Wedding Stationery – What You Need & When
Wedding stationery is so much more than just invitations and RSVP cards. We’ll look at all the current wedding stationery people tend to use, if you need it and when. Read our guide, make a list of everything you’ll need and budget accordingly. Being a wedding stationer you’d maybe expect me to recommend everything on the list. Not so! I much prefer to help couples to have an affordable day and to do away with the unnecessary.
Engagement Party Invitations
No explanation required here – they do what they say on the tin!
Save The Date
Sent if you’re having a destination wedding or if you have lots of guests travelling long distance. This gives them the opportunity to book time off work, travel arrangements etc. Send them as soon you have the date and venue booked and have worked out the guest list. There’s no point in sending these out 5-6 months before the wedding as it would be a waste of money, you might as well just send the formal invitation. Save the Dates should only be sent to people who will be invited to the day time part of the wedding. You should make it clear on the Save the Dates who is going to be included in the invitation when it arrives. Sounds obvious, but you need to include the destination/venue to help people plan ahead and book.
Hen Party/Stag Part Invitations
I personally don’t think that these necessarily warrant a proper invitation. You’re going to know who you want to invite so why not just email the details? Or better still, get your chief BM (and Best Man) to organise it for you 🙂
I have heard of some couples using e-vites instead of paper wedding stationery which I don’t like for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, an e-vite doesn’t exactly shout that it’s an important occasion. I’m an old fashioned kinda girl and I like to have a nice invitation to put on the mantlepiece. An e-vite doesn’t tend to have much of a WOW factor impact. Secondly, not everyone uses e-mail, and even if they do the spam filter can be a problem.
Very often a more elaborate invitation is sent to the day guests with a smaller less elaborate one for the evening guests.
I advise sending your invitations at least 6 months in advance. I do like to be ahead of myself in the organisation stakes! For the minimum time to send them you will need to work backwards from the venue/caterers numbers confirmation deadline. For example: If your wedding date is on 15th August, the venue/caterer is likely to want the confirmed numbers 8 weeks prior (20th June), you need to allow a couple of weeks to chase up stragglers (6th June) then you need to add on the amount of time you think people will need to decide if they can come. If you’ve sent out Save the Dates then perhaps they only need a couple of weeks to reply (23rd May). If this is the first they know about the invitation then perhaps more time would be good.
You will obviously need to gather responses to your invitations. I don’t think you need to have an RSVP card and an envelope. This bulks up the main envelope for one thing and can push the price up if you end up having to post them ‘large letter’ post. Even if you need to use ‘large letter’ post because you have embellishments on your invitations an extra envelope is not very environmentally friendly. I encourage people to consider RSVP postcards when planning their wedding stationery. So long as no details of the day/event are put on there for all to see then I don’t see them as a problem. You can gather information on them such as dietary requirements which helps in the overall planning process.
Many of my couples use RSVP cards for the more formal day invitations but request e-mail responses from their evening guests. Some stationers charge extra for RSVP cards – here at Lilguy Designs the cost of an RSVP is included in the invitation price.
Information For Guests
There is certain information that you need to pass onto your guests. You don’t need a separate card or sheet for each bit of information. It’s a good idea to use both sides of the sheets, e.g. gift list information on one side and policy on children on the other. Other information to pass on could include hotel recommendations, taxi service recommendations, public transport information. Maps for the church and venue can also share a card – just be sure to make it clear which is which! Send out with the invitation.
Alternatively you could set up a wedding website and post all the necessary information there for guests which will cut down on the wedding stationery needed. The website address could be included on the main invitation thereby saving paper/card.
Order of Service/Order of the Day
Orders of Service are good for guiding guests through the ceremony and can be very brief or very detailed. One couple had just the wording of the carols printed on a decorated card (it was a Christmas wedding).
Another had the full service wording printed – including the order of the day in the front. They also had the Sheva Brachot (The Seven Blessings) printed in Hebrew for the one Jewish family member attending who could read Hebrew. My poor printer nearly had a nervous breakdown, but survived to print another day!
If you’re having the ceremony and reception at the same venue then it’s useful for guests to have a ‘running order’ to work to.
As soon as you know the service wording/hymns/running order of the day get these organised. Get them delivered and stash them with all your other wedding paraphernalia.
Table Plan (otd)
Usually placed on the way into the wedding breakfast room for guests to see which table they are sitting at.
Placename Cards (otd)
If you’re having formal seating at your reception you will no doubt have poured over the guest list deciding who will sit where. Placename cards on the tables show guests where they should sit.
Table Name/Number Cards (otd)
Help guests to find their allocated table.
Menu Cards (otd)
Whilst it’s not always necessary to have one per guest it’s good to have a few per table just so that your guests know what they’re going to be eating. I did the full wedding stationery suite for a couple last year who ended up having five different versions of the menu (standard, vegetarian, vegan, piscaterian, kosher). We combined the placename cards with the menu cards and personalised each one.
Many stationers will do a variety of wedding favours or will be able to print tags or cards for them for you. If you’re putting these together yourself you will need to allow yourself a few weeks to do them. This is especially important if you’re having ribbon bows or other embellishments. I know from experience how tricky ribbon bows can be!
For collecting cards from guests on the day, also useful for collecting disposable cameras if you’re having them. Can be made from cardboard and decorated in your wedding colour scheme/theme. We didn’t have one and the cards ended up all over the place which was a bit worrying. Get this ahead of time and put it to one side ready for the day.
Many stationers can supply traditional guest books for your guests to sign. Alternatively you may have a different idea altogether – we will look at this in a future post. Get this ahead of time and put it to one side ready for the day.
Thank You Cards
It would be very bad form not to thank your guests for their gifts. I have designed cards for couples using a montage of photos from their wedding day. Or you could choose your favourite photo from the day to use. Alternatively you might want to have cards designed along the colour scheme/theme lines and have them delivered before the wedding so that you can write a few thank you cards for early gifts.
On The Day Stuff (otd)
For local weddings where I am delivering or the couple are collecting the order I like to do this as close to the day as possible. Things like table name/number cards and menu cards (if they’re not combined placename/menu cards) can be done ahead of time and put to one side.
Placename Cards and Table Plan are the most likely items to have last minute changes. Someone drops out at the last minute, someone’s plus one might change at the last minute. I get the information set up on my system as soon as the couple have got the RSVPs in and worked out where everyone is sitting. Then I get the couple to proof it. Then I sit on it for as long as possible! If the order has to be sent by post or courier then it has to be done a week-10 days ahead, otherwise I like to leave it as close as possible. On one occasion I was putting the table plan together at the venue the day before the wedding!
Next week we’ll look at wedding stationery mistakes to avoid.
Take care and happy planning!