What Wedding Stationery Do I Need?

Monday, September 10, 2012

As a stationer, I am often asked various questions about wedding invitation etiquette. No offense to Emily Post, but there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wedding invitations. Every wedding is unique, and what works for one might not work for the other. That being said, there are some generally accepted guidelines when it comes to invitation etiquette. These guidelines can be a helpful jumping off point while planning your wedding. To hopefully help answer some frequently asked questions and ease your planning process, I will be writing a series on my blog devoted to wedding invitation etiquette.

First up, "What wedding stationery do I need? 

Every wedding is different. Your stationery needs will depend on the type of wedding you have (formal, casual, destination), but a good rule of thumb is to think about what information your guests need. Wedding stationery is also a great way to showcase your personality and set the tone for your day!

Below is a list of typical wedding stationery pieces and why you might need them: 

The save the date announces the date of your wedding ceremony to your guests so they can reserve the date on their calendar.

Why do I need it? - Save the Dates are nice to send -- especially if you are having a destination wedding, or if the majority of your guests will be traveling from out-of-town, to give them plenty of time to plan their trip. If you'd like to include additional information for your guests, consider adding your wedding website or an information/accommodation card with the Save the Date. 

The wedding invitation announces the date and location of your wedding ceremony and invites guests to attend.

Why do I need it? - Wedding invitations are the best way to invite guests to attend your wedding and give the first impression of your wedding style. Have fun with your wedding invitations as they can showcase your personality and set the tone for your event.

A card included with the invitation for guests to mail back to you to indicate whether or not they will be in attendance at your wedding.

Why do I need it? - Response cards are especially helpful to know exactly who will be attending your wedding and to plan for catering needs, reception stationery pieces, and other details.

A card included with the invitation to inform guests where the reception will be held.

Why do I need it? -  If your reception will be at a different location than your wedding ceremony, consider including a reception card. Reception locations are typically not included on the wedding invitation. You should include the address, and if space on the stationery piece allows, any additional information.

A card included with the invitation to give guests directions to your wedding ceremony and/or reception.

Why do I need it? - A map and/or directions card is especially helpful if your ceremony and/or reception is tricky to find or for guests who are not familiar with the area. Yes, nowadays guests can easily lookup directions on their smart phones or GPS. But if your ceremony or reception is in an area with limited connectivity, consider including one to ensure guests don't get lost.

A card included with the invitation that gives guests additional information including, but not limited to, accommodations, weekend itinerary, and other events.

Why do I need it? - If you've reserved blocks of hotel rooms, scheduled additional events during the weekend, or have other information you'd like to inform your guest about, consider including this card with your wedding invitation.

Envelopes used to mail your wedding stationery.

Why do I need it? - The origin of outer and inner envelopes dates back to when mail was delivered by horse. To protect the invitation, an inner envelope was used because the outer envelope was often weathered and soiled during delivery. Nowadays, just an outer envelope is necessary to mail your invitations. However, an inner envelope is helpful when inviting certain members within a family (i.e. if you are inviting adults only), or if you are having a formal wedding. The outer envelope should be fully addressed while the inner envelope only includes the names of the guests invited.

An announcement sent out after a couple has been married to inform friends and family of the event.

Why do I need it? - If you decided to elope, had a small destination wedding, or some of your friends and family were unable to attend your wedding, consider sending a wedding announcement. Wedding announcements can be sent to invite guests to a second reception who were unable to attend the first.

A stationery piece given to guests at the wedding ceremony to follow along and introduce your wedding party.

Why do I need it? - A program/order of service is a lovely way for guests to follow along with your wedding ceremony, especially if you are asking for their response or participation. It's a great way to introduce and inform guests about your bridal party and their relationship to you. The program can also include information about the schedule of events.

A card that lists the food and beverages that will be served at your reception.

Why do I need it? - A menu is especially nice to display at the reception for guests to know what food and beverage will be served. Menus are a fun way to add character and infuse your personality into the reception.  

A place card has the name of the guest on it and is placed at the appointed table indicating where the guest is to sit. An escort card has the name of the guest as well as the table number indicating where the guest is to sit.

Why do I need it? - If you would like guests to sit at a particular table and/or place setting, place/escort cards are a convenient stationery piece to do so. But whether you need a place card or an escort card will depend on the set-up of your reception. Escort cards are usually placed in a conspicuous area at the reception for guest to find, while place cards are set on the table at the front of the place setting. When using place cards, I suggest using them in conjunction with a seating chart to let your guests know which table to find their seat. 

A stationery piece used to indicate the table where guests are to be seated.

Why do I need it? - Table numbers/names are not only a functional stationery piece but can be a fun way to inject your personality to the reception.

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