by Hope Johnson
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blog

Posts in etiquette
WEDDING TECH TALK

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EXPERT WEDDING-TECH TIPS
to get organized from the start

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So ...I'm ready to tackle a client's save the dates. We have this beautiful illustration of the wedding venue, my favorite script typeface from Rare Bird Font Foundry and we go to add the wedding website to the bottom of the handmade, deckled edge piece.
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THEN I SAW IT.
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www.WeddingHost.com/US/31458/brideandgroom

My stationery-loving, typography fueled heart shatters just a little bit. I had what I like to call a "come-to-Jesus" with my bride. We opted for a custom domain (a nominal fee of 10 bucks or so for the year), we used the playful wedding hashtag she has already created: www.HitchedToHarrington.com

Crisis averted!

Now I'm no tech-guru, but I'm sharing THREE Wedding-Tech Tasks you MUST tackle first to avoid a stationer's nightmare PLUS make your planning more organized from the start.

Can I get an amen?


PICK YOUR FAV & PIN FOR LATER

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CUSTOM DOMAIN NAME

I am listing this first just in case you get tech-bored and leave me. There are plenty of wedding website services out there that will allow you a free wedding website!

Do yourself a favor and purchase a custom domain (I use GoDaddy.com). It's usually about 10 bucks for a year and you can apply that domain to your own free wedding website or build your own (I like Squarespace.com to build your own).

By doing this, you will:
-snatch a completely unique-to-you website title
-be able to easily translate that in conversation to guests
-and MOST importantly (in my opinion), avoid a really long, jumbled URL on your stationery


…because
www.WeddingHost.com/US/31458/brideandgroom
isn’t as pretty as

www.HitchedToHarrington.com

…put that wedding hashtag to work!

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CREATE A SEPARATE WEDDING EMAIL

Filter ALL your wedding emails to one email account to easily access information, contracts, and vendor questions. Don't miss a beat, message, retainer, or important message!

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APPLY FOR A CREDIT CARD

I’ve had a lot of brides use credit cards with a point system, such a frequent flyer miles (hello free honeymoon airfare) to use for only wedding-related expenses.

This is a great way to easily keep track of true costs too (which may or may not be a good thing for whoever is fronting this bill)!

 



NEW AROUND HERE?

Snatch up The ONE Page Wedding Planner (yes, one page) for an easy, at a glance look at ALL things planning.

 
 
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...because I have some intense boards geared towards inspiring your story!

I once designed a stationery suite based off of a kitchen photo (because sometimes you just feel what you need to feel to get inspired).


 
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I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.
 

 

The Ultimate Guest List Guide and Download

When the hubby and I were expecting baby #1, we were on cloud nine. I admittedly had that sought after “all belly” look (which comes at a high price of extreme back pain during labor by the way). Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed being pregnant. Then a year later, here comes baby #2. …there was no all belly figure. There was no glow …except for shine of sweat from hot flashes. It was the opposite of my first pregnancy, BUT there was a brief period during the second trimester where morning sickness leveled out to a minimum and I wasn’t quiiiite nearing the physical pain and discomfort that the third trimester would soon bring.

The second trimester is referred to as “the honeymoon phase” for many expecting mothers. For brides planning a wedding, there’s a similar honeymoon phase …not the actual honeymoon, that’s later. The honeymoon phase is the middle of your engagement. You are at the half way point, celebrating at the top of the hill. You’ve tackled all the big items, what a relief, right? …and you don’t have to worry with the tedious tying of loose ends yet because hey, you still have plenty of time.

The "first trimester" of the engagement, before the honeymoon phase, can stir up some anxiety and stress. I cannot tell you how many brides admit that creating the guest list is one of THE MAJOR STRESSORS in planning. It's often what holds up the production of stationery ...you know, since the guest list sort of kind of dictates the number of invitations you need... among other things. 

The Guest List is built from many elements and much of your planning hinges on that final headcount. 

So you go to get started thinking "I'm going to tackle this and be done", but then you wonder, “what’s the proper way to address these guests anyway?” Who receives what? How do I address Uncle Joseph who is serving in the military? Does your cousin/college student who still lives with her parents need her own invitation (yes, she does)?

Take the "measure twice, cut once" approach to building your guest list. .....because if you’re going to spend the time investment collecting all the necessary information from each guest, you may as well do it right and do it once.


 
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IS THERE A PROPER WAY TO WRITE MY GUEST’S NAME?
If possible, collect the full name (first, middle, last) of your guest(s). Be sure to collect the proper social, professional, or military titles for all guests.

HOW DO I INCLUDE A GUEST AND THEIR CHILDREN?
Traditionally, a formal invitation is mailed in two envelopes. The inner envelope is reserved for the individual names of the main invitees and additional invitees, such as children or an invitee and a guest. If you are mailing your stationery in a single envelope, you would include the added invitees on the single envelope.

WHO RECEIVES WHAT?
All guests who receive a save the date should receive a wedding invitation. It should be considered that engagement party invitees should also receive at least one invitation to a pre-ceremony celebration, such as a couple’s shower or bridal shower. Every guest or person who offers a gift or service in your honor should receive a thank-you note.

ABBREVIATIONS
-Abbreviations are not used, except for Mr., Mrs., Ms.
-Jr. and Sr., along with Doctor and Military titles are preferably spelled out unless the name is particularly long written on a single line. 
-For the address line, the words Street, Avenue, Boulevard, and Post Office Box are written in full. State names should be written out.


SOCIAL TITLES
-Professional titles are written in full but social titles may be used if preferred.
-Educational degree titles are not used in wedding invitations, envelope addressing, or announcements, but replaced with social titles.
-People who are customarily addressed by their professional titles may use them on the invitation—Judge, Mayor, etc.
-If a partner holds a professional title and the spouse a social title, the professional title will outrank the social title. The wording for invitations and addresses would appear like:
Doctor Mary Wentworth and Mr. Ryan Wentworth


MILTARY TITLES
-All military titles are written in full on invitations, announcements, and addressed envelopes. The rank is traditionally included under the guest's title. It is acceptable if military personnel would rather use their professional or social titles.


