This helpful guide will break down all the small details you’ll need to consider when planning to order your wedding stationery suite.
Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now what?
There are so many things to think about when planning your wedding, it can be overwhelming at times.
As a professional wedding stationery designer, I have heard many of the same questions repeated from couples about their wedding invitation suites. When should I send my Save the Dates and Invitations? What items are included in a wedding stationery suite? How many sets should I order? And more…
There are a lot of components to a full set of wedding stationery that you’ll want to consider, especially since these small details can make all the difference in pulling together a really beautiful wedding paper set.
I created this guide as a resource for any couple that is beginning the wedding planning process. So, before you begin thinking about wedding invitations, read this to make sure you don’t overlook anything!
Covered in this Guide:
1. When to Order Wedding Stationery
2. Assemble the Mailing List
3. Save the Dates
4. Invitation Suite Components
5. Envelope Styling & Addressing
6. Assembly & Embellishments
8. Day-Of Stationery
9. Thank You Cards
1. When to Order Wedding Stationery - A Timeline
Wondering when you should mail your save the dates or wedding invitations? What about the stationery for the day of the wedding, like programs and menus? Here's a brief timeline to help guide you on when to order and mail out your wedding stationery.
18 Months to 1 Year Out
As soon as possible after getting engaged, you'll want to begin compiling your guest list, and mailing addresses to go along with it. It could take a lot of time to get the correct addresses from your guests, so start early. You'll also need this information so you know how many Save the Dates to order.
On that note, if you are planning a destination wedding that will require guests to travel or save money to attend, or if your wedding lands on a national holiday or holiday weekend, you'll want to get your Save the Dates out as soon as possible.
I recommend allowing 18 months to 1 year ahead of time for mailing Save the Dates for destination or holiday weddings.
1 Year to 8 Months Out
Once you have an estimate of the quantity you'll need based on your mailing list, you can start ordering your Save the Dates. These are typically mailed out as early as 1 year in advance, or as soon as 6 months out in some cases.
That said, remember that it can take from several weeks to 2 months for your Save the Dates to be designed, printed, and mailed to you. Be sure to get started with your order well in advance before you want to get them mailed!
8 Months to 5 Months Out
Soon after you've mailed your Save the Dates, you can begin thinking about your wedding invitations. Depending on the complexity of your invitation suite, this can take even longer to design, print, and assemble, so you should start the ordering process as soon as 8 months out from your wedding day.
Some wedding vendors are extremely high in demand, so you may need to book a space in their calendar even further out! Some vendors will allow you to reserve their services before you have all your details and information ready.
Wedding invitation suites are typically mailed out 6 to 4 months in advance of your wedding date.
4 Months to 2 Months Out
After you've mailed your wedding invitations, you can move on to think about stationery items needed for your wedding ceremony and reception. This includes programs, signs, menus, place cards, table numbers, and favor or gift tags.
Again, depending on the complexity of these items, they may take more or less time to design and assemble. Generally speaking, you should start your order of these items 3 or 4 months ahead of your wedding day. That way, you can be sure you have enough time for them to be printed and mailed to you, with extra time allowed in case there are any problems with the prints.
You can also order Thank You cards at this time, so they'll be ready to send out after your wedding. These are typically mailed up to 3 months after your wedding day.
2. Assembling the Mailing List
First things first, you’ll need to put together your mailing list. And no, this is not the same thing as your guest list!
Your guest list is the total number of guests invited. But remember, couples and families that live under the same household will only need one invitation each. You'll want to have at least an estimate of the total number of addresses on your mailing list so you know how many save the dates and invitations to order.
Start assembling your guest list and gathering mailing addresses early! Once you know how many addresses are on your list, you can start ordering your save the dates.
I highly recommend using a spreadsheet like Excel or web program to keep track of your guests’ names and mailing addresses, using a separate column for each name, address, city, state, and zip code. This will make it so much easier when you are ready to address your envelopes!
It's a good idea to order extra sets of envelopes and invitations beyond the total number of addresses in your mailing list.
You may need them later, and it’s much cheaper to order them at the same time as your main order, rather than trying to add a few more later! Consider getting 10-25 more than you think you might need.
3. Save the Dates
Once you’ve determined the number of mailing addresses you have, you can order Save the Date cards. These are typically mailed out 6 to 8 months ahead of your wedding date, or even longer for destination weddings. On top of this, remember that it can take some time for the design, processing, and printing, so be sure to place your order 1 to 3 months before you plan to get them in the mail!
The purpose of a save the date card is to give your guests plenty of notice to plan ahead and ensure they can attend your wedding, and sometimes to give them a few other details about the wedding itself.
Typically Save the Date cards include the names of the bride and groom to-be, the wedding date (duh!), and the general location of the wedding. Some Save the Date cards also include a website address that leads to a custom wedding website with more information for the guests.
Save the Date cards can be mailed as a postcard, or with an envelope. More on that in the Postage section below!
4. Wedding Invitation Suite Components
After you’ve successfully mailed your Save the Dates, you can prepare to send your wedding invitation suite. This is typically mailed 8-12 weeks out. These can take even longer than the Save the Date cards to design, process, and assemble, so be sure to get them ordered several months before you need to mail them.
