Bride’s Guide: Destination Wedding Invitations, Save the Date Cards, and Wedding Stationery

At Invitations by R Squared, we believe that your wedding invitations do much more than just announce the date and the place – they establish the tone for the most important event of your life.

It’s important to choose a style in wedding invitations that set the right tone and level of formality for your long-awaited ceremony and celebration.

The sheer numbers and styles available in today’s increasingly elaborate selection of destination wedding invitations – from whimsical to traditional to contemporary – is enough to send any bride-to-be spinning. The best way to narrow down your choices is by thinking about what impact you want to make on your guests during that all-important first impression.

No matter how far along you are in the wedding planning process, the virtually unlimited choices can quickly become overwhelming.

Your Save the Date cards, followed by your destination wedding invitations, serve as the first impression of your event, and also serve as a lasting keepsake.

We’ve put together this guide to help simplify the process of shopping for, selecting, and sending your wedding invitations.

The style of your wedding invitations conveys much more than the who, what, where, and when. With just a glance, guests can get a feel for the tone and theme of your event, and whether it will be formal, casual, or somewhere in between.

The classic wedding invitation is black ink on white or cream stationery – a formal choice that shouts elegance, but leaves little room for expressing the couple’s personality.

If you’re planning an extremely formal affair, these types of very traditional wedding invitations are suitable.

But if you’ll be exchanging your vows in a semi-formal or casual environment, such as a destination wedding or theme wedding, you’ll probably want to consider invitations of a more relaxed and individualized nature.

Whatever style you choose, you’ll need to consider all the parts of the invitation: the message itself, the outer mailing envelope, the reception card, the response card and its envelope, and any additional pieces you might need for activities, directions and hotel information.

Still unsure about what style of invitation best supports the tone of your event?

Below are some of the most popular wedding invitations to use as a starting point:

Traditional or Classic invitations are a common choice for formal weddings. These invitations usually combine simplicity in design with timeless elegance.

Modern or Contemporary invitations pair vivid colors and bold designs with an elegant, modern look and feel. These are a popular choice among brides and grooms who want their invitations to express their individual personalities.

Destination, Seasonal and Theme invitations are a great way to announce a fun theme to your guests. Whether you’re having a golf wedding, a springtime floral affair, or a Las Vegas soiree, a complementary invitation helps to tie it all together.

Minimalist invitations can be either modern or classic, combining a simple layout and design in one or two colors. When done well, these styles can be extraordinarily elegant and romantic.

Vintage invitations reach back in history using typography styles, and icons of the past. They are often a mix of both historical and contemporary styles—a popular choice for those who love all things vintage.

There are two important elements found the inside of every wedding invitation: wording and enclosures.

Much like the style and design of the card itself, the wording you choose communicates a great deal about your event. The content communicates the formality of the wedding, the type of reception, and even more specific details, like whether to bring a gift or where to book a hotel room.

All wedding invitations inform guests of basic information, such as who will be hosting the wedding, the date and time, and the location of the ceremony and reception, but they can do so in very different tones.

Contemporary invitations may omit most or all of these traditional conventions, and offer more flexibility in wording choice.

Couples may choose to include a few lines of a favorite romantic poem or compose the entire invitation in rhyming couplets. Other modern invitations take a completely casual tone, throwing all of the usual etiquette rules to the wind.

The location and wedding theme (if there is one) should be clearly expressed in the wording of the invitation, as well as any other instructions your guests might need in order to arrive on time and appropriately prepared for the event. Little details, such as the phrase “together with our parents” (to avoid the complication of remarried or divorced families) are a nice touch on contemporary invitations, while a brief line about the formality of dress (“black tie” or “dressy casual”) ensures that there will be no surprises for your guests on the big day.

The team found this fabulous wedding invitation wording wizard to help you out with just the right phrasing.

Most packages come with an assortment of additional cards, envelopes, and related stationery to include along with the main invitation.

The invitation itself should take center stage as the largest and most eye-catching element of the invitation package. This is where all of the essential details of the event should be included.

The reception card describes the timing, location, and any details of the reception that do not appear on the main invitation. This piece of stationery may use the same tone as the ceremony invitation, or it can be very different to indicate a more casual tone or themed reception party.