MARRIED COUPLES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
If an outer and inner envelope if used, you will address the outer envelope with the formal name of the parents only. The inner envelope would

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If you know the children well, you may indicate their first names only on a single line under their parent’s name on the inner envelope. Otherwise, use the children’s full names written on their own line.

SPECIAL NOTE ON TEENAGERS IN THE HOME
Children aged thirteen and over should receive an individual invitation. If that is not possible, you may   include them with using same rules as above. If you are using formal courtesy titles, Miss is reserved for teenage girls between the age of 13 and 18, Ms. reserved for 18 and older. Teenage boys receive the title Mr. once they reach 18 years of age.
 

COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER
Couples who live together may receive their invitation together. The outer and inner envelope would be addressed as:

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SPECIAL NOTE ON COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER
If you know the couple well, you may indicate first names only on a single line for a more casual approach to the inner envelope.
 

AN INVITEE AND A GUEST
If you are using an outer and inner envelope, you would address the outer envelope to your invitee and    reserve “Mr. McGee and Guest” for the inner envelope.

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GUESTS WITH MILITARY AND PROFESSIONAL TITLES
On the inner envelope, you should treat military and professional titles as you would social titles, written in full, along with the surnames only. If one or both the invitee and spouse or guest serve in the military, the higher ranking title would appear first (regardless of the gender).
 

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Still need a hand?

Download
The Ultimate Guest List Tracker

Track your guests, addresses, rsvp replies, thank you notes, and all kinds of greatness. …or simply leave a comment below and I’ll be your answering guide!

…your Fairy Godmother of envelope & guest list etiquette.

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES | part four

PART FOUR: Mailing & Postage Requirements

One of the most overlooked expenses, not just within the wedding stationery, but the overall wedding planning budget, is postage! You will be mailing save the dates, wedding invitations (don’t forget the postage for the response card), and likely lots and lots of thank you notes. Stocking up and planning for postage is definitely something you’ll be doing very soon.

DID YOU KNOW POSTAGE RATES INCREASED IN 2017?

How Much Postage Will I Need?
Postage rates will vary and depend on a few factors: weight, size, and thickness.
-0-1 ounce | $0.49
-1-2 ounce | $0.70
-2-3 ounce | $0.91
-3-3.5 ounce | $1.21

Other than size, weight, and thickness, other factors may cause a surcharge or $0.21, like rigid or unevenness, perhaps a ribbon tied around the suite, a wax seal located on the outer envelope. The best thing to do before investing in all of the pretty stamps is to take a completed suite to your post office and get a professional postage quote.

STANDARD MAILING STAMPS:
You can purchase standard rate, face value postage from your local post office or on USPS.com. Face-value postage means that the postage you pay is the postage represented for that stamp. So if you need a $0.70 stamp, you are paying $0.70 for that stamp, face value, unlike custom and vintage stamps which are not face value.

CUSTOM STAMPS:
You’ve probably seen or received a wedding invitation that had a custom postage stamp with a cute wedding monogram with the bride and groom’s initials. These custom stamps do not come at face value. They are typically about 1.5-2 times the cost of a face value stamp. For instance, if you need a $0.70 stamp, you’re probably going to actually pay about $1.30 per stamp. This comes at a sticker shock for many brides, but when you do the math, it’s about another $60-70 for every hundred invitations. It’s a slight increase in your investment, but can really change the look of your presentation.

VINTAGE STAMPS:
The old phrase “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” holds true here. They just don’t make stamps like they used to and the recent frenzy with vintage stamps is one I am definitely on board for. Vintage stamps are collected and purchased through small businesses and shops and available in an array of really intricate and colorful designs. The same value holds true with a custom stamp, you are paying 1.5-2 times the actual value. Again, this can often detour couples away, but vintage stamps, a row of two or three or six can really create a beautiful added touch to your stationery. Although it’s in increase in your investment, it’s often one that’s worth the push.

Like I stated above, the best thing you can do when mailing off your wedding stationery is to have a completed sample quoted by a professional mail service vendor. If you have some extra time, have your stationer print a couple of extras with your own address to test how they deliver before mailing your entire batch.

BIG IMPORTANT TIP:
Make friends with the postman (or woman) and ask them to hand cancel your wedding stationery. Have you ever gotten mail with that black barcode line at the bottom of the invitation? No one wants that on their wedding invitation. I believe every calligrapher and stationer would die a little inside. Asking your post office to hand-cancel your envelopes will prevent your wedding invitations from becoming machine sorted (yay for no black lines). Hand-cancelling is literally taking that cute little round circle stamp and “canceling” or marking paid your postage stamps by hand. This is a much safer route as well, as many wedding envelopes are more delicate.

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TLBC TIP:
A great way to get the vintage stamp look without spending too much on postage is to combine a face value forever stamp to cover the bulk of your postage, then have your remaining postage reflect in vintage stamps. Let's say your total postage cost is $0.70, use a $0.49 forever stamp and make up the $0.21 extra in two or three vintage stamps. This will give you that same vintage look and save you a few dollars. 

My favorite USPS Forever Stamp is the "Classics Forever," portraying images of different presidents that were once illustrated or engraved by different artists. Plus, they have that vintage look! These are great for response envelopes as well. 

BONUS VENDOR TIP:  
They certainly don't make stamps like the used to, so I gather different vintage stamps from an array of stamp collectors. If you want to grab some of your own vintage stamps, reach out to Virginia with Verde Studios on Etsy. She can curate a specific collection for you based on a design you're looking to create, a color scheme, etc. or you can buy small batches right off of her shop. 

