Wedding Invitations: The Ultimate Guide

For your wedding day, it’s only natural that you’ll want to have the very best. As well as conveying the wedding theme, your wedding invitations will also communicate the most important information like when and where your wedding will be held, reception details, dress code and accommodations. Wedding stationary may seem confusing on the surface but with our guide, you’ll discover how to choose paper types, printing types, how to word your invitations and how to make them at home if you choose.

Wedding Invitation Elements

Wedding Invitation Elements

The most common (and most traditional) elements include:

  • ‘Save the date’ card
  • Wedding invitation
  • Response card
  • Reception card
  • Map/Directions
  • Envelope

You may also want to add other touches like a thank you card, seating card, and place card if necessary. Of course there is no right or wrong when it comes to your wedding invitations, so choose what works best for your and your wedding. As long as people have the important details you’ll be good!

Guide to Wedding invitation elements

“Save the Date” Card

These cards should be sent several months before your wedding date. While save the date cards are not required, it’s a great way to allow your guests to prepare for taking time off work, hiring a babysitter or booking travel arrangements.

Response Card

These can be cards that fold over or double sided with RSVP on one side of the card and an address on the other. Send these with a self-addressed envelope to make it easier for guests to reply. Ensure you set a response date that is no later than two to three weeks before your wedding day. Traditionally, the responses should be sent to the bride’s parents address or to the bride herself.

Reception Card

If your reception is being held at a separate place than the ceremony you may want to include a reception card. If they’re at the same location, you can add ‘followed by reception’ or ‘dinner following immediately’ to your invitations.

Map

You may wish to include text instructions as well as a detailed map. Of course these days everybody has GPS and a map app on their phones, so this is completely optional.

Accommodation Card

This will help guests who reside out of town find a hotel or home to rent while attending your special day. This is great to have but again totally optional.

Program

Another optional feature to send with your invitations is the program. If your wedding is going to have a formal ceremony, then the program will explain what is happening and when. You may also wish to include a menu to inform your guests of dining arrangements.

Types of Paper

Wedding Invitation Paper Types

Traditional invitations are usually ecru, ivory or cream, however, there are many color options available and you can choose one to suit the theme of your wedding and your personal preferences. As for paper, there are a variety of options including:Cotton – This type is incredibly smooth and used for many formal invitations. Be prepared to pay up though as it isn’t cheap.

Wedding invitations cotton

Linen – Contains a cross weave texture and is a favorite with many couples.

Wedding invitations linen

Jacquard – Has a layered appearance.

Wedding invitations jacquard

Corrugated – Appears thick and wavy with ridges.

Wedding invitations corrugated

Parchment – Translucent paper that looks cloudy.

Wedding invitations parchment

Vellum – Has a smooth finish and is a cotton blend, but less expensive.

Wedding invitation vellum

Resources on Choosing Paper Types

Types Of Wedding Invitation Paper and How to Choose One

How to Choose the Best Wedding Stationary Paper

How to Choose the Best Paper for Your Printable Wedding Invitations

Printing Types

Wedding Invitation Printing Types

Engraving

This can be expensive; however, it looks beautiful for formal invites. This technique features a design or lettering etched in copper plate in order to create raised lettering. Generally black is the best color to use and it can take longer to print than other techniques.

Thermography

A more affordable alternative to engraving, this technique uses heat to fuse ink and powder together. This then creates the appearance of raised lettering. The overall process is quick and it looks beautiful for formal invitations with colored ink.

Letterpress

Using a moveable machine, raised letters are stamped onto your paper of choice. It’s best used on textured paper and it tends to be less popular than other methods of printing due to few vendors providing it as an option.

Foil stamping

This technique is best for textured paper and it can be expensive. Foil printing allows you to use differing styles or fonts as well as motifs. The text is placed onto a copper plate via a film negative and is applied to paper. Heated copper plate is then pressed onto paper, giving its effect.

Embossing

With this technique, letters are etched onto metal plates and then stamped onto paper. This method looks striking when used for borders, addresses, motifs and monograms. While it’s costly, the beautiful 3D effect is visually pleasing.

