From the moment you get engaged, your nearest and dearest will most likely start inquiring about your wedding plans. While purchasing the dress and deciding on florals are often some of the prettiest aspects of planning, it’s often said that sending out an invitation starts to make everything feel “real.” Julie DeWalt of GATHER & Co. is helping us navigate our way through all you need to know to begin planning your wedding stationery.
Where to start
It’s true, while wedding stationery not only sets the tone for your wedding, it is also the official signal to your guests that you care about them and their involvement in the story of your life and love. But how do you choose the wedding stationery that best suits you? What details should you include, and how do you sort through the options? As a designer specializing in paper goods and specialty invitation suites, I certainly understand that the possibilities are endless (and often a little overwhelming) for many brides. There are so many wonderful designers, calligraphers, papers, resources and materials to choose from that any couple can find a style to suit their wedding day. It’s simply a matter of basic prior planning and personal taste to narrow down your choices.
Know your guest list
Most likely, by the time you’re thinking about invitations, you should have a decent idea about your guest list. Start collecting that information as early as possible, and consider that number when tallying up the amount of invitations to order. Keep in mind, your total number of guests is usually more than the physical amount of invitations you need to send, when you consider families and couples typically receive one invitation per household.
Determine your budget
Many brides are caught off guard by what invitations can cost. The average couple has rarely ordered a stationery or print job of this extent prior to being engaged. Costs vary based on quantity, inserts, paper choices, ink colors and print methods. While prices in the industry can range anywhere between $500 and $2,000 on average, you can spend well below and well above that range based on your total amount, insert pieces, paper and printing choices. DIY, online invitation stores, brick and mortar stationery stores and custom design studios are all resources you can look into, and prices generally correspond in that order.
A note about print methods: Digital and offset printing are both “flat” print techniques that allow for a multitude of color options. Thermography, letterpress, engraving and foil stamp are all “textured” plate print methods, and carry a more premium cost. Speak with your invitation resource or designer for more details on what they offer, and recommendations based on your budget.
Consider your time
Do you plan to have a long engagement, or are you keeping it short and sweet? Make sure to consider your timeline when communicating with a designer or ordering your stationery. If you’re having a longer engagement, sending Save the Dates 4+ months in advance is fairly standard. Having a destination wedding? The more time the better. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend sending invitations 8+ weeks in advance. While 6 weeks is standard, and totally sufficient, the extra time helps couples relax closer to the wedding day.
Choose your words
Informing guests of the date, time and location is necessary, of course, but how you choose to do so is personal. Including the names of the hosts (if they are different from the couple) is kind etiquette, and using full names is a nice touch. Beyond that, feel free to be creative with your wording. Getting married under two large oak trees? Include that. Is astrology an important part of your union? Perhaps music lyrics or a famous quote hold significant meaning. These are details that make your wedding uniquely yours.
Define your style
Pinterest and wedding blogs can be a great resource for finding styles that you gravitate toward, but don’t be afraid to look around you. Consider your ceremony and wedding day. Are there any design details you’d like to include in your stationery? What textures and colors do you gravitate toward? Try to stay away from trends and really think about the details that define you and your fiancé as a couple. If working with a designer, don’t be afraid to share these inspirational details, then trust them to create something truly wonderful for you.
Calligraphy, ribbon, wax seals and custom or vintage stamps are all great ways to add extra personality or texture to your suite.
Calligraphy – If you love the look of calligraphy and hand lettering for your addresses, be sure to book them well in advance, and order extra envelopes. Many calligraphers also offer full design services.
– Collecting your guests’ names and addresses in an organized excel spreadsheet makes it easy to send along to your designer / calligrapher if needed, and doubles as a place for you to keep track of replies, gifts received and thank you notes sent.
– If using returned RSVP Cards, consider writing a small, corresponding number in pencil on the back corner of your card. Guests won’t notice, and it will help you to see who has and hasn’t responded from your list.
– Make sure to weigh your invitation at a local post office before purchasing postage. Many suites cost more than standard US postage if you include heavier papers, wax seals or odd sizes.
– Include yourself in the guest list! Many brides love having a set of their own to keep. If you plan to take on a married name, you may appreciate a set with your maiden name as a keepsake.