There is a seemingly endless supply of books written on this topic. Enter any bookstore (in real life, people! Support your local bookseller!) and there's sure to be a whole section dedicated to wedding planning and authors yearning to help you do the right thing when it comes to composing and sending your wedding invitations.
The truth is that there are tons of age-old traditions that, if you're having a traditional wedding, you'll probably want to abide by. But what if you're not having a traditional wedding? Well, my friends, that's when it get's interesting! More and more couples these days are making up their own traditions and coming up with new and creative ways to throw a wedding. This section will explore some traditional - and not so traditional ways - to deliver information to your guests. Feel free to follow some of our advice, but always remember that it's your wedding and that you're free to make it as personalized as you wish!
THE INVITATION SUITE
A wedding invitation is just a piece of paper, right? Well, by that logic you could also say that a 1965 Shelby Cobra Roadster is just a car. Your wedding stationery is the first glimpse your guests will get of your wedding, setting the tone for the magic and merriment to come. The design and style of your wedding invitation describes the look and feel of your wedding, while presenting key info in a creative and beautiful way.
The invitation is just part of a suite of pieces that describe your event - with each piece serving a very specific purpose. It's up to you to decide how much information you want to provide, and whether you wish to present it in a traditional tone, or in a fresh and creative way!
Not sure if you need a map or fancy enclosure? Wondering if it's proper to put your registry information on the invite? Read on to find out!
SAVE THE DATES
Typically Save the Date Cards can be sent a year in advance for international, destination, or events where most guests will need to jump on a plane to celebrate with you. Six months is plenty of time for most couples to send out Save the Date Cards or Postcards.
A Save the Date can be as formal or as informal as you wish. You send bottles of champagne with beautifully letterpressed labels and send those out to guests as a way to invite your guests to celebrate your nuptials with you! Or you can also send out an equally beautifully stunning Save the Date postcard or card to rouse excitement. Use this a an opportunity to announce your big news and to say "It's official! I'm off the market!"
If you are having your reception in a place that is different than the location of your ceremony, it is customary to provide a separate card that tells people where that secret party place may be. The reception card is also an appropriate place to tell your guests what type of attire to wear.
It's also ok to put your reception info somewhere on your invitation, such as on the invite itself.
We here at Ladyfingers may be surrounded by a world of 1,500lb cast-iron old-style presses and antiquated technology, but we also think wedding websites are a cool way to share pictures, stories and other pertinent information that may not necessarily fit on your invite!
It is becoming more and more popular for couples to share their wedding website somewhere on their invitation. If your invitation doesn't have room for your website, it is also appropriate to print it on a small card, or perhaps on a die-cut tag that wraps around your invite with a silky ribbon!
Traditionally, if your wedding is black tie, you may write "Black tie" (with the "B" always capitalized and the" t" lowercase) in the lower right hand corner of your reception card. If you require a little more room to explain, for example your sporty wedding is on the side of a cliff and guests need to bring their own rock climbing gear, we'd suggest putting that info on a separate card.
Your attire card can be a helpful way of telling your guests what type of climate your wedding will take place in. Usually a range of temperatures for a certain time of year can give people a good idea of what type of weather to expect.
HOTEL & ACCOMMODATIONS
Providing hotel information to your guests is a courtesy, and not a necessity. If you've blocked a set of rooms for out-of-town guests, you may list the name and address of the hotel on a card of its own. On this card it is acceptable to provide room rates, but you don't have to go overboard with the details.
If you're looking to cut costs, you may also put your hotel information on your wedding website. If you have older guests who are not as hip to the web as the young folk are, they can obtain this information from you directly.
MAPS & DIRECTIONS
Nowadays it seems that everyone has GPS practically embedded into their brains, so it may not be completely necessary to include maps and directions. But for those of us who prefer the comforting feel of a real map, the inclusion of a detail section of the local area surrounding your event is a special touch that can really make your invitation extra special.
Whether its a welcome dinner, rehearsal dinner, or morning-after brunch, you have a few choices on how to invite people to these occasions: You can put it all on your wedding website if everyone who is invited to the wedding is invited to the events - or, if only certain guests such as close family or the wedding party are invited, you can produce separate invitations to each of these events and include them in specific invitations. Just don't mix up your best friend with that crazy lady from the office who somehow weaseled herself onto your guest list!
There are several ways to allow your guests to respond (or "Respondez S'il Vous Plait") to your invitation. Back in the day, an RSVP card was omitted and guests would reply using their own personal stationery, but these days, people have little more than a digital signature attached to their email as their own personal stamp.
The most traditional method of replying is to provide a card with its own stamped envelope with your return address printed on the front. This way, if your guests are unable to attend, at least they can use the envelope to include a little wedding gift, if you know what we mean, wink wink nudge nudge. And with the stamp already attached, you're making it as easy as possible for people to respond.
Another alternative is a RSVP postcard, which requires no envelope and therefore saves you some money. RSVP postcards are becoming very popular and can even be considered part of a traditional wedding invitation.
⇒ Want to learn more about the origins and use of the RSVP? Check out our blog post about it here!
Once you've put in all the time, money and energy towards making the most amazing wedding invitations you've ever seen, are you going to just slap a laser printed label on that gorgeous soft envelope? We didn't think so. Hand-addressing your envelope immediately alerts your guests that this is one special envelopeand that it shouldn't be overlooked. We know you select your guests very carefully, and by writing each of their names it lets them know that they weren't just some name on a spreadsheet somewhere (even though you may have all of your guests' addresses organized that way!). If hiring a calligrapher (or us!) is out of the budget, it's suitable for you to ask a friend or relative with really nice handwriting to address your envelopes for you.
Remember! If you are having a calligrapher write your addresses and you've also ordered envelope liners, be sure to request that your liners are not assembled before your calligrapher receives your envelopes. Many calligraphers will need the natural transparency of the envelope to aid them in their layout process.
Before it's time to mail your invites, you should bring one fully assembled invitation to the post office (preferably the main branch in your city or town) to get a weight and estimated cost of postage. There are always many decorative stamps to choose from which you can browse on the USPS website. Be sure to have the postmaster check the thickness of your envelope, as sometimes it incurs a $.20 fee for thick parcels. Another thing to keep in mind is that square envelopes require extra postage.
For our own invitations, we brought our invite to several different post offices to get postage estimates and got a different amount for postage each time! We recommend getting a second (or third if your package is really an odd size) opinion to ensure that you haven't paid too much - or too little - for postage.
OK people, we know you're excited about that blender from Crate and Barrel and want everyone to know. We get it! But please please PLEASE don't include your registry information directly on your invitation. Not even on an accompanying card. Don't put that info anywhere near your invitation. Save it for the wedding website. Or, do what people used to do in the olden days! Make it the job of the parents of the couple (traditionally the bride's mother, if there is a bride!) Remember: Subtlety. That's what you're going for. Everything else you can be as crazy as heck about.