Friday, 10 May 2013

Wedding Stationery Checklist

So he/she has decided to 'put a ring on it' and now you need to start planning the big day. First of all congratulations!

Now all the fun begins with organizing the biggest knees up of your life and I am here to help - at least with the subject of wedding stationery.

There are some things to get sorted before you even begin to decide on the type of invitations you want to go for.

I have laid out this checklist in a simple step by step way so it's not too daunting a prospect.
I have numbered each step and placed them in a timeline format so you will know when to do each step. Right image - Morgan Hill Designs

So, here we go with the most important things to tick off that ever increasing 'to do' list.
Wedding date 
Pretty obvious and self explanatory.

Guest List
When it come time to order your stationery your designer will need this list if you are having your guests names printed onto them. This will also help with your stationery budget as you will then have an idea of how many people will be attending.

There are wedding invitations to cater for all budgets from full on invitation suites to simple one card printed invites. Don't worry if you can only afford the latter option - sometimes less is more and you can even add your own little extra touches to make them extra special.

Please also bear in mind that there will be postage/shipping costs to include in your budget so please remember the following points - 

- packaging your invites - will they need to be packed into bubble mailers or will they be boxed?
- cost of postage per invite - remember boxed invites will cost more to post than standard enveloped invites
- are you ordering in hand made invitations? Do you request your wedding stationer to assemble the invites for you? If they come in presentation boxes maybe you might prefer to assemble them yourself as if they arrive boxed this could impact a lot on the cost of postage due to the size of the parcel. Ask your stationer for a quote for shipping before you order. Especially if they are from overseas as you will also need to re-post them yourself too so there will be two sets of posting costs to incur. Above image - The Sunny Bee

Wedding Theme
Most people try to have their wedding invitations tie in with the 'theme' ie traditional, modern, vintage, glitzy etc. and also it's a good idea to try to include the same colour scheme as the wedding. The invitations usually give the guests a hint at what kind of wedding they will be attending and the more impressive the invitations are the more exited your guests will get about coming along. 

D.I.Y Invitations
These are a good option if you are on a budget. You can order pre-designed invitations online that you simply print off yourself or at your local Staples or printers. You can add embellishments to them such as diamante's and ribbons to add a little bit of extra style clout. This will not set you back too much. You will need to of course purchase your own card-stock and ink to print them off at home.

There are some really good d.i.y tutorials online that give you step by step instructions to create some really lovely invites. 

The most cost effective option is to buy generic invitations at some stationery shops and department stores such as John Lewis that you simply just fill in and send off. They usually come with an RSVP section incorporated into them. 

Professional Stationery Designer
The next option for your wedding stationery is to choose a professional stationer. It will cost you more money but it will save you time and if you are not particularly prone to being creative with your hands then this is the perfect option for you.
Not all stationers are really expensive and there is a wide range of choice for all budgets and tastes.

Things to consider when choosing a designer

1. Location
Do you prefer to work closely with the designer ie. one on one in person or are you happy to only speak to them via email or telephone. If you are then there are many options for you and you will have a lot more variety to choose from. You can even order your invites from overseas widening your scope for finding those 'wow factor' invitations.
Above image - Wedding Home

2. Aesthetic Taste
You need to be sure that your designer is on par with your style preferences and particular tastes. 

3. Experience
Ideally you will want someone with a bit of experience and of course creative expertise. Ask to see some of their previous work. Ideally they will have previously worked on wedding themes similar to yours. For example if you are going for a vintage themed wedding it would be best to go for someone who specializes or has a good knowledge in that area.
4. Feedback and Testimonials
Do you know of someone who has had an amazing experience with a wedding designer. If that designer has an aesthetic style to suit yours then it would make sense to go with someone who you know has been highly recommended.
Left image - Alisa Mayde

5. Level of Involvement
Would you like to be kept updated every step of the way or are you happy to let them just get on with it? If you like to have a lot of control over things then you need to choose a designer who is patient and has the time available to regularly keep in contact with you. It would normally be best to choose a smaller scale company for this as they are likely to have more time. This doesn't always mean that they will be cheaper of course as time is money but at least you won't be left wondering what is happening.

6. Processing Time
Sometimes wedding stationery can get overlooked during wedding planning as there are often much more exiting things to consider such as venues, dresses etc. so if you have left it a bit late (hopefully after reading this lot you wouldn't have!) then it is very important to choose a stationer that can process your order in time for you to send your invites out in a timely manner.

7. Printing Options
There are now quite a few options available when it comes printing. Letterpress and lazercut invitations are becoming more and more popular so you will need to check with your designer if they can offer your preferred choice before you go ahead.

8. Personality Match
You may well spend a lot of time in communication with your chosen designer and considering it will be at one of the most stressful (in a good way) times of your life, you will need to be sure that they are the sort of person that you feel comfortable with and confident that they will deliver what they say they will. 
Trust your instincts on this one. If you are working with a local designer it will be much easier to work this one out as you are likely to meet with them in person. Most of them are happy to do a free consultation so take them up on this offer before making up your mind.
Even if you are choosing someone further away you can work out pretty quickly if they are someone you want to be working with by how quickly they reply to your emails / phone calls and by the general tone they give in them. Above image - Which Goose

Send Your Save the Dates
Once you have chosen your stationer or the D.I.Y option you then need to decide if you would like to send out save the dates.
So, What are save the dates? 
Save the dates are literally what they say on the tin. 'Please save this day free in your calender for the most spectacular event in history! 'They are sent pre wedding invitations, usually around 6-8 months ahead. They are especially important if you are planning on getting married abroad or are celebrating your nuptials over a few days or at a time when travel is particularly busy.
Above image - LL Papergoods

Your save the dates should include the following information -
-The couples names

Thats all that is required. The rest of the information ie. exact address of venue will be sent later in the formal invitations.

