After scouring the web I have discovered that as of the time of this post, there is no real wedding stationery timeline worksheet. I still can't believe no one has put this together yet! There are posts like you should order your invitations this many months ahead, blah, blah, but none that really dive into it all and make it easy to figure out.
First off, let me get this disclaimer out of the way: This timeline is suggested only, is based upon my professional opinion and working with EAlexDesigns. Special requests, printing processes and assembly parameters may result in additional time. It is always best to order your invitation suite as soon as possible to guarantee you have them in plenty of time.
Okay, now that that's done.
When determining your wedding invitation timeline it is easiest to start at your wedding day and work your way backwards. You can download my worksheet here, it's pretty self explanatory, as a backup I'm going to show you one in this post to hopefully answer any questions you may have.
Find your Wedding Invitation Response Date
The first box is simple, so long as you have picked your wedding date! For the sake of this exercise we will say you're getting married on December 16. Congratulations!!
This part could take a little time to track down. You're going to want to go through the contracts for your vendors. Not necessarily all of them, just the ones who require a headcount from you. Admittedly the stationer is probably the one who is furthest out, this is because we need to know the names of everyone attending and table numbers in order to create your escort/place cards.
Once you've found them all you'll want to take your wedding date and subtract the number of weeks the furthest out vendor needs.
December 16 - 3 weeks = November 25
Unanswered Responses Date
Many, many years ago not responding to a wedding or event was incredibly frowned upon. These days with so much to do and so many distractions people forget to send back their response cards. How long do you want to have to track down the missing rsvps? Typically one to two weeks. Think about who you’re inviting, are there a lot of guests? Do you know a lot of them are procrastinators? Do you suspect you’ll be tracking down quite a few and need to lean on family members to help you get responses from long lost family? Then you’ll want to go with two or more weeks. For the sake of our example, let’s say you’re having a small wedding and you’re close with everyone, you’ll only need one week.
Take the vendor date and subtract that many weeks to get your response date.
November 25 - one week = November 18.
Find your Wedding Invitation Mailing Date
What day do you have to have them in the mail by? This one can be difficult to determine, there's no real right or wrong. Take into account the location of your wedding, will they need to find lodging? Is there a deadline on the room block? Did you send save the dates? Will people have to make special arrangements such as taking off work or getting a babysitter? Think about your guests and then decide. The standard for a normal, in town wedding is one month.
It has been suggested you mail them toward the end of the week or over the weekend. This gets your invitations to them at the beginning of the week, making it more likely they will have a timely response. Receiving them at the end of the week isn't a big deal, it's just when people are busy giving them less of a chance at mailing it back right away.
We are going to use the standard one month, subtract that from your response date to get your mailing date.
November 18 - 4 weeks = October 21.
Find your Wedding Invitation In Hand Date
Your in hand date is the date you want to physically have your invitations in your possession. How much time will you need to get your invitations ready for mailing after they arrive? Remember you will be busy planning your wedding and your normal activities. Make sure to give yourself enough time!
Addressing & Assembly by EAlexDesigns
If you're having me address and assemble all of your invitations then you'll only need to think about how long it will take you to seal them and put on the stamps. My suggestion is one to two weeks.
Addressing only by EAlexDesigns
If you're having me address your invitations I will take care of printing or putting on your address wraps for you. That still leaves you in charge of assembling them and stuffing them in your envelopes. How labor intensive do you expect that to be? Do you have belly bands to put on? Ribbon to wrap around them? Any other embellishments to attach? My suggestion is two to three weeks.
For DIYing, I'll send everything you purchase as is. Addressing and assembly will be completely up to you, how long do you think that will take? My suggestion is to give yourself no less than 4 weeks.
For this worksheet we are going to say you are having me address them and you're doing the assembly, you think you can finish them up in two weeks. Take your mailing date and subtract two weeks (or however many you came up with) to get your in hand date.
October 21 - 2 weeks = October 7
Find your Wedding Invitation Order Date
Ordering from The Collection
If you're ordering from one of my predesigned suites in my Collection then I suggest two weeks of production and one week of shipping. Production time can fluctuate on your availability. Do you answer emails quickly? Make fast decisions? If so that timing should be fine. If you aren't always fast to check your email then you may want to consider adding more time here. Here we will figure three weeks.
Requesting a Custom Suite
If you're having me design a custom suite for you then you'll want to add in more time. Take the Collection date you got above and add a minimum of eight weeks, for a total of eleven weeks.
Addressing by EAlexDesigns
I will print/stamp the addresses on your invitation and response envelopes. Or, I will print and attach your address wraps to your invitation and response envelopes. Either way the production time is two weeks.
Assembly by EAlexDesigns
I will put together your invitation suites according to your choices and stuff them in the invitation envelope. The production time is two weeks.
Things happen, your package could get damaged in transit. You could be really busy at work and unable to work on sealing your envelopes. The post office could be out of stamps (believe it or not that has happened to me!) I suggest a minimum of two weeks, four weeks is optimal, but add as much time as you can afford to add. Let's go with optimal, four weeks.
