Besides conveying the essential information (who, what, where and when), your wedding invitation is a preview of your big day. Make sure it makes the right first impression and that it reflects the tone and formality of the event so that guests know how to dress and what to expect.
The options for paper, printing and embossing can be overwhelming, and you’ll find many sources, including stationery stores, independent stationers/printers, graphic artists, department stores, mail order catalogues and online stationers.
A professional stationer can help guide you in paper selection, print styles, wording and more. Stores will have samples to help you get ideas. Most online stores will also provide free samples upon request or offer them at a very reasonable price.
Assemble the Essential Elements
Traditional invitations consist of heavy stock, 100-percent cotton or linen paper in white or ecru, engraved with black or charcoal ink, and with a square of tissue to protect the type. For a different or more modern approach, you might choose papers in unusual sizes and colors, with exotic textures relating to the color scheme of the wedding or inscribed with motifs, graphics, monograms, or family crests.
Reply cards are traditionally sent with your invitations with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Each guest is asked to check a box letting couples know how many people will attend the wedding. If it’s a weekend wedding, the reply card will often include a list of activities with check boxes so that guests can let the couple know which events (such as a luncheon or golf outing) they plan to attend. Be sure to include a reply date so that you can firm up the number of guests and continue with your planning.
Reception cards are sent with the wedding invitation, informing guests of the date, place and time of the reception.
Check it twice
Just before your invitations go to print, you should get a proof to review. Check the text for spelling errors and confirm the accuracy of date, time, and other information. Ask a friend or relative to proof it, too. Be absolutely sure of all locations and times before your invitations go to print.
Most experts advise ordering extras (25 percent more than you think you need is a good rule of thumb) to allow for any inadvertently forgotten guests or in case mistakes are made when addressing the envelopes.
Handwritten addresses are preferable to typing or computer printed labels. If you have more invitations than you have time to address, or if your handwriting is illegible, ask your wedding party to help or hire a calligrapher.
Invitations should be ordered three to four months prior to the wedding and sent six to eight weeks prior to the wedding date.
Many engaged couples are sending save-the-date cards long before the invitation to inform invitees of the wedding date and location so they can plan ahead. This is especially helpful for out-of-town guests, or if the wedding is planned in conjunction with a holiday or during the height of tourist season when guests will need to book travel arrangements in advance. Information on area hotels along with contact information for a travel agent, if applicable, can be included.
Stationery for these cards can be more casual than the invitation and typically includes illustrations or graphics. Ideally, the cards should play off the theme or color palette of your wedding. If you haven’t made those decisions yet, try to link the cards in some way to either the date or location. For example, if you’re having a beach wedding, a seashore theme might be appropriate.
Order these cards as soon as you know your wedding date. Send them six months or more before your wedding.