Etiquette

Authored by Toni Footer, Founder of The Write Image and Stationery Professional since 1979

  • When should I mail out wedding invitations? Typically, invitations are sent out 8-10 weeks ahead of the wedding. In smaller towns about 4-6 weeks is sufficient. Some parts of the country may require less time.
  • What information should I put on a birth announcement? Typically the baby’s weight, name, date of birth, and parents and/or siblings names, are put on the announcement. Sometimes people include a picture of the baby, but that is optional.
  • Is it necessary to sign every holiday card? If the name of the person sending the card has had their name pre-printed on the card, then it is not necessary. It is always a nice touch to write a little note to personalize the card a bit, but it is not essential.
  • When should I send out invitations for an informal party (Cocktail, Birthday)? Three weeks to six weeks in advance should give people ample time. The part of the country where one resides and time of year can dictate the amount of notice given.
  • How quickly do I send thank-you notes after receiving a gift? A thank you should typically be sent out as soon as possible (about 3-6 days after a gift is received). For a wedding, a thank-you note should be written within two months of the receipt of the gift. A note written closer to the time of a gift received is always appreciated by a sender. Thank-you notes for a wedding should be started as soon as the first gift arrives so you don’t get behind. If you have forgotten to send a thank-you, it is nice to send one with an apology for the delay.
  • How far in advance should a save-the-date be sent out, and do I need to have them?
    • Approximately Four Months to a Year.
    • Even though they are not required they are very helpful for guests planning vacations and other events, especially if it is a destination wedding.
  • What are the general rules for envelopes?When should birth announcements be sent out? Birth announcements should be sent out as soon as possible, but the latest should be 4 months post-birth. To make it easier on yourself, try to get the announcement picked out in advance, buy stamps, and make a list with addresses ready for those who are to receive the announcement – anything to make it easier once the baby arrives. The Write Image has an option to save your invitation, so once the baby arrives you can fill in any blanks on your order and submit it.
    • In general, for a return address, it looks best on a square envelope and a wallet flap envelope when it is printed across one line centered with a small bullet in the center to separate information. For example:
      1234 Any Street ∙ Any Town, USA 12345
    • In general, for a return address, it looks best on a vertical flap envelope and a V-flap envelope if it is printed with breaks. Here is an example:
      1234 Any Street
      Any Town, USA 12345
    • A square envelope requires extra postage
    • A vertical envelope for an RSVP card is extra postage
    • Always check with the post office before mailing an invitation because of weight and size requirements.
  • How far in advance do I need to mail out my holiday cards? The earliest you should send them out is about one month in advance, and the latest they should be sent is a week before to ensure that it gets there before the holiday.
  • When should I send out invitations for a formal party? If the party involves guests making accommodations in advance, then invitations should be sent out two months before the party. If not, then invitations should be sent out at least a month in advance.
  • When do I use a foldover or correspondence card, letter sheets, note cards, and calling cards and for what occasion do I use them?
    • A foldover note or card is used as a thank-you note.
    • A calling card is typically used as a gift enclosure card.
    • Letter sheets are used when you a writing a long letter.
    • Note cards or flat cards can be used when writing a note or as an invitation; this type of card has many usages.
  • What information is required on a wedding invitation or announcement?Do I send a photograph with my birth announcement? It is not necessary to send a photo with your birth announcement, however many people like to see the baby. Consider the size of the photo if you are enclosing one with the announcement as you will want it to fit in the envelope.
    • Who is doing the inviting (Parents or Couple themselves)
    • Who is getting married
    • Date, Time, Place
    • Recommended attire for guests
    • Reception information (optional)
    • RSVP information (unless it is included as a separate card)
  • Should I include the start and end time to the party on the invitation? Yes, the start time is always given and at times it is necessary to give the end time. Guests may want to know an end time to facilitate driving arrangements. Our personal preference is to omit an end time unless it is essential.
  • At what age should a child write their own thank-you notes? As soon as a child can start writing, they should write their own thank-you notes. Until then, a parent can write one for them. Once the child can write their own name they should sign the card for an extra personal touch.
  • Do we have to send invitations to the people in our wedding party? Yes, no matter how close your relationship is with a guest they will always appreciate a written invitation. People like to keep invitations as mementos.
  • Should I order extra invitation envelopes? If you are doing machine calligraphy, the fifteen extra included with your invitations should be enough unless your guest list “grows”. If you are having a calligrapher hand address or you are hand addressing the envelopes you may need 15-20% over your original order.
  • After receiving a gift, should I write a thank-you note from my newborn? Either way is appropriate, but some announcements come with optional thank you notes with the baby’s name printed in the center of the foldover or at the top of the card.
  • Do I have to use a Regrets Only or RSVP on my invitation? It is up to personal preference whether to write “RSVP” or “Regrets Only” on an invitation. An RSVP allows a host to speak to those who are coming and those who are not coming. “Regrets Only” can be given if the host prefers. You can also use other phrasing such as Kindly or Please respond by a certain date. For suggested wordings, please refer to wordings by Toni, in the RSVP section.
  • How quickly do I send a sympathy note? A sympathy note should be sent as soon as you find out about a death. It is never too late to send a sympathy note, but it is appropriate to apologize for not knowing or hearing about the death.
  • How many invitations should I order? After your guest list is complete, allow at least fifteen extra invitations for error’s and add-on’s. Remember to order based on families or couples – not the number of people invited to the event. If you are planning on inviting 150 people, you may only need 100 invitations depending on the amount of families, singles and couples you are inviting.
  • Do my thank-you-notes or informals have to match my invitations? Some invitations come with matching thank-you notes (informals) and some are not available. It’s not necessary to have matching thank-you notes, but is more of a personal choice.
  • Do I have to reply to an RSVP and does it have to be written? Anyone receiving an invitation with an RSVP card should reply. If a telephone number is given, then a telephone reply is fine, otherwise a reply written in third person should be given. A less formal way of responding would be in first person so you pick the way you’re more comfortable with or it may depend on the formality of an event. If the invitation says “Regrets Only” you should not send or call an acceptance unless you have a question that you need to ask. If an invitation does not provide an RSVP or Regrets Only, then it may not be necessary to give a reply.