Whether you’re working with a wedding planner or taking more of a DIY route, there are plenty of decisions to make at every stage of prepping for your wedding day. As soon as you nail down a date, it’s time to choose your save the dates, invitations, and other coordinating stationery! These pieces will set the tone of your wedding for your guests months in advance, so it’s important to select something that reflects your personality and the tone you’re aiming for on your big day.
Trust me — as a wedding invitation designer, I know that’s no small task! To make it a little easier, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to choosing wedding stationery you will love.
What should I budget for my wedding stationery?
There is a wide range of options when it comes to wedding stationery, especially invitations.
You can spend as little as $0.50 per invite if you DIY a simple design and print it at home. On the other end of the spectrum, you can spend as much as $20 (or more!) per invite with luxury papers, custom design, laser cut elements, calligraphy, multiple inserts, full assembly by your designer, and envelope addressing.
There’s no right or wrong way to go, but your personal style and taste should be factored into your budget. If you’ve got champagne taste, budget for it! Most wedding budget planners recommend allotting 2-4% of your overall budget for paper products.
When should I order my wedding stationery?
Save the Dates: 6-12 months in advance
Once you’ve hammered out the most essential details for your wedding — particularly the date and location — go ahead and order your save the dates! You’ll want to give your guests plenty of time to make arrangements to join you on your big day.
There’s a good chance your guest list won’t be finalized at this point, but don’t let that deter you. Start by sending cards to your VIP list, but order extras to send out when you’ve settled on your official guest list.
Wedding Invitations and Rehearsal Dinner Invites: 4-6 months in advance
It’s always best to start thinking about invitations early so you have plenty of time to figure out exactly what you want.
You can narrow down the half a million options out there by answering a few simple questions:
● How formal/casual is your wedding?
● Who is hosting/paying for the wedding? (This affects the wording.)
● Can you use the visual elements to communicate a certain vibe to your guests?
● How can you personalize it to represent “you” as a couple?
Your invitations will take some time to print and ship, so factor that into your plans. The more customized or elaborate the design, the longer they will likely take. Most invitation sets from Wild Blue Weddings, for example, take about 2-3 weeks from order placement to delivery.
Day-of Paper Goods: 2-3 months in advance
Most weddings incorporate additional paper goods on the wedding day: table numbers, place cards, tags for your gift/favor/welcome bags, dinner menus, etc. While these items won’t be used until your actual wedding day, you won’t want to wait until the last minute to organize and assemble them!
Thank You Cards: 2 months in advance – 2 weeks after you return
from your honeymoon
Wedding etiquette states that you should send a thank you note within 2 weeks of receiving a gift. You may start receiving gifts before the actual wedding — especially if someone is hosting a shower for you — so it’s wise to have thank you cards on hand in advance (although it’s still acceptable to wait until afterwards, too).
Where should I shop for my wedding stationery?
Sourcing your wedding stationery will depend on how much you plan to spend and how much customization you prefer.
● Big box craft stores (like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or even Target) offer fairly generic blank invitation sets that can be used to print at home.
● Online stationery stores provide a greater variety, but customization is typically limited to the wording you choose.
● Etsy is a great place to shop for more unique designs. They can be pre-made designs, semi-custom, or you can also connect with an independent designer who is aligned with your vision for a full custom suite. This option tends to be a happy medium, offering enough customization to give you a unique look you love without breaking the bank.
● Custom stationers local to your area will be happy to meet with you in person to brainstorm, show you a million samples, and create a custom design from scratch…..but expect to pay top dollar for this level of attention!
How customized should I go?
Customization is a number one priority for some couples, and not important at all for others. If you decide that you want wedding stationery that is a true reflection of your life together and encompasses the vibe you’re hoping to achieve on your big day, there are a variety of ways you can make it happen:
● Custom Artwork: This is my favorite way to customize invitations in my own design business. Almost all of my invitation options include the option to add silhouettes of you and your sweetie to the design. It doesn’t get more personalized than that!
