the “Do’s & Don’ts” of Invitations (My Version!)

Hey y’all! Another week in the books, another blog post to be written! I hope the world has been fair and beautiful on your end; it sure has on mine! October is one of my favorite months out of the year: fall is finally creeping in a little bit, Halloween kicking off the holiday season is fast approaching, and the wedding colors/trends are to die for! A lovely friend, whose wedding I am planning/coordinating, is getting married this weekend and I cannot WAIT to make it all come together: of course, there will be some awesome pictures coming soon too 😊  This week, we’re tackling the dripped in tradition (and, let’s be honest, a little extra) invitation! All jokes aside, the visual element of the invitation IS an important detail, especially if you’re super type A like me.  As with anything, I like to do things a blend of my way and the right way, and navigating the traditional aspects was much more palatable when I focused more on “our way” than the “traditional way.”  There’s a balance! Since nobody really likes being told no, let’s start with the “do’s” of invitations, my version anyway!

the “Do’s”

  1. Get one of those fancy address stamps.  Trust me: you’ll want it.  You have no idea how many times you’re about to have to use it.  Think wedding invites, RSVP’s inside invites, thank you cards, and any other additional party invitations you may have.  Since we chose to have our RSVP’s mailed to my future MIL’s house so none would get misplaced, I chose to get one stamp with simply both of our first names and that address, and then also ordered a new one with our married name and our address for our thank-you cards, and really any other future cards we have to send out.  In the long run, you’ll use it, and it will make life so much easier.
  2. Check everything with your local Post Office.  Take an entire set of your invitation, all assembled, and have it weighed before you purchase postage! Also, super important to note that if you will be using wax seals, you will have to pay an additional fee to ensure hand processing over machine processing.  Take your test invitation set WITH the seal.  I learned this the hard way: I decided to do the wax seal at the last minute: I had already had my test set weighed out and purchased my postage.  Because of the additional weight of the seal, AND the additional fee I had to add more postage than I wanted and wasn’t thrilled about the stamps.  When I say details matter to me: y’all.  I wanted to start all the way over! But I powered through and bit the bullet, and it was just fine: no one probably really even noticed outside of myself!
  3. Get extra envelopes.  Like 20.  If you’re handwriting your addresses, or even printing them on the computer, save yourself the headache and get extras. You can always use them later on and better to have them.
  4. In a nod to my previous story about my terrible stamp experience: care about the details! They really do bring the whole picture together.  Now, in the end, I didn’t die that one of my details was off: but if I had had ME to learn from, I would have had those stamps right… 😊 There are so many options from paper to colors to photos, fonts, shapes, stamps, metal foil….it really can be an awesome representation of your concept.  It’s the first clue the guests get as to your style, and what the vibe of your event is going to be like.  Think about your colors, the mood you’re creating, and the type of experience you want your guests to have at your wedding and use those in your invitation concept.  A whole experience is made up of all of its tiny little details coming together to create the picture: care about the details!
  5. Rounding up the list, we have that all important RSVP date! You should ideally be sending out your save the dates, if you opt to do them, out about 8-10 months before the wedding.  Invitations should go out about 4 months before the date, and the “RSVP by” date should be at least a month before the date! That number will ultimately be your final guest count, and you will need that to finalize all vendors and details.  One caveat to the 4 month out rule could be if you have a large number of guests who will be traveling decent distance, or if you are having a destination wedding.  6 months out may be a little more appropriate to give people time to make travel arrangements.  It will also give you more time to reserve hotel space for your guests, and maybe at a slightly better rate. 

And now, the other equally important part of the list:

the “Don’ts”

