As your guests eagerly open their wedding invitations, this will be the first hint of the fabulous day that you have in store for them. Your invitation sets the scene, so consider this when choosing your perfect invite design – if you’re planning a traditional ‘do’ your invitations should also follow the same trend. Even in this modern day and age, and emailed wedding invitation is not considered polite, so don’t go there!
There are so many different styles of wedding invitations available these days; it’s hard not to become influenced by what other people have had. But it’s your big day, so only you and your other half know what the perfect invitation for you is. Make sure that once you’ve chosen your favourite designs, you ask for samples to be sent to you so that you can check the quality. This is supposed to be fun, so take a deep breath and consider the following invitation details before deciding on your final design.
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Define Your Wedding Style
Along with listing the location and time of day, the invitation—and, more specifically, its style—hints to the formality of your wedding. You should have an idea of the type of event you’re throwing—classic and elegant, casual and relaxed, or glam and modern—before you start shopping for stationery, so you can choose an invitation style that hits the same note. Then browse stationers’ websites and other couples’ wedding invitations to gather inspiration so you can give your stationer an idea of what you like.
From simple floral elements to elegant vintage design, these styles can be easily applied to most wedding stationary.
- Rustic/Country: Elements include wooden patterns and burlap or barn accents.
- Vintage: Vintage styles play on design elements of an older era, such as an art deco style.
- Nautical: Nautical invitations often include elements from the sea or sailboat patterns.
- Elegant: There are many different types of elegant invitations. However, these styles typically focus on simplicity with a few special design elements.
- Simple: Simple invitations focus less on design elements and more on the clarity of the message. They may also be called minimalistic.
- Traditional/Classic/Formal: Traditional wedding invitations focus more on the wording and a simple, yet thematic design.
- Floral: Floral invitations feature plenty of flowers and other nature-inspired design elements.
- Modern: For couples who choose modern wedding invitations, they can expect simple style typography and unique artistic elements.
- Tropical: These elements include flowers from the tropics and palm trees. Tropical invitations are especially perfect for destination weddings.
- Seasonal: Couples can also choose invitations stylized for fall, winter, spring, or summer based on colour schemes and other natural elements.
Know Your Colors
Think about your wedding colours too. You may want to incorporate your hues and a motif (if you have one) into your wedding invitations—and then carry them throughout the rest of your wedding paper (like the escort cards, menus and ceremony programs) for a cohesive look. While ivory, cream or white card stock paired with a black or gold font is the classic choice for formal wedding invitations, you can also brighten your invites with colourful or metallic fonts, paper stock, envelopes and liners. Just keep readability in mind when choosing your colours (more on that later).
Wedding Invitation Shapes & Sizes
A 4.5-inch-by-6.25-inch rectangular card is the traditional size and shapes for wedding invitations. But couples are channelling more playful or modern vibes with circular, scalloped and square invitations. Don’t forget to consider that veering away from the standard envelope size can increase the postage—bulky or extra-large invites may cost more to send.
We’ve broken down the different invite shapes and sizes for you below to help.
- Tri-Fold: invitations fold into thirds, accordion-style. These styles often cost more than the standard invitation.
- Gate Fold: The two front folded halves open up to reveal the inside message in a gatefold. This style also often costs more than the standard invitation.
- Flat: A flat invitation is a standard, traditional style. There are no folds on the card, and therefore no additional costs.
- Square: Square invitations have the basic ninety-degree angles for corners, making them the standard shape for invitations.
- Bracket: A bracket, just as the name sounds, has bracketed sides along all four edges.
- Round: These cards are similar to the square shape, but with rounded corners.
- Ticket: A ticket style invitation has inverted rounded corners, similar to an old fashioned ticket.
- Scalloped: Scalloped edges appear like a series of repeating curves across every edge of an invitation.
- Landscape vs. Portrait Orientation: Landscape orientation refers to the card printed with the top and bottom edges as the longest sides and the right and left edges as the shorter sides. Portrait orientation is the opposite.
The standard sizes for wedding invitations include the following four options. Note: the cost for a standard one-ounce First-Class mail stamp is $0.55, however, that price increases if the letter is differently shaped or heavier.
- 5 x 7 inches: The most common invitation size.
- 5.25 x 5.25 inches: The square invitation is popular for many modern designs. However, many postal offices have restrictions or cost additions for mailing them out.
- 6.5 x 8.75 inches: This is a slightly larger rectangle invitation.
- 4 x 9.25 inches: This is a slimmer and moderately popular invitation size.
