modern watercolor invitation suite
Stacy Anderson Photography

From proper wording to etiquette, there are lots of intricacies to mailing a wedding invitation. And any wedding stationer can tell you that invitations typically have several enclosures, each of which serves an important function.

Here’s a list of the most important items in a wedding invitation suite.

The invitation

The star of the show! Your wedding invitation should feature the who-what-when-and where of your big day. Your names, the date and time, and the ceremony venue and address are the must-haves on the main invitation.

The reception card

If your wedding ceremony and reception are in different locations, you may want to consider including a reception card with all of the details, rather than load up the main invitation with all of the info. Reception cards typically include the time and location (with address) of the reception. If your ceremony and reception are in the same place, just include text like “Dinner and Dancing to Follow” on your main invitation.

The response card (and envelope)

Traditionally, guests fill out and mail a response card to let you know if they can or cannot attend your wedding. Some couples choose to have a response card where guests check boxes to indicate their attendance (and often, dinner menu selections), others leave the card mostly blank so that guests can write a personal message. Whatever you decide, be sure to provide a due date (usually 2-3 weeks before the event) so that guests know to RSVP in a timely fashion.

You’ll also need to include an addressed, stamped envelope so that guests can easily send their response cards back. It’s tradition to have the response cards sent to the bride’s parents (or whoever’s paying), but if you’re doing the bulk of the planning, the response cards can go directly to you. To save some money and paper on the response cards, you may want to consider postcards instead of card-and-envelope sets. Or, you may want to ask your guests to RSVP online and indicate this on your wedding website card (see below).

The direction card

Provide your guests with directions to your venue – a map can also be helpful. Your venue can usually provide you with clearly-worded directions to use. If your ceremony and reception are in different locations, you may want to have double-sided directions cards with ceremony directions on the front, reception directions on the back.

The accommodations card

If you’re hosting a lot of out-of-town guests, you may want to provide them with information about hotels and accommodations. You can include a separate enclosure with this information, or include it on your wedding website, and provide guests with the site address (see below).

The wedding website card

You can eliminate several enclosures – the direction card, accommodations card, and even the response card, by providing your guests with a single card that points them to your wedding website. As long as your guests are relatively tech-savvy, they should easily be able to access all of the important details on your website.

The inner envelope

The inner envelope is a separate envelope that goes inside your main outer envelope – your actual invitation and enclosures go inside the inner envelope. It is typically addressed with the names of all of people who are invited (including children or other guests). Traditionally, an inner envelope was used to protect the invitation’s ink from smudging. While some couples choose to skip the inner envelope, it is a must for formal weddings.

The outer envelope

This is the main envelope that features both the guests’ names and mailing address, as well as the return address. Hand-calligraphy provides a classic look to these outer envelopes.

Pro Tip: Before mailing out your invitations, be sure to weigh a sample invitation at the post office, sealed with all enclosures, so you know how many stamps you’ll need – it varies widely. Also note that square envelopes cost more in postage.

What else do I need?

When ordering your wedding invitation suite, you’ll also want to think about other important paper items for your wedding day and beyond, including your ceremony programs, menu cards, table numbers, escort cards, and thank-you note stationery. While not all of these items have to match your invitation, they should all fit with the theme and style of your wedding.