Spring is here, and that means a lot of couples are knee-deep in wedding invitations ('tis the season, right?!) Understanding the etiquette around traditional wedding invites can be quite a daunting task, but modern couples can easily customize them to be minimal, extravagant, traditional or however they please! Many of the components in an invitation suite could alternatively be added to a wedding website (our favourites are via Riley & Grey), but for those who love stationery as much as we do, we thought we'd help out by breaking down all the different components that can go into an invitation suite.
The Envelope - An obvious staple of the invitation! Typical wedding invitations fit in a standard A7 envelope (fits a 5" x 7" invitation). The guests names and address are written on the front and the return names and address are often on the back flap. You can handwrite on the envelopes, hire a calligrapher, or have them printed in a design of your choosing from sites like Minted.com. Don't forget you can also add a fun envelope liner to integrate design elements into your invitation. When thinking about how to address the envelopes, here are a few rules you should consider:
- List all the names of the guests invited, so that there is no room for misunderstanding. If you are inviting all the members of a family, "The Smith Family" will work great. But if just the parents are invited, then you should indicate so, like this: "John and Sally Smith"
- If you are having a fairly formal wedding, proper titles should be used (Dr., Mr., Mrs., Ms. etc.). Otherwise, it is fairly common to address the guests without their title.
- Start collecting your addresses asap. This always takes longer then you think it will.
The Invite - The most important part! The invitation should include the who-what-when-and-where. It must include your names, the date, and the ceremony time and location. This is also the perfect place to set the tone for your wedding, and to give your guests a sense of whether your wedding will be formal, casual, off-beat, adventurous (you get the idea...). There are a lot of rules to wording your invitation, many of which you can find here, but here are some of the most important ones:
- Whoever is paying for the wedding should be listed first. If both sets of parents are contributing, a wonderful way to phrase the start of the invitation is: "Together with our families".
- The Bride's name is traditionally listed first. For same sex couples, there are no rules as to who should be listed first, so go with whatever feels natural!
- List the actual start time of the Ceremony. Some couples are inclined to list an earlier start time, to ensure that nobody is late. This however can backfire, as most people know that the wedding time on an invitation is the start time, and so they arrive 15 - 30 min's ahead of time. If you list the time too early, you will have guests arriving an hour before the wedding, which nobody likes.
- If you would like your guests to follow a particular dress code, indicate it on the invitation.
- Do not include any information regarding your registry on the invitation. This should be communicated to your guests either via your website or on a Details card.
Some couples opt to send electronic invitations, but we always encourage our couples to still send an invitation, even in its simplest form. It is something physical that they can put on the fridge and be in their face, reminding them that they have to mark the calendar and save the date!
The Reception Card - The reception card is typically used if the reception is held at a different location than the ceremony. Therefore, it would list the the start time and address of the reception, as well as any additional information your guests will need to know. If the reception is at the same location as the ceremony, the invite often will include a line that reads "Dinner and dancing to follow" or "Reception to immediately follow", so a reception card would not be necessary. You can also combine all this information on the main invitation if you prefer.
The Response Card - Traditionally, this is a card that guests fill out to indicate whether they can or cannot attend your wedding. They can also fill out the details about who will be joining them if they have a plus one, and their meal selection. It is very common these days to ask guests to RSVP online at your wedding website. Either way, make sure to include a "please respond by" date, and give yourself enough time before the wedding that you can follow up with any guests that have no responded. If you do decide to have a physical Response card that your guests will be mailing back to you, make sure to include a return envelope with your address already written, and astamp to make it easy for your guests!
The Directions Card - If the wedding events are at separate spots,or if the location is hard to find or complicated to get to, a directions card (with or without a map) for out of town guests can be a nice touch. You can also include useful information about the area and the accommodation information. This is not necessary, but for those couples who just love all things paper, it can be a fun addition to the suite!
Other - To tie all your beautiful pieces together, there are a lot of was you can do this, so get creative! A belly band, ribbon, or sting are quite common, and will help make all the paper pieces feel complete.