Your partner asked, and you said, “Yes!” Now the journey begins!
If you’re just getting started with your destination wedding invitations, we can help you! The team here at Invitations by R Squared is always excited to support our just engaged brides and grooms. We brainstormed and put together a list of our best tips and things to think about when sitting down with your fiancé to start planning your Save the Date cards, destination wedding invitations, and the rest of your stationery suite.
Defining Your Destination Wedding Style
The invitation is your guests’ first impression of your wedding style. Along with listing the location and time of day, the actual invitation is what is going to give your guest an idea as to the formality of your wedding. By now you two will have an idea of the type of event you’re throwing – classic, elegant, rustic, Boho, or modern — before you start shopping for stationery, so you can choose an invitation style that reflects who you are as a couple. Then browse wedding invitation photos and wedding paper websites to gather inspiration so you have an idea of what you like going forward. Here are some great ideas!
Know Your Colors
Consider your wedding colors, too — you may want to incorporate your colors and a motif into your Save the Date cards and destination wedding invitations and then carry both through to the rest of your wedding paper (like the RSVPs, menu cards and ceremony programs) for a cohesive look. While ivory, cream or white card stock paired with a black or gold font is the classic choice for formal wedding invitations, on-trend and savvy couples will also brighten their invites with colorful or metallic fonts, paper stock, envelopes and liners. Just keep readability in mind when choosing your colors. You can find some great inspiration boards right here, to help with invitations, defining your and your fiance’s wedding style, choosing colors, and more.
Play with the Shape and Size
A 4.5-inch-by-6.25-inch rectangular card is the traditional size and shape for wedding invitations. But couples are also channeling more playful or modern vibes with circular, scalloped and square invitations. Check these out. Just keep in mind: Veering away from the standard envelope size can increase the postage — bulky or extra-large invites may cost more to send.
Make Sure They’re Legible
As you consider colors and patterns, don’t forget about the text — the information you put on the invitation is the whole point of sending it out in the first place. Your wedding paper designer can help, but in general, avoid light ink on light backgrounds and dark ink on dark backgrounds. Yellow and pastels are tough colors to read, so if you’re going with those, make sure the background contrasts enough for the letters to pop, or work those colors into the design rather than the text.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Learn the rules to wording your invitation. Traditionally, whoever is hosting is listed first on the invitation. Customarily, you should spell everything out, including the time of the ceremony. On classic wedding invitations, there’s always a request line after the host’s name — something like so and so “request the honor of your presence.”
Don’t Crowd the Card
List only the key points on your invitation: ceremony time and location, the hosts, the couple’s names, and RSVP information. Since many couples are moving toward a destination wedding ceremony, it would be considerate of your guests to give them an idea of appropriate attire for your event. You wouldn’t expect folks to show up for a beach ceremony in a tuxedo, or in a gown and heels, right? Trying to squeeze too much onto the invitation card can make it harder to read — and it won’t look as elegant. Leave things like directions to your wedding venue and details about pre- and post-wedding activities for your wedding website and print them on separate enclosure cards. One piece of information that doesn’t belong anywhere on your suite: where you’re registered. The only acceptable place to list registry information is on your wedding website. In fact, modern etiquette dictates that a destination wedding means you don’t expect gifts, or – for many couples – even register anywhere. And you share that information with your guests. After all, with destination weddings come with a price tag for travel for your guests. You have the honor of sharing this day with them; that’s usually enough.
Start Early with Destination Wedding Stationery
Your Save the Date cards should go out eight months, or even a year, before the wedding. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks — or longer, depending on how fancy you go — to print them. While your Save the Date cards don’t have to match your invites, ordering everything from one wedding paper supplier can save you money and make the invitation process easier on you. So start scouting out wedding paper designers as soon as possible. Aim to receive your invitations about three to four months before you plan on sending them out.
Decide on Your Date
Include your RSVP information on the bottom right corner of your invitation or on a separate enclosure, and be sure to make the deadline no more than three or four weeks after guests receive the invitations. Be sure you check with your caterer first to find out when they’ll need the final headcount. The more time you give guests to reply, the more likely they are to forget, and you’ll need time to put together the seating chart. Your final count may affect a number of elements, which your vendors will need to finalize a few weeks before the wedding. If you’re having some challenges in choosing a date, get some quick tips and support here.
