Why should I send a wedding invitation?

mail an invitation

I've been asked a time or two from friends or couples planning their weddings, "WHY the heck do I even need to send out wedding stationery? Can't I just email people a wedding invitation?" 

First of all, excuse me while my paper loving soul cries in a corner for a few minutes.

Okay, I'm back and ready to address why it's best to send a physical printed invitation to your guests. 

Why paper is a better choice than e-mails when it comes to wedding invitations:

 Shown here: The Penelope Suite - New from the Artisan Collection. Photography by PJ Saffran

Shown here: The Penelope Suite - New from the Artisan Collection. Photography by PJ Saffran

  • Deliver important information: Arguably the most important part about why you need invitations is that you need your guests to know that they are invited and where and when to join the party! If you don't have guests, then you don't really have an event.

 

  • Show off your personality: Your wedding invitation is an opportunity to show off your personality as a couple. Bring in personal touches that tell your story and fit your event. If you are a fun couple and have a fun love story, tell that with your invitations. If you are a serious couple and love structure and all things elegant, show that off with your wedding paper. Don't be afraid to show who you are.

 

  • Set the Tone: Your wedding invitation is the first glimpse that your guests will get at what to expect when it comes to your wedding. This is your chance to communicate many things about your wedding. Is your wedding upscale? Do you want your guests to come prepared for an elegant party? a garden soiree? A classy cocktail evening party? Use your invitations to convey that to your guests. You can literally spell it out (ex. "Black Tie" on your invitations) OR you can communicate the level of elegance by the paper you send.

What message do you think an e-mailed invitation sends to your guests? What kind of party might they be expecting? 

mailing invitations is better than email

 

  • People LOVE to get mail that is not a bill. I know this might sound a bit silly, but seriously barely anybody sends snail mail anymore. In our fast paced lives the majority of our information is sent and shared online. Our physical mailboxes get filled up with junk and it's quite honestly depressing. I look forward to the holidays and birthdays because I have a few friends that still send holiday and birthday cards. Nothing makes me more excited than checking the mail to find something that isn't a bill! :::Cue the audio of angels singing::: Your guests will feel the same level of excitement when they open their mailboxes to find your pretty Invitation.

 

  • Keepsake: You might hear people say, "But it's just paper, everyone will just throw it away"….Maybe I'm a bit biased here because I am a paper nerd, but your wedding invitation will be one of the very few remaining elements after your wedding/party is over and done with. Yes you will have your memories and obviously your photographs. But everything else will be gone. I mean, what do you think happens to the venue, rentals, food? You spend lots of money on those, but those don't get to stay with you forever. Your wedding stationery is a perfect keepsake for you to frame and display, or include in your wedding album to remind you about all the details from your event. 5, 10, 20 years from now you can look back and reminisce about all the details that came together to make your best day ever! When you have good quality wedding stationery, you will be surprised how many of your guests will tell you that they kept your invitation as a keepsake.

 

Still not convinced you need to send physical wedding invitations? That's okay, the beautiful thing about planning your wedding is that you can make your own decisions and do what you want! So do what makes you happy and you won't go wrong.

 

Enjoy your week!

 
xoxo Emily-01.png
 

When should you order your wedding invitations and other stationery timeline questions

A timeline of when to order your important wedding stationery items

You got engaged! Hooray! The excitement is still fresh, you're on cloud nine.... and I'm sure by now approximately 739574 people have asked you "So... when's the big day?". If you are anything like me when I got engaged, this might have caused you to jump into overdrive planing mode if for no other reason than to not have to continue to dodge that question for the 739575th time.

One of the biggest questions I get asked, as a wedding stationer, is about when to send out the important wedding invitation and stationery items. When do I send out my save the dates? What if it's a destination wedding? What about shower invitations? Or Rehearsal dinner invites? But what if my Great Aunt Suzy won't stop asking me when she is going to get her invitation even though the wedding isn't for another year? Can I just send them now?... okay that last one might not be a common question, but you can all probably relate to that, am I right?

When-to-order-and-send wedding invitations and stationery - a timeline and guide

So I'm here to help answer some questions about not only when you should mail everything, but also when you should think about getting started on working on those paper goods as well. Most custom stationery designers, like myself, will book out weddings in advance. The reason for this is because the design process takes time. Now the amount of time it takes to create custom invitations will vary with every stationer, so it's always best to ask them up front when you should order, but in my experience this guide is a good estimate of what is pretty common among wedding stationers.

Of course, not everyone is going to feel the need to have a completely custom design, there are a lot of great collection designs out there that can be personalized and printed more quickly, so in those cases just count backwards from the "send" recommendation to get your "start" time. 

