WEDDING INVITATION AND STATIONERY GUIDE
Your wedding invitations are the first impression that your guest will have of your forthcoming wedding and the overall style of the celebration. So when the day comes to announce your wedding to all your friends and family, you will want to make sure it is with impact and style.
From the save the date card or wedding invitation to the wedding breakfast stationery and thank you cards - your wedding stationery sets the scene and tone for your wedding day and stamps your style on the wedding that will leave a lasting impression on all your guests.
Our wedding invitation and stationery guide provides advice, hints and information to help you choose the most suitable wedding stationery to mark your special day perfectly.
SET YOUR BUDGET
Unless you are in a lucky position not to have to consider costs, probably the first decision to make before you start to consider your wedding stationery requirements is to establish your budget. If you are having a large wedding, the cost of wedding stationery can soon mount up. The idea of bespoke wedding invitations may appeal to you but if you are having 200 guests you need to know that you can afford the costs of a bespoke designer! Similarly, you may like the idea of hand crafting your own wedding stationery for that personal touch but be sure that you are up to the challenge of sticking, gluing or printing dozens of invitations when you have dresses to buy, photographers to interview, cakes to choose ....
WHAT STATIONERY DO I NEED? MAKE A LIST!
To set a budget it helps to make a list of all the invitations and other stationery that you NEED and then if the budget allows you can consider the additional extras that you can afford to add those stylish extra touches to your wedding. Place names, menus, favour boxes - the list is as long as you wish to make it! Here's our guide to the wedding stationery you may wish to consider:
SAVE THE DATE CARDS/ENGAGEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT
Save the date cards are sent out up to one year in advance of your wedding and are a great way of making sure that guests keep the date free for your special day. These are a particularly good idea if you are getting married at busy holiday times like Christmas or high summer or if you are getting married abroad or inviting overseas guests so that travel arrangements can be made in advance. The invitations are usually smaller than the main invitation but would ideally match the style of the main invitation that is to follow.
WEDDING DAY INVITATIONS
The main wedding day invitations are sent by the hosts, traditionally the bride's parents, to invite guests to both the ceremony and reception. Many couples are now choosing to host their own weddings and so you can frequently expect to receive the invitation from the couple themselves.
The invitations are usually sent out two to four months in advance of the wedding date to make sure everyone has plenty of time to sort out travel and accommodation and to send out a reply. If many of your guests are travelling from abroad, or you are getting married during the busy periods of Christmas and summer you may want to send the invitations out earlier or consider sending a save the date card. Invitations should not be sent any later than six weeks before the wedding.
The wedding invitation will set the tone of your wedding - both the level of formality and the style or theme of the wedding so you should take some time to consider the style of wedding stationery that best reflects your special day.
Evening invitations are sent out to the guests that you would like to invite to the evening celebration only. Perhaps you want to have a very intimate ceremony and wedding breakfast but have a large number of family and friends that you would like to invite to help to celebrate after the ceremony.
These invitations are usually sent out at the same time as the day invitations so that there is no confusion as to which guests are invited to the different parts of the wedding, also to ensure you have accurate replies well before finalising your wedding reception. Evening invitations should ideally be of a similar theme to the day invitations but can often be a simpler design allowing you to keep costs down.
An RSVP card is often included inside the invitation and makes it a quick and easy way for your guests to reply promptly. They can also be used to request information about any dietary requirements that your guests may have. If you include a stamped, addressed envelope and an RSVP date with the card it will make it even easier for your guests to reply and for you to have accurate numbers well in advance!
As well as an RSVP card, it is often very useful to include information cards with your wedding invitations with additional information that my help your guests. This could be local accommodation details, map or directions to the ceremony and reception venues or your wedding gift list. If you have a substantial amount of additional information that you wish to include in your invitation you may wish to consider pocketfold or wallet-style invitations which are perfect for including RSVP and information cards.
ORDER OF SERVICE/ORDER OF THE DAY
Order of service cards are handed out, usually by the best man and ushers, to guests at a church service or religious ceremony to help them follow the service. The order of service is a folded card, usually with paper inserts, giving details of the service such as hymns, music and readings. The front of the card traditionally has the name oe the bride and groom along with the name of the church or venue and the wedding date.