The price per invite can vary widely — anywhere from $1 to more than $100. It all depends on the design, ink, typeface, printing process, paper and quantity. Top-of-the-line papers, color ink, formal printing techniques (like letterpress) and custom design will add to your costs, as will decorative extras like envelope liners and multiple enclosures. That’s why it’s important to research your options ahead of time. Also, if you’re planning to hire a calligrapher, look into the cost of that ($2 to $8 per envelope) at the same time you’re choosing your invitations, so you can account for it in your stationery budget.
Get Your Envelopes Early and Have Them Professionally Prepared
When you order your invitations, see if you can take the envelopes home immediately. That way, if you’re having someone other than your stationer print the return addresses on your envelopes. they can get a head start. While you don’t have to hire a calligrapher to address your envelopes, we highly recommend it. It looks beautiful and makes an elegant first impression. Traditionally, addresses are handwritten, so unless you have impeccable handwriting, it’s best to leave the envelopes to a pro. If you plan to do them yourselves, tackle the project in a few sittings to avoid sloppiness or mistakes. While using printed labels is an easy option, handwriting each address is not only more formal, it’s also more personal. It shows your guests that you want them to be at your wedding so much that you took the time to hand write (or have a calligrapher hand-letter) their name and address on the envelope. But if your penmanship is more like chicken scratch and you don’t have the budget for a calligrapher, you can print the addresses from your computer using digital calligraphy software.
Triple-Check the Proof
Before your invitation order is printed, your stationer will send you a proof (either a hard copy or an email attachment of the invite mock-up). Don’t just have your fiancé and mom read it over. Ask your teacher friend, or your bridesmaid who is a member of the grammar police, to check the proof before you okay it. You’d be surprised at the things you may miss.
Count Your Households
You don’t need an invitation for every guest. Take a look at your guest list and figure out how many actual households need invitations before you give your stationer a number. You may find that you can save some significant dollars. Cohabiting couples get one invitation; for couples living apart, you can either send one invite to the guest you’re closer with (and include both names on the inner and outer envelopes), or you can send out separate invitations. Families get one invitation. The exceptions: Children who don’t live at home (like college students) or anyone over 18 who lives at home should get their own invitation.
Order Extra Destination Wedding Invitations
It’s expensive to go back and print more invitations after the fact. Order enough invitations for your guest list, plus 25 extra in case you need to resend an invitation, want to put some aside as keepsakes (trust us, your moms will want at least a few). And even if you’re hiring a calligrapher to address your invitations, ask for extra envelopes in case of returned invites or addressing mistakes (calligraphers generally require an extra 15 to 20 percent).
Don’t Forget the Rest of Your Suite
Order your menu cards, programs, and thank you notes with your invitations. That way, your stationer can include all of the pieces in one order, which may save you money and time. It’s also a good way to ensure all your stationery has a cohesive look, even if you want to vary the design slightly for each element. Also, don’t forget those little items like favor tags and welcome bag notes.
Remember Your Thank-Yous
Track RSVPs as they come in using a guest list tool (there are some good ones for free on the internet) or spreadsheet. If you are expecting gifts, or are having a hometown wedding, include a column where you can note what each guest gives you. Then, as the wedding gifts start rolling in, begin writing your thank-you notes so you don’t fall behind. For any presents received before the wedding, you should send a thank-you note within two weeks. For those given on or after the wedding day, a month is appropriate.
Put a Stamp on It
It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget: If you want guests to mail back their reply cards, include stamped (and addressed) envelopes. That way guests don’t have to pay for the postage. Traditionally, the return envelopes should be addressed to whoever is hosting the wedding; however, if your parents are technically hosting, but you’re keeping track of the guest list, you can use your address instead.
While you probably can’t wait to drop those wedding invitations in the mail and check another thing off your to-do list, weighing a sample invitation (enclosures and all) at the post office first could save you many more to-dos later. Trust us, you don’t want to deal with the hassle of invitations being returned because of insufficient postage. And while you’re at the post office, ask about hand-canceling your invites.
It may seem that there is some type of etiquette rule for virtually every aspect of your wedding, and there probably is. Ultimately, whether you choose to follow each and every one is up to you and your fiancé. Still confused? Here’s a great place to start looking. And here, at our inspiration boards. Don’t forget, we’re here to help. Reach out and let us help guide you through this part of the destination wedding planning process. We are so happy for you, and we know your special day is going to be the best day ever.