You can also choose to add artwork of your venue (think mountain ranges or ocean scenes for a destination wedding), or a nod to something you are passionate about as a couple (like these ski themed Save the Dates) :
● Photos: Many couples choose to include a photo on their Save the Date cards, or enclose a small engagement photo in their invitation suite.
● Incorporate Your Wedding Colors: Your invitations are the first thing your guests will see, so it’s a great way to set the tone of the entire event through color, fonts, and designs (floral, graphic, minimalistic, etc.)
● Create a sensory experience: Adding a spritz of fragrance, a sprig of dried wildflowers, or wrapping your invitation suite in ribbon or twine are all ways to create more of a sensory experience for your guests. You can add these finishing touches on your own regardless of the invitations you choose!
What are some tips for making my wedding stationery more eco-friendly?
More and more couples are considering the environmental footprint of their wedding than ever before, and eco-friendly options abound with wedding stationery!
Start by choosing a designer who prints on recycled paper, and consider adding a small line (like “Thank you for recycling!”) to your guests encouraging them to do just that after your wedding day.
Allow your wedding website to provide the majority of details so you can reduce the amount of ink and number of inserts needed in your actual invitation. Just don’t forget to include the URL!
Consider using email or Evite for wedding-related events like bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinner, day-after brunch, etc.
To save even more paper on your wedding day, consider having only one or two dinner menus on each table, skipping programs, or posting a single sign with the ceremony outline.
How do I figure out my wording?
It may be tempting to agonize over the wording of your wedding invitations, but it doesn’t have to be complicated!
At a bare minimum, your invitations need to include the names of the couple, the location, and the date and time. Additional information you may choose to include are the names of your parents (especially if they’re paying for the wedding), RSVP contact information, and your wedding website URL.
How you choose to communicate that information is entirely up to you. The best rule of thumb is to choose a writing style that reflects the formality of your event. If you’re planning a black tie event, you may want to use more traditional, formal wording. If your big day will be more laid-back, try to be a bit more conversational. Just inviting friends and family? You can be even more intimate in the way you word your invitation!
The internet is full of examples at every level of formality, so browse around until you find wording that sounds like YOU. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun, if that fits the vibe of your day!
How do I know how much postage to use?
Far too many couples forget to factor in postage costs when choosing invitations! The amount of postage you need will be determined by the size, shape, and thickness of your invitation after it is assembled and sealed in the envelope. Here are some guidelines:
● A standard A7 (5”x7”) invitation or save the date with no insert card should be covered with a regular letter (“forever”) stamp.
● Square envelopes usually require extra postage.
● Invitations with multiple inserts, pocket folders, embellishments like ribbon, twine, etc. will weigh more and make envelopes thicker, thus requiring extra postage.
● Use a kitchen scale or postal scale at home to weigh a sample, and use the price calculator on the USPS website to get a quote.
These guidelines should help you estimate, but the only way to know for sure is to take one completed invitation to the post office and have them tell you exactly how much it will cost to mail it. The clerks can help you determine what stamp(s) would be the most cost effective.
Disclaimer: the recommendations are for mailing within the US – if you are outside the US please consult with your local post office for recommendations!
Can I order samples?
Most stationery designers offer samples or sample packs of their work for a nominal charge. Ordering a sample will give you the opportunity to feel exactly what the texture of the paper is like, see the quality of the printing, and determine if the design is right for you.
Note that most stationers do not offer personalized samples due to the time and cost involved, and may not offer samples of every single design and/or color option in their inventory. That being said, most will offer enough variety that you can order one or two that are close to your dream design.
Selecting your wedding invitations may seem like a daunting task, but I hope this comprehensive guide helps you narrow it down until you find invitations that are everything you’ve ever hoped for. Don’t forget to order one for yourself as a keepsake of the best day of your life!
Julia Taylor is the owner and designer behind Wild Blue Weddings, a stationery brand based in Breckenridge, Colorado. She specializes in creating customized, eco-friendly wedding stationery for adventurous couples who love the great outdoors. Many of her designs feature custom illustration of the wedding location and silhouettes of the couple. You can check out her designs at www.wildblueweddings.com.