  1. Don’t be afraid of a wax seal! Seriously! It wasn’t that bad at all, and it was an amazing enhancement to our invitation set: I absolutely loved what it added.  You can pick wax in any color, purchase a pre-made stamp or have a personalized stamp made.  We opted to have one made in our last initial: I will say I did have to wait forever and a day for it show up, went out and purchased some pre-made stamps from Hobby Lobby and hated them, finally got it in the mail and loved it, so it was worth the wait and the personalization of the look.  I’ve also seen some amazing stamps with clear wax, with a dried flower pressed into it: gorgeous and surprisingly easy to do after a trip to the local art store. 
  2. Don’t go crazy on over-the-top details.  They will add up SO quick.  Invitations can kind of be a black hole for a budget.  Our top dream invitation would have been the one we chose, but with letterpress.  We also would have paid around $2,000.00 for said invitations.  We had a great wedding budget, and still did not have $2,000.00 for invitations!  (Now, if you do, GET the letterpress.  It’s gorgeous and super luxe and adds the best bit of texture ever.)  BUT, if you’re more like me and our budget, look for those middle options that you can adjust and make your own, and on your budget.  We opted for a nicer paper because we were not splurging for the letter press, and a simple clean invite, ivory with black lettering, a kraft envelope with ivory lining and a black wax seal.  We chose to use the picture options for our save the date and kept the invitations simple and elegant: we nailed the budget too!
  3. This one’s a biggie to me: don’t get too stuck on tradition.  Letter writing is an art that has been around forever: there is an etiquette to addressing an envelope and sending a greeting to someone.  Those rules are traditions that should be followed, and they are simple and easily spelled out in little refreshers on Pinterest and other resources.  I had to refer to them myself, because let’s be honest, in today’s age of social media and the internet, we really don’t use good old letter-writing skills anymore! And mostly because of that, I think that when we take the time to do an invitation in paper form, those etiquette rules are important and should be followed.  Now, what I DON’T think has to be followed, is that die-hard “it has to be an elegant, beautifully handwritten addressed invitation with super formal wording, and the parent’s names have to be at the top…” it only has to be that way if that’s the method you as a couple prefer.  Because of the boom of social media, it’s becoming pretty trendy to opt for e-vites and even save the dates via text or email.  A lot of people are also making the effort to be a little more eco-conscious these days and prefer the electronic method of delivery.  There’s also no denying the pretty intense cost break of going for electronic versus paper invitations; you could even do a mix of both! Order paper versions of your invitations for your guests whom you know would prefer that method: typically older family and friends, and send out evites to the bulk of your guest list.  I would note if you do opt to go for electronic invites, do your best to get at least one or two hard copies for your photographer to use in snapshots of your accessories and such! My last little tidbit on this tradition thing; thank you cards.  There’s a ton of tradition surrounding that one: at the end of the day, do what is best for you! Because we had been together for almost six years when we got married, we opted for a honeymoon fund to be able to take a trip together: we had put together a home, but never traveled together.  There were not individual, specific gifts, so to me, it made zero sense to sit down and handwrite 120 of the EXACT same thing.  So, I had thank you post cards made, with a photo from the wedding and a photo from the honeymoon, and they were a huge hit! Everyone was just as thrilled, no one died because they didn’t get a handwritten thank you, and I still, at least a little bit, met the “tradition.”  Do what fits best for you and your situation while still being mindful of other people and grateful for their support and love, and you’ll be Gucci.
  4. Last, but not least on the list: don’t wait until the last minute to select, or to send out! If I’m being honest, invitation selection was one of the harder choices for me to make.  It was very overwhelming; there’s a ton of choices for every tiny aspect of your creation.  Even the sample packs you can get from almost every invitation company (GET them. Get them all.) can be an overload of information.  I felt incredibly overwhelmed by the blank slate, and also the insane number of choices and it took me a lot of time and effort to really wade through and discover what I wanted.  I used the same company for all our stationary, which did help some once I got used to the process.  My best tip would be to choose three designs you both like, design them, compare them, and choose together.  I had to narrow it down for myself, and that was the best way to give myself options that were manageable.  Also important to note; the lower the base price you can start with per invite, the more you will be able to embellish and stay on budget.  The base price varies per design, and every addition you make adds more to the cost, so be mindful when selecting options. But I digress: we’re supposed to talking about time, not money! (Although….some say they ARE one and the same) Don’t procrastinate on this one.  You should send out your invites 4 months before your event; if you include time for creation and shipping, around the 6 months out mark is a good place to start.  At that point, you should have your style details selected, so you can match the aesthetic of your invitation to your event.  Also, don’t forget that ever important RSVP card: you want that deadline to be a solid month before the big day.  The final guest number will come from that, and ultimately, the final cost.  Around the time you’re starting to design your invites, if you haven’t already, get a solid document of your guest list and all addresses in one location.  It’s no small feat to gather information for 60+ people! You’ll want one master document to keep yourself on track and make sure everyone is accounted for, and you’ll need all those addresses more than once.  If you sent out save the dates, you should already have this document ready to go for invites and later, thank you notes. 

Well y’all, there you have it! My list of do’s and don’ts: I hope they help bring a little clarity or at least ease a little stress.  Have fun with the process, prepare yourself properly and make your choices with your budget in mind.  Give yourself plenty of time and make a game plan before you sit down to look at the millions of choices: I promise, even with your plan in place, the end result will probably morph some and that’s ok! And of course, always remember, tradition is not black and white; it’s ok to not be exactly like everybody else.  Find the pieces that fit, use them and watch what you create! Happy planning y’all!


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