Calligraphy

The appearance of hand writing gives a personal effect and can be cost effective for smaller weddings. You can opt for a professional calligrapher or you may prefer computerized calligraphy.

Resources on Printing Types

Paper Makes Perfect: Options for Printing Wedding Invitations

Printing Techniques 101

A Guide to Wedding Invitation Printing Techniques

How to Word Wedding Invitations

These days, it can be tricky on how to word your wedding invitations due to the myriad of family circumstances. Traditionally, the parents of the bride and groom are listed on a wedding invitation, however, this may not occur if there have been divorces or a death in the family. The good news is that there are no official rules on how to word your invitations, so have fun with it! 

See our helpful infographic below for help on wording your invitations:

How to word wedding invitations infographic

Wording Structure

First Line

The first line of the invitation is traditionally who hosts the wedding, which is usually the bride’s parents. However, in modern times, this can be close family or friends.

Second Line

The second line can depend on the venue and your personal choice. Depending on formalities, these are a few suggestions:

  • Formal wedding ceremonies – ‘request the honor of your presence’
  • Less formal settings – ‘request the pleasure of your company’
  • Contemporary style of wording – ‘invite you to celebrate the wedding of’

Wording Style

As your wedding is catered towards your personal tastes and preferences, you can be as creative as you like. Just remember that an invitation should contain all the essential details that your guests will need to know.

Mentioning Gifts

While responding positively to an invite implies a gift being purchased for the bride and groom, it’s considered impolite to mention the gift registry on the wedding invitation. This should be given to close family who will inform guests of what to purchase. Similarly, if you don’t want to receive gifts, it shouldn’t be stated on your invitations. Instead, this should be communicated to guests via family and close friends.

Weddings without Children

An adult only wedding requires you to communicate with your guests that you have a no children policy. Proper etiquette suggests that this be conveyed via word of mouth. However, if you intend to have a reception card, stating ‘adults only’ is perfectly acceptable.

Overall dos and don’ts for formal invites

  • Use capital letters at the beginning of sentences
  • Numbers, years and the time should be spelled out
  • Write in the third person
  • Don’t use abbreviations or nicknames
  • Use words in full, such as “do not” as opposed to “don’t”

Examples of Wording

This will change depending on who is hosting the wedding.

Hosting: Parents of the bride (formal invitation)

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Smith

request the honor of your presence

at the marriage of their daughter

Elizabeth Rose

to

John James Cullen

on

Friday, the second of August

at one o’clock in the afternoon

Five North Edge Street

San Francisco, California

Hosting: Brides parents who are divorced

Mr. Edward Smith

Mr. and Mrs. Scott Hanks

request the honor of your presence

Hosting: Both bride and groom’s parents

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Smith

and

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cullen

invite you to the wedding of

Hosting: Bride and groom’s parents who are divorced

Mr. Edward Smith

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Adams

Along with

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cullen

Hosting: Bride and groom only

Miss Elizabeth Rose

and

Mr. John James Cullen

request the pleasure of your company

Hosting: Bride, groom and their children

Miss Elizabeth Rose Smith

and

Mr. John James Cullen

along with their children

Anna and Kimberly

request the pleasure of your company

Resources on Wording Your Wedding Invitations

The Ultimate Guide to Invitation Wording

How to Address Wedding Invitations – Handy Tool

How to Address Wedding Invitations – The Knot

How to Address Envelopes

Addressing Wedding Invitation Envelopes

Married Couples

For married couples, place ‘and’ between their names and list the husband first. That is unless, the wife has a professional title, such as doctor, in which she should be named first. For same-sex marriages simply use ‘and’ between their names.

Unmarried Couples

Unmarried couples’ names should be on separate lines and placed in alphabetic order. Couples of the same sex should also be listed alphabetically.

Children

Those over the age of thirteen should be sent their own invitation. Young children can receive a joint invite unless you have a tight budget, in which case, their names can be added underneath their parent’s name on the inner envelope and invitation only.