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Helpful guidance from the US Post Office found here

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES | part three

PART THREE: Envelope Addressing & Etiquette

Probably equally importantly as the stationery itself, you have your envelope addressing. Without this step, those pretty envelopes will go nowhere. Plan ahead if you wish for your envelopes addressed by hand by a calligrapher. Calligraphers often need several weeks, at least, to complete certain types of calligraphy, but more time is always better.

ADDRESSING ETIQUETTE:


CLOSE FAMILY & FRIENDS. Outer envelopes are always addressed with full names. Inner envelopes are addressed with familiar names and titles for close family members and good friends.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Scott Landry Miss Carrie Faye Landry
INNER ENVELOPE
Uncle Michael and Aunt Norah Cousin Carrie

MARRIED COUPLES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN. If you know the children personally, you can address the inner envelope with first names only. Otherwise, you would use the children’s full names without titles. You generally would not include the children’s name on the outer envelope.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Tyler Lee Cliburn
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. and Mrs. Cliburn Benjamin and Lisa

* If there are several siblings in the home, you can address the inner envelope to “The Misses Cliburn” (for two more more sisters) or ”The Messrs. Cliburn (for two or more brothers); or both

TEENAGERS IN THE HOME. Children aged 13+ should really receive individual invitations. If this isn’t possible, include them in their parents’ invitation with courtesy titles. Teenage girls are “Miss,” but the title “Mr.” is reserved for young men 18 years old and older.

COUPLES WHO LIVE TOGETHER. As long as you know that two people at the same address live together as a couple, you can address one invitation to both.

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. Colin Lane McGee Miss Cara Emily Holmes
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. Colin and Mrs. Cara

AN INVITEE & GUEST. If you are using an inner envelope, do not include “and guest” on the outer envelope. If you use a single envelope, address as followed:

OUTER ENVELOPE (no inner envelope)
Mr. Matthew Dean Henson and guesT

OUTER ENVELOPE
Mr. Matthew Dean Henson
INNER ENVELOPE
Mr. Henson and Guest

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PROFESSIONAL TITLES. Professional titles are written out in full on both the wedding wording and on the envelope addressing. “Doctor and Mrs. Tyler Grant Howard.” If both the husband and the wife both carry professional titles, you would address the envelope as followed: “The Doctors Kleinpeter” -or- “Doctors Timothy and Emily Kleinpeter.”

MILITARY TITLES. When the bride and/or groom or the parents of the bride or groom are members of the military services or serving active duty, their military titles are used. All military titles are spelled out and not abbreviated on the invitation, mailing addresses, or any other stationery. 

ABBREVIATIONS. You should not abbreviate "Doctor" as you would on other phrases (Mr., Mrs., Ms.). You can abbreviate Sr. and Jr. if wished. You should spell out any other words, like the state, road, street, etc.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO INVITE CHILDREN?
If you wish to have an adults only ceremony and reception, you simply would not include the children's names on the inner envelope. 

WHAT IF I DO WANT TO INVITE CHILDREN?
If you wish to invite children to your ceremony and reception, you would include the children's name on the inner envelopes following the etiquette above. Teenage children living in the home should receive their own invitation. 

DO I INCLUDE THE LAST NAMES FOR CHILDREN?
For young children, you do not need to include the last name on the inner envelope.

HOW INFORMAL SHOULD THE INNER ENVELOPE BE?
The inner envelope should dictate the more casual version of the outer envelope; however, there are several acceptable options:

Let's say your outer envelope reads "Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dean Johnson," here are some inner envelope variations:
"Mr. and Mrs. Johnson" (formal)
"Mr. Michael and Mrs. Hope" (formal)
"Michael and Hope" (semi-formal)
"Uncle Mike and Aunt Hope (personable) 

Have a specific question? ASK AWAY:

- - -

Stay tuned for part three in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part three | postage & assembly

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CATCH THE FIRST TWO POSTS FROM THIS SERIES:

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES: part two

PART TWO: Wedding Invitation Pieces & Parts

The Basics
The invitation is a key piece of the puzzle during your wedding planning. It essentially invites your nearest and dearest to witness the big day, it will let your guests know the expected attire and formality, as well as prepare remaining decisions like menu selections and guest invitees. Perhaps most importantly, the invitation becomes one of the first keepsake heirlooms from your wedding. In a world of digital revolutions, having the tactile keepsake to fill that hope chest is and should be treasured dearly. However it is that you invite your guests, the invitation should collect the following information:

-name of the bride and groom to marry
-date and time of the ceremony
-location of the ceremony
-reception details (unless the reception details are accommodated on a separate card)

What All Should I Include?
Any standard wedding invitation may clearly include the invitation and its corresponding envelope as well as a response card and its corresponding envelope. In addition to these two pieces, you may include a separate card for the reception info, a map, or an accommodations card.

WEDDING INVITATION
The Wedding Invitation will clearly represent the most important information. This is typically the largest and hierarchy of the pieces that will build your suite. The invitation will let the guests know who is hosting the wedding, who is getting married, and the details about the date, time, and venue.

RESPONSE CARD
Also known as RSVP or reply card, the response card gives you an opportunity to request specific information from your guests.

-Accept or Regrets
There is a range of ways you can ask whether or not your guest will be in attendance. A more formal version would be “happily accepts” or “regretfully declines.” You can use an alternative, more playful version like “be there with bells on” or “sending happy thoughts.”

-Specifically WHO is invited
Commonly found on a response card is the indication requesting how many total guests will be in attendance. The phrase “____ number of guests in attendance” may be used. For a more specific list, many couples opt for requesting a written list of each attendee. If you are having an adult-only wedding, requesting the written list may be a great option for you to prevent any misunderstandings. 

