Invitation Etiquette

7 Wedding Stationery Tips You Need to Know

By Colby Radomski | Feature Photo by Caroline Goddard

When it comes to sending out your wedding invitation, there’s more to it than just sticking a card in the mail. Jane Leonard of M. Smith & Company, based in Chatham, Massachusetts, shares her top tips for stress-free wedding stationery.

Make Your List
“Your guest list is the most important thing to get done early,” says Leonard. “And that stretches across all aspects of your wedding.” Leonard, who specializes in custom wedding stationery, says it’s important couples have a solid list as soon as possible before coming in to look at invitations, as the number of invitations correlates to the overall cost and production time. It’s also important to order the correct number of invitations the first time to avoid having to reorder, which can be costly.

Save the Date
When it comes to giving your guests a heads up about your event, Leonard says it’s a big “do.”

“Twenty years ago, many people did not do save-the-dates, because you sent invitations out eight weeks prior,” says Leonard. With an influx of destination weddings and peoples’ busy lifestyles, it’s become customary to send out a pre-invitation announcement. Leonard recommends sending out save-the-dates up to a year before the wedding, depending on the location, but especially for destination weddings so guests can make proper arrangements.

Stick to a Timeline
It’s important for clients—especially those who are custom designing their invitations with a stationer or calligrapher—to consider production time, which inevitably varies based on the style of invitations you pick and whether the stationer needs to outsource to other vendors. Leonard suggests clients start working on invitations five to six months ahead of their wedding, keeping in mind that invitations should be mailed out at least eight weeks ahead of the wedding date.

Set the Tone
Your invitation sets the tone for your event and should tie into your wedding’s theme and color scheme. For those looking to get creative, Leonard and her team offer custom design services that allow clients to create a one-of-a-kind invitation and stationery that coordinates with their event’s design.

Use Proper Wording
Invitation wording can get tricky, especially since many couples are writing their own wedding rules (pun intended). As a rule of thumb, the host is named on the first line. Traditionally, that is the bride’s parents, but many couples may host their own wedding. Another gracious option is to include both sets of parents on the top line. Because there are so many ways of wording an invitation, it’s sometimes best to consult a professional.

Address Accurately
Another bonus to sending out save-the-dates is that it can help you figure out whether you have the correct addresses. Beyond that, it’s important to use proper etiquette to address envelopes. Your outer envelope should be more formal, with your guests’ titles and full names, while the inner envelope can be more informal. Addresses should also be fully spelled out without abbreviations (i.e. Main Street, Adler Avenue, Rhode Island, etc.). While it’s traditional, especially for calligraphers, to spell out numbers under 20, Leonard advises against it as it may cause confusion at the post office. “I had a client whose calligrapher spelled out the numbers and many of her guests did not receive the invitations,” she says.

Say ‘Thank You’
While Leonard says couples have up to one year to send out their thank-you notes, she doesn’t recommend couples wait that long. “Write notes ahead of time and send them out right after your wedding,” she suggests. Sending out monogrammed or custom notecards also makes an impression and sends a message of thoughtfulness and gratitude to your guests.

M. Smith & Company

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