Wedding 101: A Guide to Sending Wedding Invitations

Y’all got a bit of a preview of our wedding invitations when I posted last month about How I DIY’ed My Minted Wedding Invitations. As I said in that post, we had a long process before we landed on a look that we (I) loved for our wedding invitations. And, since I’ve already gone in depth with you about the look of the invitations, today is all about a guide to wedding invitations – the who, what, when, and how.

WEDDING INVITATION 101

Let’s start out with a little Wedding Invitation 101. Yes, they’re just a piece of paper, but, for me and many other people who love pretty paper and branding, they do set the tone for your wedding. Besides the Save the Date, they’re the first touch that your guests have with your big day. So, if you’re someone who cares about that aspect, you’ll want the invitations to fit the vibe of your wedding. For us, we went wintery and neutral – in keeping with our wedding aesthetic.

You can spend as little or as much as you want on invitations. If you’re on a budget, look at Etsy for printable templates. If money isn’t an object, go to a custom wedding invitation designer. We went middle of the road with Minted. If I were to do it again, honestly I would probably look at Etsy – for a small wedding, it’s likely a better choice when it comes to printing.

 

WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED ON AN INVITATION?

Once you’ve selected your invitation, you’re probably eager to start filling in information to get to your final product. I know I did the minute I landed on the Little Wreath design. So, what do you need to include?

  • Your names, obviously. Most people go with first, middle, last. I wasn’t tied to that, but it worked space-wise on the invitation.
  • The fact you’re getting married and this is a wedding.
  • The date and time. Some people include a separate time for ceremony and reception, but this is really only essential if you have a gap between the two or if they involve multiple venues. If you’re going straight from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception, then you’re good to go with a start time.
  • The venue or venues.
  • You can also include attire, if you wish or if the attire is unexpected. Most people assume most weddings are cocktail, and ours is so small that we felt like we could just tell people rather than include it on the invite.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER INSERTS?

The invitation is likely not the only piece of paper that will go in your envelope. You may have one or all of the following pieces within your invitation envelope.

  • An RSVP card and RSVP envelope. Make sure the envelope is self-addressed and stamped so that guests can easily send this back as soon as they get it. You don’t want to chase down RSVP’s at the last minute (though you likely will do some of that!). Also, you’ll want to include a meal selection on the RSVP card if there is one.
  • Directions and Accommodations. If you’re having a large wedding with lots of out of town guests, then you’ll want to include these to make it as easy as possible for people to figure out how they’re getting there and where they’re staying. We opted out of this and instead directed people to the website / assumed people would just ask us what to do (and they did).
  • Reception Card. Some people will include a card with separate details for the reception, particularly if it’s at a completely different venue with different directions than the ceremony.
  • Details Card. We chose to repurpose a reception card design from Minted to use for our details. We included information about activities in the 2 days preceding the wedding and directed people to the website for information regarding travel and accommodations.

 

HOW DO I SELECT THE WORDING ON THE INVITATION?

There are so few words on an invitation, yet they’re so important! This is where you can choose to go super traditional and formal, or make it a little more upbeat and a little more you. We chose to fall somewhere in the middle.

Often, if the bride’s parents are paying for the wedding, then the traditional route is to say, “Mr. and Mrs. Bride’s Parents request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their daughter, Bride, to Groom.” You can make it a little more friendly or a little more formal just by choosing words like celebration v. ceremony v. marriage. Using verbiage like “request the honor of” obviously reads much more traditional than “join us.” Though it’s likely only a total of 20 words max, there are so many little nuances that create a completely different feel.

We wanted the wording to sound traditional, but keep it upbeat, light, and egalitarian, so we just went with “with great joy, Heather Marie Bien and Adam Clay Shapiro invite you to join them in celebration of their marriage.” I thought it was appropriate for two thirty-somethings, it’s not too stuffy, but it’s also not too casual. I liked throwing joy and celebration in there!

 

 

HOW DO I ADDRESS THE INVITATIONS?

Ah, this is the age old question – or the question that’s come up ever since women have been able to have more say in their married names. So, what’s the official etiquette on addressing envelopes formally? Honestly, I don’t know and I don’t care – I did what I thought each couple would prefer. And when I wasn’t sure, I asked. This is generally what I ended up with:

  • If the wife took the husband’s last name, then I went with the traditional Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s Name. This may have been too bold an assumption, but I think that if a couple shares a last name, then they’re probably good with being addressed as such on a formal invitation.
  • If the couple has different last names, then I put both on there! Sure, it took up a lot of room on some of the invitations, but those are their names and they were going on the invitation. I will say, however, that some women who kept their last names said they wouldn’t care if they were addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Husband’s Name on a wedding invitation – they get that there is limited room and it’s the traditional way to address an invitation. Others felt very strongly that both names be on there.
  • If the wife took the husband’s last name, and the wife is a doctor and the husband is not, then I wrote out Dr. Wife’s Name and Mr. Husband’s Name.

At the end of the day, I’d say, when in doubt, ask. Because some people really care about how they’re addressed, and some don’t care at all, but you might be surprised at who does and does not.

WHAT ABOUT POSTAGE?

So, you’re cruising the Love stamps section of USPS trying to pick just the right stamp for your invitation. I’ll be honest, the selection is not great. We actually found ones we loved, no pun intended – they were of an airplane flying through the sky spelling out “Love.” However, when we put them on our wintery invitation with its gold calligraphy, it seemed all off.

I took to Pinterest and decided we were going to do a collage of sorts. We selected the Presidents since Adam is into politics, the grapes since we’re getting married at a vineyard, and a couple others that just looked nice together – and that added up to 71 cents. And 71 cents is what you’ll need if your invitations need to be hand metered at the post office. Which ours did, because of the writing. I’d also advise going for 71 cents just in case your invitation weighs over the 1 ounce limit.

 

WHEN SHOULD I SEND MY INVITATIONS?

Similar to Save the Dates, when you send your invitations depends on a few factors, namely location and time of year. The standard is to send invitations 2-3 months out with the RSVP date set 1 month out.

Of course the number one reason to send your invitations out early is if you’re having a destination wedding or if most guests will be traveling for your wedding. For us, about half our guests are coming to Charlottesville from Texas, so we want to make sure to get the invites out at the 3 month mark, if not a bit before. Plan accordingly so that your guests can plan accordingly.

If you’re getting married in May, June, September, or October, you may want to send your invitations out a bit earlier. Those times of year are prime wedding season, and the chances of someone being double booked run high (though this is also a reason to send them out later if you’re looking to cut numbers!).

 

A FEW FINAL NOTES

It’s probably worth addressing the trend of online invitations. I get it, invitations are expensive. But, there are ways to stay on a budget and I do think it’s such a wonderful keepsake to have your wedding invitation framed on the wall – I’m sure we’ll do that and every time I look at it I’ll be reminded of this busy and wonderful time in our lives. I also get the thinking behind online RSVP’s instead of RSVP cards – and while I’m not sure every  non-tech savvy relative will figure it out, I’m not 100% opposed to the idea. Particularly because we’ve gotten approximately 20% of our RSVP cards back – and everyone says they sent them weeks ago. That’s a few wine bottles worth of postage and money down the drain.

And, on that note, if you really aren’t into the idea of spending several hundred dollars on invitations, Paperless Post actually has some gorgeous options. Of course, you can also check out their options for bridal showers, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, and more.

At the end of the day though, do what’s right for you two as a couple. Whether that’s a super formal invitation, a laid-back modern invitation, or an online invitation. You do you.

 

 

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