Ok, so stationary isn’t technically fashion, but it is the first thing that guests will see in relation to your big day, and (if you are a good bride and do your Thank You notes) also the last, so picking the right stationary for your wedding is important. There are a lot of different bits of paper that will feature in the lead up to the big day, as well as the event itself, so here is a run-down of all the stationary a bride should to at least think about whilst planning the best day of her life.
While there is not really any rules regarding wedding stationary, it is a good idea to try to keep the colours, styling and language similar on all the different pieces as it will create a sense of cohesion throughout the entire event.
NB: All of the images are from the WeddingPaperDivas ‘Just Lovely’ suite
SAVE THE DATE
The purpose of the Save the Date card is to let your guests know when and where your wedding is going to take place. It is not an essential piece of wedding stationary, and not everyone send one out, but if you are planning a destination wedding or one that falls on a major holiday it is good manners to give your guests a head up.
If you do send one, the Save the Date is the first time guests will see your colour scheme and get an idea about the type of wedding you are planning, so take some time with it and make sure it sends the kind of message you want. It doesn’t need to have a lot of information on it, just the date and town of the event, so that leaves a lot of space to get creative – choose a nice photo of you and your partner, do a quirky drawing or even send out a magnet- have some fun with it, your guests will appreciate it.
Wedding etiquette says that you should plan to send out your Save the Dates 6 months before the wedding date, but if you have guests that will need to travel long distances, the more time you can give them to plan and save the better.
The formal invitations are probably the most involved and detailed piece of wedding stationary that you will have to deal with – and the most important. It generally consists of a couple of different pieces, has to tell your guests all they need to know about your big day, and should be sent out 8 weeks before the wedding.
Thanks to the availability of free wedding websites a lot of this information can be listed there, although it is also a good idea to include it in the formal invitation set if you can. The invitation set generally includes 3 pieces (although this is not a rule and you can have more or less if you want to) – the invitation itself, the RSVP card (with envelope if needed) and a details card.
The invitation does the obvious – states that you are getting married and that you would like them to come. It should also include the date, time, location addresses and dress code. There are some etiquette rules for wording your invitations (check out Emily Post), but they aren’t super strict so go with whatever wording suits your event.
The RSVP card should be sent with a stamped and addressed envelope so that all your guests have to do is fill it out and pop it in the mail box. If you need meal choices from your guests, this is where you give them the options. This card should also give guests a deadline for responding – usually 2 or 3 weeks before the wedding so that you have time to confirm numbers with your vendors and finalise your seating chart. Some wedding websites allow guests to RSVP online, thus negating the need for this piece of stationary which can help to cut down costs if you don’t have a big budget.
The details card is where you put everything else you need to tell your guests – registry details (although some etiquette guides say it is bad manners to include this), directions to the event, hotel suggestions etc. Basically anything you think they should know prior to coming. Again, this information can be put on a wedding website. Just make sure you include the address to the website somewhere on invitations if you go down that route.
Once you have all your pieces together, the next thing to decide is how to send them out. This can be as simple as wrapping them together with a ribbon and putting them in a standard envelope, but there are plenty of beautiful and creative ways to send out your invitations so have fun with it and make it memorable.
ESCORT CARDS or SEATING CHART & PLACE CARDS
There are two main ways to let your guests know where you would like them to sit at the reception; one is to use escort cards and the other is a seating chart with place cards.
Escort cards are set out on a table at the entrance to the reception venue. There is a card for each guest (or each couple) which tells them which table they have been assigned to.
The seating chart/place card option involves a chart that is placed at the entrance to the reception and lists which table each guest has been assigned to. If you have specific seats you would like your guests to sit in you can then put place cards with each guests name at their corresponding seat allocation.
As with so many aspects of wedding decor, modern brides are moving away from traditional card or paper stock and getting creative with their escort and place cards – from keys to fruit to toy animals, wedding favours can even double as a place card. There is no limit to what you can use for this simple, yet important part of the reception decor, but whatever you go for, make sure it fits in with your overall wedding look and feel.
Having a printed menu is by no means an essential part of wedding stationary, but it is nice to let your guests know what they will be eating (even if you did tell them in the invitation, chances are they won’t remember). There are plenty of ways to do this and no rules other than making sure it is easy to read and works with the rest of the decor. Personal menus are a nice touch if you have the budget for it, but if you don’t, one or two per table is perfectly acceptable. If you are having a buffet or serving family style, a single, large menu board can be a fun way of doing it, just make sure everyone can read it from where they sit.
THANK YOU CARDS
The Thank You cards are really important pieces of stationary and a non-negotiable for every well-mannered bride. Like the Save the Dates, you can totally have fun with your thank you’s and while they don’t have to match, a card that fits in with the rest of the wedding stationary is a nice way to finish off the event – many couples use a photo from the day for their Thank You cards which is a nice personal touch and establishes the link with the awesome day that was the wedding.
The rumour that you have a year after your wedding to send thank you notes may or may not be real (personally I think 12 months is too long), but the truth is the sooner the better. Thank you cards must be hand written and personalised to the person you are sending them to. Everyone who attends your wedding must get a Thank You card (even if they didn’t give you a gift), as well as anyone who sends a gift, regardless of whether they attended or not.
There are plenty of other pieces of stationary that you can create for you big day to help make everything look pretty. Table numbers, Orders of Service, envelope address labels, favour tags, programs and signage for the event can all be coordinated to create a cohesive look for your big day.
If you know your way around Photoshop, designing and printing you own stationery can save a lot of money and allow you to create something truly unique. However, if you aren’t so creatively minded or don’t want to spend the time perfecting something, there are loads of companies that specialise in wedding stationary and can create an entire suite to fulfil all your papery needs. Here are a couple that are online and have pretty good reps, but they are by no means the only ones out there. Shop around until you find the one that suits you and your beau (and your budget!) and don’t rush the decision until you find the perfect design.