When should invitations be sent?
Traditionally, invitations go out six to eight weeks before the wedding—that gives guests plenty of time to clear their schedules and make travel arrangements if they don't live in town. If it's a destination wedding, give guests more time and send them out three months ahead of time.
Make your RSVP date two to three weeks before your wedding date to allow enough time for you to get a final head count to the caterer (one week before) and to finalize your seating chart.
How to Tactfully Extend Wedding Invitations to Guests on Your "B" List
In a perfect world, you'd have the budget and venue space to invite every person you want to your wedding. Reality check: Every couple will have to decide on a maximum number of guests they can invite to their ceremony and reception, and most brides and grooms are forced to leave at least some people they'd like to invite off of their final list. In that case, consider putting them on a B list—those who you could invite if someone on the original list tells you they can't attend. But should you even have a B list? Some couples think it's tacky and rude to have a contingency list, arguing that either you invite someone in the first place or not at all. Others disagree, pointing out that most friends who aren't invited in the first wave but are in the second round will understand that space is limited or that you had to invite all of your cousins first. If you decide to do a B list, here's how to do it right.
Organize a list of potential guests. If you have 20 people on the B list, put them in order of who to invite first. When RSVPs come in, you'll be ready to send out the B list invites without delay. (People who RSVP "no" tend to return their responses soon after receiving the invite, which works in your favor.)
Don't advertise that there's a "waiting" list. That would be rude and sure to get back to guests who might not understand or have hurt feelings. Avoid this scenario by avoiding talk of a second group of guests.
Invite all or no one in the same group. This applies to work friends, social friends, family, and any other group in your life. If you're close to a few people in the group but only so-so close to the others, don't have some on the A list and the rest on the B list. That's sure to cause friction when group A chats about the wedding in the vicinity of group B.
Consider having two RSVP cards. Traditionally, wedding invitations are mailed six to eight weeks before the wedding, with an RSVP deadline of two to three weeks prior to the event. Having two different RSVP dates gives B listers more time to reply. But it can also make things more complicated because you'll have more to keep track of. But if you like this idea, mail out your first batch of wedding invitations earlier, at the 10- to 12-week mark with an RSVP deadline six to eight weeks before the wedding. Send the B-list guests their invitations as soon as the "can't come" replies start arriving from the original group; send the second RSVP card with a three-week-before deadline.