Timing is crucial. This is particularly important if planning a destination wedding or event that will take place throughout a busy holiday season. In most cases, a “save-the-date” should be sent up to eight to nine months prior. The more time guests have to request off from work, schedule flights and hotel accommodations, the better. Caution: don’t get too hurried and rush the process; realistically factor in your vendors, budget and guest list before mailing (or emailing!) your announcement.
Keep it simple. Include names, wedding date and location.
Be clear on who is being invited. To avoid a “+1” fiasco, write out the full names of each individual person that you’re inviting. Nixing the idea of putting kids on the guest list? Be up front about it right away…it will limit confusion later on.
Build a website. Today, many people look to a couple’s personalized website for more information on the wedding. A “save-the-date” might list all the basics, but a website is an easy and seamless way for guests to stay updated on all your exciting moments.
Don’t make assumptions. Budget for all invited guests but know that the final count may be different than first anticipated. Allow yourself a little wiggle room and your wallet won’t be compromised.
Follow up. As the date nears, follow up with guests you’ve yet to hear from with a quick call or email. In some cases, if working with a wedding planner, they’ll take this task on for you. Ann Gardner of Fancy Pants Event Planning will often handle tracking people down so a bride is able to cross one more thing off her list. “If a bride does her research on how to reach people, including address and phone number,” says Ann, “I will pick up the phone on behalf of the bride and ask about whether they plan on attending.”
Make one final attempt. An elegant solution and sophisticated way to handle the unresponsive, is to send a polite “I’m sorry you can’t make it. We will miss you.” This might be the final push guests need to give you a call back.
THE ART OF THE “THANK YOU”
Set aside the time. Ann suggests that her brides keep a list of all their guests and the gifts they received. “I advise two things when it comes to the ‘thank you’ note,” says Ann. “Make a spreadsheet and set aside time once or twice a week to frequently visit that list. I usually say to get 10 out a time so couples aren’t so overwhelmed.”
Make it personal. Approach your “thank yous” with the same thought and consideration you approached everything else for your wedding. Never send a pre-written note; handwritten “thank yous” are a great way to show your sincere appreciation. Adding a monogram or picture of you and your love from your special day adds a sweet, subtle touch.
Be cohesive.To keep the look and feel of your paper products consistent, order your “thank yous” when ordering your wedding invitations.
Size matters. Wendy Joblon of Wendy Joblon Events recommends that if your wedding is larger than 50-75 guests and everyone will be seated (not just a cocktail reception), then there should be seating assignments. “It’s a home base,” she says. “People will know where to go.”
Make it logical. Designate an area where people can find out where they’re supposed to sit; prepare escort cards and have a list on hand in case there are any questions.
Avoid awkward moments. Seat families together (i.e. couples with children) and err on the side of caution when it comes to handling divorced parents and relatives. Got a guest flying solo? Put them at a table with other singles or people they know – no one likes to feel like the odd man out. And, make sure everyone is accounted for!
Change it up. Stray away from the norm and assign people to tables, rather than to seats. This will allow for some friendly mingling. Or, play around with different table sizes – feel free to break people out in different ways.