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First Impressions: The Importance of Wedding Invitations

Our wedding experts answer some important FAQs when it comes to your paper goods.
By: 
Laura Cross

When it comes to your wedding, you only have one chance to make a great first impression. The invitation is your opportunity to create excitement for your big day and also serves as a glimpse into what's to come by setting the overall tone and vibe. This important piece is the first form of communication your guests will receive, and it is vital to make sure you're conveying all pertinent information in a clear and concise way. From what to include to when to send, three incredible local stationers - Nicole Reher of Nicole Reher Creative, Laura Green of Wandering Heart Paper Co and Dana Osborne of Dana Osborne Design - answer important FAQs when it comes to what you need and might want to know about these special paper goods.

Why are wedding invitations so important?NR: Besides providing essential information such as date, time, and location of your wedding, it also sets the tone and let's guests know what to expect for your big day. Your invitation design, verbiage, and material choices allow guests to know whether it’s a casual, semi-formal, or black tie affair. Your invitations are one of the very first impressions your guests will receive for your wedding - what kind of impression do you want to convey? It also shows love and respect for your friends and family, that you went out of your way to personally invite them to one of the most important days of your lives.

DO: Wedding invitations are really the first impression your guests will have of your wedding day. Will it be super formal? Will it be a little more relaxed? Your wedding invitations show this by how they are printed, the extra details you put into them, etc. Invitations also allow you to convey all the information guests need to know for your wedding. Things like attire, reception details and of course the important one: how to RSVP, should all be included with your invitations so your guests don’t have any questions about the big day.

LG: Your wedding invitations set the tone for your whole wedding celebration. They are the first thing your guests see that gives them an idea of what your wedding will be like.

What are the benefits of using a custom stationer?NR: By working with a custom stationery specialist, you receive a personalized and consistent experience that can often lead to one-of-a-kind results. The care and detail put into each piece pays off when you can trust that your vendor is focused on making sure each piece is cohesive and exactly what you expected. Ordering from print stores, Etsy, and other mass quantity printers can lead to less specialized designs and less attention to the small details that really make your items stand out.

DO: Stationers are great to have in your corner when creating wedding invitations because we have seen it all. We know how to word things you may want on your invites and don’t know how to say. We also can guide you through timelines and deadlines as well as making things super easy like printing all your guest names on the mailing envelopes. Stationers, like a lot of vendors, are on your side to help make things easier for wedding planning.

LG: Working with a stationery designer allows you to customize everything to your needs and personal style. There are only so many options allowed on the big invitation sites. As a designer, I love finding out what is important to you so that your invitations reflect your personality and the uniqueness of your love story.

When should you send out your wedding invitations?NR: I recommend sending invitations out 6-8 weeks before your wedding. This gives plenty of time for guests to set their calendar, but it isn’t too far out that they forget about it or put off replying to an RSVP. When ordering your invitations, take this timeline into account to ensure you have ample time for design, print, and mailing. In order to safely send out invitations at the 6-8 week mark, I tell client that we should begin working on your designs 5-6 months before your wedding.

DO: Traditionally, wedding invitations should go in the mail 6-8 weeks before your wedding. This is approximately two months and that’s the deadline I like to shoot for. You don’t want to send them out too late, for obvious reasons, but you also don’t want to send them out too early. I always ask my couples to think about what they’re doing in 3 months. Most don’t know or have a good idea. But most know what they’re doing in 2 months. There is a bit of psychology that goes along with that. Two months allows guests to have an idea of what is on their calendar, thus making it easier for them to RSVP and not “wait until they know what is going on."

LG: They should be sent out 6-8 weeks before your wedding. You may want to send a few weeks earlier if you’re planning a destination wedding, or if a majority of your guests are traveling a long distance to attend. 

What is essential to include in your invitations?NR: The most important items to include in your invitation is the couple's name, date, ceremony & reception location(s), and ceremony time. I also highly recommend including a way for guests to RSVP whether it’s a return envelope or a website to ensure you properly plan for your guest count.

