Get Those Invites
Stationery and invitations can bring about anxiety. Save-the-dates, invitations, RSVP cards. Etiquette, and the expectations and misconceptions, can grind your wedding correspondence to a halt. Where to begin?
The collection of cards that make up wedding invites is called a suite. Classically, the suite is made up of the invitations, the response cards, the information cards, and thank you notes, plus envelopes. Expanding the definition, you can include save-the-date cards and even matching place cards and menus (place cards and menus are outside the scope of this post as it really focuses on mailable materials). Oh, and there are the stamps.
Your invitation is front and center in this quartet. So, what should go on the invitation? Well, it's a combination of tradition and whatever you like; tradition plays a role because guests will expect (need) certain pieces of information from the invitation, and your preference will dictate how to express this information.
Obviously, your invitation should state the occasion: a wedding! Date, place, and time are crucial to your invitation. Don’t forget to include these key facts in haste to get these in the mail. And it’s not a bad idea to include your wedding website on the invitation so that guests can quickly get more info. Remember that you have latitude to make your invitations a reflection of your personalities. Does “Getting Hitched” sound more authentic to you than “Joining in Holy Matrimony”? Go for what speaks to you.
Next up is the response card. This card is a quick, easy way for guests to signal to you that they will join you (or that they cannot) in celebrating your nuptials. The easier it is for guests to RSVP, the more likely they are to do so, and to do it in a timely manner. Your response card can simply have a check box to indicate whether the guest can attend, or can include other prompts as well (entrée, parking, and on). Your RSVP card should include postage. Going back to ease for the guest to respond, this makes things flow smoother, plus it’s a nice gesture. Could you direct guests to an online RSVP? Sure! You could abandon response cards all together and give guests a QR code that directs them to your wedding website, although this might be better saved for save-the-dates (more on that shortly).
Information cards are the third string in your invitation suite. Not necessary, especially now that wedding websites are nearly universal, they provide useful facts to your guests. Is your venue hard to find? Put directions on the info card. Is there a great hotel near your reception? Include that, too. These cards can be loose in the envelope with the invitation.
Wedding stationery rounds out the suite. The stationery, or more precisely, the thank you cards, will certainly come in handy after those registry gifts stack up! These cards might feature your names, a motif that echoes your wedding theme, or simply “Thank You”. Printed on the same weight and color paper as the rest of the suite of card products, these can also bear your return address to save both time and hand cramps. By the way, a thank you card needn’t be overly complicated to write (more about that in an upcoming blog post); sincerity beats out formulaic rules any day.
Now that you know what goes in the envelope to each guest, let’s talk about getting them there! (This is my favorite part—I love sending letters.) It is far more elegant to hand write the recipients’ addresses, or to print them directly on the envelope, compared to a good ole stick on label. The USPS offers some vague guidelines on addressing envelopes, suggesting that ink contrast with the envelope paper. (This seems kind of obvious.) You will also need to stamp your letters. The Postal Service makes quite elegant stamps for wedding invitations. They are available in one- and two-ounce denominations; remember that when printed on heavy stock and with multiple enclosures, your invites will likely exceed one ounce (the weight limit for a regular Forever stamp). You can slap the two-ounce stamp on the main envelope and the one-once on the return card envelope, provided the weights line up. Knotted ribbons or other embellishments that make the envelopes lumpy might require yet more postage; you can always ask a postal worker. (You can also order custom stamps through third party vendors with a picture of you, the couple, but they will have a barcode on them and won’t be as “clean” looking.)
Save-the-date cards are convenient ways to remind guests that you have an upcoming wedding, especially when social calendars can fill quickly. Sending these out in advance with a QR code can help you steer your guests to your website, where you can even ask for a preliminary RSVP. These can be postcards, and if you know your theme, can feature it.
The Wrap Up
That’s it! Those are the players in your wedding suite! Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the limit—you could include a glassine jacket for your invitation, or an inner envelope. (I guess if it’s legal to mail, the sky’s the limit!)
Did you get all of these? Did you include anything I omitted?