-Meal Choice
In the South, the more common buffet style wedding is what you will observe. However, in my experience with couples who are hosting a formal sit-down meal, you may want to include the meal choices on your response card. This means that you will have to have those selections finalized BEFORE sending out your invitations. It’s best to ask your guests on the response card to place initials by each guest’s selection rather than a simple tally mark or number. Meal selections are of course not necessary, but generally coincide with the formality of the wedding. You (or your wedding planner) should have those meal options set and noted before meeting with your stationer.

-Fun Details Requested
A less formal wedding may include some fun options on the response card, like a song request: “I promise to dance if you play _____________” or a “words of wisdom” section. If this becomes an option for you, have fun with it. You can make a keepsake book of all your responses!

RECEPTION CARD
A reception card is a separate card dedicated to the reception details that will follow the ceremony. Reception cards are used for both on and off-site receptions. A reception card may have details that provide the reception time and location: “reception to follow at Il Mercato). For off-site receptions, it’s typically not necessary that you include the city & state on the reception card, as it is never very far from the ceremony venue. For on-site receptions, there is often a cocktail hour in between the two. This is usually the time that the bride and groom are taking photos and will often provide a social activity before they are announced. This information may be included on the reception card: “join us for cocktails in the courtyard immediately following the ceremony dinner & dancing to follow at seven o’clock”

ACCOMMODATIONS & DETAILS CARD
An accommodations or details card may be used to list out any and all details regarding to the wedding festivities. This may include hotel accommodations, wedding website information, wedding weekend details, or post-wedding gatherings.

MAP CARDS
Map cards are used both subjectively and objectively as a general or specific reference to the location of either the ceremony venue or reception venue, or both. Map cards present a great illustrative contrast to wedding suites that generally display lots of text. In a world of digital revolutions, with Google Maps at our fingertips, map cards are a fun way to bring back a nostalgic impression for your guests to enjoy. They make great little art prints as well (pre-wedding wedding favor? ...maybe!).

ASSEMBLY DETAILS
How do I stuff all of this in an envelope? There are a number of things to consider when thinking about assembly. If you have several pieces that build your suite, you may want to house everything in an inner envelope or think about using some pretty ribbon or band to “house” it all together. Here are some common assembly options:

pocket envelopes:
A pocket envelope is a small folder of sorts with sleeves that house each card that build your suite. You may have your invitation mounted on the left side of the open “folder” with the left side housing the add-on pieces. This pocket envelope would then be placed in its outer envelope (the mailing envelope).

inner envelopes:
An inner serves two purposes. The inner envelope may house all of your pieces simply stacked on top of each other in its proper order as well as entail who is invited. The outer & inner envelope is a formal and traditional practice where the outer envelope would state the more formal “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dean Johnson” guest name and address, with the inner stating “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, Miss Norah, Henry.” (see more about addressing in part three)

ribbons or bands:
Using ribbons or paper bands is also an excellent way to house all of your pieces together. Ribbons are a great way to add some color, texture, and mood to a more traditional piece. It’s a happy balance between the two and is my personal favorite. Embellish the ribbons with a wax seal and dried greenery and you have yourself a simple, but showcase-worthy piece.

- - -

Stay tuned for part three in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part three | envelope addressing & etiquette

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DID YOU MISS THE FIRST POST? Catch up here.
 

BUILDING YOUR WEDDING SUITE SERIES: part one

PART ONE: Timelines, Budgets, and Printing Method

A wedding is, every time, a lovely expression of a couple’s story. Following the engagement is a series of tasks and to-dos that can pile quickly. Wedding Stationery, and all its moving parts, is one of the key factors during your wedding planning journey. Here are some things to consider when you are ready to tackle your wedding stationery:

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TIMELINE
Mentioned above, the wedding invitation is a key piece of the puzzle during your wedding planning. It will entail several essential factors for both you and your guests to discover. Before deciding which route you’d like to take with your stationery, a general rule of thumb timeline will be a good tool to abide by.

Save the Dates:
-mailed 6-9 months prior to the big day
-entail the couple getting married, wedding date, location of the wedding (city & state, venue if booked)

Wedding Invitations:
-mailed 8-12 weeks prior to the big day
-entail the couple getting married, wedding date & time, location of the ceremony, and details about reception, responses, and/or accommodations (more on series two)

BUDGET
There are lots of different sources that will give you an estimated budget you should allocate for stationery. Many budgets often exclude the afterthoughts wedding stationery can incur once you reach that planning mode. Here are some factors you will want to consider when planning your stationery budget:

The Nuts & Bolts
save the dates
printing method
envelope addressing or calligraphy for save the dates
postage for the save the dates
invitation suite
printing method
envelope addressing or calligraphy for wedding invitations
main postage for the wedding stationery (often higher than a typical letter)
response card postage
day-of stationery (rehearsal dinner invites, programs, menu cards, etc.)

Quantity & Guest List:
One of the first questions I ask my couples before issuing a proposal (different than the one the bride was issued) is “how many pieces will you need?,” and that is when I often receive back an “ummmm.” The general rule of thumb is to account for roughly 2/3 of your guest list. If you are inviting a total of 300 guests, you will probably need about 200 invitations.

Guest List:
You’ll want to start working on your guest list right away. If you are going to have your envelopes digitally printed, download this address template here. If you are going to have your envelopes hand-written by a calligrapher, it’s best to contact your calligrapher to ask what format you’d like your addresses. There is nothing worse than working so hard on that spreadsheet to find out the format is all wrong!

PRINTING METHOD:

 flat printing

flat printing

 letterpress printing

letterpress printing

Flat Printing
Flat printing is the simplest and most affordable route for printing. Your design can be printed from professional digital printers producing a highly desired look. Flat printing is great for cost reasons, but also yield certain mediums that are not achievable using other methods. Flat printing is great if you have any sort of graphics, like watercolor or various colors. Whereas letterpress printing prints opaque, solid colors and appeal best to more line art, sketch type of graphics.

