A Simple Guide To Wedding Invitations and Cards
20 Sep 2023 •22 min read
You may not know this, but your wedding stationery is one of the most important parts of your wedding planning journey. Think about it: how will your close family and friends know your wedding is even happening if they don’t receive a personalized invitation in the mail? Or what about having a website to reference with all of the key wedding information? And let’s not forget about the paper products that inform your guests on various aspects of the wedding that are also part of this wedding stationery category. Yes, programs, menus, even table cards, all have a home here too.
Whether it’s your standard engagement party or bridal shower invitations, the actual wedding invitations, or all those thank-you cards you’ll be sending, you’ll want to stay organized by making a list of all the stationery you believe is paramount to include in your wedding invitation suite. Beyond that, even table numbers and menus have to be printed out. Especially if you’re saving money by DIYing some of the stationery yourself. So let’s get started on where to begin your wedding stationery planning journey.
What to Include in Your Wedding Invitation Suite
Save The Dates
A precursor for what’s to come, your save the dates formally invites your friends and family to prepare for your wedding by setting this special date aside and is typically the style setter of how your wedding will be designed. The more formal the wedding the more likely you should include a save the date in your suite. Also used for destination weddings in consideration to your guests who will have to plan their itinerary sooner than later.
Your average save the date will include a beautiful photograph of the wedding couple (either one of your engagement photos or one of your favorite snapshots of the two of you) and will read like a postcard with the rest of the info on the opposite side. Include the date, city, and your wedding website, but not your registry.
Your wedding website is one of the most popular pages that your guests will refer to in the days leading up to your wedding. In fact, even your love story or information about your wedding party has a home here, especially if you decide to add a story page that reads like a love story! Anything that's informative and follows the same theme as the invitations is included. And since proper wedding etiquette dictates that the info on the wedding invitations be minimal and directly related to the ceremony and reception, you’ll find yourself inputting a lot of that extra information during the creation of your wedding website, including your registry, engagement photos, etc.
Remember: wedding websites are also a great place to include information like key wedding dates, travel & accommodations, things to do in the area, transportation information, dress codes, wedding party introductions, your love story and most importantly (for you) a link to your wedding registry!
Vine and Berry Frame
far and away
The Traditional Invitation
Traditionally, your wedding invitation only invites guests to your ceremony, and a smaller "reception card" extends an invite to everyone for the celebration to follow. While some classic couples still opt to have two cards, more and more nearlyweds choose to include information for both parts of the big day on a single invite (especially if they're in the same place). Make sure to include your names, the date(s) and time(s), and the location(s) of each of the events to eliminate any confusion. Some couples also choose to include the hosts' names, the attire, and sometimes even their website (although this is often included on a separate card). If you don't have a reception card, some variation of "reception to follow" is also usually included. This is the first item you’ll need to align on in your wedding invitation suite.
The RSVP Cards
The RSVP card is definitely essential to the wedding invitation. Without it, you won't know who's actually coming to your wedding! While traditional reply cards only include a deadline—roughly one month before the main event, unless any of your vendors need to know sooner—many couples include a line where guests can print their names and clear options for whether they're attending or not. You may also choose to offer meal options, collect song requests, or even ask guests where they're staying if you need to arrange transportation. Remember to include a pre-stamped envelope with your mailing address printed on it, or opt for a postcard RSVP card instead that guests can easily toss into the mail.
A Details Card
There's a good chance that you've got details to share with your guests that don't quite fit on your other cards. Maybe you want to provide directions to the venue, a couple of hotels where you've reserved room blocks, or welcome party info. If you're having a destination wedding, you may have even more details to provide, like what travel documents are required. This is also the perfect place to share your wedding website, where you can include all of the other details (and your registry!).
A Social Media Card
If you're super tech-savvy, like many modern couples, you may want to add a social media card. Include your wedding hashtag, so guests can follow your wedding journey before and during the big day. This is a great place to include your website as well, especially if you don't have a details card.
If you decide to add the save-the-date card, use a photo from your engagement shoot or just a cute snap from your relationship and turn it into a postcard. You could also order custom invitations with expert designers that include save-the-dates from online stationers like Minted. If you're feeling tech-savvy, send a Vimeo video, Vine, Instagram or other one-of-a-kind messages. We suggest sending out save the dates four to six months before your wedding, and earlier if most of your guests will be flying in.
Another example of pre-wedding invitation products include engagement parties, bridal showers, or even "Will you be my bridesmaid?" cards for all of the special events in between. You can also include personalized insert cards for each of these events and customize them with any party games or messaging specific to your event needs. A great place to start is to make a list of all of the pre-wedding events that you will need stationery for and then consolidate those items on your Minted account for organization and easy reference.
