What You Need to Know
Choosing the right invitation may seem simple enough, until you begin to explore your options. Should you choose a card or a scroll? How many pieces should it have? Do you need a stamped return envelope and an RSVP card? Invitations not only inform everyone of your dates and plans, but also set a mood and expectation for the coming event. Your printed pieces will be keepsakes of your wedding day for you and for your guests.
We reached out to one of our favorite wedding experts, Indra Singh of Vivah Celebrations, who creates specialty luxury invitations for Indian Weddings. She says, "One of the first things you will think about when planning a wedding is the guest list. The next step is letting everyone know about your engagement. That will probably require phone calls and possibly the more formal engagement announcement card." Then, she adds, "At least six months before your date, you will want to send out save the date cards. Invitations with RSVPs and other inserts should be sent at least two months prior to your wedding date. If you order thank you cards with your invitations, everything will match and you’ll have them at a moment’s notice. Last, be ready with wedding announcements to catch up colleagues, acquaintances and out-of-towners."
We walked through the specifics of each with her:
These announce your engagement to everyone you’d like to share your good news with. They are more formal but less personal than a phone call. Call those nearest and dearest to tell them first, but make sure to annouce your engagement formally to everyone.
Save The Date Cards
Once you’ve set a date, these cards are a great way to begin setting the tone for your wedding and to let your guests know what to expect. They generate excitement and allow family members, especially those traveling from far distances, to make arrangements in good time.
Indra tell us: "Save-the-date cards are not the same as engagement announcement cards or wedding announcement cards, they are only sent to the people invited to your wedding to allow them time to prepare, plan for travel and take off time from work if necessary." Therefore, send save-the-date cards at least four months prior to your date. If you have guests coming from out of country or are having your ceremony during the holidays, bump your save-the-date mailing up to six to twelve months prior to your date.
Invitations and Inserts
Just like save-the-date cards, the look of your invitation helps your guests to know what to expect and gets the excitement going for the event. You will have so many beautiful options to choose from, but remember to keep your invitations in theme with your wedding.
"A cohesive stationery style will add elegance and sophistication to the event," says Indra. The look you choose for your invitations should coordinate with the other parts of the wedding ceremony, such as the wedding program, seating name cards, cocktail napkins and menus. The look can even be carried over into gift boxes and thank-you cards for your guests. Send invitations at least two months prior to your date.
These are the cards included in your invitation that read R.S.V.P. They give an accurate head count for your caterer and venue. Consider printing a return by date on these cards. If you don’t hear from important guests in good time, it’s fair to give them a call to express your concern that they may not have received your invitation. Also include a small mailing envelope printed with the bride’s name and address on the back so that guests can easily drop them in the mail.
These particular insert cards are not required, but a nice touch. They give your guests a handy way of locating the ceremony and reception venues. Make them small enough to slide into a wallet, pocket or small purse.
Gift Registry Card
These insert cards are not a requiremnt either. They simply let your guests know where you are registered.
At Home Card
Another optional but useful insert to the wedding invitation and wedding announcement is the at home card. This card announces the newlyweds’ new address and the move-in date. The at-home card also can announce the bride’s married name.
Wedding announcements are not required, but useful in some circumstances. Send these to people who aren’t invited to your wedding, but for practical reasons may find them helpful. They are also nice if you have a smaller budget, an intimate ceremony or an out-of-town ceremony.
"It's is a great way to let professional colleagues, casual acquaintances or extended family members know of name and address change," reminds Indra.
Thank You Cards
If you order thank-you cards with your invitations, everything will match and you’ll have them at the ready the moment you need them. After each of your wedding events remember to thank everyone, not just for gifts but also for their time, love and support.
From showers to parties to dinners, you will want to be able to send your thanks as soon as possible. If you send your notes as soon as each event is over, you’ll keep your sanity and let those around you know how much you appreciate them. It’s so good for your karma, and writing a heart-felt note of thanks will also reduce your own stress level. Never underestimate the power of gratitude.
Stationery or Blank Cards
An extra special touch is to have additional stationery or blank cards printed on the same paper and with the same look as your wedding invitations. It’s nice to have personal stationery on-hand. Receiving a hand written letter from the bride or groom on personalized stationery is a special treat that shows thoughtfulness and care in an era of hurry and rush.
A green option is to have your invitations and stationery printed on bamboo stock or recycled paper with soy ink and other non-toxic inks. Mention to your printer you’d like to go as green as possible and he or she will apprise you of all of your choices.
Electronic or email invitations are another green option because they save on postage, printing and preserve trees as well. However, consider your more traditional relatives and friends. These people will expect to receive a printed invitation as a gesture of respect. Also keep in mind that not everyone may keep up with their email or check in on social networks as frequently as you do.
Email invitations are more easily lost in transit and might be sorted out by junk filters. Should you choose to send your invitations electronically, make sure to follow up with everyone you haven’t heard from within a week of sending this type of invitation.
Also print a small run of invitations for the people you know who will appreciate the tradition most. There are many online services that can help manage your guest list, from online wedding sites to traditional stationery companies who also allow you to create your own customized e-cards. Some services allow you a hybrid option of printing customized cards directly to your printer.
"No matter how you choose to let your guests know about your wedding day, they will be excited to be there to support you as you begin your exhilarating journey," emphasizes Indra. And your beautiful announcements and invitations will be a lovely memento in your wedding book and keepsakes.