The world of wedding stationery can be a confusing one, so here’s a breakdown of the most common components of your wedding stationery, including an overview of their purpose, importance, and timing.
Wedding Announcement/Save the Dates
Some couples choose to send Save the Dates as a pre announcement and invitation to the actual wedding. It’s only been in recent years that they’ve become a standard item on the stationery list but I really only recommend them as a Must-Have if you’re having a destination wedding. Otherwise, only include them if your budget allows.
The Invitation Suite
For most couples, Invitations are just the tip of the iceberg on the stationery wish list – after all, guests must know who is getting married and where and what time to arrive to the celebration. You should plan to order invitations approximately 3 months ahead of time (cushion in an additional 3 – 4 weeks if you plan to hire a graphic designer to design a customized monogram or design) and distribute to guests 8 weeks before your wedding. Oh and just in case I have to state the obvious, these are a definite Stationery Need To Have.
- Note: Send invitations approximately 12 weeks before your wedding day if you are inviting guests to a destination location or out-of-town guests
Just as important as your wedding invitation is the RSVP/Reply Card. It accompanies the Invitation but serves the purpose of allowing guests to tell you whether they intend to attend your wedding. They also include meal choices and a date for return which brings me to another point. Always, self-address the envelope they will be returned with and ALWAYS include a stamp. You will want to give yourself enough time to gather your final headcount for your venue and caterer, so a general rule of thumb is to make the RSVP date approximately 3 weeks before the wedding.
If you’re reception will be taking place at a location different from the ceremony, you may want to consider including a Reception Card. It only serves the purpose of telling guests when and where the reception will occur and is only a requirement if you are having a black tie event. These tend to get bundled with wedding invitations, though we will say they aren’t strictly necessary.
Just as optional as the reception card is the Wedding Map which gives exact directions from your ceremony to the reception venue but with all of the recent technologies in GPS, it’s safe to say most of your guests will know how to get there.
Your Wedding Ceremony and Reception
The easiest way for your guests to follow along with the wedding itinerary is to include a Wedding Program. The key details on your wedding program should include:
- Your full names
- Wedding date
- City, state, & location of the ceremony
- The order of the wedding ceremony including musical selections and the first and last name of the composers and performers
- The readings, the source or author, and the first and last name of the person who will be reading it
- First and last name of all members of the Wedding party and their relation to you
- The first and last name of the wedding Officiant’s
- Thank you note to your parents & guests (optional)
- A brief explanation of traditions, rituals, & ethic customs for both religious & secular ceremonies (optional)
You may also wish to honor those who have passed or could not join you by including a memorial. Wedding programs should be ordered as soon as you know all of the information you want included
Pew cards, although not commonly used, are appropriate for super-formal weddings (e.g., with celebrities and dignitaries) and are used to indicate to special guests that they have signed seating. They are usually enclosed with the invites or mailed once their reservation has been received to ensure the appropriate number of seats. Guests would hand these cards to the usher before they are seated so the usher will be sure to seat the guest in the proper spot
Once the ceremony and cocktail hour has concluded, guests will need to know where they are seated for the reception. This is the job of your Escort & Place Cards. In an earlier post called: Placed Cards vs. Escorts Cards we covered the major differences between the two pieces (escort cards allow guests to quickly find their tables and place cards tell guests which chair to sit in once at the table) but depending on your table layout and seating arrangements, these cards may not always be necessary. If you do, however, include them in your wedding stationery, you will most likely want to have them printed with your invitations.
Next up are the Menu Cards. I file these under the Nice To Have list because you can typically eliminate the need by including your menu choices on the RSVP card. However, if dinner is being served buffet-style it may be a good idea to include one table Menu and labels next to each food item at the buffet.
When it’s all said and done, you’ll want to be sure to send a Thank You Card to each guest who participated in your wedding day. Handwritten cards are ideal and in my opinion, are the only true way to express sincere gratitude and thanks. Wedding gifts that arrive before your wedding date should be acknowledged immediately while thank you’s for any gifts received during or after the wedding should be sent within two weeks after returning from the honeymoon.
Your wedding stationery is the perfect way to tie details together. From the save the date to the escort cards, invitations to thank you notes, customized stationery carries the theme throughout the day. There are, of course, other pieces you may want or need to include in your own wedding stationery suite, but this is a basic list of items to help you begin the fun & exciting process of your wedding invitations!