Save the dates come in all kinds of styles and shapes so you can be as adventurous as you like. Take a look at this link over at Martha Stewart Weddings for some excellent d.i.y save the date ideas.

Now that you have chosen if you are having a professional wedding stationer make your stationery, or whether you have decided to make your own or buy some generic ones - it's time to purchase / order them!
Right image - Morgan Hill Designs

What you need to order now

- Wedding Invitations to include all extras such as maps, confetti bags, RSVP's etc..

- Book calligrapher if you are using one

- Choose favors - is this something your wedding stationer will be helping you with?

- Order your thank you notes. If you are planning on having these  made by your stationer you will need to order these now too

- Venue stationery can be discussed with your designer now but you will probably not need to order this until you know exactly who is coming to the wedding which should be around 2-1 month/s before the day. But if you are having the following made to tie in with the theme of your wedding invitations then you should let your designer know what you have in mind so they are prepared in advance from a design, timing and supplies point of view.

Typical venue stationery consists of the following components

- Table Plans
- Place / Escort Cards
- Menus
- Buffet Signs
- Thank You cards
- Guest books / cards
- Other Decor Items your wedding stationer may be helping you with

Wedding Invitation Styles
There are so many different styles of wedding stationery to choose from nowadays it's hard to know where to start!
I will try to narrow down the list to some the main types to choose from

This is where you pay a
professional calligrapher to hand write your invites. To save money you can have them hand write one and then have the rest printed from that. Left image - 100 Layer Cake

Embossing is a printing technique that's surprisingly affordable. An image is pressed into the card to create a 3D effect on the card. You can just have your card embossed with your initial or monogram only, to save money.

Also creates a raised effect by pressing ink into the card. This is a bit more pricey but very popular.

This is where an illustrator designs
your invites and it's often a lovely
option if you are adding maps to your
invitations too. Like with calligraphy
you can have all of your invites hand illustrated or have a master copy that the rest are printed from. 

Laser Cut
Creates a very crisply cut design that is either cut into the invite or a laser cut design is laid over the top

Printing blocks are pressed directly into the card to create a raised effect. This is a printing style that dates back many years but it still very effective.

Screen Printing
Creates a hand painted effect.
Ink is pressed through a fine mesh.

By far the least elaborate of options but can still create some beautiful invitations. From digital printing, lithography and home printing.
there is an option for everyone.

Right image - Beacon Lane

Now it's time to send out your wedding invitations and your thank you cards as the wedding gifts may well have started arriving.

When posting your invites make sure they are packaged properly - especially if you are mailing boxed wedding invitations - you don't want them to get damaged in transit.

Why not add some extra special postage stamps to your envelopes/packages. There are lots to choose from that can tie in the theme and colours of your invitation. It's all in the presentation!
Right - image from Any Occasion Banners

Guest Book
Time to purchase your wedding guest book for your guests to write their messages and even their tips on a good marriage!
Photos can be added to these later to create a scrapbook effect. It's always wise to have a them spread their messages out so that there is room to add photos if you are going to. Oh yes and of course make sure to have a pen handy!
image to the right - Morgan Hill Designs

Menus and reception stationery
By now you should know what you will be having for your wedding breakfast so it's time to order or print your menus. As mentioned earlier, if you have discussed these with your designer it's now time to let them know to get started on them and any other reception stationery you are requiring.

Order Ceremony Programs
Again this is something you may have discussed with your stationer. By now you should know the details of the program. These can also be printed off simply and sometimes your wedding venue can help with this.

Table Plans
Also known as seating plans are simply a 
display that you have at the entrance to your wedding venue which shows your guests which table they will be sitting at.

The table plan will usually consist of a card layout with each card displaying the table number or name and then the names of the guests who will be sitting at the table. 

The 'top table' usually takes precedence in the layout of the table plan with the main bridal party positioned here and the rest of the guests are positioned on the other tables. There are many different ways to create a beautiful table plan nowadays but typically most people opt for a simple card layout (as I mentioned early)that will be mounted onto stiff board, a picture frame or easel.  

By now you will know who is coming to the wedding and now you just need to decide where to position your guests and then you can proceed to create or instruct your stationery designer to construct it for you in time for the wedding. 
The other option is to go without a seating plan altogether if you are having an informal reception. Image - Foxy Couture Designs

Place cards
Also known as escort cards. These are simply cards that are placed on the tables at the position where the guest is to be seated. 
These can range in style from plain printed cards to printed napkins the options really are limitless so let your creativity run wild!
Right image Fairy Folk Weddings

Stationery placement
On the day either yourself (along with the help of friends and family hopefully) will set the place cards, table plan, buffet signs,table number cards, signage, guest book and any other stationery you have.
If you have a wedding planner or stylist they may do this for you and sometimes your caterer will do this for you too. That way you can sip on a chilled glass of champers and focus on the most important thing to do - getting ready!

Finally - Enjoy!
Enjoy your day - all of your hard work has now paid off and it's time to enjoy what will be the best day of your life!
Left image - 100 Layer Cake

If you have any questions regarding your own wedding stationery - please feel free to contact me. I am always happy to help! I also do custom wedding stationery and no task is too big or too small.

contact me at
and visit my wedding stationery shop here

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If you are attending the Etsy UK Wedding Event or already have and are interested in my wedding stationery please use the discount code ETSYWED for 15% off anything in my shop till the 31st May
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