I’ve been using the term “wedding invitation suite” so far throughout this guide, but what does that really mean? Well, there’s a lot more to an invitation suite than just simply invitations. It’s extremely common to use a separate RSVP card that guests can return. But on top of that, many people include additional enclosure cards, such as:
Map and/or Directions
Details / Registry / Other Information
Of course, the more inserts you include, the more costly the invitation suite can be. If budget is a primary concern, you can save by including extra details on the back of the invitation, RSVP card, or on a website instead. Sometimes, however, enclosure cards can be a great way to add a special touch to the invitation suite.
5. Envelope Styling and Addressing
It’d be a shame to neglect the envelopes and the role they can play in the overall look and feel of your wedding paper suite. You can bring color and patterns into the design through the envelopes you choose.
Envelope liners are a perfect way to add some flair. Choose a contrasting color for a bold look, a classic floral pattern, or a unique graphic to highlight your wedding theme. You can also check out my post on how to design and create your own envelope liners!
Don’t forget, you might need a few different types of envelopes for different items. At minimum, you’ll need an outer envelope for mailing, and a return envelope for the RSVP card. You may also want to consider a pocket style envelope to hold your enclosure cards. Pocket envelopes are a beautiful way to hold everything together, and there are many styles of pocket envelopes. Some pocket envelopes feature lovely laser-cut patterns that could be the star of your invitation suite!
Sometimes couples choose to skip the envelope altogether and send a postcard instead. This is a lot more common for Save the Dates, RSVP cards, or Thank You cards. The best part about sending a postcard is that you can save a little extra money on postage!
The colors and patterns that you choose aren’t the only detail you need to think about for your envelopes. What’s on the outside of the mailing envelope matters too! There are several different ways to go about addressing your mailing envelopes.
Likely the most expensive, yet most luxurious option is to hire a professional calligrapher to hand-write all of your addresses. There’s nothing quite like look of fresh ink from a fountain pen, and there are plenty of independent calligraphers out there offering their services. This is also the most time-consuming method for addressing, so make sure you order these services well in advance.
If hand calligraphy is out of the picture, you could order address printing through several wedding vendors (myself included), which can print your return address and each mailing address directly onto the envelopes using the spreadsheet I mentioned earlier! You can even use a font style that mimics hand-written script, for a beautiful and romantic look.
Labels and Stamps
The most cost-effective method for addressing your envelopes is to use labels. Once again, the spreadsheet with your mailing list can be auto-merged onto a mailing label template. If you’re worried that mailing labels will make the envelopes look cheap or tacky, don’t be afraid! Address labels can still be made to look classy and chic. You can use a specialty font (like one from this list of 20 romantic script fonts), and add some color or a graphic to give the mailing labels a special touch.
For your return address, you can also consider ordering a custom rubber stamp with your address on it. There are plenty of Etsy sellers that offer gorgeous custom stamps that you can use on both your outer mailing envelopes, and on your RSVP envelopes so that your guests can easily send them back to you.
6. Assembly & Final Embellishments
The assembly of each of the items in your invitation suite is almost as important as the design itself. These small details always seem to count the most.
Whether you used a pocket style envelope to hold all of your enclosure cards, or you decided to use a regular envelope and RSVP card, you still might need something more to hold everything in place.
You can do this by using a belly band, ribbon, or string. A belly band is a strip of paper that goes around the center of the invitation or pocketed envelope, holding everything together. You can print a message on the belly bands, or add a monogram or wax seal as the final touch. You can also add even more flair by sealing your envelope with a small sticker or wax seal.
Keep in mind that you might be the one assembling your invitation suite (unless you pay extra for your vendor to assemble it for you), so if you have a large mailing list, you might need to enlist some help if you choose a really elaborate packaging style!
Once you have begun the assembly process, take one sample invitation suite fully assembled inside the mailing envelope, and take it to the post office to have it weighed. Many wedding invitation suites are heavier than a standard letter, and will require additional postage. At the post office, they can tell you how much postage you’ll need for each envelope so you can ensure that your invitations make it to your guests.
As mentioned above, you can save a lot of money on postage by sending a postcard for certain items instead of a sealed envelope. This is a great option for Save-the-Dates, RSVP cards, and Thank You cards.
8. Day-Of Wedding Stationery
Your wedding stationery needs don’t end with the invitation suite. You will likely need a number of paper goods on your actual wedding day, such as signs, menus, programs, table numbers, and place cards.
You can order these separately from the invitations since you won’t need them as early, but you may want to consider ordering them from the same vendor as your invitations, so that everything will match perfectly.
Plan on ordering these items 1 to 2 months in advance of your wedding day to make sure you have plenty of time to receive them and fine-tune any last minute details.
9. Thank You Cards
Last, but certainly not least, are the Thank You cards. These are typically mailed up to 3 months after your wedding date, or sooner. Thank You cards are a great way to express gratitude to your guests, not only for spending your special day with you, but also for any gifts that they may have given to you.
You can even consider using a photo from your wedding day to turn the Thank You card into a keepsake that guests can use to remember the event for years to come.
For those of you that read this entire guide, I am both impressed and grateful! I hope that you found this guide useful and that you now feel more prepared in planning to order your wedding stationery suite.
If all of this information is overwhelming to you, don’t worry! I am here to help make the process as smooth as possible, without letting any detail pass you by. Click here to learn more about ordering wedding stationery with Wonderment Paper Co. I offer a full range of services and can work with you to create the wedding stationery suite that you’ve been dreaming of.