invitations

Photo: Riverland Studios

When you think of wedding stationery, you most likely think of your wedding invitations. Obviously, the invitations are one of the most important pieces of stationery you’ll have to purchase, but there are other key pieces of wedding stationery you won’t want to forget.

To make your wedding stationery shopping experience a little bit easier, here's a guide to every piece you’ll need.



Save The Dates

Before your guests get the invitation suite, they’ll receive your save the date card. As a general rule, you’ll want to send these out at least six months before the wedding date, although if you’re hosting a destination wedding eight months’ or even a year’s notice is recommended. When you’re sending out your save the date cards, you likely won’t know all of the key wedding details, and that’s okay! Your save the date should include the wedding date (or dates if you’re hosting a wedding weekend with multiple events), a city and state, and a note that an invitation will follow.

If you have a wedding website you’d like guests to know about, this is a great place to include the web address as well. Since you don’t have all of your wedding details planned out, don’t worry about making the save the date card match the wedding theme or colors. Use these cards as an opportunity to get creative and have fun. Show off your engagement photos, make a reference to a movie you both love, or add a fun pattern or color. When your guests see your save the date it should immediately make them think of you as a couple!

Invitations

Invitations are definitely the most well-known piece of your wedding stationery, and with good reason. Your wedding invitation is the piece of stationery that will convey the most important information. You want to make sure your invitation includes key details for guests like date, time, and ceremony and reception locations.

Make sure you don’t leave the invitation for the last minute. You’ll want to send your invitations, and the rest of your invitation suite, out to your guests about six weeks before the wedding date and it’s going to take some time to design, proof, and receive your invites. Choose a wedding invitation designer early, so they’ll have plenty of time to design your invites. This is especially true if you want to do a more custom design, like a monogram, a watercolor image of your venue, or a sketch of the two of you. You invitation is one of the first glimpses that guests will get of your wedding day and will set the tone for them, so don’t shy away from being creative. You want you invite to wow your guests and get them excited for what’s to come!

Invitation Inserts

There’s a lot of information your guests will need to know about your wedding and you don’t want to try to cram everything onto the invitation itself. That’s where inserts come into play. Inserts give you the option to let your guests know some of the nuances of the big day. One popular wedding invitation insert is a reception card. The reception card will indicate to your guests the formality of the event, the location if it’s different than the ceremony location, and any special attire requests. Couples who are hosting out-of-town guests or a destination wedding will want to send out a directions and an accommodations card. Those will give guests the information they need regarding your wedding hotel block, book flights, and basics for getting to the ceremony and reception. The inserts are also a great place to include a link to the wedding website, so guests will know where to go to get more info about the big day.

RSVP Cards

Providing RSVP cards allow your guests to easily respond to your invitation. Typically, you’ll ask guests to write their names and if they will or won’t attend your wedding—either by checking a box or by simply leaving the card blank to allow for a personal message. You should also note when responses are “due”—typically two or three weeks before your wedding. Some couples ask their guests to choose their entree for the wedding reception on their RSVP card—but that’s up to you and your caterer. Don’t forget to include self-addressed envelopes and appropriate postage with your RSVP cards. It not only makes your guests’ lives easier, but also makes it more likely that you’ll get the cards back in a timely fashion. If you’re concerned about the cost of the additional postage, a postcard RSVP card will cost less to send than one with an envelope.

Envelopes

In your invitation suite, you’ll likely have two envelopes: an inner and an outer. The outer envelope is the one that will be addressed and stamped. It will contain the entire invitation suite. The inner envelope goes inside the outer envelope and that’s where you’ll write the names of the invited guests. Make sure to write the guests’ names clearly on the inner envelope, it will help you avoid unexpected plus-ones. To save time, have the stationery company you choose address the envelopes for you. Before you mail out all of your invites, take one to the post office and have it weighed. A lot of wedding invitation need extra postage. It’s better to know that in advance than to have all of your invites come back to you.

Ceremony Programs

A ceremony program is all about introducing your wedding party and giving guests a sense of what to expect during the ceremony. Most ceremony programs include a list of the couple’s, wedding party members’ officiant’s and parents’ names, along with a “run of show” for the ceremony—or a list of the different rituals, readings, and other portions of the ceremony in the order in which everything will proceed. There are other optional additions to a ceremony program, including a thank-you note from the couple, an “in memory of” section listing names of close relatives and/or friends who have passed away, and a section explaining any religious or cultural traditions or rituals that guests might not be familiar with.

Escort and Place Cards

Yes, escort cards and place cards are two different things, even though the words are often used interchangeably. The escort cards will be placed near the entrance of your reception (usually in an ultra-creative display) and will tell guests what table they’re sitting. Once they arrive at the table, they’ll find the place cards which tell them which seat at the table is theirs. Place cards aren’t mandatory, but they’re incredibly helpful if you’re having a big wedding or a plated dinner. Even if you chose not to have place cards, you should have escort cards that will assign guests to a table. It takes the stress off your guests of finding a seat and you don’t have to worry about anyone accidentally sitting at the wedding party table.

Menu Cards

Whether you’re having a plated dinner or a buffet style meal, your guests are going to want to know what they’re eating. For plated dinners, your guests have already selected their meal on the RSVP, so use the place card as a way to remind them of what they’re getting and what salads and sides will accompany it. For a buffet style, you can opt for either individual menu cards or a couple of menu boards near the buffet line. The menus will give guests something to look at while they wait for the food and will help speed up the buffet line since they can figure out what they want before they get there. If you have guests with any allergies or food sensitivities, menu cards can be a lifesaver. The last thing you want is someone to have an allergic reaction at the reception!

Thank You Cards

When your big day is over, it’s time to thank your guests for celebrating with you and for the gifts they gave. Although it’s a general rule that you have a year after the wedding to send out thank you notes, it’s better to send them sooner rather than later. Aim for getting all of your thank you cards out two months after the wedding. Order your thank you cards when you order the rest of your wedding stationery. It will help keep the theme consistent, and then you’ll have one less thing to think about when you get back from your honeymoon. You may be dreading writing out all of the thank you notes, especially if you had a big wedding, but remember to make each one personalized by specifically mentioning the gift the person gave you or a memory from the wedding day. Don’t be the couple that sends out the dreaded generic thank you!