Wedding Invitation Fonts
As you consider colours and patterns, don’t forget about the text—the information you put on the invitation is the whole point of sending it out in the first place. Your stationery can help, but, in general, avoid light ink on light backgrounds and dark ink on dark backgrounds. Yellow and pastels are tough colours to read, so if you’re going with those, make sure the background contrasts enough for the words to pop, or work those colours into the design rather than the text. Also, be wary of hard-to-read fonts like an overly scripted typeface—you don’t want to sacrifice readability for pretty letters.
Fonts, or typeface, describe the style of letters or characters of an invitation. Wedding invitation fonts often include a combination of a sans serif, serif, script, or other unique typefaces. Choosing what type of font works best for your invitations largely depends on your invitation theme and style. To help, we’ve broken down the four main typeface styles for you below:
- Serif: A serif is a small line attached to the end of a letter or symbol within a family of fonts. A common example of a serif font family is Times New Roman. This font is a popular choice for classic wedding invitations.
- Sans Serif: A sans serif is the opposite of serif in that it lacks the smaller strokes attached to the letters. Helvetica is one of the most popular sans serif fonts available.
- Script: Scripts fonts aim to mimic the fluid strokes in handwriting. Thanks to the elegance of the typeface, many script fonts are common in wedding invitations. One of the most popular wedding script fonts is the condensed, calligraphic script font called Windsong.
- Unique Fonts: Anything outside of the three categories above would be considered a unique font. For example, “Paper Font,” a popular wedding invitation typeface, was created by a designer who cut the letters from the paper before digitizing them.
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Choose Your Words Wisely
Learn the rules to wording your invitation. Traditionally, whoever is hosting is listed first on the invitation. Customarily, you should spell everything out, including the time of the ceremony. On classic wedding invitations, there’s always a request line after the host’s name—something like “so and so request the honour of your presence.” The wording can change as the hosting situation does, so make sure to double-check you’ve added everyone who should be included.
Don’t Crowd the Card
List only the key points on your invitation: ceremony time and location, the hosts, your and your fiancé’s names, the dress code (optional) and RSVP information. Trying to squeeze too much onto the invitation card can make it harder to read, and it won’t look as elegant. Leave things like directions to your wedding venue and details about post-wedding activities for your wedding website and/or print them on separate enclosure cards. One piece of information that doesn’t belong anywhere on your suite: where you’re registered. The only acceptable place to list registry information is on your wedding website.
Your save-the-dates should go out 8 to 10 months before the wedding. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks—or longer, depending on how fancy you go—to print them. While your save-the-dates don’t have to match your invites, ordering everything from one stationer can save you money and make the invitation process easier on you. So start scouting stationers 9 to 11 months before the wedding. Aim to order your invitations about four to five months out, so they’re ready to mail 8 to 10 weeks before the wedding. If you’re having a destination wedding or marrying over the holidays, send out your invites even earlier (12 weeks before the wedding).
Get Your Dates Straight
Include your RSVP information on the bottom right corner of your invitation or a separate enclosure, and make the deadline no more than three or four weeks after guests receive the invitations. Check with your caterer first to find out when they’ll need the final headcount. Remember The more time you give guests to reply, the more likely they are to forget—but you’ll need time to put together the seating chart. Plus, your final count may affect the number of centrepieces and other décor elements, which your vendors will need to finalize a few weeks before the wedding.
To get more tips, check out our post on What is the cheapest way to do wedding invitations?
What To Include On A Wedding RSVP Card
The most important things to include on a wedding RSVP or response card are as follows:
- A blank line for guests to fill in their names.
- The RSVP reply due date. Use a date three to four weeks before the wedding date.
- The “will attend” line. Short and simple, this phrase can say anything along the lines of “Yes, I will attend your wedding.”
- The “unable to attend” line.
- A choice of entrées.
Wedding Invitation Cost
Wedding invitation packages can be very different, and therefore so can the pricing. A simple yet elegant package may cost $350, but more detailed cards with many add-ons for a large wedding can run as high as $10,000. It’s also important not to forget about shipping costs when budgeting for your invitations. Postage for a standard invitation costs $0.49 per card, but the price increases for different sizing and more weight.
