Wedding invitations are the focal point of your wedding stationery, providing the first glimpse into the style and formality of the wedding. While save-the-dates can be flirty and fun, your invitations will be a true reflection of your event. Plan your wedding invitations with care with my complete wedding invitation planning guide.
The Anatomy of a Wedding Invitation
Wedding Invitations can include a number of enclosures, depending on the nature of your wedding and your stationery budget. (obviously more enclosures means higher costs)
o Outer envelope: Holds all enclosures, formally addressed to the recipient.
o Inner envelope: Holds all contents of the formal, third-person invitation for protection during shipping.
o Reception card: Specifies where and when the reception will be held – usually included only if the ceremony and reception take place at different locations.
o Response card: On which your guests indicate acceptance or regrets. In self-addressed stamped envelope. Make sure to include an RSVP deadline.
o Map/Directional: Optional insertion to help guests navigate and arrange for accommodations
Cost & Budget Considerations
Before you go shopping, become familiar with the invitation printing process and lingo; this will help you determine your needs in advance and avoid unnecessary costs. Price is determined per invitation, so if your guest list is huge – be prepared to designate a significant portion of your budget to wedding invitations. Costs can range anywhere from $1-$50 each. Bulky papers, colored inks and unique graphics all increase the cost. Custom designs can also be pricey. Printing options also affect the cost.
Invitation Printing Options:
o Engraving – most formal and most expensive – results in raised print that is pressed through the back
o Thermography – less expensive than engraving – results in raised print that does not press through the back
o Lithography – less expensive than either engraving or theromography – results in print that is neither raised nor pressed through
o Laser printing – the least expensive option. – produced on a laser printer and results in print similar to that of lithography.
When factoring total costs, don’t forget to consider postage as part of your budget, including stamps for the response card envelopes. Looking for ways to save? Keep your design simple, sticking to one color. Use lighter weight papers and include less inserts. Use response postcards instead of cards with envelopes.
As with all other aspects of your wedding, your invitations give you an opportunity to reflect a particular color, theme, and/or season of your wedding. During the spring, include pressed flowers or a flower blossom motif featuring the colors of your wedding. Hot right now is Asian-inspired floral motifs or anything 3D that adds texture. For the fall, incorporate warm, colorful leaves. For a summer wedding, feature seashells and starfish with brilliant ocean-blues or sunset-orange/reds. And for the winter, incorporate snowflakes on a simple white invitation.
Other popular suggestions range from unique color combinations and patterns, to ribbons or other clever themed items such as bindings. Many couples are going back to the traditional, formal look and featuring both sets of initials as monograms on the cover, but what’s even hotter is a creative logo or historic family seal. Whatever you decide, make your invitations innovative and unique to your personal style and wedding.
Tips, Rules & Etiquette
o When to send them – send wedding invitations 6-8 weeks before the big day. (if you think your guests will need more advanced notice, send save-the-date cards as well) Try to order invitations 3-4 months in advance to ensure they go out on time.
o How many to order – Order about 25% more than the number of guests you’re inviting – you’re bound to make mistakes or make last minute additions.
o Consider hiring a calligrapher for an added touch of elegance. (this is the first impression of your wedding!) Make sure to factor in the additional timing to ensure your invitations go out on time. Many rules apply to wording and addressing invitations. Here are some of the basics to ensure yours are “faux pas-free”:
Invitation Wording Etiquette
o Dates and times should be spelled out (half after four o’clock in the evening, not 4:30pm, and the twenty-second of April, not April 22)
o Mr. and Mrs. are abbreviated and Jr. may be, but the title Doctor should be spelled out
o No punctuation is used, except after abbreviations and between the city and state.
o An invitation to just the wedding ceremony does not include an R.S.V.P
o “Hosting” the wedding can mean anything from a set of parents helping to plan the event, inviting the guests, or covering the costs:
If there is one set of hosts, list their names at the beginning.
If both sets are hosting, list on separate lines with bride’s parents first.
If one set is hosting but you want to include the other set as well, note their names under their son/daughter’s name.
If you are hosting your own wedding, begin with the request line and state parent’s relationship under your name.
If you and both sets of parents are hosting, list your names first followed by “together with their parents” before the request line.
o No abbreviations, except for Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Jr. States must also be spelled out.
o If one of your single guests is bringing a date that you know personally, send that person a separate invitation instead of including “& Guest” on the inner envelope.
o If you are unable to obtain the name of a single friend’s guest – indicate on the inner envelope that they may bring a guest – NOT on the outer envelope. (this looks awkward)
o Unmarried couples who live together should receive one invitation, where their names are listed in alphabetical order and on their own lines.
o Invited guests who are living together as roommates, not couples, should each receive their own invitation.
o List the names of children under the age of 18 who still live at home on the inner envelope instead of “& Family” which can be very ambiguous and easily misinterpreted. Children over the age of 18 should receive their own invitation, regardless of their living situation.
o The traditional, married couple recipient should follow this format:
Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Parker
2211 First Street, Apartment 3
San Diego, California 92109
Wedding Invitation Wording Samples
Gone are the days when wedding etiquette mandated that the bride’s parents, and the bride’s parent’s only, hosted the wedding. Today anyone can foot the bill, and with modern familial arrangements often anything but nuclear, there is no straightforward rule for wording invitations. We’ve sorted through the confusion to bring you wording samples for the most common arrangements:
Simple, Traditional Format
[proper names of those hosting] (official hosts line) request the honour of your presence (request line) at the marriage of their [relationship of the bride to the host] [bride’s first and middle names] to [groom’s full name], the [day of the week] of [day and month of wedding] at [hour] o’clock in the [time of day] at [name of wedding venue] in [city, state] Reception to follow
[proper name of host] requests the honor of your presence at the marriage of [his/her] [relationship of the bride to the host]
Or, if parent is remarried and hosting with new spouse:
[proper names of those hosting] request the honor of your presence at the marriage of [his/her] [relationship of the bride to the host]
Or, if divorced parents are mutually hosting:
[proper name of mother] and [proper name of father] request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their [relationship of the bride to the host]
When the bride’s one living parent is hosting The invitation is issued only in the name of the living parent:
Mr. [Mrs.] Jonathan Stephen Smith and Timothy Wright requests the honor of your presence at the marriage of his [her] daughter Elizabeth Ann
When the Bride and Groom host
The honor of your presence is requested it the marriage of Miss Ashley Johnson to Mr. Paul Wilkins
Miss Ashley Johnson and Mr. Paul Wilkins request the honor of your presence at their marriage
Alternative “Request Line” Options
o “pleasure of your company”
o “honor of your presence” (used instead of the formal “honor” when ceremony does not take place in a house of worship)
o “share and celebrate in their joy” another creative idea that reflects the theme and tone of your wedding.
More ways to save on wedding invitations can be found at this guide to budget-friendly stationery.
Looking for more ideas? You can search hundreds of wedding invitations in this interactive invitation and stationery photo gallery.
Cori Russell is editor for Elegala.com and Gala Weddings Magazine. Elegala.com is a comprehensive wedding planning resource with a national directory of wedding venues and services, along with articles, expert advice, checklists and photo galleries to lead brides through every step of the planning process.