The layout of the order of service will depend upon the style of the service - your priest or minister should be able to give you advice. You will one card per guest and don't forget to include copies for the minister/choir and other attendants when ordering.
Order of the day cards are given to guests at civil ceremonies and provide the guests with an itinerary of the day's events.
A guest book for guests to sign and write their own personal message to the bride and groom, usually at the reception, provides a wonderful reminder of all the guests who have celebrated your special day with you. Look back at the messages from friends and family to bring back cherished memories!
TABLE SEATING PLANS
If you are having a large sit-down wedding breakfast a seating or table plan is usually displayed at the entrance to the dinning area and is a great way to ensure that all your guests find their seats quickly and easily and with the minimum of fuss. Remember when choosing where to seat your guests that most people will feel more comfortable if they are sat next to people they know or who share something in common with.
A menu card is a courtesy to your guests so that they know what it is that they will be eating during the wedding breakfast. They are only a courtesy however and can be left out if you prefer. Ask your wedding venue to see if they can provide them as part of the service or at a cheaper price.
NAME PLACE CARDS AND TABLE NUMBER CARDS
Guest place name cards and table numbers or names are essential if you have a seating plan. They allow you to seat your guests without fuss and can add wonderful detail to the wedding breakfast table.
Wedding favour boxes or bags are traditionally positioned at place settings and are perfect for adding decoration to the wedding breakfast table and make lovely gifts for your guests. Favours are traditionally filled with sugared almonds to symbolise health, wealth, happiness, fertility and long life. Many different types of confectionery can be used. Or you could break with tradition and place a lottery ticket or other gift in place of the favour box. It's really up to you!
Cake boxes and bags can be used to give a slice of cake to your guests as a small gift to take home or for sending a piece of the cake to those who could not attend the reception.
THANK YOU CARDS
It is common courtesy to thank all of your guests for attending the celebrations and for their gifts. Cards printed with a photo of the wedding can provide a wonderful memento for your quests and if you have moved house you can use the opportunity to send your new address and contact details to all your friends and family.
Specially crafted photo albums make a wonderful, lasting memory of your wedding day. You can also usually get smaller versions made for parents and grandparents to treasure for ever! Long gone are the days where you simply stuck a few snaps into a book. Professional wedding albums are now hugely impressive and can be in the more traditional photo form or can be digitally printed into beautiful coffee table books.
PERSONAL WEDDING WEDSITES
Many couples are now choosing to complement their wedding invitations and stationery with their own custom-built wedding website. With many friends and family now living great distances from each other a personal website can be a great way to Keep your wedding guests up to date with all of your wedding arrangements. Place your wedding photos online after your wedding for all to enjoy!
HOW MANY INVITATIONS AND WHO TO INVITE?
Before ordering your wedding stationery you should be clear about the quantities you will require as some companies, particularly bespoke stationers, may need several weeks or even months notice to produce extra invitations. It could also work out more costly to make additional orders. You should allow one invitation per family or couple. If you are inviting children, their names should also be included on the wedding invitation. Younger adults above 16 would probably appreciate their own invitation. It is also courteous to send an invitation to the groom's parents, the priest/minister and any guests that you already know cannot make it but would find an invitation thoughtful (perhaps a relative abroad). Always make sure you order some extra invitations in case you make mistakes or have to invite guests on your reserve list.
So who should you invite?
Many issues will determine how many guests you invite to your wedding. Perhaps you want a small, intimate wedding in which case your guest list should be fairly easy to compile. If you are considering a very large wedding you will need to consider the size of the venue(s) and of course, your budget! Ideally, the guest list would consist of an equal number of guests from the bride's parents, the groom's parents and the bride and groom but this may not work for you. Here are some points to bear in mind when compiling a guest list -
What is our budget. How many guests can you cater for within our budget?
Start your guest list early as it can be a long and complicated job!
The first guests on your list should be those people who you really care about, close family and friends you see on a weekly basis.
Then you can consider people who have played an important part in your life in the past.
Consider if you want to start inviting work colleagues - do you 'want' to invite them or do you feel under pressure to invite colleagues? Remember, if you invite a couple of colleagues, others may be offended.