Letterpress Printing & Foil Printing
Letterpress printing, contrasting from flat printing, is considered a high-end printing medium. Letterpress printing is more labor intensive and costly than flat printing, but appreciated for its tactile impression it leaves in its textured, thicker papers. Like Letterpress Printing, gold foil is also a high-end printing method, as its labor and set up is more intensive and costly. Gold foil can be mixed with letterpress printing and flat printing and comes in various colors (black, gold, rose gold, silver, white, and more).  

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Should I Send Out Save the Dates?
Save the dates can be extremely helpful to those who have large wedding parties, wedding parties located in several different cities or states, or for the couple wanting to set the tone and formality of the wedding early on.

Save the Dates include the following information:
-the couple to marry (last names included)
-the wedding date
-the location of the wedding: if the venue has not been decided, you can include the city & state) -wedding website: wedding websites are often included on the save the dates to inform guest about the upcoming event (wedding websites are NOT included on the main invitation)

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Stay tuned for part two in this four part “Building Your Wedding Suite Series”
part two | the wedding invitation basics

The Proper Etiquette to Invitation Wording

Your wedding invitation displays one of the most important messages, that you want to share your celebration with your nearest and dearest family and friends. It will tell your guests where you will marry and indicate the religious or nature of your ceremony, as well as the formality (or informally) of the big day. 

All wedding invitations should honor the tradition of serving the role in telling your guests the proper information, allow a timely response time to arrange for potential travel, and preface the proper attire for the nature of the ceremony. 

Stationers can supply an endless amount of paper options, text assortments, colors, etc. for you to select from. Only then will you move on to the next step: WHAT SHOULD IT SAY?

Invitations are customarily written in third-person, ranging from formal to informal, including wording for different situations. 

When the bride's parents issue the invitations:

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wayne Henson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Madeline Claire
to
Mr. Thomas Lee Anderson
Saturday, the sixth of August
two thousand sixteen
at a half past three o'clock
First Baptist Church
New Orleans, Louisiana

When the bride's parents issue the invitation & include the groom's parents:


Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wayne Henson
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Madeline Claire
to
Mr. Thomas Lee Anderson
son of

Mr. and Mrs. Steven Anthony Anderson
...

 

*The words "honour" and "favour" ("the favour of your reply is requested...) are traditionally written in the British style for a more formal invitation. The American spellings "honor" and "favor" are also accepted if the couple or parents prefer.


Modern day, it has become more customary that the couple issues the invitations. 

When the couple issues a formal invitation:

The honour of your presence
is requested at the marriage of
Madeline Claire Henson
to
Thomas Lee Anderson
...

- OR -

Madeline Claire Henson
and
Thomas Lee Anderson
request the honour of your presence
at their marriage...


 

In many weddings, the bride's families are both involved and may be listed on the invitation in "lump sum" with the couple:

Together with their families
the honor of your presence is requested
at the marriage of
Madeline Claire Henson
to
Thomas Lee Anderson
Saturday, the sixth of August
two thousand sixteen
...

 

 

There are many different situations that may cause a revision or alteration of any of the above wording formats. Perhaps the parents are divorced, but are still acting as co-hosts. Perhaps the bride or groom has a step-parent that is acting as a co-host in place of the bride or grooms natural parent. Here are some guidelines below for those types of situations to consider when working out the wedding invitation wording. 

DIVORCED PARENTS
If the divorced parents are co-hosting the wedding together, the formal wedding invitation would read both parent's full names (the mothers current name if remarried). The mother of the bride would appear first, following by the father.
Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Bates
and
Mr. Raymond Henson
...

STEPPARENTS
When the bride is been raised primarily by a parent and stepparent and the other natural parent is not co-hosting the wedding, the appropriate wording would be to include the formal name of the mother's new last name, but to use the full name of the bride if different than the mother's last name (if she decided to take the stepfathers last name).
Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Bates
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of her (or his) daughter
Madeline Claire Henson
...

MILITARY TITLES
When the bride and/or groom or the parents of the bride or groom are members of the military services or serving active duty, their military titles are used. All military titles are spelled out and not abbreviated on the invitation, mailing addresses, or any other stationery. 

ABBREVIATIONS
You should not abbreviate "Doctor" as you would on other phrases (Mr., Mrs., Ms.). You can abbreviate Sr. and Jr. if wished. You should spell out any other words, like the state, road, street, etc. 

DATE & TIME
Formally, the date is written out "the twenty-second of April." The full date of the wedding, including the year, is always included and the year is formally written out "two thousand sixteen."

RECEPTION INFORMATION
The invitation to the wedding may be combined with the invitation to the reception, or you may send a separate reception card. If you are hosting a reception afterwards, a RSVP card is traditionally included. 

 

 

MISTAKES TO AVOID
-Triple check the spelling of your invitation & have your venue confirm the address of the ceremony & reception
-Do not include any mentioning of gifts or registries on your invitation. 
-If you do not wish to include children, you do not have to invite them. However, you should never add "adults only" or "no children" on your wedding invitation. You simply do not include them on the addressing of the envelope. 
-If it's important that you have the dress attire on the invitation, you would simply state "black tie" on the reception card.

 

HOWEVER...

With ALL of that said, do not hesitate to think outside the box. You do not have to conform to tradition if a more off-beat whimsical design is more your suit. This is your big day, and at the end of it, you are inviting your nearest and dearest to celebrate along side you and your future spouse. ...your way.

Before your Save the Dates go out...

Wedding planning can be stressful. You often run in to a task that requires a handful of prerequisites. You can't book a venue until you have a wedding date. You can't pick out your florals until you know what color your bridesmaids dresses are. ...and you can't have your save the dates created until you tackle these five to-do's.

