Q: When should I send my invitations?
Ideally, you should send your invitations eight weeks before the wedding, so your guests have time to make travel arrangements. This applies even if you sent a save-the-date earlier to give them a heads up. Sending your invites this early means you'll have timely RSVPs (about three weeks before the wedding), which still gives you time to call any non-responders and make your seating chart without stressing. At a minimum, send your invitations six weeks in advance and receive all of your responses two weeks before the big day.
Q: We're all chipping in for the wedding. Since there's no single host, whose name goes first on the invite?
If multiple people are paying for the wedding, there isn't a hard-and-fast rule about whose name goes first. Traditionally, the bride's parents' names followed by the bride’s name are first on the invitation, but if everyone is hosting, you could write your names and "together with their parents" with both sets of names listed at the top. Likewise, if you and the groom are splitting the cost yourselves, there's no need to write your parents' names first (or even include them at all). Talk to your parents and see what they like best, remembering that even if the groom's parents are chipping in, they may still want to stick to traditional wording on the invitation.
Q: Should I include a dress code on the invites?
We'd recommend not telling your guests how to dress unless absolutely necessary. Still, we understand the fear that your one crazy uncle might show up in khakis and his favorite Hawaiian shirt to your black-tie affair. When you must make a note of dress code, etiquette dictates a few rules. Include the dress code on the reception invitation in the lower right-hand corner (it should not go on an invite with ceremony information). And be simple about it. Just write "black-tie" or "black-tie invited" so there's no confusion.
Q: Sometimes our friends run late. Can we put a fake ceremony time on the invites so that we can actually start on time?
Generally, it's not a good idea to give guests a fake start time on your wedding invitation. This is because your friends who do show up on time (or even a little early) will be left waiting 30 or 45 minutes for the actual ceremony to begin. Having said that, if your friends and family notoriously run late, there are a few ways to get away with using a fake start time. Make sure you provide some food, drinks and even entertainment so your on-time guests aren't bored. Set up a water or sparkling lemonade table and ask your ceremony musicians to start playing about an hour before the ceremony. And of course, make sure your closest friends and family members are on time, so they can entertain other guests.
Q: How can I let my guests know it's not okay to bring a date?
You can easily solve this dilemma by clearly addressing your invitations to only those invited. If you're offering plus-ones, just write "Ms. Mary Smith and Guest," and know that Mary will write back with the name of the person she'd like to bring. People not mentioned on the invitation should assume they are not invited -- and this goes for children too. If the invitation reads "Mr. and Mrs. Jones," you can bet it's an intimate or adults-only wedding.