“Invitations can be the biggest wedding headache.”
There are a lot of factors that go into play with invitations. Who, what, when and where. Some of the most common questions I am asked are: “When should I send out my invitations? How many should I order? How soon should I get engagement pictures done? How do I address the envelopes? What should I include in the invitation? Do I need to do a Save The Date?”. Etc, Etc, Etc.
I am here to help with those questions and where to get started. Invitations don’t have to be a pain!
So, where do I start?
Once you have a vision of your wedding day, find invitations that match your color scheme and theme. It will give your guests a sneak peek as to what your big day will be like. You also want to pick one that catches your eye. One that gives you butterflies when you look at it. You want to be in love with your invites, trust me. Look at ALL your options. Find announcement/print companies that are going to best suite you. (local or strictly online, best fits your budget, etc) At the very bottom I have linked several websites where you can start looking.
2. Start Guest Lists & Gather Addresses
After you have found your dream invitation that you absolutely love, you want to start putting together your guest list so you can get a number on how many to order. Tip: always over order by ~20. There will be people you forget, plus you want to make sure you have enough to keep for yourself. It is one of the most cherished things I have from my wedding!
Many brides are different; some want a small wedding with a max of 15 people and some want to invite their and their fiancee’s whole high school along with their aunt’s dogs (JK). My advice: invite the people that mean the most in your life and / or have made an impact in your life somehow. Whether it be past or present. And that number doesn’t always matter, big or small. It’s your day! Invite who you want to celebrate with!
There are many ways to collect addresses. Sometimes this can be the biggest headache of them all. Start with social media. Announce your wedding date through a cute post and one (or 10) of your engagement pictures and let everyone know you are collecting addresses. You can also start an event page on Facebook and invite friends to give you their address via personal message or through ineedyouraddress.com/ (which is free to sign up.) Don’t directly ask your guests to post their address in a comment or on the event page directly. If they decide to do so, that’s okay, but for privacy reasons it’s always good to give them a private place to put their information.
Another fun option is a free website. Through your website, you can have a link for your guests to submit their address. You can also post date / times / address of your ceremony & reception, your love story, links to your registry and upload pictures of you two.
(FREE) Links to check out for building your own wedding website:
Pro Tip: Purchase a Wedding Guest List Tracker HERE for less than $5. Hang on to all addresses so you can send out thank you cards after your big day.
3. Separate Your Guests in 2-3 Different Lists.
Seems odd, but hear me out. There will be guests you want to invite to only the reception and not necessarily the ceremony. Upon ordering your invitations, make sure to get two different kind; wedding invitations (both ceremony & reception) and reception only invitations.
If you are having a wedding dinner (the night before) or a luncheon that day, it’s always smart to get a separate luncheon card to place in those invites so there is no confusion. Put time, date, location and what food will be available.
4. What to include
There are many examples online for what to include in a wedding announcement.
Reception only invites can be worded a few different ways. Regardless of how you word it, you want make sure to be specific but polite and formal. For example: (I made this up)
Mr. and Mrs. John Johnson
have the pleasure of announcing
the marriage of their daughter
Please join Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen
in celebration of their marriage
at the wedding reception
on July 6, 2015
at 7 o’clock in the evening
Make sure to include / Things often forgotten:
- Parent’s names. Sometimes your parents will want you to send invitations to their friends, old neighbors, coworkers, etc. These recipients may not know your or your fiancee’s name, but they will know your parent’s names. You can do this by stating their names like shown in the example above or do a separate card that states, “parents of the bride: ___” and “parents of the groom: ____”
- Registry information. Upon receipt of your invitation, your guests will most likely start looking for a good gift to get the new couple. Include where you are registered so they know they perfect place to start looking. There’s nothing like getting a gift you don’t want OR getting 4 of the same thing. (It happens, trust me).
- Website URL. In this day and age, it is completely acceptable to include your wedding website on the invitation. This also a good place where your guest can R.S.V.P.. If this is how you want your guests to R.S.V.P., make sure to state that on the invitation.
- Luncheon information: date/time/address/food
These can be put directly on the invitation or on a separate card that most printing companies offer.
Be creative! Include add-in cards, ribbon, confetti, etc.
Next, you’re going to want to create a timeline for yourself.
If you want to include images in your invites from your engagement session, make sure to check with your photographer first on when they will be delivered to you. Most photographer’s turn around time is 2-3 weeks. Some even offer a rush fee so you can get them back in just a couple of days. This is an important factor to put into consideration when looking at your timeline. Whether you want the invitation company to print them out on your actual invite or if you want to have them printed to include separately, find out when you will receive your images. (As for the actual engagement session date, I recommend 3-4 month in advance. Talk with your photographer beforehand and see what they recommend)
- Save The Date: It is very common now days to do Save The Date online via social media. If you are interested in sending out an physical card, it’s best to do it 3-4 months in advanced.
- Ordering wedding invitations: Order them as soon as possible. At the latest, order them a month before you want to send them out. This will give you enough time to do a proof with the printing company.
- Sending out wedding invitations: Wedding invites should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
- If you plan on sending out R.S.V.P. with your invitations, make sure to include the return by date. This date should reflect 2-3 weeks before the wedding date so you can get a final head count. Otherwise, make sure to note the R.S.V.P. date on your website.
6. “How do I address invites?”
The Knot said it best HERE: How to Address Wedding Invitations
Handwriting your return address hundreds of times is a waste of time! Here are some other return address options:
- Self inking stamps (examples HERE)
- Pre Made Stickers (search Etsy– there’s hundreds!)
- Most invitation/print companies offer to print your return address on each envelope for you, and they will match the print that is on your invites!
7. Have an Invitation PARTY!
Once you have ordered and received your invites, invite your bridal party over for some snacks and help to put your invitations together! Be sure to put one together before they come over and then you can teach them how you want them put together. If you trust them- you can also divide up the guest list and have everyone address some invites for you.
Once you have put your invitations together, take one to your local post office and see what kind of postage you will need. They will weigh them for you. Some invites weigh more than others so you’ll need to know what kind of stamps to purchase. (Tip: you can order cuter stamps than what they have on-hand on the post office’s website!)
8. Thank you’s
“Who do I send thank you’s to? Everyone that gave us a gift?”
Yes, but you also need to include those who you hired. Some examples are make up artist, caterer, event planner, photographer, florist, etc. You should also send thank you’s to those whom you didn’t hire, but helped you immensely. Like neighbors who helped set up or close friends who picked up your flowers for example.
Thank you’s are typically sent 2-3 weeks after your wedding day; after you have settled down from your honeymoon. When opening your gifts make note of who gave you what. That way you can personalize the thank you card more than just “Thank you for the gift, we appreciate you and enjoyed visiting with you on your wedding day”. (zzzz boring!) A personalized thank you is much more appreciated, trust me.
Websites to check out: (my personal favoritess)