Selecting Your Invitations
Before any selection of invitations should be made, it is necessary for the guest list to be established. This will enable an accurate determination of how many invitations are needed. Every couple, single guest, parents, wedding party attendant, clergy and also their guests should be counted. Children over 16 may be included with their parents or receive a separate invitation. It is wise to order an additional 25 invitations to allow for spelling errors, last minute surprises and in the event you may have forgotten to put someone on the list. Ordering 25 more at a later date is considered a new order and is more expensive. It is best to order your invitations four to six months before the wedding. This will insure plenty of time to address and mail them out in a timely fashion.
When selecting a font, consider the initials of the bride and groom, as well as other capitals that are in the copy of the invitation. Choosing a font that is easy to read, as well as the color of the ink selected, may also be important considerations. A bolder or broader style of font will make the color appear darker and a fine font will appear lighter in color. Coordinating the colors being utilized in decorating or in the wedding party attire, may also be something to consider. It can be most beneficial to see a sample invitation composed with the font and color of ink you desire. This will help to insure your satisfaction with your selection. Choosing an ink color that matches the design on the paper is advisable for best appearance.
Most invitations will easily accommodate up to 13 or 14 lines of printing. By deciding on the verbiage you wish to use before making a final decision on the paper, you help to make selection of stationery that your verse will properly fit and give you a beautiful overall well-balanced appearance.
Components of your wedding ensemble may include:
- Invitation – informs who, what, when and where.
- Inner-lined envelopes – an option that enhances the appearance and presentation of the invitation by adding elegance.
- Reception card – informs where and at what time your reception is being held.
- Response card and self-addressed envelope – a card that is returned by the guest notifying the number of guests attending, and may also include an entrée selection, if requested.
- Outer envelope – may or may not have the return address printed on it. If the invitation is more contemporary and does not include an inner envelope, then it may also be offered with an inner lining. A return address on the outer envelope will help to assure the return of any invitations that may have addressing errors. The return address should be printed or handwritten, as address stickers or rubber address stamps are not proper for use on a formal invitation ensemble.
- Map and/or direction card – shows the location and directions to the church and reception sites. For best appearance, print on the same or similar paper stock as the other components included with the invitation.
- Informal or thank you cards – are used to send your words of gratitude for the gift your guest has given you. An informal is a blank card, generally matching the wedding stationery, in which you write your own personal words of thanks. A thank you card, may or may not match your wedding ensemble, and is generally pre-printed with a verse or words of thanks. It is recommended that you handwrite some personal words of gratitude and sign your names.
- Note – It is improper to put cards in the wedding invitation that show where a couple has a gift registry. If the guest was invited to a bridal shower, then they already are aware of this information. They will most likely contact the bride or groom’s parents or the bride or groom directly, if they were not invited to the shower or if one was not given and they want to acquire this information.
How to Address Your Wedding Invitations
The proper addressing of the wedding invitation is very important, as it informs the recipient of who has been invited to the wedding. Only those listed on the invitation are invited to the wedding and/or reception. If space is limited at the ceremony site, it is proper to invite a guest to the reception only. An example of this would be if the wedding were going to be held at a wedding chapel with limited guest capacity. This capacity could be less than the total number included on your guest list. Because of budget restrictions, some guests might be invited to attend after the dinner hour for cocktails and dancing only. These examples would require different stationery cards with appropriate wording. Your stationery specialists can assist you with the wording and the best way to handle your individual situation.
Addressing your envelopes is generally done in one of the following methods…personally handwritten or by the calligraphy method. If you choose to use a printer utilizing a fancy script to resemble calligraphy, it is recommended that a laser printer be used and not an inkjet. If you use an ink jet printer and the ink gets wet, it can run and make the address undecipherable.
The outside envelope should be addressed to the Mr. and Mrs. or just to Mr, Mrs. or Ms., if a single person. The words “and Guest” do not appear on the outside envelope.
Examples are as follows:
Example #1: Mr. and Mrs. David Smith (may also use middle initial)
Example #2: Mr. David Smith (or) Ms. Mary Smith
Example #3: Mrs. David Smith (or) Mrs. Mary Smith
The inside envelope, for the examples shown above, would be as follows:
Example #1: Mr. and Mrs. Smith (no first name written)
Example #2: Mr. (or Ms.) Smith and Guest
Example #3: Mrs. Smith and Guest
If a couple is married, but the wife has not changed her last name to her husband’s, then her name goes on the first line and his on the second line. The same would apply if a couple reside together, but are not married. Other than Mr., Mrs., Ms. and possibly Dr., all words should be spelled out on the envelope, including other titles such as Reverend or Captain, Drive, Avenue or Street following the address, and also the city and state.
If an invitation were also extended to children, their first names only in order of their ages (eldest first) would go on the second line of the inner envelope only. Children’s names do not appear on the outside envelope.
An example would be:
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Robert and James
How to Assemble Wedding Invitations
There is a proper way to assemble your invitations and enclosure cards so when your guests open your invitation, an immediate impression is made and information is presented in an orderly fashion.