Have a Pro Address Your Envelopes
When you order your invitations, see if you can take the envelopes home immediately (or as soon as possible). That way, if you have someone other than your stationery (say, a calligrapher) print the return addresses on your envelopes (most stationers print the return addresses for little or no charge; it’s often even included in the suite’s price), they can get a head start. While you don’t have to hire a calligrapher to address your envelopes, we highly recommend it—it looks beautiful and makes an elegant first impression. Traditionally, addresses are handwritten, so unless you have impeccable handwriting, it’s best to leave the envelopes to a pro. If you plan to do them yourselves, tackle the project in a few sittings to avoid sloppiness or mistakes. While using printed labels is an easy (and affordable) option, handwriting each address is not only more formal, it’s also more personal. It shows your guests you want them to be at your wedding so much that you took the time to handwrite (or have a calligrapher hand-letter) their name and address on the envelope. But if your penmanship is more like chicken scratch and you don’t have the budget for a calligrapher, you can print the addresses from your computer using digital calligraphy software.
Triple-Check the Proof
Before your invitation order is printed, your stationer will send you a proof (either a hard copy or an email attachment of the invite mock-up). Don’t just have your partner and mom read it over. Ask your English major friend or a grammar-savvy bridesmaid to check the proof before you okay it. You’d be surprised at the things you may miss (pay special attention to details like date and time and spelling). Borrow a tip from copy editors and read the proof word for word from right to left, so you don’t accidentally gloss over any mistakes.
Count Your Households
You don’t need an invitation to every guest. Take a look at your guest list and figure out how many houses need invitations before you give your stationer a number—you might be able to cut your order in half. Cohabiting couples get one invitation; for couples living apart, you can either send one invite to the guest you’re closer with (and include both names on the inner and outer envelopes), or you can send out separate invitations. Families get one invitation (addressed to “The Smith Family,” for example). The exceptions: Children who don’t live at home (like college students) or anyone over 18 who lives at home should get their invitation.
It’s expensive to go back and print more invitations after the fact. Order enough invitations for your guest list, plus 25 extra in case you need to resend an invitation, want to put some aside as keepsakes (trust us, your moms will want at least a few) or plan on sending invitations to a B-list. Tip: If you have a lengthy B-list, consider ordering a second set of invitations with a later RSVP date. And even if you’re hiring a calligrapher to address your invitations, ask for extra envelopes in case of returned invites or addressing mistakes (calligraphers generally require an extra 15 to 20 per cent).
Don’t Forget the Rest of Your Suite
Order your menus, programs and thank-you notes with your invitations. That way, your stationery can include all of the pieces in one order, which may save you money and time. It’s also a good way to ensure all your stationery has a cohesive look, even if you want to vary the design slightly for each element (by switching the dominant colour or alternating between two patterns, for example). Also, don’t forget those little items like favour tags and welcome bag notes.
Remember Your Thank-Yous
Track RSVPs as they come in using a guest list manager tool or spreadsheet. Include a column where you can note what each guest gives you. Then, as the wedding gifts start rolling in, begin writing your thank-you notes, so you don’t fall behind. For any presents received before the wedding, you should send a thank-you note within two weeks. For those given on or after the wedding day, give yourself a month.
Put a Stamp on It
It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget: If you want guests to mail back their reply cards, include stamped (and addressed) envelopes. That way they don’t have to pay for the postage. Traditionally, the return envelopes should be addressed to whoever is hosting the wedding; however, if your parents are technically hosting, but you’re keeping track of the guest list, you can use your address instead. And you can find customizable stamps to coordinate with your design at The Knot Shop. Tip: Rates do change from time to time, so check before you add those stamps to make sure you have adequate postage.
Do a Weigh-In
While you probably can’t wait to drop those wedding invitations in the mail and check another thing off your to-do list, weighing a sample invitation (enclosures and all) at the post office first could save you many more to-dos later. Trust us, and you don’t want to deal with the hassle of invitations being returned because of insufficient postage. And while you’re at the post office, ask about hand-cancelling your invites. This involves a stamp that says your mail is processed (instead of running your invites through the processing machine like regular mail, which could bend or even ruin them). While hand-cancelling is free, check with your local post office first to make sure that it has the handstamp. And keep in mind that while most post offices try to keep hand-cancelled mail separate from regular mail, there’s no absolute guarantee your invitations won’t go through the processing machines. To ensure they don’t, you can pay a non-machinable fee to have them hand-processed—it will guarantee your mail will be sorted by hand.
It’s best to start from these crucial elements and expand out based on what is important to you, what the nature of your event is, and what your budget will allow.
Whatever you decide to include, it’s usually best to think about all your stationery at once and order ahead to make sure you can create a cohesive vision for your day, starting with the element that carries it through from beginning to end.