Mark the calendar. Here's your deadline for getting those pretty papers out the door.

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Your save-the-dates have long been sent and a big box of beautiful wedding stationery just arrived at your front door. We know you're itching to start stuffing those perfectly calligraphed envelopes, but take a quick look at the calendar. Is this when you're supposed to send wedding invitations?

When to Send Wedding Invitations

Wedding planning comes with a dizzying amount of decisions, from the music selection to your bridesmaids’ dresses. But when it comes to mailing out your wedding invitations, a standard timeline eliminates the guesswork and zaps the stress. 

Once you've settled on a date for the big day, work backwards to determine your timeline. There are a couple of factors to keep in mind as you calculate your mailing milestones: First, is your wedding a local affair or a destination wedding? And second, are most of your guests local? Or will many be traveling long distances, or from out of country, to attend?

For local weddings, or easily accessible domestic destinations, invitations should be mailed out six to eight weeks prior to the wedding. This gives guests two to four weeks to reply, as the RSVP deadline should fall one month before the big day. (Whoever is making the seating chart will thank you!)

Destination weddings, however, require more time and resources of your guests, so it’s only right to give them a longer window for planning. In these cases, invitations should be mailed out three months before the wedding. 

The same three-month rule applies if a large number of your guests will be traveling from across the country or around the globe. If only a small number of your guests will have to travel great distances for the wedding, it is perfectly acceptable to send your invitations out just six to eight weeks before, though it’s courteous to give those guests a heads up well before invites are mailed. Save the dates (which should be sent out six months before the wedding) and an updated wedding website are two more easy ways to keep guests, near and far, in the loop with all the details.

For overeager brides who are ahead of schedule, holding on to invitations that are ready a bit early may a challenge. The rest of us, though, may have trouble enough just trying to plan in advance for all of the pieces of the puzzle to come together. Even if you've picked out your paper styles on time, there are printing timelines, envelope stuffing, and calligrapher schedules to take into account. Who knew there'd be so many timetables to consider for a piece of mail?

Timelines to Consider In Planning When to Mail Wedding Invitations:

Calligraphy: If you're using a calligrapher to address your envelopes, be sure to get in touch with him or her as soon as you've confirmed your invitation printing schedule. Calligraphers require anywhere from 2-3 weeks or more to address your envelopes, so you'll need to confirm dates and tack that onto your timeline.

Assembly: If you're sending out hundreds of envelopes, don't forget it may take you a few days to stuff and seal all of that stationery. Don't plan to be able to take your invitations straight to the post office as soon as you receive them.

Postage: When you have a fully assembled invitation to test, weigh it at the post office you plan to use for the mailing. If you've been eyeing a particular set of stamps, you'll need to ensure the envelope weight matches the postage you plan to use before placing stamps. Believe it or not, the weight can slightly vary from one post office to the next, so be sure to stick to just one location.