Showers and Engagement Parties
There will likely be multiple events to celebrate your engagement thrown by friends and family. Engagement parties are a great way to have a co-ed celebration that is a lovely dinner or cocktail party. It's a perfect excuse to get together without dealing with shower games and gifts. This is a party you'll likely have pretty quickly after you are engaged.
Bridal Shower and Couples Showers are usually thrown closer to your wedding and after your registry is put together.
Neither of these invitations need to match your wedding invites and they likely won't be your responsibility, but you can still use the same stationer and have her coordinate all of the little details form the invites to the bar signs to the favor stickers and stir sticks.
When to plan: - 6-8 weeks before the party
SHOP SHOWER INVITATIONS
Thank You Cards
After your showers and engagement parties, it's a good idea to have thank you notes on hand. Grab the address list from your party host and make sure that someone at the party is taking notes so you know who gave you what. You may want to have sets for each of you individually and as a couple so you can write joint notes for couples parties and individual for parties that are just for you.
When to plan: - any time! You'll need thank you cards for showers early on and for anyone helping you plan.
SHOP THANK YOU CARDS
Save the Date Cards
Now that you have your wedding date set at least, it's time for you to let your guests know! Save the dates cards generally have very minimal information - just enough to let your guests know:
- what the date is
- who you are
- what city the wedding is in
- a website if you have one
This gives them just enough information to start planning if they are going to need to travel and are planning out their vacation time for next year. If you are getting married around a holiday, or a popular vacation time, during the school year or have a lot of out of town guests, it's a great idea to send them out.
When to plan: - 8-12 months before your wedding depending on how much planning you think people will need.
SHOP SAVE THE DATES
Alright, this is the big one, friend. I've got a whole 2nd blog post coming next month that goes through the details, but this is where the big guns are.
Your wedding invitations will tell your guests what to expect. You don't want to send an invitation on kraft paper with mason jars on it if you're having a formal, black tie wedding in a big ballroom, right? The fonts you choose, the papers you use, the language you use - all of those things will convey a lot about your wedding.
We'll go into more detail about these in that blog post, but you'll want to start considering the basics that will help you determine what you'll need to order:
- how many people are you inviting?
- how many households are you inviting?
- is your reception at the same place as your wedding? If it isn't, you'll need a 2nd card for the reception information
- do you have a hotel block you need to let your guests know about?
- do you have any other weekend details like a Sunday brunch or an after party?
- do you have a website to point them to for more information?
- when will all of your other vendors need a final head count (you'll need this to set your RSVP date)
- will you need to collect meal selections for everyone?
- will the RSVPs be going to your? or your parents? or your wedding planner?
- what is your target budget for your wedding paper?
I know a budget can be a hard thing to think about but for wedding invitations it's really important. You can spend $500 or $5,000 (or more) depending on the little details that you love. My average client spends between $800 and $1500 on invitations.
Then once you think about the basic, logistical things, you can start looking at designs:
- are there certain styles that you're gravitating towards?
- do you love a lot of color or something more minimalist?
- do you think you want to use a pocket or something to hold everything together?
- do you have your eye on textured printing like letterpress or foil?
- are there fonts that you love?
My recommendation for style is to make a Pinterest board and pin to it for 10 minutes - no more! You have to stop!!!! Then send it over to me and I'll look through it with you and help you narrow down the things that are standing out to me.
When to plan: - 4-6 months before (or more!). If you have something super custom in mind, start planning as early as you can to make sure you can book an artist or calligrapher. Most suites that I work on take about 4-6 weeks to complete, so I like to start right around the 4 month mark. I always recommend booking earlier than that if you find a stationer you love. Many of them can only take a certain number of clients per wedding date.
Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
If you want to include it right in your invitations we can include a small card in your invitations to let those in your bridal party know where they have to be for the rehearsal. It is often customary for the groom's family to host this event, so they may want to send something separate out. It doesn't need to match, but we can take your invitations and use it as inspiration to make a separate, complimentary design.
These can either be mailed separately or included in your invitations.