WHEN TO ORDER AND MAIL YOUR WEDDING STATIONERY

Let me start with a little disclaimer *Starting earlier is always better in my book* The reason for this is because starting later might limit what can be added or done with your invitations. Also rushing the designer can sometimes limit creativity. So if you know your wedding details, such as the date, location, time etc... then what are you waiting for? Let's get started :) 

Engagement Party Invitations- You should start on those designs right away and plan to mail them to your guests at least 2 weeks before your party. If you plan on doing a formal engagement party where you will be doing a dinner or meal for your guests, then you might want to think about mailing them at least 4 weeks in advance to allow time for replies. 

Save the Dates - This can be broken down into two categories, in town weddings and destination weddings. For weddings that will be in town, or local to most of the guests, you should plan on sending those out about 4 to 6 months before the wedding. Which means you should start working with your stationer about 6 to 8 months before the wedding on the design. Now if you are planning a destination wedding, those should be sent to your guests at least 6 to 8 months before the wedding, which would mean you should start working on the design at least 8 to 10 months before, even longer if you are able to. 

Wedding Invitations - Wedding invitations should be sent 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. I see some people suggest sending them sooner with destination weddings, but if you sent a save the date that really isn't completely necessary. For local weddings I do not recommend sending them any sooner than 8 weeks before the wedding simply because people tend to forget to send the RSVPs back at a higher rate when you send your invitations out too soon. For destination weddings, I wouldn't recommend sending out the invitations any sooner than 12 weeks prior. So this means you should start working on your custom invitations at least 6 to 7 months before your wedding. I would say even sooner if you know you want to add some bells and whistles like foil stamping, vellum wraps, custom envelope liners etc. *Pro Tip* - If you are worried about making sure people are able to book their travel plans, make a wedding website and put accommodation information on there. This way people can start making their travel plans when they get their save the dates. 

Shower Invitations - It's best to send shower invitations about 6 to 8 weeks before the shower whenever possible. This means you should start working on your shower invitations about 3 months before the shower. 

Rehearsal Dinner Invitations - These can be sent with the wedding invitations to the people who would be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Because the grooms family traditionally hosts the rehearsal dinner you can do this two ways. You can coordinate with the grooms family to make sure the invitation is worded to show the hosts and include it in mailing with the wedding invitations, or the grooms family can handle everything on their own. It is up to your family and the best way to handle that. If the rehearsal dinner invitations will be mailed separately, it's best to have those mailed out about 3 to 6 weeks prior to the dinner which would mean starting the design should come about 2 to 3 months before the dinner. 

Day of Stationery Items - This is another big question I get a lot: "When should I order my menus, programs, place cards, signage etc?" The short answer is at least 1 month before the wedding. The longer answer is to get started with he day of stationery items at the same time as your wedding invitations. What I mean by this, is let your stationer know what items you will be wanting and then they can create those designs (minus the last minute details) ahead of time. This way, when you start to get your details finalized, that information will be easier to finish up quickly, causing less stress for you and your stationer. 

Thank You Cards - I also recommend designing these at the same time as your invitations. The reason for this is that as your RSVPs start to roll in you can use those to address your thank you card envelopes ahead of time. This will save you SO much time after the wedding and help you get those thank yous out quickly! The accepted timeframe for sending out thank you cards for gifts received before and after the wedding is within 2 to 3 weeks. For gifts received at the wedding, no longer than 3 months. The sooner the better though.

Whew! That was a long one. If you are still with me please give yourself a pat on the back for hanging tough. High fives all around.  Just as a reminder, the downloads are free for personal use only. 

Wedding Guest List Template and Etiquette Tips for Addressing Envelopes

Need help organizing your wedding guest list?

Feathered Heart Prints is here to help you organize your wedding guest list with a free spreadsheet template that also includes tips and a few commonly asked etiquette questions when it comes to addressing envelopes. 

So by now you might have started collecting the addresses of all the people you want to invite to your wedding. If you're a weirdo like me, then you love spreadsheets. If you're not a weirdo like me, then spreadsheets might cause you to break out in a cold sweat. Don't worry, I've create a spreadsheet template that not only helps your organize your guest list, but it is formatted perfectly for when your wedding stationer or calligrapher needs the addresses for printing your envelopes. 

Another *BONUS* to this spreadsheet, is that I have included some pointers on formatting your addresses as well as common etiquette tips straight from the expert, Emily Post, herself. So grab your template today and start organizing that guest list!

