When a couple decides to get married, one of the first things they plan is the guest list. After all, weddings are a celebration of two communities coming together. To let them know about the upcoming wedding, the engaged couple will send save-the-dates and wedding invitations.
When to order wedding invitations? Creating wedding invitations takes a lot of time, which is why you must order them early. Ideally, you need to place your order 6 to 9 months before your wedding. Here are 5 factors to help you figure out exactly when to order wedding invitations:
- The complexity of the wedding invitation’s design
- The number of guests you will invite
- The inclusions in the wedding invitation suite
- How busy the stationer and calligrapher are
- When you plan to send the invitations
The factors will be explained in more detail below, followed by an ideal timeline of when to order wedding invitations. Lastly, some tips for ordering wedding invitations are also given.
Factors to Consider When Ordering Wedding Invitations
1. The Complexity of the Wedding Invitation’s Design
For your guests, the wedding invitation will be their first impression of your wedding. Based on the craftsmanship, they will get an idea of the formality and vibe of the event. Whether intentional or otherwise, your guests will derive expectations from the invitation.
If you decide to go with a minimalist wedding invitation, the turnaround will be earlier. Each customization and embellishment will add more time to the turnaround. This includes ink colors, fonts, calligraphy, printing techniques, liners, and so on.
For intricate and highly personalized wedding invitations that will use specialty printing techniques, it is best to order wedding invitations 7 to 8 months before your wedding. For semi-custom invitations that will be printed digitally, you can order them 4 to 6 months before the big day.
2. The Number of Guests You Will Invite
Every person on your guest list must receive a wedding invitation. The number of invitations you need is directly proportional to how much time creating your invitations will take.
If you are having an elopement or a micro wedding, expect a shorter turnaround for the invitations. Oppositely, invitations for large weddings will have a longer turnaround.
3. The Inclusions in the Wedding Invitation Suite
Commonly, every wedding invitation suite will have four components: the main invitation card, a response card with its own envelope, a mailing envelope, and postage. If these are the only elements of your suite, then you can expect an earlier turnaround.
However, there are several other elements you can include in a wedding invitation suite. Depending on the type of ceremony you will have, the following may or may not be necessary to include:
- Inner envelope. This inner envelope will hold the main invitation. With polite wording, you can indicate who is invited to the wedding. You can also state that the wedding or reception is a no-kids event. Doing this is an easy way to limit the number of guests.
- Direction card. Regardless of whether you are having a local or destination wedding, adding a direction card to your suite will be handy. This card will ensure that everyone knows how to get to the venue safely and punctually.
- Weekend itinerary card. This card is applicable for weddings that last for at least two days. List every activity and pre-wedding party included on your wedding weekend. Giving your guests a detailed itinerary will help them prepare.
- Reception card. Sometimes, receptions are held at a different venue. If that is the case, you need to include a reception card in your suite. Indicate the time, level of formality, and other pertinent information.
- Accommodations card. This card details the options guests have for accommodation. Likewise, details about transportation are also given. Make sure to indicate if you plan on covering these costs. This card is necessary if you have guests from far areas or if you are having a destination wedding.
- Details card. This card will direct your guests to your wedding website, where they can find wedding-related announcements and information. Make sure to inform your guests what to look for on your website, such as the gift registry, dress code, and so on.
- Wrapper. If your wedding invitation suite has a lot of cards, an invitation wrapper will help keep it organized. The wrapper can be a silk ribbon, twine, belly band, or another material you have in mind.
4. How Busy the Stationer and Calligrapher Are
When people are good at what they do, they get recognition for it. For stationers and calligraphers, if they are known for the quality of their work, then you may need to book their services earlier.
You should also consider when the wedding season is. Typically, the number of weddings peaks every June and September. Thus, expect stationers and calligraphers to be busier around November to December and February to March.
5. When You Plan to Send the Invitations
Ideally, the guests should receive their wedding invitations between 6 to 8 weeks before the ceremony. For destination weddings, it is wise to send the invitations at least 12 weeks before the big day. This timeline will give them ample opportunity to file a leave from their job, make necessary adjustments, and so on.
Once you settle on a specific date, ask your stationer when you need to submit the final proof. They will take into account the aforementioned factors to give you a projected turnaround.
