We’ll begin by saying when wedding invitations should be sent out; this way you’ll know how much time you have to plan for this particular detail.
Six to eight weeks is the standard.
In a few cases, three months is even better, because people have busy schedules; some do a lot of business traveling that is diarized as far as 12 months ahead. By sending out invitations three months before the wedding, you’re allowing out-of-towners to make flight arrangements that can save them a bundle as opposed to booking last minute flights.
For some couples, wedding invitations are another irksome part of wedding plans, but others see it as an exciting activity – as exciting in fact as picking out the diamond engagement ring and the wedding band.
Wedding Invitations – Iron out Essential Details
Before heading to a printer’s shop, the following pieces of information should be finalized:
- The wedding date, time and location of church ceremony, time and location of reception;
- Tone of the wedding: formal, informal, sun-and-surf;
- Style of invitation;
- Street addresses of church and reception hall. Your address and where RSVP cards are to be sent;
- Names that will appear on the wedding;
- Number of invitations to be ordered – ideally allow for 20% more than actual headcount;
- Whether a separate card is needed for invitations to the reception (some couples invite everyone to the church, but not everyone to the reception).
Once these details are set, you’re ready to go. You may also, prior to your appointment with the printer, have a look of samples of invitations on the internet to have a more defined idea of what you want. For example, type of paper, font, and graphic design – these details can overwhelm you because you’ll be surprised at how many binders of samples will be shown to you by the printer. By telling the printer ahead of time what your preferences are, he can narrow down the number of samples to let you pore over. Thousands of styles have evolved since the wedding of Grace Kelly and the Prince of Monaco.
We are talking about the kind of paper that your wedding invitation will be printed on. A look at some print samples will reveal that there are at least half a dozen types of paper available.
- Cotton – a popular choice, because it is not that costly compared to other kinds of papers;
- Parchment – if you like the feel of the old days, parchment would make a suitable invitation. Parchment has come a long way, besides. They’re thicker, come in a variety of colors, and will accommodate most types of print;
- Linen – another popular choice. They are smooth to the touch. If you examine a box of good quality stationery in a paper store, most of them are made of linen paper;
- Corrugated – this type blends very well with very informal weddings and can take a wide array of graphics. Because it is thick, it won’t easily soil or crumble!
- Jacquard – a layered fabric-feel type of paper is a favorite among brides and grooms.
You’ve seen hundreds of wedding invitations before and the variety can be confusing. Note that some of them have an artsy appearance, the paper’s thicker, and the wording a little more casual than your standard wedding invitation. These are minute details you’ll need to mull over as you decide what kind of wedding invitation you need. Needless to say that budget must also be factored into the equation.
You mean choosing the paper is not all there is? Sorry, Virginia. The printer will also ask you how you want the words to appear on your invitation. Let’s take that tour now:
- Engraved – engraving is an expensive art. Just as companies spend a fortune on their letterheads by choosing the engraved model, you will also spend an arm and a leg if you go this route. Choose the engraved printing if sky’s the limit, and if your wedding is a formal one. Given that engraving invitations takes time, your printer will probably provide a different delivery schedule for engraved invitations. The final look though is worth the time and money!
- Thermographed (also known as embossed) – what the printer does is apply heat to ink and uses powder to give the invitation that “raised” look. It will not indent the other side of the card. Thermographed invitations are also ideal for formal functions, and you do not have long delivery times for this type of printing;
- Calligraphy – although a time-consuming activity, invitations done with calligraphy can express a more personalized tone. Calligraphy invitations are good if you’re going to order only a small number of invitations. You can either hire a professional calligrapher or get a software program with special calligraphy fonts that will do the job;
- Color – this is becoming a popular choice especially among couples who want to do away with the blank ink-on ivory paper type of invitation. If you like to liven up your invitation, color naturally will satisfy your whims. It is more expensive, though. The trend is towards pastel, subtle shades with a darker font color as contrast.
Wording Your Invitations – And Elizabeth Post Says…
The fundamentals apply. Etiquette is king. When designing your wedding invitations, don’t neglect wording, because your invitation may look like a dazzling power point presentation, but if you don’t carefully craft the words, you end up with all form, no substance. In her Complete Book of Modern Wedding Etiquette, Elizabeth Post gives us the basic rundown of guidelines to follow:
- Ensure accurate wording. Pay attention to dates, civic numbers, telephone numbers, etc. Have the printer show you a mock-up before you sign the purchase order. You don’t want people calling to offer their RSVPs to a garage or the tax office.
- No abbreviations, please. Do not try to cut down on the character/cost ratio by abbreviating street, avenue, and telephone. These have to be spelled out in full.
- If you’re getting married at 6:00 PM, say “six o’clock in the evening” and not 6:00 PM.
- For more formal wedding invitations, it’s always good to follow the old British spellings rather than the American ones: So “honour” instead of “honor”, “favour” instead of “favor.”
- Spell out all names in full. If your mother’s name is going to be printed on the invitation, don’t say “Jen Taylor”, say “Jennifer Rose M. Taylor.”
- Do not put some names or words in bold to make them stand out. All words on the invite are to receive equal treatment.
- Use appropriate titles. If your husband to be is a ship captain, write “Captain David Bartster and not just “David Bartster”
If both parents of the bridge and groom are hosting the ceremony, the invitation should read thus:
Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Williams Cassidy
– and –
Doctor and Mrs. James Trevor Isenden
Request the honour of your company at the – marriage of their children
Kathleen Marie -and –
If only the bride and groom are hosting, the wedding invitation should read like this:
Kathleen Marie Cassidy
Nicholas Edward Isenden
Request the honour of your presence as they exchange vows on…
Is it a Good Idea to Order Online?
Would you order a diamond ring online no matter how respectable and reputable the jewelry store is?
What looks good on your computer screen may fall below your expectations once the invitations arrive. Another risk is that the printer may have confused your order with another customer and sent you the wrong invitations.
The printer could also err in the type of printing. Your order form said “engraved” but he sends you parchment.
Now, that’s going to be quite a headache that not even a bottle of Advil can cure. Why take the chance and spoil your plans? Those invitations will have to be sent out two to three months ahead of the date. What happens if you need to send the entire shipment back because the printer didn’t read your online order to the letter?