Each Piece of Your Wedding Invitation Defined
When first considering wedding planning, the wedding invites, the programs, and all of the other pieces of the wedding stationary trousseau are usually a bride's first topic of interest, besides possibly the wedding dress.
I'm not sure what magic there is in the words save-the-dates and wedding invitations, but it seems that simply the idea of finally having that special someone to create these with, and being able to formally announce your engagement and wedding to all of your friends and family members, has the ability to raise the heartbeats and flush the cheeks of even the calmest of brides.
With so many pieces to think about when it comes to your wedding stationary, it's a wonder anyone can sort through them all and remember to create each and every one. To help you navigate the maze which is your wedding stationary, I thought it would help to address each piece individually and its purpose.
These beauties were originally created to serve the purpose their name describes. Couples typically send these out six months to a year before their scheduled wedding date in order to 1) let all of their friends and family members know the good news, 2) share their wedding date, and 3) give all of their desired guests plenty of time to write the event into their calendars and make plans to attend.
A save-the-date can come in any shape and form, from a card, postcard, or magnet, to even an email. This is by no means a substitute for the wedding invitation, and in fact, should include the words "invitation to follow."
In the case of a destination wedding that requires advanced travel plans, or a wedding on a popular date on which there may be others, save-the-dates truly come in handy. You'll want to see these great ideas from MagnetStreetWeddings!
Traditional Invite Wording
Wedding invitations are the special cards and envelopes that girls wait a lifetime to be able to send out to everyone. Essentially these cards simply include information for your guests about your wedding in order to ensure that they get to your event on the right day at the right time, but they can be so much more.
They can allow couples to express their individual personalities, share their wedding theme, and even instruct their guests in a plethora of different ways, like appropriate wedding attire, whether or not kids are invited, and even whether dinner will be served and what it will be. Invitations also allow your guests to share a great deal of information with you as well. They can share whether or not they are able to attend, how many guests will be attending with them, and even what choices they would like for dinner.
Every wedding invitation is completely different, as it is a unique representation of the bride and groom getting married and the event they are planning. Some couples choose just a single invitation card, some a small folder with pockets, and some are even more creative. There isn't a right or wrong way to present your invitations. These are completely yours to personalize. Check out the side note for typical wedding invitation wording, and for more creative types check out PurpleTrail.com.
Although invitations already share the necessary information with your guests, sometimes couples need an extra place to share more information with their guests. Little cards, called "inserts," have provided this perfect place. Here are some of the most traditional.
Reception card - Instead of including information about the reception on the invitation, especially if the after party will be at a separate location, couples are including it on a reception card. This can be as simple as "Reception to follow" or "Reception to follow at the Elephant Bar located at ____. Directions on the back."
RSVP card - Traditionally this card is included in the invite with a self-addressed stamped envelope for guests to check yes or no for their attendance and return in the mail. However, times are changing. RSVPs are also now requested on wedding websites, through email, and even over the phone.
Map and directions - Especially if the wedding is in an unfamiliar or difficult to find location, many couples are including an extra card in their invitations with a map of their location and directions helping guests to find it. Truly, a card like this is not necessary at this time, but would be great to send to guests when you know who is definitely coming.
Guest Accommodations card - It's a really thoughtful gesture to research guest accommodation and transportation options ahead of time. Although including this card in your invite guests could get a head start on their travel plans, it's really more appropriate to save this information for later. If you need to share it early, post it on a wedding website.
Pew cards - Typically used for larger weddings where ushers are specific on where to seat guests, pew cards are a great way to let specific individuals know that you would like them to have a place of honor at your wedding ceremony on one of the first few rows. Guests would then just present them to the ushers to be sat in the right place. These are also better to send out much closer to the wedding.
Wedding Schedule - Although these can come in many different shapes and sizes, essentially these cards share the timing you've laid out for your wedding day. With many weddings now stretching through the weekend, this is a fantastic place to share your activity schedule for the weekend with everyone. Please wait and send this with an information packet just to those that have RSVPed.
Extra cards - Extra inserts are the perfect place to share information with your guests that doesn't belong on the invitation or fit anywhere else (like your wedding website!). Some couples consider including an insert with their registry information. Please don't! Not only is this disrespectful, but you don't want your guests to think that you are inviting them on the premise that they buy you something.
