A big big thanks to Kristen at Five Dot Design and 915 Monmouth for putting together this super informative post for us today. If you are engaged and thinking about your stationery, then you’re gonna want to bookmark this post!

Invitations seem to be the first thing that make the whole wedding process “real” for most brides. You’re taking all the details you’ve been organizing for the past however many months and putting them down on paper to send out into the world. Family and friends will come witness, not only you and your fiance getting married, but all the hard work you’ve put into pulling this event together and making it perfect.

So, of course, you want your invitations to be perfect as well. The basic invitation suite can be broken down into a few simple pieces… some are must-have’s, some are nice-to-have’s and some are added bonuses. Now, I realize that you might put some pieces in different categories and that’s perfectly fine. These are just the most popular pieces I have found with my clients.

JMM Photographer WeddingPhotoLove

Photo by JMM Photography

Learn more about invitations after the jump…

The Must Have’s

  • The invitation with names, date, time and location
  • Reception information
  • An RSVP with clear return date and postage paid for returning (and is the correct size for postal regulations)
  • Mailing envelope

The Nice-to-Have’s

  • Directions or at least addresses of the important venues for the day
  • Map
  • Accommodation information
  • Inner envelope


  • Things to do in the area
  • Itinerary for the weekend
  • Wedding website information


JMM Photographer WeddingPhotoLove
Photo by JMM Photography


The next question I get from clients involves etiquette and timelines. I’m a fan of Miss Manners, but I’m also a fan of tweaking some of the etiquette rules to fit your needs and your preference. In the end, this is your wedding and I want to make sure you feel comfortable with how we proceed with your invitations.

Nathan Peel Photography

Photo by Nathan Peel Photography

Save the Dates.

Send them? Don’t send them? My advice is if you have a majority of your guests that will be traveling and they will either need to save for their trip in or make accommodations, a Save the Date should be sent out. Same goes for if you’re wedding is on a holiday weekend, close to a major holiday or on a popular date (like 10.11.12). In the end, those guests will appreciate the opportunity to plan. It’s best to send Save the Dates out within six to eight months of the wedding and if international travel will be asked of your guests, twelve months notice is best.


Working backwards from the wedding date seems to make most sense when it comes to invitations. Invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks prior to the wedding, ten to twelve weeks if you are sending international invitations (and don’t forget international return postage). The earlier you start the designing process, the better, so beginning to think about invitations, addresses, etc around four to six months prior to sending out your invitations is best. When I work with a client, I provide a timeline of important dates for us to work by so everyone is on the same schedule.

JMM Photographer WeddingPhotoLove

Photo by JMM Photography


This one is always a bit confusing, especially because formal etiquette when addressing invitations sometimes goes to the wayside. Proper etiquette would have you addressing an outer envelope with proper salutation (Mr. and Mrs., Miss, etc) and an inner envelope addressing the guest(s) by their first names or nicknames, in some cases.

outer : Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Holbrook
inner : Steve and Mary or Mr. and Mrs. Holbrook

outer : Ms. Jennifer Smith
inner : Jennie

JMM Photographer WeddingPhotoLove

Photo by JMM Photography

So, now you have details ironed out. Let’s talk about design.

The internet has taken wedding invitations beyond the traditional catalog of white paper with foil borders. There are literally dozens of options to choose from when it comes to not only the style of your invitations, but where you actually find your dream invitations.

There seem to be 3 main choices when it comes to invitations: custom, semi-custom and catalog. When hiring a custom invitation designer, you work with that designer to choose the right papers, wording, fonts, colors, etc. to make sure your invitations are tailored to you.

Semi-custom invitations are usually found on sites like etsy.com and a few boutique stationery stores where you are able to modify particular details of the design, such as color, paper choice or fonts or you are able to choose between two color schemes.

Catalog invitations leave less room for modifications, but are a more cost effective choice.

I’m a custom invitation designer, so I speak best to this option as opposed to the other two options for invitations (but I will note that I have a semi-custom line available). Custom invitations are more of an investment and the other two options (though I’ve known brides to spend just as much on semi-custom or catalog invitations as others have on custom invitations, so it really does come down to design preference), however; custom invitations lend themselves to a more personalized and appropriate look for your wedding.

JMM Photographer WeddingPhotoLove

Photo by JMM Photography


When creating a custom invitation suite and then also having custom ceremony and reception pieces created by the same designer, there is a consistent look from your first introduction of the wedding to your guests (the invitations) to the final farewell and show of gratitude to your guests (favors and thank you notes). The paper choices, fonts, colors and overall style and tone of the event are carried through from start to finish, keeping a polished look throughout the day. Often, when I’m create a piece for a client, I consult with the event designer, florist and/or wedding planner to get an overall sense of the wedding to ensure the paper goods will not be disconnected from the rest of the decor. For example, if the client wants to use pink and navy and her florist tells me there will be touches of yellow or a particular flower used prominently throughout the wedding, I can suggest incorporating those details into her design or offer more options in terms of paper choices, printing method, graphics or even shape of the design to fit into the grand scheme of the wedding.

JMM Photographer WeddingPhotoLove

Photo by JMM Photography


When determining the style of your invitations, it’s best to take in the overall picture of your wedding- what will the bridal party wear, what would you like your guests to wear, what style is your venue, what colors are you using and what shades will you use? A laid back, casual affair would be more suited with modern fonts, little frill and informal wording. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you’re wanting your guests to arrive in evening wear, you might go for more traditional script fonts paired with an elegant pattern or more regal color palette. It’s important the style of the invitation reflects the feel of the wedding- it could be quite embarrassing for guests to show up under or over dressed because the style of the invitation didn’t match up with the actual wedding. This is something your designer can help you achieve by helping you choose appropriate paper, fonts and color choices.

In the end, the invitation is the first true, visual impression your guests get of your wedding, so give ’em something to talk about!


  • Ask the postage worker to hand-cancel all of your wedding invitations (don’t worry- they’ve done this before). if the line is long and the worker asks you to leave the box with them to stamp later, I suggest asking when they’re less busy time of the day might be and either bring the invitations back to witness the worker hand-cancel the envelopes or call and ask if it has been done.
  • Wedding invitations, in most cases, will weigh more than standard postage will cover. It’s best to hold off on purchasing postage until you either have a sample to weigh or your designer has provided a weight to you.
  • Reception information can be provided at the bottom of the invitation
  • Be sure to order 15%-20% over your final invitation count to allot for last minute guests, addressing mistakes or samples for other vendors/family/friends that might like a copy.
  • Be mindful of when your caterer will need food numbers and plan your RSVP accordingly. Giving yourself plenty of time to assign seating and have place cards printed up will save last minute scrambles.
  • Begin seating guests you know will be attending your wedding right away. Then fill in the rest of the seating charts as RSVPs are returned to get a jump start. time goes very quickly once the invitations go out, so keeping yourself ahead of the game and organized will only help you in the end.