You can pick a great dress and a gorgeous venue, but if you don’t send out invitations you’re going to be walking down the aisle alone. Wedding invitations are another big decision, so today in the New Bride Guide we go step by step into everything you need to know about picking them, ordering them and who to send them to.
1. Come up with a guest list: The guest list will be dictated by your budget and how many people your venue can hold. The general rule of thumb is that 20% of the people you invite will decline. If you need guidance, check out our 10 most common guest list questions, which includes whether you have to invite your boss and what to do about kids at a formal reception. There are always people you should never invite to your wedding, and for them we have a handy list. If guests start giving you headaches after the invitations go out, we decoded the 10 most annoying guests, and how to deal with them.
Invitations should be about 3% – 5% of your wedding budget. Pinterest may lead you to believe that glossy, individually boxed invitations are the norm, but that’s only true if you are a Kardashian. There are many amazing options online at places such as Minted, Wedding Paper Divas and Fine Stationary that will keep you well within your budget.
2. The invitation should reflect the theme: The invitation sets the tone for your wedding. A formal invitation should look formal, be it in the choice of cardstock, fonts or colors. A less formal wedding should reflect that as well. Be sure to note the dress on the invitation (cocktail attire, black tie, etc.) and if it is an adults-only event.
3. Send less, spend less: A typical wedding invitation consists of the invitation and a reply card with a postage-paid envelope. It’s common to include hotel and travel accommodations as well. If you want to cut costs a little, use a reply postcard instead of an envelope (for less formal weddings only) or direct guests to a wedding website where detailed information about the wedding weekend itinerary, hotels and transport can be found.
If you want guests to mingle before the big day, consider a service such as Weduary that creates a custom website for you that links into Facebook, so guests can work out, among other things, travel and lodging details themselves.
4. Timing is everything: You should order your wedding invitations at least three months in advance of your wedding. Overestimate the amount you need in case there are changes to the guest list. It’s easier and less expensive to order everything at once than search for extras later. Invitations are mailed at least one month to six weeks before the wedding date.
5. It’s not just invitations: The wedding suite is all the paper that goes into the wedding. This includes invitations, reply cards, Save-The-Dates, etc. They should all be consistent with the same design and theme. In addition to the invitations you also need to think about:
Escort Cards: Small cards that direct guests to their tables. Usually displayed near the entrance to the reception.
Reply Card: A card with the invitation that guests return to indicate whether or not they will be attending and how many people will be in attendance.
Save-The-Dates: Announcements sent out usually six months before the wedding to alert guests to keep the wedding date free.
Tablecards: Sign at the center of each table so guests can find their place.
6. Know the terms: Whether you buy invitations online or go to your local stationer, you may be hit with a lot of terms you’ve never heard before. Familiarize yourself with:
Card stock: Paper that is thicker than writing paper but thinner and more flexible than other forms of paperboard. Also, a term for describing the weight of a paper, typically 50-110 lb.
Digital printing: A printing technique that gives you similar results to what you might achieve from your at-home printer, but higher quality. It limits you to thinner papers.
Embossed: A printing technique that creates raised surfaces in invitations. The process uses mated dies that press the paper into a shape that can be felt and seen on both the front and back sides.
Engraved: The most traditional form of invitation printing with slightly raised lettering and indentations that can be felt on the backside.
Letterpress: A printing technique where blocks or plates of raised type are inked and pressed deep into the paper, giving words a grooved texture.
Thermography: A process that uses heated powder to give print a raised look. It looks like engraved print but costs less.
Wedding invitation suite: Describes all of the stationery including save-the-dates, invitations, reply and reception cards. This is a matched set.
7. Know the different kinds of fonts: Any graphic designer will tell you that fonts are like snowflakes: no two are exactly the same. You could spend an eternity choosing the perfect one, or, you can find the names of great wedding fonts that you can buy here.
Most fonts fall into one of three categories:
Serif: Serif literally refers to the lines added to the strokes of the letters. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface.
San serif: A typeface that does not have the small projecting features called “serifs” at the end of strokes. The term comes from the French word sans, meaning “without”. Sans Serif fonts have a contemporary feel. They are easier to read in small sizes and where there is large amount of text.
Scripts: Classic wedding invitation fonts. They can appear to be hand written or in a calligraphy style. Use sparingly, such as for addressing envelopes, since they can be difficult to read.