The first glimpse into your wedding day for your guests will be when they receive their invitation. Everything about it will dictate the style of your wedding; it will tell them if it is formal, casual, destination, etc. From the font you select to the artwork you use on them, your invitations will lay the groundwork for your wedding style and theme! So where do you begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Below is everything you need to know for nailing your invitations!
1. So what is your Wedding Style?
Of course, your invitation will tell your guests the location and time of day of your wedding, but it also lets them know the level of formality of your wedding. Whether it’s classic, casual, or glam, you will want to make sure your stationery reflects this style. Looking for inspiration online is a great way to figure out the type of invitations that will suit your style and what types of things to tell your stationer. And please don’t discount the power of using a professional stationer; they know of items and styles that are available that others won’t! Rely on them to help you do the heavy lifting – they love to do it!
2. Be sure to incorporate your wedding colors and/or theme
While this is certainly not required, you can incorporate your colors and logo, monogram, or something similar (if you have one) into your invitations. Some more formal, traditional invitations stick to the simple black on white or ivory look; but if you are doing something that isn’t so traditional, then you really can do anything! One thing to definitely consider is continuing the same design, colors, theme throughout the rest of your wedding stationery to maintain a cohesive look. One fun way to add a pop of color is with your envelopes and liners – I ❤️ envelope liners! 📨
3. You don’t have to stick with a rectangular shape!
Yes, a rectangular card is the traditional size and shape for wedding invitations. But today you can pick whatever shape you want! If you want to convey a more whimsical message, try circular or scalloped shaped invitations. If you want to maintain a nod to the classic rectangle shape, but add a bit more personality, go for a square invitation! If you do decide to use an alternate-shaped card, be sure to ask your stationer if it will affect your postage costs, as extra-large invites can cost more to mail.
4. Be sure not to make it too busy
While colors, shapes, and patterns are fun to play with, don’t forget to focus mostly on the text—I mean, you’re sending these things to convey a message after all! Again, rely on your stationer for help with the best way to keep your text legible. Some examples include using contrasting inks with paper; avoid light inks on light backgrounds and darker inks on darker backgrounds. Lastly, it can be so easy to fall in love with a gorgeous heavily scripted font; but be sure to make sure your message doesn’t get sacrificed amongst the swirls and embellishments!
5. Words matter
Again, this is an area where you should lean heavily on your stationer (are you seeing a pattern here?!), as they can help you with the rules for wording your invitations. Traditionally, whoever is hosting should be listed first on the invitation. If there are multiple people hosting the wedding, such as two sets of parents or the parents and the couple, you will want to make sure everyone is included here. Traditionally, this is followed by “request the honor of your presence.” However, if you are doing something less traditional, talk to your stationer about alternate wording options. Lastly, be sure to spell everything out, including the time of your ceremony.
6. Keep it simple
The purpose of the actual invitation is to let your guests know who’s hosting, who’s getting married, the ceremony location and time, the dress code (optional), and RSVP information. Things like directions and details about other wedding-related activities should be printed on separate enclosure cards or on your wedding website. And please, do not print where you are registered anywhere on your invitations—your guests already know to get you gift. They are also savvy enough to check your wedding website or do some quick searches to find your registries. It’s just tacky to put it on your invitation.
7. Get started sooner than later
You will want to send your save-the-date cards anywhere between 8 to 10 months before your wedding. Please note that, since your invitations are custom, they can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks—or longer, depending on how unique they are—to print them. Your save-the-dates don’t have to match your invites, but it will add to the overall cohesiveness of your wedding. Plus, ordering all of your wedding stationery from one source can save you money and make the invitation process easier. We recommend you start contacting stationers 9 to 11 months before your wedding date. Try to order your invitations 4 to 5 months prior to your wedding so there will be no problem receiving them by your mail date: 8 to 10 weeks before the wedding. Please note: if you’re having a destination wedding or even a wedding over the holidays, we recommend sending out your invites even earlier (12 weeks before the wedding).
8. Be clear with your response expectations
Your final guest count affects literally everything at your wedding: the number of tables, drinks, dinners, centerpieces, etc. It is so important that you have this number when your vendors need it. Make the deadline no more than three or four weeks after guests receive the invitations because oftentimes, the more time you give guests to reply, the more likely they are to forget (#humannature).