While addressing your outer envelopes and completing the inner envelopes, be sure to keep them in sets. Another option is to address all of the outer envelopes and then write out the inner envelopes to go with each. One of the best processes to use to assemble your invitations and to keep everything organized is the following:
- Fold all of the components, which are scored to aid the folding process.
- Put stamps on the response envelopes (the same number of envelopes as the number of invitation envelopes you have addressed)
- Insert the response card into the response envelope with the fold on top, if folded from the top down (printing is generally on the front), or insert folded edge first, if it has a side fold.
- Arrange the components in piles for assembly. Going from left to right, put them in the following order:
- Tissues – if furnished and, if you wish to use them. Note – if you are creating your invitations on your own PC and printing them on an inkjet, then it is highly recommended that you use the tissues, as the ink will most likely smudge onto other parts of your invitation. If you are using a laser printer, this concern is eliminated.
- Response cards already assembled in response envelopes (addressed side up)
- Map/direction cards (copy up)
- Reception cards (copy up)
- Assemble, taking one off each pile, placing each piece on the top of the last in the same order as listed in Item 4 above. In other words, take your invitation, place a tissue (if using) on top of the printed words, place your assembled response card and envelope (addressed side up) on top of the tissue, then the map/direction card (face up) and finally the reception card on the very top (face up). Your accessory cards should be placed on top of the printed copy of the invitation. If the invitation copy is in the inside of the invitation, then your accessory cards are also inside. If the invitation copy is on the front, your accessory cards then go on the outside. As stated above, tissues may come with your invitation order and although they no longer serve a purpose (unless you are printing your own invitations on an ink jet printer), they are sometimes utilized more as a tradition than a necessity. You, of course, make the decision whether to use them or not.
Response Dates & the Mailing of the Wedding Invitations
Before mailing your invitation, it is best to take a completely assembled addressed invitation to the post office and have it weighed to insure that proper postage is applied. You do not want to take the chance of your invitation being returned for ‘insufficient postage’ or being delivered with ‘postage due’ and you also want to verify whether the envelope size fall within standard size requirements or if it is considered over-sized. This can also make a difference in the postage required. The post office offers many styles of stamps (including the popular love stamps), which may, because of the color, enhance your invitation or show a charity or cause that you are supporting. The important thing is to insure that you have the proper postage on your invitation. Remember that you also need a first class stamp on the response card envelope.
Ordering your invitations, addressing, assembling and putting stamps on them and, therefore, getting them ready to mail is something that you can do in advance of when you actually want to mail them. The closer you get to your wedding day, the more tasks and details you have to take care of, so this is one detail you can get accomplished and set aside until mailing time. Mark your planner calendar the date you want to mail the out-of-state invitations and when you want to mail the guests that reside within your state. Don’t forget to check with the post office for the required postage.
The invitations should be in the hands of your guests not less than two weeks prior to the response date for your invited guests that live more locally. For those guests that live out-of-state or have travel arrangements to make, you should allow a good month before your response date. The response date is determined by considering when your reception facility needs a final count of guests attending. This can be as much as 2 weeks before your wedding date. It is suggested that you add approximately one week to the ‘final count’ date to allow ample time to contact those guests who have not responded. Taking into consideration the cost per guest, you do not want to pay for guests that do not attend by assuming that they are attending and you also don’t want to assume that they are not attending. If invited guests who did not return the response card end up attending your reception, this may cause a shortage of food. So as you can see, it is vital that those not responding be contacted.
Another consideration with regard to a response date is if you are planning on using seating or place cards. Be sure to allow ample time to be able to put your seating arrangement together. Although it is an extra task, and not necessarily an easy one at that, it is almost necessary these days. Utilizing a seating chart will simplify this task for you. Another option are place cards and whichever you decide upon will serve many purposes. They ensure everyone a reserved seat, even those late arrivals. They insure your out-of-town guests a seat with other guests that you know they have an enjoyable evening with. They insure members of a family, co-workers and friends arriving at different times, to be able to sit together. It shows your guests that you took extra time to accomplish the above and that you care and want them to have an enjoyable evening.
Since contacting a guest about this matter might be a bit uncomfortable for some, you might have your wedding coordinator or non-family member make the calls. Also, if someone other than the bride, groom or parents makes the calls, it will allow the task to be done in a shorter time period, as more in-depth conversations will be avoided. Either way, it may be expressed to the invited guest that since their response card had not been received, there was a concern as to whether or not they had received their invitation. Reasons for this occurring could be because the envelope was incorrectly addressed, either because your guest changed physical addresses without your knowledge or by an actual addressing error. Therefore, it is very important to have a current address list and to double-check each envelope for accuracy, after it is written. It could also be just because they simply did not take the time to fill it out and return it. In any event, it is important that those who have not responded be contacted.
The main reason you contact a guest that you have not received a response card from is because you want to know if the invited guests are planning on attending and how many are attending. If two guests are invited and the response cards states that three are attending, a decision must be made as to whether to allow the extra guest to attend or to contact the guest and politely explain the invitation was for only two guests. Sometimes limited space restrictions, or more often the budget, won’t allow for additional guests other than those that were originally invited, and that includes children, if that is your preference.