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What Are Courtesy Wedding Invitations?

And do you really need to send them?

Contributing Writer
classic invitation pink and white color elements with illustration etching
Photography by: Rebecca Yale Photography

Let's say you have a Great Aunt Jane who lives thousands of miles away and your entire family knows she won't be able to travel for your wedding. Even so, your mom really wants you to invite her anyway so that she feels included and knows that you're thinking of her. This is a classic example of a courtesy invitation. Simply put, courtesy wedding invitations are the kinds of invites you extend despite knowing that a guest can't—or very likely won't be able to—attend your ceremony and reception. So, what's the deal with these kinds of invites? Are they a good idea? To get a conclusive answer, we asked an etiquette expert.

 

Related: Here's Why Your Wedding Invites Should Always Include a Self-Addressed, Stamped RSVP Card

 

Always Send the Invitation

Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas, says, "If you are close to someone, there is no reason why you should not send out an invitation, even though you know there are circumstances that will prohibit them from attending your wedding. For example, if you extend a wedding invitation to a family member you know cannot attend due to distance or illness, the intention is to make them feel included and respected." Gottsman says as long as your invitation is genuine and not a ploy to receive a gift, it's a good idea to go ahead and send it to this important person in your life.

 

When to Send an Announcement Instead

If you're getting married at a very small venue or you're having an intimate destination wedding, sending out courtesy invites to those you know can't travel isn't appropriate. Instead, in this case, you'd send an announcement to friends and family who weren't invited to the small event. Gottsman says, "A marriage announcement is sent out when you have a limited guest list but you want to alert friends or family of your marriage." In this case, the announcement is typically prepared and sent just prior to the wedding and recipients have no obligation to send gifts. The reason to send the announcement is to spread the good news with folks that won't be resentful or upset about not being included in the actual wedding.