by Hope Johnson
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Posts tagged wedding planning tips
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:

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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.

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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.
 

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!