Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wedding Invitations: the pieces and the timeline

(Photo courtesy of Smock)

As all you brides-to-be know, 2010 wedding planning season is in full swing! We're full-steam-ahead with 2010 invitation orders right now - helping couples craft the perfect stationery suite to set the tone for their event and create a cohesive look for all the little details. Brides and grooms have been coming in to look through our albums, chat about custom work and get the creative ball rolling.

The process of ordering invitations, from the initial appointment to having invitations in-hand can take anywhere from a month (if you are the type that can find what she wants and make quick decisions) to two or more months (if you need time to go back-and-forth a lot with changes and designs and wording, etc.). The timing can depend on many things including the
amount of design or customization needed, the printing process and the number of proofs needed to get everything perfect. For this reason, most couples should plan to start the invitation process at least four months prior to their wedding date.

As is the case with most of the wedding-planning, Whitney and I always suggest being ahead of the game than behind the eight ball when it comes to your paper needs. Leaving a little wiggle room in your stationery timeline can relive the stress that can be caused when you are waiting desperately for your pieces to arrive or when you need to address 100+ invitations in one week in order to mail everything on time. Better to have them ahead of time so you can relax and enjoy the few months before the big day!

Some pieces you might need and the typical timing info on each:

(Photo courtesy of Alee & Press)

Save-the-dates have become an increasingly popular way to inform guests of your upcoming wedding. These little pieces are a great way to ensure that a majority of your guests will be able to attend the big event as they give guests enough time to block-off your date, arrange their
schedules and book travel arrangements. Save-the-dates are also fabulous places to include any additional information (accommodation, wedding website, etc.) that might be helpful for guests to have before the invitation arrives. Generally, save-the-dates should be mailed 9 months prior to the wedding for weddings where a majority of the guests will need to make travel arrangements or 6 months prior to the wedding for non-destination events.

(Photo courtesy of The Lettered Olive)

Pretty sure you all know what these are! Your invitation is the pièce de résistance of your wedding stationery. They set the tone for your big day and allow guests a peek about the event to come. The full invitation package (invitation, reply card and any insert cards) should be mailed out between 8 and 10 weeks before your wedding. This will give enough time for the invitations to arrive at your guests' homes, for your guests to reply and mail the reply cards back to you, and for you to get a final count to your venue and caterer. Invitations to destination weddings are often mailed out 10 to 12 weeks prior.

(Photo courtesy of Alee & Press)

Reply Cards
Reply cards are smaller insert cards sent with the main invitation that allow guests to respond to the invite. These cards are then mailed back to the host of the event so that the families are able to tally how many guests will be attending the wedding. Often times, for weddings with sit-down dinners, entree choices will be included on the reply card. Most venues and caters require a final count for the wedding a few weeks before the big day, so couples often like to receive responses between 2 and 4 weeks prior to the event.

Insert Cards
Insert cards are detailed cards that accompany the invitation and reply card and might include pieces created to provide information about:
The reception: information about the party! Typically done if your ceremony and reception are being held at different locations or different times.
Directions: to help your guests find you!
Custom maps: Maps (fun, artsy or more traditional) detailing the location of your big day and all the events. Well, isn't that a fun idea?
Accommodations information: Contact information for local hotels and inns
The rehearsal dinner: invitations and information about the rehearsal dinner.

(Photo courtesy of Alee & Press)

Day-Of Elements:
Day-of elements is a catch-all group for all the paper needs you may have for the actual event. These pieces are usually created using the design of your invitation package, but are printed closer to the wedding as they incorporate details that usually don't come together until just before the big day. It is helpful, however, to start brainstorming, planning for and budgeting for these pieces from the beginning of the process. Day-of elements may include:
Ceremony programs: Programs for your ceremony are the perfect place to include information about the flow of the ceremony. They are a veritable who's who of your wedding party, officiant, and bibliography for various readings/songs/traditions, etc.
Escort Cards: Escort cards, not to be confused with seating cards, are the little do-dads that inform your guests at which table they are seated. They, in essence, escort your guests to their table.
Seating Cards: For those brides who have assigned seating at each table, the seating card is located at each place setting and informs guests which seat is theirs at the table.
Table Numbers: So your guests can find their table!
Menus: For all the foodies, menus are a wonderful way to explain in detail the meal that will be served as well as any wine or cocktail information.
Welcome Letters/Notes: Many couples choose to leave welcome baskets or notes at the hotels of out-of-town guests. It is a sweet way to welcome your loved ones and start the wedding off on the right foot!
Favor Tags: As many couples offer favors to their guests, favor tags (adhered to the favors, around the favor station or at each guests' place setting) is a nice way to personalize the little gifts or explain any alternative (donation, remembrance) that may take place.
Coasters/Cocktail Napkins: cocktail napkins or coasters that match your stationery suite is a fun and fabulous way to create a cohesive look throughout the wedding day.

(Photos courtesy of Alee & Press)

Thank You Cards
You brides-to-be can already attest to the fact that with an engagement and wedding comes loads of generosity. Typically, in the form of well-wishes and gifts! Customized stationery (preferably that matches your invitation package!) is a wonderful way to thank your friends and family for their support and gifts. Sending thank you notes within a month of receiving a gift is ideal (but tricky!). The old adage that you have up to a year after your wedding to send thank you notes is largely incorrect. Like any gift, the sooner you can thank the recipient, the better.

Phew - that about covers it. Of course - your wedding is all about YOU! Some couples have loads of paper goodies (think personal notes for each guest, lots of explanatory cards for fun traditions and details) and some have very few (just the basics). What makes the process so wonderful is that each package we craft is made just for you!

Stop by soon for a peek at the albums and to chat about all the lovely details of your big day! We're chilling some champagne for you! :)

1 comment:

  1. I just want to let everyone know how great Gus and Ruby's is...I am in the process of ordering my invitations and am loving every minute of it!