(Closed) wedding invite etiquette for out-of-country guests

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
2958 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Wynn Las Vegas

We and DH’s mom spread the word right when we got engaged – just verbally. We told them far in advance so people could start saving for the trip, and by the time invitations needed to go out we pretty much knew who was going to make the trip. When I did make invitations I brought the lot to his mom when we were visiting, and she graciously mailed them out for us because it would be way too expensive from the US. We ended up having over 50 people from the UK at our vegas wedding. 

Post # 4
9952 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Hi @tonick788: First and foremost, as this is your DEBUT Post on WBee, let me say a BIG Welcome to “the Hive”

I am a bit of an “Etiquette Snob” lol… here on WBee, in so much as I know a lot of the Traditional Rules (mostly from my Career)

“Traditionally” one wouldn’t seperate out Guests into two different piles based on whether one would think they may or may not attend…

You would send the Official Invite to all… so that they are treated identically… and can decide for themselves

Even people who don’t or cannot attend, may appreciate getting the Invite all the same, as some people do like to hold onto them / collect them as a keepsake

So no there is no other way around this in a polite fashion

— — —

With the new trend towards STDs this is one way that some people get around this issue… they send out Save-The-Date Cards with website or contact info on them in hopes that those far away might let them know their intentions.

But even then there is no Guarantee…

Cause a STD is really just an “Announcement” or a Hand-bill / Flyer with upcoming info

Plus someone might think NO when the STD comes, and then be a YES when the Invite comes… or vice versa

— — —

What you do want to do if you send out Invitations to Far Away Guests is have a good lot of lead time.  In that way you can actually have 2 RSVP Dates…

One for those farther away, and one for those closer.  This also allows one to have a “B List” of Invites if need be… so that there are spaces freed up by the Far Away Guests you can invite other people

Just remember that the rule of thumb is for every NO you get back to send out half as many Invites again

Example… You send an Invite to Aunt Sally & Uncle Bob, and their children Robert Jr & Sue (4 people)

They send back in a NO – REGRETS… then you can send out an Invite for 2 more people (your friends Jane & Paul) this allows for the fact if someone should change their mind at the last minute and go from an NO to a YES (in which case you have to accommodate them)

Mind you, if they live really far away, chances are that will never happen, so you can manage the Guest List a bit more agressively.

Hope this helps,


Post # 5
9952 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

EDIT TO ADD – @whoa_its_ash:  brings up a good point. 

When it comes to mailing invites to another country.

It might be cheaper to send someone in the country where you need to send the bulk of the invites to, a parcel that contains all the invites for that country… then they can put local stamps on them and send them out a lot cheaper than perhaps you can one at a time (something worth investigating and working out the costs for)

I did this myself for my first marriage… and at least in our situation it saved us some money.


Post # 6
687 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

This is a great question, and one that I’ve been stressing over.

We’re having a very small wedding (20-25 guests) and our venue can seat a maximum of 28 people. A number of my home country friends want to come, but I realistically understand that once they get to the visa/cost of air fare/taking time off of work stage they most likely will change their minds. And this will probably be pretty last-minute (I know my friends much too well to expect them to plan a trip 6+ months out!).
So on the one hand I have to hold seats for them (I don’t even want to think how terrible it would be if they were to defy all odds and come, and we didn’t have room to include them…), but on the other hand we need a backup plan, since they most likely won’t come.

Post # 8
2958 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Wynn Las Vegas

@tonick788:  Even I was shocked at how many people made the trip! They made a summer vacation out of it.

What we also found useful was online RSVP! 

Post # 9
3025 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2014 - Prague

I’m in your same boat. I sent out Save the Dates in the hopes of getting an idea of who will be coming. It has worked to some extent. I even know one person who has already bought his ticket!!! 

I will likely be sending the US invites in bulk to a friend who has offered to send them from there.

Post # 11
9952 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Hi @tonick788:  I think we understood each other.

Everything needs to begin with your well ironed out Guest List.

What I am saying is you should send Invites to Everyone… whether you think they’ll come or not… it is the polite thing to do

Another words…

If you’ve figured out your Guest List should be made up of Parents, Siblings, Aunts & Uncles First Cousins & also Friends of yourself & your Groom … then you’d send out the Invites that correspond to that list to the South Americans in the first round (with RSVP Date # 1)

As the NOs come back in, you keep track

Ie You are having a Wedding for 145 People (capacity).  And you send out 25 Invites to South America which covers 80 People.

You get back 75 Nos for the 80 People, and 5 Yeses (Aunt & Uncle & 2 Kids… an a Young Adult who wants to make the trip to America)

You now are a situation where you “technically” can accommodate 140 People

So you send out Round # 2 of your Invites with the 2nd RSVP Deadline

Altho, I’d leave a bit of a “safety gap” / wiggle room… so instead of sending out Invites that correspond to 140 People, I’d send out for say 130.

At the end of the process you get back 110 Yesses and 20 Nos.

You now have 110 + 5 People who are confirmed to attend = 115

If you have enough lead time, you could send out a few more invites… The “B” List… by taking the 20 Nos and inviting half as many people again…

So 20 Nos, becomes Invites for 10… or say 5 Couples that you and your Finace have as friends.

Hope this helps,

B Lists are tricky… in that you have to manage them well, and the Guests cannot be aware that they are on said B List.  It all comes down to sending things out with enough lead time to the RSVP Deadline.  And leaving space for anyone who may have said NO and later become a YES

In the scenario above you’d end up with:

5 South American Relatives + 110 People from your A List + 10 People from your B List = 125 Total

And if someone should change their mind at the last minute to go from NO to YES you still have space to accommodate them.

I hope I’ve explained it better this time… you can ask more Questions if need be.


Post # 12
12 posts
  • Wedding: February 2014

I had half of my guest list in Brasil for a wedding in the US. I feel your pain. I also would have a slight problem if everyone from Brasil magically could come but that would’ve been in price and not capacity for the venue. I did get a promise from Future Father-In-Law that he’s covering any extra people since he went WELL over his allotment since “none fo these people will come”.  I feel like in the end we worked everything out fairly well.

First step for us was Save the Dates and a wedding website. The Brazil invites actually went down there almost 3 weeks prior to any US guests getting theirs. We got a rough head count (within 6-8 people) fairly quickly just from this! People knew word of mouth from the engagment but once they saw the date and hotel and could start to price everything we had a great head count. This way we knew if we needed to cut any friends from our US guest list before the Save-The-Date Cards were sent out. 

I just sent the formal invitations (even to those not going) down to my FI’s aunt and she is mailing them locally for me. I’ll know in 2 weeks about those last 6 people because they will need to buy flights! I agree if you send them a save the date they get the paper invite. For many of his cousins who can’t afford to come this is all they’ll get from the wedding. 

Post # 14
218 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

@tonick788:  we had our parents talk to our out of country family,  and we talked to our out of country friends as soon as we set the date.

 We  felt them out,  and in the case of the SA  guests, we found out  who already had visas.

 based on this info,  we made a list of the out of country guests and wrote a  list of who we thought would make it.  once we had that list,  we figured out how many American friends we could  afford to invite.

 worse case every single person shows up and we are about $2000  over budget  but I  doubt  that will happen.

 shortly after we set the date,  we created our wedding  website  in  Spanish and English and sent the URL  viaemail to our  international guests,  letting then know  they  would  be  getting  an invite but  wanted them to have info in case they wanted to get started on travel  plans.

 as far as making invites, I  think it’s best to  send them from the US. since they have international postage they  will be returned  to you if they can’t be delivered.

 we’ve had several from SA  returned!

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