 

PICK A DATE AND LOCATION

 

This may seem obvious. They're not called "save the approximate time of year." They're called "save the dates." So you of course want that date on there, but it's also important to have the location of your wedding. This can either be the city or the venue itself. 

tip: Be mindful about sending save the dates before booking a venue. If your ideal venue is booked on the date you've already set, you may want to make alterations & would certainly want to do so before sending out save the dates. 

WEDDING WEBSITE

Wedding website are extremely beneficial through out the entire wedding planning. Introduce yours to your guests as early as possible. This will ensure that your guests always know where to find information about the big day, hosted events, registries, etc. 

tip: BUY A DOMAIN NAME. Most wedding website platforms allow you to create custom domain names in place of the computer generated one you will receive when signing up. You can purchase a domain for about $10/year and www.MichaelandHope.com looks infinitely more appealing than www.weddingblog.com/us/17382/michaelandhope, don't you think?

PHOTO SESSIONS

Save the dates come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You may want to include a cute photo of you and your beau. So before tackling the save the dates, you'll want  to think about this question and if you're opting for a photo, reach out to your photographer and get those engagements scheduled!

TIMELINE

For an approximate year long engagement, I personally recommend sending out save the dates around 9 months prior. For shorter engagements, 5-6 months prior to the wedding is appropriate. Ask yourself the following questions to help gauge whether you should allow more or less heads up:

1) How many of my guests will be traveling from out of town?
2) How many of my guests will be making accommodations?
3) Does my wedding fall around the holidays where schedules are often busy?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, you may want to allow an extra month or so to ensure your guests have ample planning time. 

WORDING ETIQUETTE

Setting the stage with your save the dates is important when creating a cohesive aesthetic mood through out your wedding planning. Photo save the dates can be fun and whimsical for a more casual wedding ceremony and reception. If your big day is on the more traditional & formal side, you may want to stick to a more formal layout & wording structure. 

FORMAL:
Jessica Hope Couvillion and Michael Dean Johnson
are getting married on August 8th, 2016
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
formal invitation to follow


WHIMSICAL:
Michael & Hope are tying the knot!
08-08-16
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
invitation to follow

There are 1000 in betweens. It's perfectly acceptable (and encouraged over here) to think outside the box. There's a definite right way to combine whimsy and romance. Setting the stage with your save the dates will give your guests a preview for what's to come. 

 
 
Organize your Wedding Planning in JUST THREE STEPS

So he got down on one knee and popped the heart warming, jaw dropping, tummy tumbling question. YOU'RE ENGAGED! ...and that requires a happy dance. Within the next 48 hours, you will have excitedly celebrated with those dear to you. 

Have you taken a ring selfie yet while pondering potential wedding hashtags? 

You begin to turn some of that excitement's energy in to productivity and begin actually planning the wedding, BUT WAIT, DON'T START YET! Follow this model below to ensure that the entire wedding planning journey is as blissful as the day you said YES! 

Breaking down the planning in to three simple steps will allow you to stay organized and scratch off your tasks in the right order while keeping a meaningful mindset to your decision making. 

STEP ONE: INSPIRATION
STEP TWO: SHORT TERM TASKS
STEP THREE: LONG TERM TASKS


STEP ONE: creating your wedding style & inspirations

Inspiration is constantly flooding our social media feeds. It's easy to become inspired, but equally easy to become influenced. Word of advice: Be meaningful & intentional. When using wedding blogs and Pinterest for inspiration, use intentional references for YOUR wedding day, not someone else's. 

Challenge: Try to pick six photos that represent you and your personal style, but only include TWO (three if you must) wedding related photos. Be VERY intentional about your photo selections. You must love everything in the photo, not just one little portion. Someone should be able to look at that photo and say "YES, that's so you."

Here's mine:

You can see from the combination of home & living photos that I love simplicity and organic textures. I'm a fan of whimsical greenery and flowers. I love paper & stationery and seem to be gearing towards a light and airy, but with a touch of warmth mood in regard to wedding style. 

You can tell much more than you think from your every day life. 

After you narrow down your style to six images, try to use three words to describe your personal style and keep those three words with you through out your decision making and wedding planning. They'll come in handy. 


STEP TWO: short term to-do's and tasks

There's a top five tasks list you'll want to tackle early in to the wedding planning. Keep those three words with you through out these to-do's.

Have a few tentative dates on hand before selecting your top five. Depending on availability, you may have some wiggling to do. 

1) Wedding Planner | First things first, hire a wedding planner if desired. Wedding planners are amazing and take SO much of the weight off of your shoulders.

2) Venue & Officiate | Selecting a venue is probably the most important decision in regard to how you want to represent your big day. Think about those three words of yours. Does your potential venue compliment those three words well? Maybe you've always imagined an outdoor wedding. Maybe you'd love an urban, rooftop wedding in the middle of the city. Are your three worlds clearly represented here? 

Once you book your venue, you'll want to find an officiate to marry you. 

3) Photographer and/or Videographer | A picture is worth 1000 words, right? ...and a wedding video even more. As soon as you confirm one of those tentative dates after booking your wedding planner & venue, tie the knot with your photographer. 

4) Band or DJ | By this point, you have a venue. You have a date. You have a photographer. Let's dance! ...to either a band or DJ. 

5) Catering | I hope you're hungry for some food tastings! Catering companies will generally take on one venue a day. So if you're set on a certain caterer, get them inked in! 


STEP THREE: long term planning

This is the step where EVERYthing else falls in to course. To keep things working in a smooth and graceful manner, make a list be separating your remaining engagement in to quadrants. 

For example, let's say you now have twelve months until the BIG DAY. Make a list for things do accomplish between 9-12 months out. Then another list from 6-9 month out, 3-6 months out, then a more detailed list of tasks to complete during those last 3 months. 

This way, NOTHING sneaks up on you and no time gets lost in this busy world of ours. 