The response card is the small notecard that guests send back to RSVP. It will usually request a date by which the card must be sent. Traditional response cards provide an area for guests to fill in their name and to indicate how many people will be attending.

The response card envelope is included for your guests’ convenience, usually pre-addressed and pre-stamped. It may be sent back to the bride and groom, but is usually addressed to whoever is hosting the wedding, such as the bride’s parents, groom’s parents, or the couple themselves.

Additional pages and cards are often included to provide directions, hotel information, and other details to out-of-town guests.

Most wedding invitations are hand addressed by you (or whoever you can convince to help you) at no cost. Some stationers provide addressing services for additional costs if you want to avoid the process of hand addressing. You can also have your envelopes hand addressed by a calligrapher, but this can add significant costs.

As you begin to narrow down your list of potential invitations, you should request samples from the stationers so you can have a closer look at the invitations. This is especially important if you’re ordering invitations from an online printer because images and descriptions don’t always accurately reflect the actual product.

Most stationers will send you samples of the products for little or no cost but they often limit of the number of invites they will send if the samples are complimentary.

The following stationery items are often ordered at the same time in order to continue the style and theme of the invitation and enclosures:

Save the date cards are used to notify out-of-town guests about the wedding in advance, or to inform all of your guests if the wedding falls on a holiday weekend or will be held at a remote destination that requires them to plan ahead in order to attend.

Place cards may be ordered to match your wedding stationery. These are used to guide guests to their seats – especially useful at larger receptions.

Thank-you cards are a customary way to express gratitude to guests for their gifts after the wedding. These are often purchased at the same time as, and usually match the style of the invitations.

Review this checklist to make sure it’s time to order:

_______ I’ve chosen my invitation
_______ I’ve ordered a sample to see & touch it
_______ I’ve determined my invitation wording
_______ I know what enclosures I need
_______ My guest list is finalized
_______ I’m ordering 10% more invites than I need for errors
_______ I’m ready to order!

The guest list is usually one of the first things brides-to-be start on after getting engaged, and with good reason—compiling the guest list is one of the most important and time-consuming tasks on the bridal to-do list.

Once you’ve decided on the general size of the event, you can begin to think about ground rules for who you want to invite. Below are a few of the most important considerations:

If you’re buddies with your third cousin and would like to include him on your special day, your guest list will probably have to be expanded to include other extended family members — or must be small enough to justify excluding some relatives but not others.

If there are certain family members or former friends with whom you don’t get along or who could possibly make a scene at the wedding, don’t hesitate to exclude them from the guest list.

Your wedding is ultimately your day and your guest list your decision, but it’s important to consider the wishes of your parents and other close friends and family. A small, intimate affair is one way to avoid conflicts, but there are things you can do to keep everyone happy at a big wedding.

If you wish to exclude children from the wedding ceremony or reception, it’s important to make this clear on the invitations. Never hand write anything on particular guests’ invitations. It’s also in poor taste to say “No Kids” or “No Children” directly. Instead, the invitation wording should mention that it is an “Adults Only Reception” or “Adult Reception”.

Each year the USPS chooses a couple of wedding-themed designs for use on wedding-related mail. Such stamps offer an alternative to whatever general first-class stamps the USPS is currently printing. These stamps do not have any extra cost associated with them, but are only available in select styles and face-values. Here are the stamps that are currently available at all United States Postal Offices:

A growing trend among wedding mail is the use of custom postage stamps. A company called Zazzle offers over 100,000 different wedding-themed stamps or you can create your own. You’ll pay a small premium above the face value of the stamp, but you’ll have complete control over the look of your postage stamp.

All stamps are valid USPS postage, feature a self-adhesive backing, come in all first-class denominations, and a have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Plus, the stamps use a special technology so “hand canceling” is not required, and your invitations should arrive unblemished by a postmark. For more information on wedding postage, learn more here.

Hopefully this guide has helped you learn all you need to know about shopping for, selecting and sending invitations for your wedding. Stop by the shop and take a look around.

If you still have questions, fly us an email and let’s have a chat.  The fabulous Fran is at the helm to help you make decisions with regard to your destination wedding stationery suite.  And don’t forget our inspiration boards here, at Pinterest.  We’re thrilled to be able to help!

We know this is going to be, truly, your Best Day Ever!


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