When to plan: - 6-8 weeks before the wedding
Ceremony programs are a great way to let your guest know what is happening in your ceremony as well as who is involved in it and to recognize your family. If you have a ceremony that uses a lot of religious traditions or has elements that are unique, it's also a great place to explain to those not of your faith what they are seeing and let them know how they can participate.
When to plan: - start thinking about them 2 months before - the number of details you need to collect will sneak up on you!
Escort Cards or Seating Chart
If you are planning on having arranged seating for your guests, you'll need some way to tell them where to sit. There are so many creative things you can do with these and I can help you with all of them! It can be anything from tented card sitting at a table, or flat cards that are arranged in a bed of flowers or you have a wall or table of multi colored envelopes with each name on them. The sky's the limit!
You can also skip the individual cards and have a seating chart made. These are typically either printed as a poster and framed or printed on foam board to sit in an easel. For large weddings I would recommend arranging these alphabetically, smaller weddings you can get away with displaying them by table.
When to plan: - 2-4 weeks before. Make sure your stationer has your project on their radar so they can get appropriate supplies, especially if you're doing a unique display. You'll need to have your final seating list to your stationer about 2 weeks ahead of your date.
SHOP ESCORT CARDS
Not to be confused with escort cards, place cards are used at the tables themselves and have just the guest's name on it. They may also include a food selection so the wait staff knows which foods to serve them.
When to plan: - 2-4 weeks before. Make sure your stationer has your project on their radar so they can get appropriate supplies, especially if you're doing a unique display.
SHOP PLACE CARDS
If you need to tell your guests which table to sit at, you'll want to indicate which table is which. You can do anything from a simple card in a clip stand to more custom acrylic or wood cut signs.
When to plan: - 2-4 weeks before.
SHOP TABLE NUMBERS
Menus can be a great way to add some color and design to your table. They pull together those final details and really help your tables look put together. They'll also let your guests know what they will be eating beyond "chicken, beef or vegetarian".
If you really want to level up your reception combine these with place cards and have each menu specific to the person sitting at that seat. This can even include just the food they selected rather than the full menu.
When to plan: - 4-6 weeks before. Make sure your stationer has your project on their radar so they can get appropriate supplies. I like to work on menus as soon as the menu is set and then go to print about 2 weeks before once we know for sure how many guests are coming.
Wedding Welcome Bag Notes
If you have a lot of guests traveling in to town, a lot of couples opt to put together welcome bags. Your bags might include some local food faves, ideas for things to do in the area and a timeline of the weeding weekend events and any other details they may need to know about.
When to plan: - 4 weeks before.
Favor Tags or Labels
You might want to include tags or labels of some kind on your favors. These can be tied on with ribbon or added as stickers. They often have the couple's names and wedding date or even a small thank you message.
When to plan: - 4 weeks before.
This is one to think about before the week of the wedding, plan ahead! You might want to have a welcome sign, and sign for gifts or your card box. You might also want signs to point guests towards the restrooms or to let them know where cocktail hour will be. You can add bar signs for your signature drinks or even a sign to remind people to put their phones down for the ceremony.
These vary in size depending on how you are hanging them. You can have them framed or sitting in easels or even just taped to a wall. You can also have them printed on acrylic or wood to add decorative elements.
When to plan: - 2-4 weeks before. Most poster signs can be printed same day at a local print shop, however if you are having something printed on foam board, that will take 10+ days for delivery.
My final thoughts....
I know, this is my job but I think wedding stationery is really important. Think of it as your 'branding' for your entire wedding. You can use the colors, fonts and styles to convey the story of your wedding. They'll know if they should come ready to rock out and party, or for a sophisticated cocktail party.
True, they might just throw it away, but everything at a wedding will end up in the trash. Your guests might not notice that your monogram is the same on your invites and your napkins and your welcome sign, but they WILL notice that everything blends together beautifully. They'll feel like the whole event is easy breezy.
I hope this helps get your wheels turning! I know you won't need everything on this list, but it gives you a good place to start so you can begin to narrow it all down and you aren't rushing around at the end for menus and place cards. My biggest takeaway today is - stop hunting for each little piece. Find one stationer that can do it all for you and free up your brain space to research other things for your wedding!
Your Guide to Wedding Invitations