9. Costs to consider
The price per invite can vary widely—anywhere from $1 to more than $100 (um…I need to see that invitation!). So many factors contribute to this: the quantity, design, paper selection, color of ink, letterpress, engraving, and custom design can all add to your costs; as will decorative extras like envelope liners and multiple enclosures. If you are working with a budget (um, yeah), you will want to prioritize the things about your invitations that mean the most to you: do you have to have them embossed? Will you die without envelope liners? These are all things to define early on so that you avoid getting caught up and selecting the $100 invitation suite! Also, if you’re planning to hire a calligrapher, be sure to investigate pricing, as the charge can be anywhere from $2 to $8 per envelope! This will need to be added as a line item in your stationery budget.
10. Consider hand-addressing your envelopes – by you or someone else
While using printed labels is an easy (and affordable) option, handwriting each address is not only more formal, it’s also more personal. It shows your guests you want them to be at your wedding so much that you took the time—or had someone else take the time—to hand-letter their name and address on the envelope. When you order your invitations, see if you can get the envelopes in advance of the printed invitations; this will give you or the person you hire a head start. While you don’t have to hire a calligrapher to address your envelopes, we highly recommend it, as it looks beautiful and makes an elegant first impression. If you plan to do them yourselves, tackle the project in a few sittings to avoid sloppiness or mistakes. And if this is too much for you and/or your budget, many invitation suites either include the price of printing addresses on your envelopes or offer the service for a minimal fee. Be sure to consider the font for readability and cohesiveness with your invitations.
11. Quadruple-Check your Proof
Before your invitation order is printed, your stationer will send you a proof to approve. Don’t breeze over this step, even though it’s really easy to glance quickly and assume it’s fine! Have more than you and your fiancé look it over; get as many eyes on it as possible! Trust me, you do not want to have to contact every guest with the correct information after the fact!
12. Definitely Order Extra
Order enough invitations to cover your guest list + 25 extra. You might need to resend an invitation; and we’re sure you are going to want to put some aside as keepsakes. Plus, it’s not cheap to print more later. Also, request extra envelopes in case of returned invites or addressing mistakes, cause they’re going to happen! Note: calligraphers generally require an extra 15 to 20%.
13 You’re not done yet!
At the same time you are selecting your invitations, just go ahead and select your corresponding stationery for the rest of your wedding: menus, programs, thank-you notes, and anything else you will need. This will maintain the cohesive look you are going for as well as save you money and time by combining it all into one order. which may save you money and time.
14. Don’t forget to stamp the reply cards!
Even though it may seem obvious, don’t forget to include stamps on your reply-card envelopes. You don’t want to ask them to cover the cost of postage. Plus, by stamping them yourself, you have a much greater chance they will be returned. I know, it’s kind of pathetic. As for the return address for the reply cards, you should print the address for whoever is hosting the wedding; however, if your parents are technically hosting, but you’re keeping track of the guest list, you can use your address instead. And be sure to stay on top of the lastest LOVE stamps from the post office!
15. Weigh them before you add your postage!
Make a quick trip to your local post office and verify the weight of your full invitation suite in order to confirm the proper postage with the professionals! We promise, you don’t want to deal with the hassle of invitations being returned because of insufficient postage. Another thing you can ask while at the post office is about hand-canceling: instead of running your invites through the processing machine like regular mail—which could warp or potentially ruin them—they manually put a stamp on the envelopes to show that they have been processed. And bonus: it’s free! The only catch is that—even though most post offices do try their best to keep hand-canceled mail separated from regular mail—there is no absolute guarantee your invitations won’t go through the processing machines. If this is an absolute must-have for you, you can pay a “non-machinable fee” to ensure they are hand-processed; this will guarantee your mail will be sorted by hand.
Whew! That is a LOT of invitation information! Who knew it was all so complicated? As if we didn’t mention it enough above, we can’t recommend enough how much we recommend using a professional stationer for all of your paper needs for your wedding. This whole list basically essentially gets covered by someone that has done this process so many times, he/she could do it in their sleep. But they won’t. They will definitely stay wide awake while ordering your invites. Promise.
Happy Wedding Planning!