Abbreviations

Only titles should be abbreviated on the envelope, apart from professional titles which should be spelled out correctly. Middle names should also be spelled out in full.

Guests

The inner envelope should only name those who have been formally invited to the wedding and should state if your recipient can bring a guest. For example, Miss Wright and Guest. However, for close friends and family, you can be less informal on the envelope.

Budgeting

Budgeting for Wedding Invitations

Custom Designer

For a custom designer, you’re looking at paying at least $1000 upwards. While you can choose from detailed calligraphy, custom designs and hand drawn illustrations, this option is for those who are prepared to pay more for their invitations.

Stationary Store

A stationary store will set you back around $700 and more. You’ll be able to see your design in the flesh as well as take advantage of sales that arise.

Online Stores

Online retailers can provide custom printing and designs. However, it’s important that you get a proof of your invitation as well as conduct thorough research to ensure that your chosen store has good feedback. Online stores can cost around $300 to $400 upwards for invitations.

Ordering Your Wedding Invitations

Ordering Wedding Invitations

You should always order slightly more than you think you’ll need. You should consider buying more to cater for last minute guests. Remember that families living in one home only need one invitation. Your wedding invitations should be ordered several months before your special day. 

Getting Proofs

Most professional printers will provide you with proof of your invitation before it’s sent to printing. This gives you the opportunity to correct any mistakes or alter anything that you’re not happy with.

Ordering Envelopes

You can choose a simple, standard envelope or an inner envelope with lining or special paper to enhance elegance. If you are only using one outer envelope, you could choose to add lining to this instead. Lined envelopes cost extra, but they appear highly sophisticated.

Enhancements

Monograms

To personalize your invitations, add a monogram or motif. Monograms normally use the bride’s first initial with the groom’s last name initial in the middle and his first name initial last. For example, Sarah Webb and Matthew Foster would be SFM.

Ribbon or Lace

Ribbon and lace are a classic touch to any invite. Ribbon is available in a variety of colors and materials to match your text type and color scheme. They help to hold all parts of your wedding stationery together. On the other hand, lace is generally used around the invitation and tied with a ribbon or it can be used as part of the invite itself.

Questions to Answer

  • What is my budget?
  • Am I ordering in plenty of time?
  • How many invitations do I need?
  • What size do I need?
  • What color scheme do I want?
  • What type of font do I like?
  • What wording will I use?
  • Are the details of my wedding correct?
  • Do I need details like a monogram, lace or ribbon?

Before you order, be sure to ask these questions to your chosen wedding invitation professional to ensure the best results with your order.

The DIY Process

DIY Wedding Invitations Guide

This is the recommended choice for those on a strict budget. Supplies can cost $150 upwards and you’ll need to be prepared to spend more time on the creation process.

A DIY project for your wedding invitations will save you money, but if you require a complex design, it’s advisable to use a professional. Unless you’re skilled in art or design, opt for a simple DIY design.

Begin with blank card or paper

There are a multitude of styles, but traditionally, unfolded card, wallets or cards with one-fold are the best option. Choose white or a neutral tone so you can add color in the design process.

Lettering

For lettering, you can choose foil stickers, learn calligraphy or print your text using a template. Black is the safest color to choose.

Decorate

For a simple invite, ribbon and lace add a touch of luxury. If you wanted to be completely creative, try glitter, decorative panels using special paper or choose an accent color to provide contrast.

Where to find inspiration

You can do literally anything you like when you’re making your invites from scratch. For inspiration, try searching Pinterest.

DIY Envelopes

As the envelope is the thing people will notice first, why not consider decorating them to match your invitations? Alternatively, perhaps you could use textured envelopes, those with special lining or hand write them to add a personal touch.

Resources on Going DIY

How To: Print Your Own Wedding Invitations

16 Tricks and Tips for Printing Wedding Invitations at HomeDIY Wedding Invitations: Everything You Need To Know

Whatever you choose for your wedding invitations, remember to decide your budget and do your research beforehand. Take your time to find the perfect design and most importantly have fun with it!

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