As with all things in planning your wedding - scheduling your stationery takes some planning. Stationery is my forte and while I can’t speak for all stationers your basic timeline should follow the same general path.
Nail down your invitation basics including the size of your guest list. Don’t forget you’ll need to know not only the number of guests you are inviting but also the number of households. This early your list doesn’t need to be finalized but you’ll need to know if you are looking to order 40 invitations or 150.
You will also want to gather an idea for an ideal budget. Invitations can range in price from $2.00 each to $15 each so knowing what is comfortable for you, will help your stationer guide you in the right direction. In general, stationery will be about 3% of your overall budget. Keep in mind that this should include save the dates, invitations, thank you cards, menus, programs, place cards - the whole kit.
Start searching around for your stationery. Start by gathering ideas - pin fonts that you like, colors that suit your wedding, graphics or design details that catch your eye. Chances are that you’ll find one stationery store that seems to fit your personality. Now is the time to reach out and either meet in person or ask some questions.
Start working on your save the date designs if you are sending those out. If you are using photos you will want to make sure that you will have your engagement pictures back at least 8 months prior to your wedding to make sure you can get everything printed in time.
Now is also a great time to finalize that guest list. With a guest list in hand you will be armed with critical information from invitations clear through your reception. The earlier you can get a handle on how many people you have, the easier it is to plan a wedding.
Finalize your save the date details and shoot to mail your save the dates out 6 months before your wedding, 8 months if your wedding is a destination wedding or falls around a holiday.
Meet with your stationer to work on those invitation designs! By this time you will need to know some pretty critical information:
- how many invitations you need
- what types of information you need to include (directions, hotel information, brunch invitation, reception card, website, RSVP, etc)
- what your ideal budget is
- what your invitation wish list is (you really need to have shimmery paper, a pocket invitation, lace incorporated, belly bands)
- details of the ceremony and reception
Now is the time to make sure those invitations are finalized! They may take a few weeks to print and assemble so the earlier you can send them off for approval the better.
Mail those invitations out! Sending invitations out 2 months before your wedding is pretty standard. You may want to send them out really early to give your guests plenty of time to reply, but don’t be caught sending them out too early. If you give them too much time to reply they may forget to reply at all. Destination wedding invitations should go out earlier. In most cases destination wedding invitations are more of a formality - most of your guests should have already purchased tickets and reservations by the time they get the official invite.
2 months before your wedding…
Start talking with your stationer about wedding day paper that you might need. This might include programs, menus, place cards, table numbers, thank you cards, itinerary cards, welcome notes, or favor tags.
I personally like to have a game plan set about 4-6 weeks before the big day including what we are creating and vaguely how many you need. I print everything myself, so I need to make sure I order paper early so it is sitting here waiting for me to get the show on the road. The last thing you want is to forget about paper and need to rush ship that heavy box in for printing.
Set your RSVP date! You will always want your RSVP date to be at least 4 weeks before your wedding. The sad but often true reality is that about ⅓ of your guests will not kindly respond by your requested date. You will need to allow a week to wait for straggling RSVPs, then another week or 2 to drop some emails or phone calls to see who is coming.
Most of your wedding vendors are going to want finalized numbers about 2 weeks before your wedding so that they can appropriately order chairs, tables, flowers, cake and food.
Finalize your wedding day paper products with your stationer.
When I work, I need a firm headcount and finalized paper designs no later than 14 days before your wedding so that I can take a few days to print and mail final products out to you.