To find your order date take your in hand date and subtract all of the options you will be utilizing and the safety net from it. Let's assume you are ordering from the Collection and you're doing the assembly but not the addressing.
October 7 - (3 weeks + 2 weeks + 4 weeks) = August 19
So that's it, you need to order your invitations by my husbands birthday! Again, I feel I should say: This timeline is suggested only, is based upon my professional opinion and working with EAlexDesigns. Special requests, printing processes and assembly parameters may result in additional time. It is always best to order your invitation suite as soon as possible to guarantee you have them in plenty of time.
If you have any questions about production times for different things feel free to comment and ask them below. For now, download your worksheet and find out what your wedding invitation suite timeline is!
Designing your wedding invitations can get confusing, there's so many little cards and so much information! Together we will walk through each card to help you determine what information goes where and which pieces you'll need.
My suites are available in sets of 25 and include your invitations, invitation envelopes, response cards, and response envelopes.
Standard invitations are A7 (5x7") but don't let that hold you back! Invitations can be any size or shape you want, just keep in mind odd size envelopes generally cost more to mail (and yes, that includes squares).
Next think about how formal you want your text to be. Do you want to include parent names? Or use the modern approach, "together with their families"? Or no parents at all?
Are you inviting people to the celebration of your marriage? Do you want them to honor you with their presence? There are literally a million ways you can word your invitations, have a look around the internet and you'll find all the inspiration you need. Take into account the general feel of your wedding. If it's a backyard wedding you'll want to go a little less formal, if it's a black tie affair you'll likely want to follow all etiquette protocols. In the end it should reflect the tone of your special day.
The standard is an A7 (5.25x7.25") envelope of thicker quality paper than you'd use to send a letter. There are two standard flap options, Euro flap and square. Euro flap envelopes have a long triangular flap where as squares are, you guessed it, square. I always suggest euro because they add a little more class, but it's really personal preference, I know some people only like square.
Invitations and other formal correspondence used to be sent with an inner and outer envelope according to etiquette protocols. However in recent years the outer envelope has been ditched and is now merely an added expense. That said, if you are using wax seals or some other embellishment on the envelope I do suggest them to make sure everything arrives as intended.
Standard response cards are 4Bar (4.875x3.5") but like invitations can be as large or as small as you want. They can be quick and painless; yes, no, how many. Or they can be labor intensive with doodles to create, mad libs to fill out, and a million questions
So how do you go about determining your response date? Download my Wedding Invitation Suite Timeline to help you determine it and many other stationery dates you'll need.
Details cards are where you put the additional information you don't already have included on your invitation or response card. There is no real standard size, but they typically run somewhere larger than the response card but smaller than the invitation, most of mine are 4x6".
With the popularity of wedding websites details cards aren't always needed anymore, but that doesn't mean you can't have any! Do you have a lot of older relatives who don't use technology? Or friends who procrastinate and you don't want them to miss an important detail? Then you may want to include one or many!
There's no real right or wrong when it comes to details cards. WAIT, stop, that's not true. There is one wrong, one really wrong. Do not include your registry information on your details cards or anywhere in your invitation suite. That information needs to be on your wedding website and circulated by your family and friends, most etiquette rules have been tossed out the window but this is one hard fast rule that isn't going anywhere.
So back to what to include, like I said, it can be pretty much anything, here are some ideas:
Liners are one of my favorite additions to invitation suites. They can add an extra dose of excitement the moment your guests open your invitations.
Belly bands add a finished look to pull all of your pieces together. Belly bands come flat and unscored. To use them you’ll wrap them tightly around your suite and secure them in the back.
Address wraps are a modern way to address your invitations. They include design elements from your suite as well as the addresses of you and your guests. They are printed on sticker paper so they are easy to apply. An advantage to note for address wraps is they can be attached to any color envelope, including dark ones where you'd have to pay exorbitant fees to print in white.
Address wraps are great, but what if you want a more traditional look? That's where printed addressing comes in. But don't think of it as boring! Printed addresses can be just as exciting and interesting as address wraps.
I like to do the response address and the return address with a custom made rubber stamp. This eliminates printer issues and also serves as a nice keepsake for you.
Guest addresses are printed in house and can be as plain or as exciting as you want. Think large last names, script fonts, classic angles, anything at all (as long as it's legible for the post office).
You've spent your hard earned money to have the perfect invitations created for you, now make sure they arrive exactly as you've pictured. I can take care of attaching your belly bands, wrapping twine around your suites or any other embellishments that you might think of. Buttons, lace, doilies, stickers, if you can dream it, we can figure out a way to make it happen.
And that's it, I've covered all of the standard parts of an invitation. I hope you'll find my anatomy of an invitation suite helpful. Are there any pieces I didn't cover that you'd like to see? Feel free to comment below and let me know so I can add them in.
Blogging isn't a constant thing for me, but hopefully someone will get some use out of the things I say, no matter how far in between.