1. Know your details
Details, details, details! They are the name of the game in wedding planning. Before you set about ordering your wedding invitations, you must have several details nailed down. You need to have your date, time and location secured (that means contract in place!). Be sure to have exact spellings, full venue addresses and other such details. You’ll want to have your complete guest list (so you know your numbers) with all correct info and spellings (especially if you’ll be handing it off to a calligrapher). What is the style, theme and color scheme of your wedding – your invitation should reflect that. What is your budget? All of these details should be established before you order!
2. Timing is everything
When should you order? Plan to order your stationery three to four months prior to the wedding, as you want to allow plenty of time for proofing, printing, assembling, addressing and mailing. You’ll want to mail them approximately six to eight weeks out from your wedding, depending on how many of your guests are out of town. Generally, your RSVP deadline needs to be two weeks from your wedding date. Your caterer will want your final count no later than one week out and oftentimes, they want it sooner than that.
3. Numbers matter
You order one invitation suite per couple or family. But always order 25 more than you think you need, as reorders are expensive. You’ll want these extras to be sure you have a keepsake, to cover any last-minute or overlooked guests, for mistakes, etc. You’re also supposed to send a separate invitation to any single adults over the age of 16 so if any of your guests have kids that age, you’ll need to send them their own invite. We also strongly recommend you order 25 additional envelopes, especially if you are having them professionally addressed. In fact, many calligraphers require it.
4. Study up on etiquette
While many etiquette rules have relaxed over time, you still want to be sure to properly address people with important titles and not commit any major faux pas on your wedding invitations. For example, did you know it’s considered improper to include “no kids” or “adults only” on your invitation? The correct way to handle this is to simply address the invitation to the actual people invited. If the whole family is invited, you would include the children’s names on the envelope; but if you’re only inviting the parents, just their names appear. Resources such as Crane’s Blue Book of Wedding stationery and Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette can be invaluable in ensuring you don’t make any mistakes on your invitations. (We sell both of these books at StarDust and consider them excellent resources.) Or better, yet, consult with your stationery expert when ordering your invitations. They are bound to know the all the ins and outs!
5. Consider all the pieces you’ll need
Will you send a save-the-date? Will your invitation ensemble include a separate reception card or can you include the reception details on the invitation itself? Will you order a response card/envelope or does the style of your wedding allow you something more casual such as an RSVP postcard? Do you need to include a map card?
What about wedding day paper products? Wedding programs, reception menus, escort cards and table numbers are all pieces that go a long way in carrying your wedding design throughout your entire event. Does your stationery design lend itself to these pieces?
Partner with your invitation expert to determine the answer to these questions and discern which pieces you need.
6. Proof, proof, proof!
Typos are expensive. If you find mistakes after your stationery has been printed, you’ll need to have the piece(s) reprinted, which can be very costly! It pays to pay the minimal fee for proofs and to check and re-check before approving them. And have a few other people proof them, as well!
7. Have a pro address them
If your wedding is fairly formal and you don’t have perfect penmanship or an abundance of time to sit hand-addressing your invitations, you’ll probably want to engage a calligrapher to address them. There is nothing that helps your guests anticipate your fabulous wedding more than receiving a gorgeously addressed invitation to the big event! There are some vendors who can pull off very nice looking “computer calligraphy” but be sure to check samples of their work before you commit. And despite some relaxing of stationery rules, labels are still unacceptable on wedding invitations. Just. Don’t.
8. Some assembly required
Occasionally, invitations that have peripheral design elements (think ribbons, twine and wraps, for instance) do not come from the print house assembled. If this is the case, sometimes you can pay the company extra to have them assembled prior to shipping or sometimes you can pay your retailer to do it once the order arrives. Just be sure to confirm to what degree of assembly your order will arrive in so you are not surprised or so you can make appropriate arrangements. Additionally, you’ll need to assemble the invitation suite in the proper order when putting them into your envelopes. Yes, there is a proper order. Your order should come with some instruction on this or your stationer can give you direction.
9. Proper postage
Do not mess around with the postage! Trying to send your invites with insufficient postage will waste both time and money. Take a completely assembled invitation to your post office and have them weigh it so you can be sure you put enough postage on them. Also be sure to include a first-class stamp on your response envelope! Nothing says “I don’t care if you come” like a response card your guest would have to put their own stamp on. L
10. Follow up!
Sometimes guests don’t send their responses back by the requested deadline. It’s perfectly acceptable to have someone contact them to determine if the invitee plans to attend your wedding or not. After all, you need to get final numbers in to your caterer and possibly florist (since guest count affects table numbers). It’s not rude to call or email to ask if they will attend; it was rude of them not to honor your requested deadline. It’s best to have the person (your, fiancé or parents) with the closest relationship with the invitee make contact.