by Hope Johnson
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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.

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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