Congratulations, you’re engaged! While this is certainly an exciting chapter of your life, it’s time to get serious about your planning, starting with your invitations.
Wait, you need to start thinking about your invitations now? Absolutely, if you want to give your guests plenty of time to plan as well – especially if you’re having a destination wedding or it’s going to be during the holiday season (more on that below). That’s why we created this guide to help you make your invitation planning as seamless as possible, as well as give some tips on designing the perfect invitation for you and your partner.
Setting Your Budget
This step is critical, yet it can go by the wayside since we get so excited to start the execution. Knowing what you can spend will keep you focused on the bigger picture and reign in unrealistic expectations. However, you should set your budget for the entire wedding and then set aside a percentage of your total budget for the invitations. Most couples spend between two to four percent of their total budget on invitations.
Gather all of the contact information you need as soon as possible. Get addresses for all of your aunts, uncles, cousins, and childhood friends by reaching out to everyone and anyone who may have them. This can take a while, so be prepared to spend some time to do the gathering.
Order on Time
A good rule of thumb is to place your order for the invitations at least three months before the wedding. For your Save The Dates, make sure they go out six to eight months before the wedding–and even sooner if you’re planning a destination wedding or having your wedding during the holidays. This way everyone will have plenty of time to prepare, mark their calendar, and book their flight.
Make sure you get a physical proof of your invitations before you complete the full order and triple check it. It’s a also a good idea to enlist the help your favorite editor friend or family member to make sure every detail is perfect. When you place the final order, add at least ten percent more than you need in case you need extra, and save a few for yourself and your moms–trust us, they’ll want one as a keepsake. Finally, mail the physical invitation six to eight weeks before the big day.
Set Your RSVP Date
Since you’ve given everyone plenty of time to prepare with your Save The Dates and are sending your invitations on time, make sure you set a good date to receive all of your reply cards. Double check with your caterer to see when they would like a final head count, but you should typically ask to receive responses three weeks in advance.
When you send your invitations, don’t forget to put a stamp on the return envelope. Also, to track your RSVPs you can use this great tool from The Knot or create a spreadsheet, and be sure to leave a column to track gifts. Another quick tip: Sometimes guests will forget to add their name to the reply card, so you can track them by putting a number on the back that corresponds to their spreadsheet number.
Design Your Dream Invitations
Now we can get to the fun part! Although designing your invitations can be overwhelming at first, you can simplify the process by thinking about a few things when you start:
- What’s your wedding style? Are you going for formal and glamorous? Maybe modern and elegant? Or perhaps you want to keep things a little laid back with a rustic, casual feel. No matter which you choose, knowing from the outset will help direct your design choices.
- Do you have a specific theme in mind for the big day? If you do, help set the mood with your invitations. For instance, ’50s-themed wedding invitations should have a retro feel to them.
- Have you chosen your colors yet? Disperse the palette throughout the stationery to tie everything together.
- How can you personalize the invitations? Don’t be afraid to play with color, shape, and size. You can choose between circular, scalloped, or square shapes if you want to avoid the standard rectangle. You can go a little larger than the traditional 4.5×6.5-inch card–do be sure to check postage costs before you choose a card that’s too large, though. Also, if you’re going to play with the card color, make sure there’s enough contrast between the background and ink to keep the lettering legible.
If you’re designing your own from scratch, this is a great in-depth guide to help you along the way.
You may also choose to work with a stationary designer to create a super custom look. Our favorite local designers are Cloud 9 and Lucky Onion. They can incorporate cool details in your invitations like personalized illustrations, laser cut wood and water color paintings.
Choose Your Words Wisely
While it may seem like all rules have been thrown out the window these days, there are still a few must-haves for proper invitation etiquette. The host(s) of the wedding should be listed first on the invitation . You can say something along the lines of “request the honor of your presence for the wedding of”. Then include your name and your fiancé’s, followed by the date, time, and location of the ceremony. The RSVP date should be included on the bottom right and it’s a good idea to specify if the guest is invited to both the ceremony and reception or just the reception.
Traditionally, everything is spelled out, i.e. “the fifth of September” and “Colorado Springs, Colorado”. Because of that, it’s important to not try to cram too much information on the invitation itself. Information like directions and post-wedding details should be on a separate card or on your website. It’s also best to list registry information on the website.
One more important thing about the words is to make sure important information isn’t presented with an overly scripted typeface. Leave it simple and classic so it’s easy to read.
Choose Your Printing Process
There are a few options for printing your cards. From least to most expensive:
- Flat printing: This is probably the common form nowadays with so many online ordering options. The lettering will be smooth and is generally done offset or digitally.
- Thermography: This is a process whereby the type is raised mixing ink with a resinous powder and then applying heat. It will look a lot like engraving, but will be about half the cost.
- Letterpress: If you want a handmade, one-of-a-kind feel for your invitations, letterpress is the way to go. The type is pressed into paper using blocks of metal that are painted with ink, leaving a deep impression. These are sure to impress your guests.
- Engraving: This raised lettering process is the gold standard for formal affairs, which is appropriate since it’s generally the most expensive option. The design is etched onto a copper plate and then filled with ink. A heavy weight pushes the paper onto the plate, leaving beautifully raised letters.
To Handwrite or Print Addresses
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. Handwriting the invitations will make your guest get that warm fuzzy feeling because it shows that you took the time to think of them and write out their name. However, unless you have incredibly beautiful handwriting, it’s probably best to hire someone to do the actual addressing. For an even more elegant and formal touch, you can hire a calligrapher to do it. That’s the disadvantage of handwriting the addresses: it will likely add to your costs.
If you don’t have the extra budget set aside for hiring a calligrapher, you can always use a calligraphy software to print out the addresses. That’s where the advantage of printing is: it’s generally much less expensive than handwriting them.
Don’t forget to add a stamp to the return envelope to make sending the reply an easy process for your guest.
To ensure adequate postage, weigh a sample invitation before you include the postage for all of the invitations. The last thing you is the headache of them all being returned for inadequate postage!
Save Some Money and Time
As a final tip, if you’re ordering through a stationer, go ahead and order any other items you may need for the wedding reception and after the big day. These include menus, programs, and thank you notes. You’ll not only have a more cohesive look throughout, you’ll also likely be able to get a good deal for ordering more items at once.
Now that the invitations are done, we look forward to helping you Say Yes to the Dress at The Bridal Collection. See you soon!