DO: With your invitation suite, I always recommend the invitation itself, stating the names of people getting married, date, time and location of the event. Also, a details card where you can be more specific on things like reception and then some sort of an RSVP card. Put these three pieces in a mailing envelope and you have the basics covered for invitations. Oh, and don’t forget postage.

LG: Date, time and location are the most important things to include.

What type of ancillary wedding day collateral should one consider incorporating?NR: I always recommend seating charts, table numbers, escort cards, wedding programs, and menus. These items help answer questions your guests might have throughout your ceremony and reception, and allows them to focus on enjoying the event. It also makes a great keepsake for family! Menus are especially helpful if you provide more than one dinner option as it informs guests on what exactly to expect.

DO: The most common item I see for wedding day paper is ceremony programs. Programs are great to guide guests through the ceremony and also let them know who is who when it comes to the wedding party. From there the list is almost endless. Menus, place cards, escort cards, seating charts, welcome signs, napkins, bar signage/menu, napkins…if you can dream it and want it incorporated into your wedding day, it can be created.

LG: It is a good idea to have a separate details card if you need to include hotel information for out of town guests. You don’t want to put registry or hotel information on the invitation, let the details card do its job.

What are some other unique ways in which to incorporate paper goods into your wedding design?NR: You could consider using items such as high-quality vellum paper or belly bands to wrap around your invitation set. These customizations help create beautiful statement pieces and also help keep items together when you have a multi-piece invitation set.

DO: I’ve created some really unique items for past couples. With these pieces, it usually comes down to something that is super important to them and their relationship. l I had a couple get married at the SAC Museum in Ashland and they really wanted paper airplane programs. So we created a program for the ceremony with instructions on the back on how to fold it, so guests could throw paper airplanes at the couple as they’re leaving the church.

I had a couple where the bride loved french fries. Like, LOVED them. So for their late night french fry bar, we created french fry holders with their monogram on them.

A popular one lately is incorporating pets into wedding day. Signature drinks named after pets is super fun, so a cute sign with an image of the pet plus drink information is cute. I’ve also included images of pets on napkins and matchboxes too.

LG: Day of paper goods are a great way to carry over the invitation design elements into the wedding day. Programs, menus, signage, and place cards all serve important organizational functions to keep your day going smoothly. They can also be beautifully designed,  just like your invitations.

Do you have any tips or etiquette mistakes to avoid?NR: Pay special attention to wording and make sure spelling, capitalization, and terms are consistent throughout each item. The word choices you use are especially important if someone else is hosting / paying for your wedding. Some couples & families prefer following more formal or traditional ways of inviting guests while others are more flexible. Remember that your invitations are often the first clue to guests on the expected formality of the wedding day.

Do not send your invitations too early (life is busy, people can forget) or too late (not enough time to make arrangements).

Check the spelling, check again, walk away, and then check the spelling a third time! After staring at your invitations for a long time, it can be easy to gloss over even the most simple mistakes. You could also have 2-3 other people help proofread before finalizing your order to ensure that you avoid any mistakes.

DO: When it comes to how your invitation is worded, it most likely comes down to if you want parents on the invitation or not. And if you do, who and how it’s listed. You may not think this is super important, and maybe it’s not important to you, but it could be for your parents. They have dreamed about this day as much as you have! So wording on the invitation is a good thing to run by your parents before you go to print.

A big tip is to work on your guest list early. I tell my couples it’s the most brutal part of wedding planning, so once you have that done, things get easier. It’s hard to decide who to invite, the number of people to invite, who to cut, etc. So start early. That number is the basis of a lot of other decisions down the road. From a stationer’s standpoint, it’s something we NEED so if the guest list isn’t complete, your invitations are not getting printed, which can put you behind.

LG: Have someone you trust proofread your invitations. You’d be surprised at the kind of mistakes that can go unnoticed when you’ve stared at the invitation for too long. Your designer can be a big help in figuring out wording and answering any invitation etiquette questions you may have.

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