Tips & Techniques

Wedding Invitations 101


Set the Style

The style of your wedding invitation will set the tone of your wedding, letting guests know if it's an elegant, formal affair or country casual. Choose your invitations to match the type of wedding your planning. For a casual wedding, the type of paper, ink color, type face and extras included with your invitation can all reflect your personal style. For a formal wedding, the traditional invitation is engraved or printed in black ink on high-quality white or ivory paper. Formal invitations come in two sizes: 5x7 folded in half or 4x5 inserted into the envelope without folding.

When to Do What

You should order your wedding invitation papers at least three months in advance of your wedding. Overestimate the amount you need just in case there are last minute adjustments to the guest list. This will also allow a few extras to be used as keepsakes for albums. It's much easier and less expensive to order everything at once than to run short and go in search of more supplies later. Traditionally, invitations are mailed at least one month before the wedding date.

Handmade Invitations

Not into formal white invitations? With the large selection of decorative papers, inks and rubber stamps at your local Michaels store, the possibilities are endless. Your wedding invitations can be as unique as you are, without breaking the bank. At a recent bridal show, here were some ideas we saw:

  • Handmade papers in bright colors and interesting designs framing announcements and invitations printed on sheer vellum.
  • Vivid blue handmade paper worked in a tri-fold design, framing a delicate vellum printed with the particulars.
  • Tuxedo striped backing paper with a vellum overlay, tied with dark velvet ribbon.
  • Photos of the bride and groom matted in handmade paper, used as a backing for a vellum announcement overlay. This was particularly lovely, and it gave wedding guests a picture of the happy couple.
  • Lace paper folded over a handmade paper insert, tied with a silk ribbon.

Ideally, invitations should take on the look and style of the wedding and the happy couple, reflecting their interests and tastes.

Print It Yourself

Your local Michaels store carries a great kit that includes all the software necessary to create your own unique invitations and announcements. You can also use your word-processing program and a font that matches the style of the invitation you'd like to create. There are plenty of invitation and announcement styles to choose from, including opaque cards with vellum overlays. Handmade and printed papers designed for scrapbooking can easily be adapted to create lovely wedding keepsakes that reflect your style and personality.

Don't Forget the Extras!

There are a host of extra paper goodies associated with weddings that will help your guests get where they need to be when they need to be there. Here's the lowdown:

Save-the-Date Cards:  These are a pre-invitation, sent out about six months before your wedding date so guests can make travel arrangements well in advance. Often, save the date cards are festive and fun, reflecting the happy couple's personalities and interests.

Ceremony Cards:   If only a few guests are invited to the wedding ceremony, but you'd like a larger group at the reception, the correct thing to do is to send out reception invitations. Those guests who are also invited to the wedding ceremony should have a ceremony card tucked into their invitation, giving them the details about when and where.

Within-the-Ribbon Cards:  They're sent to those who will be seated up front in the family pews, and presented to the ushers at the ceremony so they'll know that this guest is a VIP.

Maps:  Get your guests to the church on time by providing a map or directions. It's also appropriate to do one to help them find the way from the ceremony site to the reception. No folded photocopies, please; maps should be printed on nice paper, and be as attractive as the rest of the invitation. - These are usually used for large formal weddings.

Inclement Weather Cards:  If you're having an outdoor wedding, have a plan if you wake up to pouring rain. Let your guests know if there's an alternate date or site planned, and who they should call to find out if you've switched to plan B.

At Home Cards:  These announce when the bride and groom will return from their honeymoon and where they will reside.

Programs:  Once you've planned your ceremony, it's time to document it with a program. List the order of events, who is officiating, who's singing, what readings your using, etc. This is a keepsake your guests can take home with them, so make it special, and be sure to print extras.

Table Assignment Cards:  These are usually placed at the entrance of the reception to help guests find the right table. Don't forget you'll need corresponding cards on each table.

Thank-You Notes:  These should be sent for gifts or special services performed. Thank-you notes should be sent for both the wedding and any wedding showers held.