Congratulations on your engagement! You’ve set the date and plans are coming together, and now it’s time to start thinking about wedding invitations. “Where do I start?” is usually the first question. Our Wedding Invitations 101 series will help you figure that out! This installment will help you figure out which invitation pieces you need.
“How much are wedding invitations going to cost?” It seems like a simple question, but it can be a very complicated answer! After determining the size of your guest list, the next step is to figure out what information your guests need to know and what invitation pieces you need to include. It could be as easy as two pieces or maybe up to four or five pieces. Here are the basics:
A – The Invitation
There are an almost infinite variety of wedding invitations, but regardless of style, design or theme, they all serve the same purpose. They let you guests know all of the basics: who’s getting married, who’s hosting, the date, the time and the location. The wording may vary, but it usually follows a couple of basic formats.
If your ceremony and reception are in the same place, putting something like “Reception to follow” or “Cocktails, dinner and dancing immediately following the ceremony” on the bottom of the card will let everyone know. Occasionally, some invitations may have room to include separate reception info right on the invitation, but it really depends on the design chosen.
There are also some invitations (like Seal ‘n’ Sends, ValStyles, and Sep ‘n’ Sends available through our partners at Carlson Craft) that offer beautiful, simple all-in-one options. Seal ‘n’ Sends are self-mailers (no envelopes). They include plenty of room for ceremony and reception info, plus a detachable response postcard. Sep ‘n’ Sends are similar. They are printed all as one sheet, which saves costs on printing plates and press runs, but separate into an invitation, response cards, and an info card thanks to practically invisible perforations. They come with both outer and response envelopes. ValStyles are printed on both sides giving you lots of room to include all of your information. They also include envelopes and a matching response card.
B – Invitation Envelope
With the exception of the Seal ‘n’ Sends mentioned above, invitations generally include a matching envelope. Most include a basic white or ecru, but often there are options for a wide range of colors. Traditionally, all wedding invitations included double envelopes. The outer envelope included the guest names and full address. The inner envelope included just the guest names. This actually dates back to when mail was delivered through muddy streets. When the mail was received, your butler would remove the dirty outer envelope, and present just the clean inner envelope.
Since that’s not much of an issue anymore, many invitations have transitioned to single envelopes. There are still quite a few that do have double envelopes. Both are equally acceptable etiquette-wise. See our envelope addressing guide for all of the details on how to make sure they are formally addressed for either single or double envelopes.
It’s also still considered proper etiquette to hand-address your envelopes. If you don’t want to do that, a professional calligrapher or digital calligraphy are the next best options. We offer envelope printing services on all of our invitations in fonts and colors that coordinate with your invitations. We never recommend using labels. You want your guests to feel important and not like they were only worthy of a semi-mass produced sticker.
C – Envelope Liners
Looking for an easy way to add a pop of color to your invitations? Envelope liners adhere to either your inner envelope or single outer envelope. They are a great, and generally inexpensive way to add that something extra! Available in mattes, metallics, and even glitters!
D – Reception Card
This card lets your guests know the location and time of the reception. Make sure to include the full address of the venue, minus the ZIP code. Some couple choose to break everything down by time. For example, “Cocktails at five o’clock. Dinner at six o’clock. Drinks and dancing until ten o’clock.” Others don’t like to be tied to a schedule, so just saying “Reception starting at five o’clock” works too. See our reception card wording page for more ideas.
E – Accommodations Card
Accommodations cards give your guest all of the details on any hotel options you may have. Couples with a lot of out of town guests often will reserve a block of rooms at a nearby hotel. Others may opt to just give guests a couple of nearby options, without having a formal block. In any case, make sure to include all of the details they’ll need including the full name and address, phone number, any codes that they need to mention for special rates, and the date they need to reserve by to guarantee availability. Some couples include accommodations cards with every invitation, others include them for just out-of-town guests. That is up to you.
F – Information Card
Extra information cards can be used to let people know any other important information about your wedding. You might want to let people know about an available shuttle from the hotel to the ceremony and/or reception site. You might be having a brunch the following morning or an entire weekend of events planned. You might want to include information about your wedding website. Pretty much anything can be included.
There are a couple of things that you don’t need to include. Now that pretty much everyone has GPS in their cars or on their phones, directions and/or maps aren’t really necessary unless there are unusual directions. We used to do invitations fairly often for the chapel on a nearby college campus. Guests had to park in a specific lot and then walk a little way through campus to get there. In cases like that, directions might still be a good idea. Registry information also should not be included directly in the invitation. It’s generally considered impolite and like the couple expects a gift. Most people will probably still bring gifts, but save registry info for wedding websites , shower invitations, etc.
G – Response Card
As opposed to all of the other pieces of the invitation, response cards are for you! In order to get an accurate guest count, finalize catering, etc, it’s important to include absolutely everything you need to know on your response cards. Talk to your venues and see what information they’ll need from you. Sometimes it’s as simple as the number of guests. Sometimes you need to know what each individual’s meal choice is. It really just depends.
Some things you probably want to consider: Do you need to know a grand total of guests or do you need to know how many adults and how many children? Sometimes the age of the children matters. Are you having a buffet or plated meals? Some venues just need a count of how many guests want each meal. Sometimes they need to know if John Smith is having the beef, but his wife is having the salmon. When do they need their final counts? We usually recommend setting your RSVP date about 2 weeks before then, so you have time to make phone calls or track down any guests that didn’t reply yet.
Pretty much all response cards include the response envelope. Some may include printing your address on the front, others may be a small extra fee. Like outer envelopes, they usually are included in a basic white or ecru, but there are often lots of color options you can substitute.
H – Thank You Notes
After all is said and done, it’s time to thank you guests for coming and for any gifts you may have received. Usually they are a simple 3″x5″ folded card with an envelope. We offer matching thank you notes for all of our custom invitations, in addition to loads of standard designs. We also offer custom photo thank yous, in case you’d like to include one of your wedding photos.
What you need really depends on your specific wedding. Hopefully this post helps you to figure that out. If you have any questions at all, contact us about this or anything else invitation-related. We’re happy to help!