Wedding Day Ceremony & Reception Essentials
As an avid wedding attendee, we can speak from experience when we say the menu is one of the more exciting paper goods to look at because it tells you what your going to eat! Some couples choose to design a beautiful menu that they can place at each setting alongside a name card. Other couples opt out of the individual menus and choose to instead hang one large menu sign in the reception venue. A third option is to display one menu on each table - all of which can be designed in the Minted suite.
Programs typically include things like the order of events during the ceremony, the titles of the readings and/or songs, and the names of the bridal party, parents, and others involved in the wedding. You can print a program for each guest and place them on ceremony seats, or hang a large sign near your ceremony site. Your Minted concierge or artist can also design and print programs for you.
Directional and informational signage can direct your guests to the ceremony location, reception, dance floor, photo booth, bar etc. and can be printed in the same look and feel as your other wedding stationery for one cohesive look. Couples also sometimes choose to match the aesthetic of their venues and get creative by printing their signage on a wooden, chalkboard, or paper sign. But don’t forget about informational signs like where to park, the restroom locations, or what to do at the build-your-own sundae bar so guests never lose their way!
Personalized Reception Games
Reception games are always a fun way to personalize elements of your guest experience. Games like Mad libs, I Spy, crossword puzzles, and other games are not only becoming more popular but you have the option to personalize these games with pictures of you and your future spouse or your furry child.
Table numbers can take many forms, from wooden blocks to luxe printed signs, but most importantly they should match your wedding aesthetic. One simple option is to find an invitation suite that includes table numbers and escort cards that match the same design. Psst. Are you seeing a trend here? It’s all about matching and cohesion!
Escort Cards & Place Cards
While these seem similar, they are actually slightly different. Escort cards are typically used in lieu of a seating chart and have your guests' names and table numbers on them; they are typically placed near the entrance of the reception and can be taken from one location to the table.
Place cards just have guests' names on them and are placed at their assigned seats at the reception. These cards will likely be one of your details you finalize, as you'll have to wait until your RSVPs are all in before you can have guests' names printed. You can hire a calligrapher to hand-write these cards, have them printed by your stationer, print them yourself, or DIY them.
Fun and easy extras: You may also want to purchase or print your own signature cocktail signs, photo booth props, 'Card' signs, custom drink and favor labels, guestbook pages, dessert table signs, or DIY your wedding bar. All of which can be determined between you, your future spouse and your wedding concierge in advance of your wedding print timeline. Remember, these pieces can add up so make sure to prioritize what items you want!
Thank You Notes
Thank-you notes are a key element to all weddings and although they come following the wedding date, we recommend ordering these as part of your invitation suite. Thank you notes should match your wedding invitations and sometimes can include your wedding photos (if you expect your wedding photos to arrive quickly or if your photographer is planning to send you a sneak peek).
Grounded in Love
In this together
While Wedding announcements are typically sent by the newlyweds' parents, you may want to send them if you elope or if you have a destination wedding that many guests cannot attend. Be sure to include a photo from your wedding so friends and family can see how magical it was.
Stationery Terms to Know
Before you go down the rabbit hole of wedding paper, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with a few terms that’ll help the process run smoother.
Meant for out of town guests, an accommodation card provides information on the hotel or lodging accommodations. This card is designed to match the rest of the suite and is sent in the same envelope as the invitation.
This is the way the text on your card is formatted. Most invitations are center-aligned, but you can also have right-aligned or left-aligned text.
A backer is a piece of cardstock adhered to the back of your invitation to add depth or extra thickness. It can be blank or printed.
A belly band is a decorative band of paper or ribbon that wraps around the center of your invitation to keep all the pieces together.
A bifold invitation folds in half at the center, like a greeting card.
A gatefold is a card with two folds that meet at the center. Think of it as a set of double doors opening to the invite text.
Calligraphy is a style of hand-lettering created with a nib pen and ink. It's most commonly used for addressing envelopes, but can be used for the invite as well.
Used to add detail to your invitation, die cutting is the process of using a metal die to cut shapes or flourishes into your paper.
Most commonly associated with at-home printers, digital printing uses computer technology to spray ink onto paper. This look is one-dimensional and is best when used on thinner papers.
This is an ancient printing process that involves etching the text onto a copper plate, covering it in ink, and then pressing it into the paper to create a raised impression on the invite. It is the most formal and generally the most expensive print method.