When to Order Wedding Invitations: Ideal Timeline
9 to 11 Months Before the Wedding
At this point, you should start looking around for stationers and calligraphers. Ask your planner if they have recommendations or connections.
You should also search for inspiration and design ideas. Instagram and Pinterest are good places to start, but they are available anywhere. You and your partner should also settle on a theme and color palette for your wedding.
8 Months Before the Wedding
Once you have identified potential stationers and calligraphers, the next step is to order samples. You can deduce a lot of information from these samples. For one, you can tell the quality of their work and the materials they used. Are you satisfied with how everything looks?
One of the first things you should ask your stationer and calligrapher is their turnaround time. See if your timeline fits with their timeline. Ask any other questions you have regarding logistics, payments, responsibilities, and so on.
Another detail you should clarify is how the envelopes will be addressed. In many cases, the stationer can print addresses on the envelope. However, you can do this yourself, ask for help from a friend, or hire a calligrapher.
During these interactions, you must pay attention to the service you receive. How fast did the samples arrive? Was the customer service accommodating, friendly, and patient? Did they answer your questions transparently and comprehensively?
Concurrently, you must start finalizing your guest list. The guest list is an important factor in deciding when to order wedding invitations. If an exact figure is not possible, an approximation would suffice at this time.
If you know you want elaborate and highly customized invitations, you may want to order them by now.
6 to 7 Months Before the Wedding
Once you have found the stationer and calligrapher you would like to work with, contact them immediately. Let them know that you want to book them. Do this as early as possible, especially if you know your invitation will have more embellishments or involve a specialized technique.
During this time, you need to finalize the wording of your invitation. Make sure to observe proper etiquette, such as including all pertinent information, deciding whose name goes first, and so on.
Similarly, prepare the details to be included in the rest of your wedding invitation suite. This includes the accommodation card, directions card, RSVP, and so on. If other cards cannot be finalized at this time, a details card with your wedding website will suffice.
Tips for Ordering Wedding Invitations
Set a Budget for Wedding Invitations
How much you will spend on wedding invitations depends on the same factors listed above. As such, you must dedicate a part of your wedding budget to stationery. You are recommended to dedicate 4% to 6% of your entire budget to invitations and cards.
For instance, if your wedding budget is $20,000, then setting aside $800 to $1,200 for wedding invitations and other stationery would be reasonable.
If this figure sounds too high, keep in mind that the final cost will depend on the details of your wedding. However, here are some tips to help you save money:
- Join newsletters of various wedding companies and websites. They may have discount codes, giveaways, and deals now and then.
- Work with one stationer for all the wedding-related stationery, including programs, menus, thank-you cards, the rest of the invitation suite, and so on.
- Avoid placing your order late. Otherwise, you may have to pay a rush fee, additional shipping fees, and so on.
- Order extra stationery in case of accidents. Adding more to your order will cost less than having to buy smaller quantities later.
Have a Consistent Design
Sticking to a consistent design across your wedding invitation suite will make it appear more cohesive. A trademark design will also set you apart from other weddings.
Choose a color palette, theme, typeface, and other design elements that best capture your relationship and individual personalities. Use typefaces that are legible and designs that are easy on the eyes.
Proofread Your Invitations Carefully
Go over each card of your wedding invitation suite. Pay close attention to web addresses, dates, times, the spelling of names and venues, and grammar. You might need to scan the cards multiple times to catch some errors.
Failure to catch these errors might have profound consequences; for one, your guests might get confused about certain details. Moreover, the errors may also give a bad impression to your guests.
Give Yourself Time to Assemble
Once you receive your order of invitations, you might need to assemble them. Give yourself a few days to do it; rushing through the process may result in accidents, missing cards, and so on. If possible, ask for help from a bridesmaid, friend, or relative, such as your niece or nephew.
Order Extra Stationery
As mentioned above, mistakes may happen while you assemble the invitation suite. To be safe, purchase around 25 additional invitations and envelopes. This lessens the pressure of assembling perfectly each time, and it also ensures that you have enough invitations for everyone.
Bring an Assembled Wedding Invitation to the Post Office
When assembling your wedding invitation suite, finish one invitation first. You can bring this to the post office so they can determine how much it will cost to ship. The cost depends on the weight and size of the envelope.
Remember to also obtain stamps for the envelopes of your reply cards. This is a small gesture that your guests will appreciate because they will not have to shoulder the postage costs.