As a wedding planner, we get asked all the time about invitations. Wedding stationery has a bad rap for being "unimportant", but we couldn't disagree more! Your wedding stationery is the FIRST thing your guests will see and will set the tone for your entire event. For example, If you opt for a casual invitation, but are hosting the wedding in a ballroom, you may have guests show up underdressed. On the flip side, if you send a formal invitation, but opt for a country barn wedding, you may have guests show up in a tux and long dress. The invitation should match the vibe of the wedding, and shouldn't be an afterthought.
Custom vs Online Ordering
Should I go custom or order from a website like Shutterfly or Minted? We LOVE a good custom invitation, but that's not in everyone's budget. They have perfectly good styles to choose from online if hiring a pro calligrapher or stationer is out of the realm of possibility. if you opt for ordering an invitation online, our favorite is www.minted.com. They have GORGEOUS designs and use high quality materials. Plus, you can save all the addresses in their site and use them for future ordering (think Holiday cards). They will also address the envelopes for you, which is a huge time saver!
What Should be Included in the Invitation Suite
You should include an outer envelope addressed to the recipient, an unsealed inner envelope, the ceremony and reception invitation (can be combined as one or separate if the ceremony and reception are in different locations), a response card and a self addressed stamped envelope.
Helpful Tip: When mailing out your wedding invitations, include a numbering system on your reply cards. Write a number on the inner envelope and have a corresponding journal or note the number wherever you are keeping track of RSVP's. This will save you lots of headaches when you get those cards back with NO NAME. I know, it sounds silly, but it happens every time.
This is going to be highly dependent on the formality of your wedding. Here are some tips:
1) Request line: We request the honor of your presence (formal) or We would be delighted by your presence at the marriage of their children...
2) Bride and Grooms names: Separated on different lines
3) Date and time: Spell out the time and opt for "in the evening", "in the morning" or "in the afternoon" instead of a.m. or p.m.
4) Location: Don't use the physical address, you can include this on your wedding website. Instead, state the name of the church and venue and include the city and State spelled out and not abbreviated. Example- Station 3, Houston, Texas
5) Reception Line or Card: If the ceremony and reception are in the same space, they can be on a single invitation. If the reception is held elsewhere, a separate card might be helpful.
6) Special details: If your event won’t include a full meal, it’s courteous to inform your guests. Use phrasing such as “cocktail reception to follow” instead of the classic “reception to follow"
If you want to stress the importance of the style of dress, place that information in the lower right corner, or on the reception card. The only thing that should not be included anywhere on your invitation, not even as an insert, is your registry information
Lets Talk Timeline
When should you order and when should you mail out? We suggest ordering your invitations 4-6 months out. This gives you plenty of time to proof and address the invitations. This is super important if using custom invitations as these can take longer to produce. You will want to mail out at least 6-8 weeks before with an RSVP date of 4 weeks before your date to ensure you have enough time to provide final guest counts to vendors. If someone is doing a custom seating chart for you, they may require even more time, so always check.
Helpful Tip: You will want to have your Save the Dates sent out 6 months before.
Lots of couples are "going green" and doing their entire invitation online or just doing online RSVPS. This is fine for less formal weddings, however, we do suggest that you still send out formal invitations to your older, more traditional guests and save the informal web version for more hip friends and family.
Programs: Programs are generally in the form of a booklet bound together by ribbon. They are great for a church wedding and often include the date, ceremony location, bridal party information (and relationship to the bride and groom), the order of events and the titles of readings and songs. Couples may also choose the program to honor deceased loved ones, to thank important people and/or to explain unfamiliar rites of the ceremony. These should be ordered 6 weeks before the wedding.
More affordable option: Choose a one pager and include only the bridal party names and order of ceremony or opt for non-traditional and include your love story or favorite poem.
Place Cards or Escort Cards:
Place cards tell the guest which chair to sit in whereas escort cards inform the guests of what table they are at. You will need these if you are serving a plated meal and allowed guests to make a selection. You will want to order 4-6 weeks out.
Helpful Tip: Instead of writing each guest's table assignment on the escort card itself, slip the card into a small envelope that's tagged with a table number. This way, you give yourself more time to get the escort cards made and can easily swap guests' table assignments up until the last second
Menu Card: A menu is great if you are serving a plated dinner. This will inform guests of what they are about to enjoy instead of playing the guessing game! You can also include why you chose a particular dish. Perhaps you had it on your first date, or it has a cultural significance.
Helpful Tip: If you are serving a buffet and don't want to do a menu card, but would like to have some fun stationery on the table, opt for a fun note from the bride and groom like a heartfelt thank you or a fun game of marriage advice mad libs they can drop somewhere later.
There you have it, a complete guide to wedding stationery. I know, it's a lot, but have fun
with it! Couples are opting for less traditional invitations and playing with different papers, textures and colors. It's your wedding and like I mentioned before, it's the first thing your guests will see. Make it unique and a part of the story you want to tell.