Ceremony programs are meant to be a pleasant welcome for guests into a beautiful ceremony. Normally they are in the shape of brochures or fans, sometimes handed out as guests enter the ceremony area, and sometimes waiting for guests on their seats. The information featured in a traditional ceremony includes a schedule of the ceremony (with songs and any readings), and an introduction of both sides of the wedding party and both families.
Many couples also choose to include a statement thanking their guests for coming, a part of the program honoring loved ones that have passed, and my husband and I even included an explanation of the symbolism behind our specific wedding license.
Reception menus, in the past, were used only for larger more extravagant weddings to provide guests with an intricate explanation of the different courses that they were being served. These elusive stationary pieces are becoming a bigger part of weddings in every shape and size all over the country.
No longer are menus needed to explain the different courses to guests, but they are definitely a nice touch to any event. They bring class, the look of wealth, and an unmatched elegance to every wedding they grace. It's amazing what a big impression a simple card with your meal items printed on it can make.
Reception seating includes a number of items, all with a different purpose, but ultimately to quickly and efficiently guide all of your guests to their respective seats. Let's look at some of the items that will help you do just that. If you have no preference on where your guests seat themselves at your reception, these have no purpose.
Seating Chart - A seating chart normally comes in the form of a board or display with a visual display of tables and chairs. This gives your guests a quick and easy way to simply glance at the chart as they enter your reception to know where they are sitting.
Escort Cards - Escort cards are usually used when you are not using a seating chart. I would not use both. These cards are usually displayed beautifully on a table, hanging from a tree or string, or a variety of other creative ways, and they contain the name and table numbers of each guest. At the time of the reception, guests walk past, find their card and it helps them to find their seats.
Table Numbers - Table numbers work cohesively with a seating chart or escort cards. Just like the creativity that can be used to create the other items in this category, table numbers can look like just about anything, with any materials, and be displayed in a variety of ways. As long as you have some way of labeling your tables in a big way so guests can clearly see them, you've succeeded. Make sure these numbers or labels are also on your seating chart and/or escort cards.
Place Cards - For those couples that want a little extra detail or simply to place guests in particular seats at each table, this is the perfect item for you! Once guests find their names and correct tables, these little cards or labels will then help them to find the right seat. These are helpful if you would like to personalize each place setting or leave special surprises for certain guests.
Thank Yous and Announcements
Once your wedding is all over, it's important not to forget all of those in your life that love and care for you. This not only those who attended your wedding and shared in your nuptials with you, but also, if not especially, those who were not able to come or had to be cut from your guest list.
Throughout your wedding planning, bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and even the big event, your friends and family members will be sending you gifts to congratulate you on your wedding. As you receive gifts, you'll want to show them how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness by sending a thank you note right away. In order to make this easier on you, have thank you notes available at all times, and maybe dedicate a specific day of the week to write them and send them out. In each note, make sure you specifically name the item(s) they sent and tell them how you are or plan to use it. Say thank you!
For those who were not able to come to your wedding, you can still involve them in your celebration. Wedding announcements are simply cards, just like your save-the-dates, that let people know that you two have been married. These typically include a picture of the two of you together at your wedding and a simple description of the big event. "We had a lovely evening wedding on June 4th, 2013, celebrating our nuptials at the Vegas Hotel with a wonderful party afterward. Nora Jones played in the background as we enjoyed Mexican food for dinner..." Your loved ones will feel like they were there!
Just think you're one step closer to getting all of your wedding stationary together! I'm sure you've been putting everything together in your head, picking each and every piece you want, and compiling it all together, as you've been reading this article. That's wonderful!
Knowing what you need and coming up with a vision for your stationary is the first step towards putting it all together. I know I really wanted to go all out for my wedding, so we used each and every piece we could possibly create, and put it all together by hand to save tons of money, and make each piece unique. It all came together just beautifully without having to order anything or pay a huge sum to have it printed. I would highly recommend that route to anyone.
I sure hope all of this information helped and didn't get you overwhelmed. Think of your wedding planning as a fun adventure where you get to do something, and learn something, new at each bend. Enjoy the process as (hopefully) you will only do this once!
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness