You both will need quite an assortment of printed
items for the wedding. Depending on which printer you choose, the
items included in the wedding stationery package will vary. (Be
sure to look at all the package options before you make your stationery
order to ensure you get everything you want -- and nothing you don't
The Wedding Invitation Package
You can usually spot a wedding invitation in the mail
a mile away -- it has a "LOVE" stamp in the corner and
is bursting at the seams. To figure out why the envelope is so jam-packed,
read on to find out more about what typically goes in a wedding
The Ceremony Invitation and Envelope: The invitation
announces the tone of the wedding and thus can take on any number
of styles -- from traditional to unique. The wedding invitation
itself traditionally comes from the bride's parents, but it can
also come from the bride and groom. The tone or style of the invitation
should reflect the tone or style of the ceremony and reception.
There are several different invitation styles, from
traditional to contemporary. All are perfectly acceptable. You both
will, however, need to set a style before hiring a printer, since
different shops have different printing capabilities. There are
lots of places to look for style inspiration. You could look at
friends' invitations, for example. You should also visit at least
two printers and look at their sample books so that you can get
an idea of what's available.
The Reception Invitation: The reception
invitation can have three formats: It can be included on the same
invitation as the ceremony information; it can be a separate invitation/card
altogether; or if a guest is only invited to the reception, it can
be used in place of the ceremony invitation.
A combined invitation for both the reception and the
ceremony is a great way to save money without sacrificing elegance.
If the reception invitation is separate, however, the only thing
to remember is that the card style should match that of the ceremony
invitation. In other words, it should follow the traditional or
contemporary style of the invitation.
The Response Card and Envelope: The
response card addresses the reception only. It should have a line
for the guest name(s), the number of people attending, and the menu
choices (if needed). You both should also include a self-addressed,
stamped envelope for the guest to return the response card. The
card should have a final response date -- generally two to four
weeks before the wedding.
Maps: It is increasingly common to
include a map to the ceremony site and the reception site with the
invitation. This could be a computer-generated map or one that you
draw yourself. Just make sure that all of your lines and directions
are clear before you give it to the printer. Also include a phone
number for the destination. That way, the guest can call if he or
she gets lost.
Other Printed Items
If you both know in advance the other printed items
you would like at your wedding, ask the printer you've selected
for your invitations to add in these items at a discount. This will
not only save you money but will also ensure that each printed piece
matches the style of the others.
Pew cards: If you plan a large wedding
ceremony and want to make sure certain guests have reserved seats,
insert a pew card into the invitation. When guests present this
card to an usher, they will be seated accordingly. The pew card
includes the guest name(s), the ceremony location, and the pew number
and its section (the bride's side or the groom's side).
Place cards, matchbooks, napkins, etc.: You
can include printed items -- such as napkins and matchbooks -- at
the reception tables and scattered around the site, such as at the
bar or the appetizer table. These printed pieces can include your
names only; your names and wedding date; or the names, date, and
a symbol, such as wedding bells. They are generally printed in a
color that coordinates with your reception colors.
Wedding programs: The wedding program
names the bride and groom, the officiant, all members of the wedding
party, and any readers and soloists. It also lists the ceremony
events, including all songs, prayers, and scriptures to be read.
Ushers distribute the programs as well as seat the guests. Either
your officiant or your church, synagogue, or temple coordinator
can supply previous wedding programs for samples. You could also
check with friends and your printer to see other examples.
Thank-You cards: Since you both will
be writing many thank you cards during the coming months, it's nice
to have appropriate thank you stationery printed fto use. These
cards are small (generally folded and four inches by five inches)
and are usually made of rich white or ivory paper. They have "Thank
You," the bride's and groom's names, or their initials printed
on the front. Be careful about how you print the names or initials,
since the bride may need her maiden name on cards used before the
ceremony and her married name on cards used after the ceremony.
Wedding announcements: A formal wedding
announcement is mailed the day after the wedding to family and friends
who couldn't be invited to the event. An announcement can also go
to local newspapers and magazines. A newspaper or magazine wedding
announcement is worded much like the engagement announcement.
At-Home cards: This card is sometimes
included with the invitation or the wedding announcement. It tells
whether the bride will be using her married or maiden last name
and where the couple will live.
Show Proof of Proofing
Can you imagine anything more embarrassing than misspelling
your future mother-in-law's name on the invitation? To avoid mistakes,
enlist proofing help from at least three people -- preferably a
mix of people from both sides. In addition, read each line in the
invitation proof backward, from right to left. This forces you both
to isolate each word. If you both question any name, circle it and
phone someone to check the spelling. Use a dictionary to check other
questionable words. As for dates, times, and sites, after you've
double-checked this information, go back and check it all again.
(And a third check wouldn't hurt, either!)
Addressing the Invitations
It may be tough to forgo the ease of computer-generated
labels, but the invitations really should be hand-addressed. It
is acceptable, however, to have your return address printed on the
envelopes. If the invitation includes an inside envelope, repeat
only the names of the guests (including any children under 16) on
it. Persons 16 and older traditionally receive their own invitations.
Single persons may have "and Guest" printed beside their
name. Formal titles, such as Doctor or Reverend, should be spelled
Don't forget to include the postage costs in the invitation
budget. And be certain to weigh the entire invitation to ensure
correct postage. Ask your printer for a sample of your invitation,
including every envelope (with the postage stamps), every enclosure,
and every piece of tissue paper. These samples can be blank, since
normal printing doesn't add weight. Take this sample to a post office
and have it weighed.