Last but not least, (and probably most important), ENJOY THIS TIME. This is a magical segment of your life. It's the preface to your story as one and there will be no other time like this one. 

I will be sending you smiles at every dress fitting, food tasting, make-up test run, and of course on the big day! XOXO
 

 
 
10 questions you HAVE to ask your potential wedding venue

There's a typical top five first to-do's a bride will tackle and the venue is definitely one of them! Hold up there! Be sure to remember or jot down these questions to ask. The answer just may be a deal breaker for you. 

 

1) IS MY DATE AVAILABLE?:
This may seem obvious, but if you have a certain date set in stone, make sure your potential venue isn't booked.

If you love the venue enough, you can always base your date on their availability.   

2) WHAT IS THE GUEST CAPACITY?

You'll definitely want to make sure your potential venue can accommodate your guests. By law, there will be a maximum head count that you'll want to make sure you are abiding by. 

3) WHAT KIND OF DEPOSIT(S) AND/OR COSTS ARE REQUIRED:
You'll want to know what deposit is required, how many deposits are to be made, and in what form the payments are required. 

You'll also want to ask if any additional costs may occur. Some venues will charge hidden fees for clean ups, an overage of time, etc. 

4) AM I SUBJECT TO USING ONLY YOUR VENDORS?
Many venues have an exclusive team of vendors they may require working with. If you have your own preferred vendors, you'll want to make sure that's allowed for your selected venue. 

5) HOW SOON PRIOR TO THE WEDDING WILL YOU NEED A FINAL HEADCOUNT?
This date is a good rule of thumb for those RSVP cards. For example, if you know you need a headcount by May 1st for your June 1st wedding, you will want to state on your reply card "please RSVP no later than the 15th of April" to allow those last few RSVP's to come in just in time for your final headcount. 

6) ARE THERE ANY RULES REGARDING CERTAIN DECOR?
Some venue are particular about decorations or party favors that may be a hazard. They may require battery operated candles versus fire burning candles. Perhaps throwing rice or holding sparklers as the bride and groom exit isn't within the venue's comfort zone. 

7) HOW EARLY CAN I START SETTING UP & WHEN WILL WE NEED TO PICK UP?
Pass this information along to your rental company or the person in charge of decorations and styling.

8) HOW IS THE PARKING AND ACCESSIBILITY?
You're going to want to make sure you have ample parking and your venue is handicapped accessible for your guests. 

9) WILL MY PHOTOGRAPHER HAVE ANY LIMITATIONS?

Pass this along to your photographer(s).

10) IS THERE A BACKUP PLAN FOR RAINY WEATHER? (outdoor venue)
If your venue will be held outdoors, you may want to make sure there's a backup plan or tent rental option as a Plan B. 

 

Whether you are married on the roof top in the middle of the city, the church your great-grandparents wed in, or the backyard garden of your favorite plantation, I hope you find THE perfect place that suits all of your needs! XO, my dears! 

 
 
HOW TO write a thank you note

We had our first wedding shower. It was so magical and perfect. The night ended with porch dancing under the moonlight with our closest family and friends. There is nothing my soul loves more than a good porch party under the summer stars. 

Newly engaged, the future husband and I were smitten and blessed beyond belief that so many people had come together to celebrate our future together. We spent days organizing such thoughtful housewarming presents and we're thrilled to start our lives together "playing house." 

After the shower, I was probably the one person EXCITED to write thank you notes. I love sending snail mail and especially love receiving it back. There's just something personal and real about the handwritten note.

It's easy to get stuck on what to say and how long or short to keep it. So I'm sharing with you my guide to thank you notes and some etiquette on how long after your shower or wedding you should send your snail mail out. 

 

THE SIMPLE STRATEGY 

GREETING
Dear Timothy & Laura,

WHY YOU'RE WRITING
Michael and I wanted to send a big thank you for celebrating our engagement party with us. We are so thrilled to begin our lives together. 

GIFT REFERENCE
We absolutely love our new blender!

WHY YOU LOVE IT
You know I love to bake, I cannot wait to use whip up some sweet treats!

THANKS AGAIN
Thank you so much again for sharing such a joyous occasion with us. We are so unbelievably lucky to be surrounded by such amazing family & friends. 

CLOSING
With love, Michael & Hope

 

 

ETTIQUETE

AFTER A HOSTED EVENT
If you are sending thank you notes out after a shower or engagement party, you want to mail them within 2-3 weeks after the hosted event.

PRE-WEDDING WEDDING GIFTS
If you receive a wedding gift prior to the wedding, you want to mail your thank you note out as soon as possible, but for sure before the wedding.

WEDDING DAY GIFTS
If you receive wedding gifts the day of the wedding, you should mail your thank you notes within three months of your big day.

Promptness is always best! 

 
STATIONERY STYLING | behind the scenes

Whether your a bride wanting some great photos of your stationery or a photographer capturing those details for your bride, these tips I use may help in creating some great dynamic photos. 

This is my little set up. Let me state that I am NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. However, with the right light and props, you can get some pretty great photos for your wedding blog, instagram, or just for your own keepsake. I've even used my iPhone a lot of the images on my instagram feed

Gather your coordinating stationery pieces. Don't just include your wedding invitations. Grab those day-of pieces like your programs, menu cards, etc. Don't forget those save the dates too!

Lay out your pieces as you like. I like to play around with the single suite versus the whole suite and see which pieces to include. You can of course have several variations of different layouts. You can align everything out in an orderly manner or have things "scattered." Be creative! 

I like to have some on-hand props like ribbons, florals, pretty stamps, and linens. Anything I can use that coordinates with the stationery design. If I have actual accents from the suite, that's even better! 

Let your creativity flow. Add in some props here and there. Photograph & crop them in different ways to capture some close ups of all of the little details. Particularly here, I wanted to be sure to capture the handmade paper and the letterpress printing. 

