You're cruising along in your wedding planning - meeting with your florist, tasting food, getting your chairs and linens picked out. Then you get to the point when you have to invite people and you start looking around and looking some more and you just assume that you'll find one, you'll order them and all will be fine.
Here's my advice to you - start your invitations earlier than you think you should, but if you haven't started yet and you feel like you're behind. It's going to be fine, take a deep breath and we'll get them done in a jiffy.
When should you send out your wedding invitations? When exactly should you start working on the design?
When to send your wedding invitations
The general rule is to send your invitations 8-12 weeks before your wedding - I would shoot for 10 weeks, and if it happens earlier great, if not, nbd.
How to really calculate when to send
Start with your guest count deadline
The first thing to consider are the deadlines your other vendors have. Your florist, your caterer, your rentals - they'll all need to know how many people to expect. Typically this used to be 2 weeks before your wedding, but since the pandemic hit, I'm seeing some asking for that guest list as much as 4 weeks before, so just ask and make sure you know what that date is for everyone that needs it.
Then figure out your RSVP date
So take this magical date you need to have your head count turned in and add 2 weeks to it. That friend, is your RSVP date.
Why 2 weeks?
Some people will mail in their RSVP ON the RSVP date - that gives it a week to travel to you and another week to reach out to anyone you haven't heard from.
Then make a target send out date
Once you have your RSVP date, set your target send out date 4-6 weeks before that.
Remember - this is just a target date. I know it's hard, but if your invitations go out a week later than that date, it's going to be OK. You've already built in a cushion for extra time, repeat after me - it's going to be OK.
OK, so when do you need to order your invitations then?
Great question! In general I recommend starting your invitations 4-8 weeks before you want to send them out.
So there are a few steps to consider in designing your invitations, and the specific timing will change with each design studio based on the complexity of your project, but I'll go through my average timeline (along with special scenarios later!).
Project Research: 1-2 weeks
I would give yourself (or us together) a solid week or two just for research. Look for designs that you like and get a game plan together.
If you're working from a collection such as The Classics Collection - that means choosing a design (or two!). It means figuring out which pieces you need and thinking about any accessories you want with it.
Design and Proofing: 1-2 weeks (or more!)
Design and proofing can take longer than you think and a lot of it is up to you.
If you start your design and you have your wording planned out, your details gathered and your guest list completed and formatted correctly, 1 week is really realistic.
If you are still tracking down details, or want to see a design in different fonts, or are generally indecisive, it can take quite a bit longer.
My advice in the design phase is to be confident. Make a choice and leave it. Be confident in the things you picked and don't look back. The more you waffle back and forth the more confused you'll get and 9 chances out of 10, you'll end up right back where you started.
Printing and Shipping: 1-2.5 weeks
OK, so your design is done, ready to go right? Not quite. Your invitations still have to be printed. Once I have a design ready to print, it generally takes about a week to be printed and shipped to me, but that's not the end.
In my studio, I outsource some printing, but not all of it. I print envelopes in house and I don't do that until the invitations are in so I can make sure the colors all match. I try to do that as quickly as I can, but it can take up to a week to get into my schedule.
Depending on the design, there may also be added time to assemble envelope liners, to tape layers of paper together or to tie on ribbons.
Once your invitations are ready to go I always ship out with UPS 2nd day or Priority mail, so figure another 2-3 days to ship.
Once you have your invitations in hand, you'll need to order stamps. You can order postage ahead of time, but I would wait until you have them so you can take them to the post office for an official weigh in.
True story. I was at the post office last week dropping off a box and chatting with Doug, my favorite postal worker, and I noticed he was putting stamps on wedding invites. I mentioned that it was so nice of him to do that as it was definitely outside of his job. He said he felt bad - a woman brought her invitations in and had them stamped with her perfect stamp and as she handed them over, he let her know that her wax seals made them non-machineable so they required extra postage. She was really upset because the only stamps they had in the right denomination were rabbits and she hated them. Had she gone in ahead of time to double check, she could have ordered her stamps online and had a larger selection.
Things the post office will check:
- weight - anything over 1 oz requires extra postage
- shape - square invitations require extra postage
- thickness - if it doesn't fit through their machining slot, they'll have extra postage
- flexibility - if they have wax seals or other thick materials, they won't be flexible enough to run through the machines and will need to be sorted and canceled by hand, thus more extra postage.
If you have a lot of guests that are traveling for your wedding, I would shoot to send out your invites 12 weeks in advance and/or encourage you to send out save the dates. This gives those enough time to book travel arrangements and take time off of work.
If you are looking to have anything custom on your invitations you'll want to start your invitations 9-12 months before your wedding. This might be a custom invitation where you are starting from a blank page and building it up to your specifications, a custom crest made for you, art work of your venu - a lot of these highly specialized artists book up and can have large wait times.
If you are hiring a calligrapher, you'll first, want to make sure you get on their calendar. You'll also want to budget an additional 2-3 weeks. Writing addresses by hand is a process and calligraphers can only do so many a day without killing their hands, it takes time.
Are you thinking of using letterpress, foil or thermography? Love it! Just make sure you budget a bit more time - most of these processes can cake 10-14 days, which isn't much longer than digital printing, but it IS at least a full week longer. Digital printing I can get in my hands within 2 days if I really want to, but there is not much you can do to rush letterpress.
I think that's it! Reach out if you have questions!
Remember this - don't freak out if you aren't following this timeline or you're 'behind' - it's alllllll going to be fine, your wedding will be amazing and it will all get done on YOUR timeline, not anyone else's and that's totally fine.
Tagged: Planning Tips