“Your invitations set the tone for your wedding”, is perhaps the most common and redundant phrase you will hear while you and your betrothed scrupulously plan that once in a lifetime milestone celebration. Your invitations are a reflection of your personalities and a visual representation of your love. Thus, they not only provide your guests with the first glimpse of this special day but they also set the expectations. A word of advice, don’t delay or skimp out on the most important preview of this spectacular day.
Having worked as a seasoned bridal consultant for 4 years and a wedding invitation shop manager for 2 years in my past life, I have quite a bit of insight into the planning process. Aside from the romantic notions, there are some very practical reasons why your invitations should be at the top of your wedding planning checklist. For the next 6-12 months your invitations will serve as your guide for almost every aspect of your wedding planning. I suggest getting your invitations 4-6 months before the wedding date. Turnaround and production time generally takes 1-2 months and you want to make sure your guests have plenty of time to make arrangements in their schedule for your special day. If you are having a destination wedding, send out your invites or a save-the-date card 1 year prior to your wedding day.
What is more important, however, is that by creating a custom invitation with a professional designer, you can nail down the look, theme, and colour scheme for your wedding. This “wedding scheme” is like an inspiration board of all your ideas, which will be required for almost every aspect of your planning. For example, many cake artists will ask you for the invitation as the inspiration for a cake. How will you coordinate your bridesmaids’ dresses? Nowadays brides are stepping away from the conformities of a single colour and choosing to do an ombré effect with their bridesmaids wearing various transitional colours. What about your bridal gown accessories? Will your shoes match your bridesmaids’ dresses or your bouquet? Or perhaps you want to match your groom’s accessories to your own, and the bridesmaids’ accessories to the groomsmen? And don’t forget the colour of your bouquet(s) and flower decorations. Decisions, decisions! All of these elements make up the look and feel of your wedding. All of these should reflect you and the groom on that special day.
Enter your multifaceted fairy-godmother bridal guru. Yes I am boasting, but ask any of my brides and they will confirm that their planning became a lot simpler after contacting me for invitations. I will become your personal wedding planning advisor. Once we sit down with your ideas, I will help you conceptualize your bridal vision. The invitations will become your mini inspiration board and will serve as a guide and help you make decisions in all the other items on your checklist. I am here to make your life a lot simpler and the process enjoyable.
Here are some helpful invitation tips from a former paper and stationary artist, but if you are a bit overwhelmed with all the above aforementioned, please do take a breather, maybe grab a latte?
1. Guest Sift: The first decision you should make before looking at invitation styles is the guest list. Sift, sift, sift. An easy way to make sure you don’t forget anyone is to separate the guests into categories, such as: bride’s friends, groom’s friends, bride’s family and their friends, groom’s family and their friends, mutual friends, and others. Write each category at the top of a sheet of paper and brainstorm. Take the appropriate papers to your family as well as your fiancé’s family to see if anyone was left off. When a number of all invited guests is reached, divide this number by two and add 25-50. The remaining number should be the amount of invitations you order, with the extra going towards potential extra guests or lost mail.
2. Create a timeline and sense of urgency: Technically, invitations should be mailed 8-10 weeks (2 – 2.5 months) prior to a wedding. However, more than that is too early as many will put off RSVP’ing and then forget altogether. You should have your final headcount 1-1.5 months before the wedding. The sooner you receive your final guest attendance count by RSVP, the easier it will be to finalize your quantities and menu items (in case of food sensitivities or allergies) with your caterer, seating arrangements (seating charts), and rentals. Also, depending on your invitation choices, you may need as much as two months more for design and printing time, so be sure not to cut it too close. Ordering your invites early can save you money for rush fees and expedited shipping.
It’s a simple equation:
order invitations early = receive replies early = save money and your nerves
3. Count Carefully: Be sure to count mailing addresses and not invited guests! Remember, many guests are invited as couples or as a family. If you have 100 total invited guests, you may only need 65 invitations. Add approximately 10 to 15 extras for last minute guest-list additions.
4. Creative reply cards and website: Reply postcards are a really popular and great way to save money by avoiding the envelope. They can be well designed with a vintage emblem to look like an old postcard. You can also leave a blank space for your guests to reply with a note. Another idea I pitch to clients is that they can create their own wedding website for free and use it to communicate with their gusts as well as set up virtual RSVP. For the older generation of less tech-savvy guests like grandparents and foreign family members who speak a different language, you can purchase the physical reply cards. This will substantially lower your overall cost!
5. Avoid using address labels if possible: You really don’t want your wedding invitations to look like a mass mailed corporate office mailer. My best suggestion is to hand write them yourself or get your family and bridal party involved! It’s a great way to spend some quality time…just tell them it’s a little party with lots of food and goodies (wink, wink) and then casually have each person address 10 envelopes for you. 10 people addressing 10 envelopes = 100 envelopes. Easy breezy and you had a fun time doing it! Who doesn’t love to see a hand-addressed envelope waiting for them in their mailbox? It’s that extra personal touch. Just an FYI, when you order with White Dove Invitations, we will always provide an additional 10 envelopes with your order for free just in case.
6. Be neurotic about postage and mailing: Make sure that your invitations have the correct postage. Go to the Post Office to send them out and get them weighed. Ensure the ink and handwriting is clear and legible so that your good tidings arrive to their intended destinations. Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…Mail one invitation to yourself as a test to ensure that you used proper postage. It’ll also be a keepsake with a postmark from your local post-office.
Hope these tips are helpful! Just remember, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression, so make it count.