Consider the opinions of those who are contributing financially to the wedding - should they have a say in the guest list?
Do the bride and groom have similar size families or would it be sensible to invite more guests from one side of the family?
Do you want to entertain children at the wedding? Some guests may love the opportunity to leave their little ones at home for the day/weekend but others may be offended if their children are not invited to the celebration. If you decide not to invite children make this obvious on the wedding invitation by writing only the names of the parents. If you do decide to invite children you may need to offer an alternate menu and possibly provide some entertainment if there are many young children attending.
At the end of the day both you and your fiancÚ need to sit down and decide your OWN thoughts on who you would like to invite to your wedding. Though it can be difficult to please all family and friends, at the end of the day this is YOUR celebration and you need to fell relaxed with the guests you choose to invite!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STYLE OF WEDDING STATIONERY
So you have decided the number of guests you are inviting and the wedding stationery items that you will need but how do you choose your stationery and order it? The wedding invitations or save the day cards that you send out will give your wedding guests the first view of the style and feel of your wedding day. It's the first opportunity for you to showcase your big day and let everyone know what is in store. Your wedding stationery should reflect the style or theme of your wedding as well as the appropriate formality of the day.
Many wedding stationery designers will offer a wide range of styles and colours while others may specialise in one type of invitation style such as letterpress for more formal invitations or handmade invitations for a more luxurious touch. The first thing you need to decide is the formality of the wedding. Formal wedding invitations would general suit a more traditional wedding. Typically, formal wedding invitations are of a classic design using simple, traditional fonts. The wording is often engraved onto high quality cream or white card in black, silver or gold using techniques such as letterpress or thermography, or you could hire a calligrapher to professionally handwrite your invitations. Contact our traditional Invitations suppliers for ideas and view our wording section for ideas on invitation wording..
For more informal weddings there are many styles of invitation to consider - contemporary designs, handmade invitations, printed designs, photo cards, humorous - the list is endless. Certain design studios also offer a bespoke service for brides who would like to have their own ideas about their wedding stationery but who need an individual design service.
Themed weddings are also becoming increasingly popular. The 'theme' may simply be a range of colours that run throughout the wedding and are incorporated into the wedding stationery, bridesmaid dresses, flowers, table decorations, venue decorations and so on. Or you may choose a more structured 'theme' such as a beach theme (sand, seashells, nautical, tropical), nature, floral, seasonal (Christmas, Easter, Summer, Autumn) landmark cities (New York and London are not surprisingly popular themes!), cultural (oriental, South American, Caribbean) musical (Jazz, country) historical (Tudor, medieval). Almost any theme can be adapted and incorporated into your wedding stationery!
Once you have decided which style you are looking for, the quantity and the budget you can afford the next step is approach wedding stationery shops or designers to discuss your requirements, order samples and finalise prices and ordering times. Some companies may offer to send you one or several FREE Samples, others, particularly bespoke studios, may ask for a small fee for sending samples, though this is usually refunded if an order is placed.
Once you have chosen your invitations you should agree a production time with the designer or studio to make sure that you will receive your invitations and the rest of your stationery in plenty of time. Bespoke commissions in particular can take several weeks to complete. During busy periods, such as the beginning of the year, many studios are inundated with orders and you may have to wait up to six weeks for your wedding stationery (though most suppliers will produce invitations first and then complete the rest of the order several weeks before the wedding). If you have left insufficient time to order your wedding stationery you may wish to consider the larger outlets which have many off-the-shelf invitations to choose from.
MAKING YOUR OWN WEDDING STATIONERY
Many brides choose to make their own wedding stationery for budget reasons or simply to add their own personal touches to their wedding stationery. This can be a great way, to get into the spirit of the wedding and add your personal touches. You could make a party of it and invite your bridesmaids to help create! Before you consider the DIY option, you should make sure that you are up to the task. Some designs may appear to be very simple but you may find yourself battling with printers that cannot print on the card you have bought and ribbons that you cannot tie into tidy bows. The whole experience could end up being very stressful and almost as costly as buying your invitations from a professional studio. Remember you may need to buy a paper cutter, adhesives etc., not just the card and embellishments. Take a look at our DIY wedding invitation suppliers for ideas, templates and supplies.