This design had some coordinating "day-of" pieces: a menu, a table number set, and woodcut name place settings. So I chose to photograph these with some "table scape" props to tie in the dinner-vibe.

THINK AHEAD

Think about what you may be using these photos for. Is it your blog? Is it a hero image on your wedding website? Leave some negative space. Negative space is great for just some general breathing room. It's also great for an added text layer.

HAVE FUN

I love sending my brides some pretty sneak peeks of their suite. Often though, the bride ends up assembling the final stationery suite together and ask for tips on how to get a good shot. I hope this helps pull out some creativity. Wedding stationery is such an important part of your big day. It's the preface for your guests! I love gifting framed invitations for my clients, simple reminders of their big day, but everyone should at least have a good photo of that very important piece of paper. I hope this inspires and sparks some creativity for you for all things styled!!

 
 
FIVE TASKS & TIPS FOR YOUR WEDDING STATIONERY TO-DO

1) SET A DATE & VENUE
Before you venture over to your stationery to-do-list, you need to have some of the big things checked off first. Your date, venue(s), and ceremony and reception time need to be decided upon. If you are sending out save the dates, you only need to confirm your date. Keep in mind though that your date often depends on certain venue availability. 

2) ALLOCATE A BUDGET
Brides have an endless amount of options for wedding stationery. ...local stationery shops, etsy business owners, the Pinterest-inspired DIY bride. No matter the route, whether it's in hiring a professional designer or opting to invest your own time, stationery is just that - an investment. Brides often budget for $800-1200 for wedding stationery. The best thing you can do is give yourself a comfortable number and let that budget determine the "must haves." It may be that letterpress printed stationery is really important to you or that you KNOW you want to have the envelopes addressed in calligraphy. Establish a budget and work backwards to get the best of what you can get with that number.

3) ESTABLISH YOUR AESTHETIC
The aesthetics involved in your wedding stationery should be intentional. The ink color, the paper choice, the assembly ...it all represents the type of wedding celebration your guests will expect to attend. For example, you may not want a super traditional or over-the-top formal invitation for a backyard soireé. You'd probably want to lean towards the more casual side. These decisions are often inspired by your color schemes, an overall feel or mood you want to create, etc. You're going to want to have a general direction of where you want your stationery to take you.

4) TIMELINE
You typically want to mail your invitations 8-12 weeks before your wedding. If you opt for save the dates, you typically send those roughly 8-12 months prior to the wedding or as soon as your date and venue is set. If you are investing in a professional designer to create your stationery. You'd want to allow at least a few months of planning. You also want to make sure you give yourself or your calligrapher enough time to address your envelopes. The sooner the better is usually key here.

5) COORDINATE YOUR DAY-OFF PIECES
Once the save the dates have been sent and the wedding invitations printed, there are still some lingering after-math pieces to keep in mind. There is nothing better than a series of paper goods intertwined through out your wedding that all compliment each other. Some of the items you may want to think about including for the day off are you programs, menu cards, place cards, thank you notes, or even a special print or card to use as wedding favors or a special gift to a family member.


PERSONAL PREFERENCES AND TIPS 


PURCHASE A CUSTOM ADDRESS STAMP
A custom address stamp is super affordable and has a multitude of uses. If you purchase this stamp early enough, you can begin using this stamp for thank you notes after showers and as your return address on save the dates, shower venues, and celebrations. You can also use this stamp for the return address on your wedding stationery and/or your recipient address for your response card's return back to you. ...then of course all of your snail mail post wedding stationery.

STAMPS & POSTAGE
Try to find a stamp that coordinates with your stationery. The post office usually has some ...ehh "generic" wedding stamps. I would recommend opting for a custom stamp.  ...even better, use a vintage stamp collection if you can. You can find vintage stamps on eBay by seaching "unused uncanceled stamps." 

IMPORTANT: Ask your postman (or woman) to hand meter your envelopes. Otherwise, you'll end up with those ugly black lines at the bottom of your envelope. That's a good way to make your calligrapher cry. 

WEDDING WEBSITES
Wedding websites are a fantastic way to have your guests updated on the latest wedding news, allow for accommodations, and even allowing your guest to rsvp in advance. Opt for your own domain name. Domain names are super affordable, you can usually create one for about $10 for a whole year. As a stationery designer, I know www.TheJohnsonsBigDay.com looks way nicer than www.Name/us/SomeVenue/somethingelse.com ...don't you think?

PACK YOUR STATIONERY TO THE WEDDING
Everyone should have a really great photo of their stationery. Go ahead and pack your stationery suite in your wedding day bag to have the photographer snap a great shot of that pretty paper. 

FRAME YOUR INVITATION
Your invitation, along with your dress and maybe some heirlooms are one of just a few tactile things you'll actually preserve from your wedding day. The first anniversary calls for "paper." Frame your wedding invitation as an anniversary gift to remind yourself and your spouse why you chose one another. Maybe write a hand written note to keep on the back side of the frame. 


 
 
TLBC TIP | how to save time addressing your stationery

We all know how fast your wedding to-do-list can lengthen. The tedious tasks are seemingly the ones that all get piled up and saved for the last minute. When a couple receives their wedding stationery, the addressing typically still needs to be tackled.

TLBC TIP

Have an address stamp made. You can use this stamp for the back flap of your outer envelope as well as the front recipient address of your rsvp envelopes. A personalized stamp is the gift that keeps giving. Continue to use this stamp after the wedding for thank you notes and future mail outs!

This is an affordable and easy way to save some time. These stamps run roughly $20-$40 depending on whether you create a wood stamp with an ink pad or a self-inking stamp. Both last for years and are great investments (and gifts).


Customize a stamp to suit and seal your stationery suite. These are a few of our past favorites, but feel free to throw your own ideas at us and we can create something just for you.