Guest-List-Template-Spreadsheet-free formatting tips and etiquette tips

A few pointers regarding address format and etiquette

Abbreviations - In general, abbreviations should be avoided on formal event invitations and envelopes. it is best to spell out all words, such as road, avenue, apartment, etc. As with everything, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

  • Titles - Abbreviations may be used in titles, such as Mr., Mrs., Dr. etc. 
  • States - According to Emily Post, abbreviating states is acceptable
  • Space - For calligraphers especially, sometimes words might need to be abbreviated to accommodate for the space needed to fit the entire address. 

Formatting and Order of Names- This is a big one, and there are different schools of thought on this one. I am coming from a traditional etiquette here with Emily Post as my guide. There are a lot of misconceptions about how to order and format the names on invitation envelopes. I will outline a few tips below. 

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  • Always address both members of a married couple - regardless of whether or not you know both members socially, both members should be addressed. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Also acceptable is Mr. and Mrs. James Jones.
  • If you plan to include both members first names, list the woman's name first. So if you want to make sure to include first names it would look like Mrs. Amy and Mr. James Jones. The traditional reason for this is that a man should never be separated from his last name. A more modern approach is to drop the formal titles, so it could just simply read Amy and James Jones. This is more of a semi-formal or casual approach.
  • Listing children - Children's names are listed underneath the parents names. So for example it might say Mr. and Mrs. Jones on the first line and then Becky Jones on the second line. If there are a lot of children or a big family all residing at the same address, you can address the invitation to "The Jones Family". 
  • Invitations to unmarried couples - The woman's name is always listed first. For example Ms. Janet Randall and Mr. Joseph Hall. 
  • Familiar titles - You can use familiar titles instead of formal titles if you prefer. Example: Aunt Donna, Uncle Larry. This might be best in an inner envelope. 

For formal invitations it's a good idea to consider inner and outer envelopes. For outer envelopes you have the main address and invitee information. And on the inner envelope you would list everyone's individual names who are invited. So for example you might have "The Jones Family" on the outside envelope, and then "Amy Jones, James Jones, Becky Jones" all listed on the inner envelope. This also helps take away any miscommunication about who exactly is invited. 

For more in depth tips and pointers about all things etiquette, consult Emily Post. 

The template shared in this post is for personal use only and cannot be redistributed for commercial use.

The dreaded guest list. Who's in and who's out?

Okay, so before you break out in a cold sweat, mounds of crumpled paper at your feet, tears streaming down your cheeks as you cry out in distress shaking your fist in the air at the ghosts of wedding etiquette past, let's talk a little bit about who the HECK to invite to your wedding. 

A basic rule of thumb, as far as traditional etiquette goes, is that you and your partner's immediate family and close friends are automatically IN, while distant, twice removed relatives, or old neighbors that you haven't spoken to in 15 years are OUT. (I can hear you saying "duh!" through the computer screen.) 

We all know that crafting the perfect guest list that satisfies all the important people in our lives can be a much more complicated experience. So fear not, my friend, I have created a handy dandy flowchart to help walk you through creating your perfect guest list. Before we get into that, let's talk about where to start. 

Making Your Wedding Guest List

Who-do-i-invite to my wedding - a flowchart to help narrow your guest list

My best advice is to write down everyone that you want at your wedding and everyone you feel like you *should* invite to your wedding. Go through and put a star next to everyone in that list that you 100% want at the wedding and have no doubts about what-so-ever. 

Then go back through the list and put another shape or colored star next to the people who you really want to be there but might be more on the fence about. Leaving the people who maybe feel more like a "I should invite this person but don't know if I really want to" without any marks by their names.

Discuss with your fiancé (or family depending on if you will be getting help) what your desired budget is for your wedding and determine what is doable for you guys and what your ideal guest number would be. Then go back through your lists and see how far off you guys are from the desired number of guests and the number of guests you have written down. 

If the numbers are close then you are good to go, because remember that not every single person you invite will be able to attend your wedding. But if the numbers are very far off then sit down with your fiancé and start to ask yourselves the tough questions of who's in and who's out.  If you have hired a wedding planner (which I very much encourage you to do so!) this would be a great time to get their advice as well. They can help you plan your wedding according to the number of people you want to invite and the budget that you have in mind. It might just mean looking for the perfect location that can accommodate your list and not break the bank. Or it might mean some compromises somewhere else.

Click on the button below the image to download your FREE handy dandy flowchart to help you decide who is in and who is out. *Spoiler Alert- Trust your gut and invite who matters to you guys the most*

who-the-heck-do-I-invite-to-the-wedding-flow-chart-cover.jpg

*free for personal use only, may not be duplicated, sold or used in any commercial purpose.