Your budget will play a role in the kind of invitations you'll choose. Obviously you want them to match your wedding style, which in turn reflects your personal style.

You can have invitations specially designed, or choose from a catalogue at a stationery specialist. If you're particularly creative and have the resources (and not too many guests), you can even make your own invitations.

When to order
Several weeks before you plan to send them out – allow a month for stationery to be printed.

When to send
Ideally, eight weeks before the wedding. This gives everyone plenty of time to clear their diaries and make travel arrangements if need be. Sending your invites out early also means you can make the RSVP date earlier. The latest invitations should go out is six weeks before the time.

When to RSVP
Your deadline should be no later than two weeks before the big day. If you haven't had responses from everyone, give them a call to find out. Your service providers will need a final head count.

How to word them
It's customary for the invitation to be issued in the bride's parents' name (especially if they're paying for the wedding). These days, many couples choose to include both parents' names on the invitation. A standard invitation, with both parents inviting could read:

invite you to celebrate the marriage of their children

If your parents are divorced, the wording should run: 'Mr (your father's surname) and Mrs (your mother's surname) invite you to celebrate the marriage of their daughter'. Or, if that's what they'd prefer, lose the honorifics and just put their names: 'John Gray and Melinda Smith invite you to celebrate...'

If the wedding ceremony is going to be a religious one, invitations usually 'request the honour of your presence' at the ceremony.

For civil ceremonies, use the wording 'request the pleasure of your company'.

On formal invitations it's customary to write out all the words, for example, "five o' clock in the afternoon", rather than "5.30pm"

What to include
Your invitation should include the date, time and location of your wedding ceremony and reception; a contact number or RSVP card; an envelope for replies; and a map of how to get to the ceremony and reception. You might want to mention it if there's a dress code. It's generally considered bad form to include registry or gift information with the invitation. (It's even worse to ask for gifts of cash.)