Plan Along with Me Series – Step 6: Practical Information about Wedding Invitations
Wedding invitations can be one of those pesky wedding details that you know you need to get done but aren’t quite sure the best way to accomplish it. Well, I’m here to take the guess work out of it for you!
As I mentioned in Celebrating Your Engagement, just like Save-the-Dates, your invitations should fit the style and colors of what you’re planning for the wedding. They’ll be that first welcome to your guests & a way to get them excited about what’s coming up.
There are all different places to order your invitations at. From handcrafted specialty invites on Etsy to customizable printed ones on Shutterfly or Minted, and everywhere in-between, there are literally tons of options. Start by looking at your budget and go from there.
When you start, have a style you both like in mind ahead of time. Are you the modern & simplistic type or do you both prefer something more traditional & romantic? Knowing your preferences before you start shopping can help narrow the field of consideration so it’s not so overwhelming.
Now for the nuts-and-bolts info...
How to pick your RSVP date
This works backward from when your vendors need to know your final guest count. Often catering and your venue will need that final number about two weeks before your wedding day. Florists may even need it three weeks out so they can order the correct number of flowers for the number of centerpieces you end up needing.
I usually advise a rsvp timeline based on the three-week estimate. If I know a couple needs that final number three weeks before, I make the rsvp date at the four-week mark. This will give you time to contact any missing rsvp’s to get an answer from them. It also will give you a few days extra to tally the responses.
How to have an A & B List
There’s lots of very important reasons to keep your guest count in check - budget, venue size, and preferences just to name a few. Having an A & B list for wedding invitations is a great tool to help you manage your numbers.
1) Start by making a list of everyone you’d want to invite to your wedding.
2) Next, divide the list into those that MUST be there (the A’s) and those who’d you’d love to be there, but wouldn’t be crushed if they couldn't come (the B’s).
3) Then, you’ll want to take the “B” group and arrange them based on priority.
4) Order two sets of Response Cards for the invitations.
To minimize any potential hurt feelings, you want to keep the second group from knowing they’re in the alternate group. Do this by sending out your “A” invites extra early so their rsvp’s get back in time to mail the “B’s” out at the traditional time.
For the “A” group, take the rsvp date we just calculated in the last section and move it up 5 weeks earlier. You’ll mail out this first group of invitations a month before that rsvp date.
For the “B” group, the rsvp date is the one we figured out for a traditional invitation timeline. For every “No” rsvp you receive from the “A” group, mail out the next invitation on your “B” list, in order of priority. The latest that group will get an invite will be a month before you’ll need that final number for vendors, giving them plenty of time to meet the deadline, and they’ll never be the wiser.
How to Mail your Invitations
You’ll want to mail your invitations out a month before the RSVP date on your response cards. If this date falls around the holidays, make sure to send them extra early. By moving the mailing date up before holiday mail gets into full swing, you’ll avoid shipping delays and the possibility of your invitation getting overlooked because it’s mixed in with holiday card overload.
Order your invitations a couple of months before you need to get them in the mail. They’ll most likely need to be made to order then shipped to you, which takes a bit of time. You’ll also want to give yourself plenty of time to get them all stuffed and addressed without being stressed or rushed.
Don’t forget to take a sample invitation to the post office and have it weighed for the correct postage. Any extra inserts and envelopes inside add some weight and possible additional postage requirements. Also, you’ll be purchasing TWO stamps for each invite – one for the whole invitation and one for the RSVP card envelopes inside.
Sometimes coming up with the wording for your invitations can be tricky. A fantastic resource I’ve used for years is Invitation Consultants. They’ve got a Sample Wording section on their website that you can search in all different ways, depending on your unique situation. Check out their plethora of choices for your invitations while you’re there too! They’ve got beautiful options!
A useful tip is to discreetly number your response cards, either inside the envelopes or on the back of the cards. This way, if someone forgets to write their name on the rsvp, you can match the number on it to your list & it saves you a phone call.
There are a few ways to be specific about who in the household is actually invited to the wedding. On your response card you can list the number invited. (“We have reserved ___ seats in your honor.”) You’d fill in the number on the card before mailing it. The invitee has a line then to say how many people will/will not attend. You can also use the inside envelope to clue them in as well. The outside envelope is the formal address, then the invitation and additional cards go in an inside envelope that has a more casual address. (Ex. Outside: Mr. & Mrs. John Smith; Inside: Uncle Bob and Aunt Shirley) If it’s a family of 5, but the inside card only has the two adults, they should realize you haven’t invited the kids.
So that’s the ins & outs of ordering and mailing your wedding invitations!
Check back next month for Step 7: Deciding What Traditions to Keep
Until then, Happy Planning!