Embossing is similar to engraving, but when the plate is pressed into the paper, no ink is used.
Glassine is a translucent paper used to adorn letters or line envelopes.
Foil is the process of pressing metallic foils into paper to create a shiny impression.
Similar to the process of engraving, letterpress involves pressing a metal plate into paper to leave an impression. But with letterpress, the copy is indented into the paper rather than raised away from the paper. Letterpress can be done with or without ink and is best when used with thick paper.
A decorative sheet cut to fit inside and line the inner envelope.
Stock refers to the weight or thickness of your paper.
Thermography is a less expensive alternative to engraving, thermography involves heat, ink and powder resin to produce raised lettering. It is a little glossy by nature, but some printers offer matte options as well.
This term describes the texture of your paper and will help inform the type of printing method you'll need to use.
A classic embellishment that was used to seal and authenticate a document with a monogram of the author’s initials. Wax seals add a touch of elegance to any document.
To help you map your way around when you should be doing what.
Meet with your Minted Wedding Concierge or order a Free Sample Kit | 9-12 months before wedding date
Just like you’d “interview” other wedding vendors, you’ll want to get a feel for invitation options before committing. If you’re hiring a local independent designer, meet with them in person to review some of their past work and discuss what you’re imagining. Opting for an online stationery resource like Minted? Request a free sample kit to see (and feel!) paper types, colors and more.
You might want to think about other wedding day supplies, like menu cards and programs, before this — especially if you want all your stationery to coordinate.
Oh and don’t forget you can meet with a Minted Wedding Concierge for a free 30-minute consultation and they can help guide you through your wedding stationery needs. Simply go to their website to book your complimentary appointment with one of their Wedding Concierge stationery experts and we promise, you won’t be disappointed!
Find & Browse Inspiration | 9-12 months before the wedding
Wedding invites should be prioritized based on your personal preference on your wedding planning journey (we know you also have a venue to find and a caterer to hire!), but start browsing Minted for styles you love and take the style quiz to find your wedding style. You never know if an invitation suite could inspire your whole wedding style!
Create Your Website | 6+ months before the wedding
This will be among the first things you’ll want to have up and running just before you order the invitations right after you’ve decided on the specific design at least matching the Invitation Suite.
Save The Date | 8 to 9 months before the wedding
Save-the-date cards aren’t required, but they’re a fun way to get your guests to mark their calendars. You should send your save the date cards 5-6 months before the wedding. If you’re planning a destination wedding though, be sure to send them out earlier. Some wedding hosts sometimes send these up to 1 year in advance.
Order the invitations | 3 to 5 months before the wedding
Printing and shipping take time, so the sooner you place the order, the better. Plus, ordering earlier means you’ll have time to see proofs and make changes (without any time crunch). Ordering the invitations includes deciding what they’ll say, so remember that you’ll have to have your venue, menu, accommodations, and timeline finalized first. If the stationer is handling your envelopes, too, you’ll need a guest list ready.
Address the envelopes and assemble the pieces | 3 to 5 months before the wedding
If you’re hiring a calligrapher to address the envelopes, they’ll likely want around two weeks to do the job (but it depends on your guest list and the specific artist, so ask ahead of time!). No calligrapher? Whether you’re printing or hand-writing addresses, it’s still helpful to give yourself two weeks in case of any mistakes. While putting all the pieces of your invitations into envelopes isn’t really hard it definitely is time-consuming! We’d recommend having a little party with your family or wedding party to expedite the process. (Just keep the snacks and drinks away from the freshly printed stationery!)
Send the Invitations | 2 to 4 months before the wedding
You might have already sent a save-the-date to get your wedding on guests’ schedules, but sending invitations between one and two months before the wedding gives them plenty of time to plan. After all, they might need to make travel arrangements or find a babysitter.
Ask for RSVPs | At least 3 weeks before the wedding
A final headcount is key for the caterer, and they’ll probably want your total tally a week before the wedding. A few extra weeks out gives you time to call non-responders and ask if they’ll be attending. Plus, you’ll need some time to plan the final seating chart. Of course, you'll want to adjust these guidelines for your particular wedding. For example, you might want to send invitations a little earlier for a destination wedding. Or, if you're having a super intimate wedding, you might be able to get away with pushing the RSVP date back a bit. But this starting point should point you in the right direction.
Now that you’re all set and just about ready to start building your stationery from the ground up, browse through Minted, where all your ideas could be drawn into reality by independent artists!
We know you only deserve the best, that's why we only partner with brands we trust and love! This article is sponsored and may contain some affiliate links.