desired shipping date: June 1
+ Assembly and shipment = 1 week = May 25
+ Invitation production time = 2-3 weeks = May 8
+ Estimates + design time = 1 week = May 1
With that being said, if you have the opportunity to get ahead, I would highly recommend it! Often times, my clients and I will start the design process months before they intend to print because it’s one thing off their list that we can get done. Yes, some minor details may be missing or the quantities change but that’s why we start with a deposit and nothing is set in stone until you’re ready to print.
*1 week is about the average we spend during the estimate and proofing process with each client, however, this timeline changes based on number of revisions and client response times.
For day-of stationery, I like to start about 6-8 weeks in advance. Even if you're not sure the exact details and items you'll need just yet, I find this is a great time to start working on proofs to at least get the wording taken care of. Then once you know how many you'll need and have the final guest list, we can print without any final hiccups and you’ll have your stationery in hand with plenty of time to spare.