Your complete guide to planning your wedding invitations
Understand your timeline
Know the basics
Learn about budget and costs
Curate your style
Get to know your options
Find a good fit
If you're reading this, chances are you’re engaged and looking for wedding stationery. Congratulations, we're so happy you're here! And if you're here as a fellow paper lover, welcome!
We know wedding stationery can be overwhelming. From proper wording to guest addressing, we're here to demystify the stationery process.
Below are some useful tips to help you plan ahead, make the most of your budget, and enjoy wedding planning.
Understand your timeline
The wedding stationery process begins with a wedding date and location. Once that is set, you can work backwards to determine your stationery timeline.
If you'd like to work with a custom or semi-custom stationery designer, you'll need to plan ahead. The design process for custom and semi-custom stationery can take six to eight weeks. For destination weddings, you may need to send your invitations up to three months in advance. That means the design process may need to begin five months before your wedding!
If you have your heart set on working with a specific stationery designer, reach out to them right away! It's common for their schedules to be full, so getting yourself on the books is a great way to plan ahead.
Here is a generic wedding stationery timeline to help you get started:
You’re Engaged! Start dreaming and planning for your big day.
1 Year: Book your stationery designer and begin designing Save the Dates. This is also a great time to begin your address list.
1 year to 6 months: Mail your Save the Dates.
4-5 Months: Begin designing your Wedding Invitations. Review your guest list and make any changes for your calligrapher.
2-3 Months: Mail your Wedding Invitations.
6 Weeks: Finalize and design your Day Of Stationery (Menus, Place Cards, etc.).
4 Weeks: Finalize the guest list seating assignments.
Wedding Day: Hooray!
1 Month After: Mail thank you cards to your guests.
A quick note: If you are getting married in six months or less, you'll need your Save the Dates as soon as possible. Sites like Minted can be a great option if you need a quick turnaround. If you have more time before the big day, hiring a designer is a great way to ensure your stationery is unique and cohesive from beginning to end.
Pro Tip: Create your dream team of wedding vendors early. This will set your mind at ease as you plan and ensure you have enough time to get exactly what you want without rush fees or compromises.
Know the basics
Before jumping into invitation design, you need to collect some important information. As mentioned above, you'll first need to solidify your wedding date and venue.
You'll then need to determine your estimated guest count. You won't need exact numbers to start the design process, but you will need an estimate to receive a quote. Keep in mind, the total number of invitations will be less than your guest count. A rule of thumb is to send one invitation per household
Some find it helpful to use this equation to determine the number of invitations they'll need to order: Guest Count/2 + 25%
Using the equation, if you had 200 guests, you would need to order about 125 invitations.
As the design process nears the printing stage, you'll need to provide a more exact number. But, this should help you get started!
Learn about your budget and costs
The budgeting examples below assume a total wedding budget of $75,000 to $250,000.
How do you know how much to spend on wedding stationery? Some wedding planning resources say to set aside 3% of your total budget. Others forget to include it altogether! We recommend allocating 3-5% of your total wedding budget to stationery. This includes everything from Save the Dates and Invitations to Menus and Place Cards. For reference, our clients spend between $4,000 to $10,000 on stationery.
A good rule of thumb for determining how to spend your stationery budget is to divide it in half. Use 50% for your Invitations and 50% for Save the Dates and Reception/Ceremony Stationery.
We'll let you in on a wedding planning secret. There's a cost no one talks about: invitation embellishments. This is where many brides get sticker shock. You may discover that 100 letterpress invitation suites will cost around $1,200 to $2,000. This number does not include wax seals, ribbon, vintage postage, and calligraphy addressing.
Oftentimes, the cost of these additions can double the price of the entire invitation order. If you have your heart set on calligraphy addressing and wax seals, you'll want to budget a little extra.
If your total wedding budget is lower than the above numbers, that's great! There are many wonderful options for beautiful wedding invitations. Sites like Minted or selecting a Semi-Custom Invitation Suite from a designer you love can be a great fit.
Curate Your Style
This is the fun part! As you start looking for inspiration, you'll find many things to love. Take time to dive into the design details. Create Pinterest Boards and start reading wedding blogs. Begin thinking about color palettes and themes. What do you want your wedding to feel like? How do you want your guests to feel? Take it all in and then distill it down. Curate your style. Delete pins that no longer fit your vision or create new boards for your must-haves.
Pro Tip: Hire a pro! Wedding planners are amazing and wonderful. We love them. There are many great wedding planners that also have a keen eye for design. A great planner can take your ideas and craft a perfect wedding aesthetic tailored to you! If you have the budget, I highly recommend this route.
Get to know your options
Wedding stationery comes in all shapes and sizes. Literally. Start doing some digging to discover what it is you love. Click through on Pinterest to see who created your favorite invitations. Find out who the vendor is in that article you saved from your favorite wedding magazine.
Take a look at the inspiration you saved and make some connections. What do they have in common. Are you drawn to deckled edges or straight? What types of print methods do you like?
Consider ordering sample packs from your favorite stationers. We offer free samples to potential clients after inquiring. Seeing your print options in real life is a great way to help you compare.
Last, consider the embellishments you'd like to add. Do you love the feeling of silk ribbon? Would you love custom wax seals adorning your envelopes or as a keepsake after the wedding? Sort through all the pretty details to determine your invitation must haves!
Find a good fit!
By now you have a good idea of your timeline, budget, style, and wish list. If you haven't reached out to your favorite designer, now is the time! If you're unsure if a designer can accommodate your budget, reach out! It never hurts to ask. Once you inquire, wait a business day or two. Most stationers will respond to new inquiries in one business day. If you don’t hear back, move on to your next choice.
Pro Tip: Before you book or make a big purchase, ask if you can talk to your stationery designer on the phone. You'll want to ensure you feel comfortable with who you're working with and that they answer any questions before handing over your hard-earned money.
An insiders look on new client inquiries:
We’ve heard a lot of talk in the wedding industry about “ghosting” and lord knows it happens to us too. This is when a couple inquires, and then disappears.
We are all busy. We totally get that! You are reaching out to a lot of vendors and you only have so much time to plan a wedding. Here are my recommendations to help you fight overwhelm and find the best vendors:
Start by reaching out to just a few vendors for each service. Reach out to your absolute favorites first. Most vendors will respond to new client inquiries in 1-2 business days. Once you decide to work with one, let the others vendors know that you no longer need their services. Vendors know they will not end up working with everyone who inquires, and that’s ok! Letting them know so they can clear their calendar goes a long way.
We'll break down all the details of an invitation suite, from print methods to paper options, so that you can book with confidence. Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter so you don’t miss that blog post.
Are you excited to get started on your own wedding invitations? We’d love to hear from you! Click the link below to schedule a free consultation.
Photography by Katie Nicolle.