By Chloe Minyon

Start Early

Invitations have come a long way over the past several years, and with many custom stationers now available, the design options are endless! It’s good to start the process early so you can create exactly what you’ve always dreamed of.

As a rule of thumb, save the dates should go out six to eight months before the wedding with invitations going out six to eight weeks before. If you’re having a destination wedding, send out your invites even earlier (ten to twelve weeks before the wedding) to give your guests plenty of time to plan. To allow for print and design time, it’s best to start working with a designer nine to eleven months before your big day.

Know Your Style

Your invitations set the tone for your wedding. So, before you begin the design process, determine your color palette and decide on the formality of the day (black tie, for example) and the type of event you’ll be hosting (classic, modern, urban, etc). Start an inspiration board and pin designs you’re drawn to so you can learn where your heart is leaning for your papers. 

Figure Out Your Budget

Be honest as you enter into a relationship with a stationer! They will work with you to create a stunning invitation within your budget. With the average price per invitation in Virginia varying from $8-30, decide what is important to you. Trust your designer to help you make choices to keep you in budget. Dreaming of a fluffy bow to tie around your suite, for instance? French silk is far more costly than tulle and satin, however, all three can give a beautiful finish to your design. Letterpress, Gold Foil, Thermography and other formal print methods are stunning, but oftentimes, a luxury. Digital press can pack a punch just as well!

Work Out the Details

Your invitation serves the very important role of letting your guests know when and where your wedding will take place, who is hosting the event, and RSVP information. Don’t forget to include your dress code!

Other information you may want to include is your wedding website, accommodation information, directions, post or pre-wedding activities, and maybe even a map. These additions need to be printed on separate enclosure cards as not to clutter your main suite.

One piece of information NOT to include is where you are registered! This is only acceptable on your wedding website or on a shower card.

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Helpful Hint
Number your RSVP cards! Assign each guest a number and write this on the back and bottom right of your RSVP card. This will help as responses begin to come in and if someone forgets to write their name on the card!

Don’t Forget Cohesiveness

Once you know your style and color palette, it’s best to have all of your wedding papers created by the same stationer. Think menu cards, programs, escort cards, seating chart, and any signage. This will allow for cohesiveness and may even save you money if you order everything at once from the same company.

Know How Many You Need

Invitations typically only go to guests per household, not to every individual on your list! Of course, some exceptions apply, so work with your stationer to figure out just how many you will need. Don’t forget to order extras just in case (I recommend 25 to cover last minute additions to your list or if you need to resend any).

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Consider a Calligrapher

Many stationers offer the service of printed calligraphy for your envelopes. This is a cost effective way of taking away the burden of sitting down and addressing them yourself and allows for more cohesiveness since you’ll likely be able to use a font from your suite on the envelopes.

Another option is to consider hiring a professional calligrapher. It’s a beautiful touch to your invitations and shows your guests you care about the little details.

If hiring a calligrapher or opting to have your envelopes printed, keep in mind that this will likely add an additional $2-6 per envelope.

Triple Check Everything!

Before your invitations are printed, your stationer will send you a proof of your suite. Be sure to check every tiny detail, then have a family member or friend check it, too. A good way to catch errors is to read your invitation backwards – this will help you better spot a typo! Your stationer may not catch misspellings of unique venues or the names of your guests. Also, be sure to check that the time and date are correct. You’d be surprised how often this is spotted at the very last moment!

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Make Friends with the Postal Service

First things first: always remember to put a postage stamp on your RSVP envelopes! It is correct etiquette to pay for your guests to respond to your invitation.

The most important thing to keep the stress down when it comes to your wedding invitations is to do a weigh in BEFORE you stamp them all. Most stationers will advise you on the postage stamp cost for your exact suite, but it’s always best to double check. Take a fully sealed suite to the post office you plan to mail them from and ask for a final cost. The last thing you want is an invitation being returned to you with an insufficient funds notice!

And while you are at the post office, ask them about hand canceling. Instead of having your invitations processed through the machine like regular mail (which can bend or even ruin your invites), hand canceling is a free service that will sort your invitations by hand. There is no guarantee that every envelope will be processed this way, so it’s often best to pay the fee to ensure that each invitation will be sorted by hand.

Finally, say a big ol’ thank you to the postmaster and go celebrate with a glass of bubbly because your invitations are on their way!

Chloe Minyon is the owner and creative designer of English Tea Paperie, a custom wedding invitation and papers boutique. For more information, please visit www.englishteapaperie.com.

Photos by Shalese Danielle Photography