By Dobrina Zhekova
Updated Jul 12, 2016 @ 9:45 am
Credit: Jimin & Hyerim/Getty Images

When it comes to sending out save-the-date cards and wedding invitations, things can get a little confusing—how far in advance do you mail those and how much time should you give your guests to RSVP. Add to the mix the thank-you notes that you must mail after your wedding, and you can get really lost in deadlines. To make sure you have your wedding timeline right, we spoke to Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, who shed some light on the appropriate time to send out all your wedding stationery.

1. When should we send out our save-the-date cards?
“I suggest sending a card out between four months to six to eight months–depending on whether or not it is a destination wedding,” says Gottsman. She suggests you allow more time if your guests must make travel arrangements for an out-of-the-country wedding.

And don’t forget that your correspondence will set the tone for the event. Emailing your save-the-date cards is acceptable if you are considering a more casual celebration. But if you are planning a formal wedding, you must absolutely mail a physical card. Plus, let's be honest—a card is a lot more memorable than an email.

2. When should we send out our wedding invitations?
“The official invitation should go out around six to eight weeks before the wedding, and at least 12 weeks out for a destination wedding,” says Gottsman.

If you are planning a wedding abroad (you will need to decide this early on), your save-the-date card should make that clear so your guests have enough time to plan and take off of work.

3. How much time should we give our guests to RSVP?
“Allow three weeks to a month for planning purposes. Caterers would like to have an idea of how many people will be attending several weeks in advance. They can accommodate last minute add-ons, but it’s best to give a firm number by two to three weeks out,” explains Gottsman.

If some of your guests haven’t RSVP-ed on time (trust us, there are always these few people who don’t believe in deadlines), you can certainly contact them and ask if they are planning to attend. Just let them know that you are finalizing your catering order and want to make sure they are included.

4. When should we send out our thank-you notes?
“Your thank-you notes should go out as soon as possible. Always make sure you mention the gift and how you plan to use it or enjoy it in the card. Don’t delay–try and get all the cards out within the first month, or worst-case scenario—three months,” says Gottsman.

Don’t forget to send your bridal party a thank-you note for being an important part of your special day. Attach it to the bridal party gift (yes, you must have one), or mail it soon after the wedding. Also, make sure anyone who attended your shower has been thanked, along with the efficient.