There was once a time when "a wedding invitation was a wedding invitation was a wedding invitation". The standard was specific and limiting, and allowed little to no room for personality or individual expression. There was really just one "right way" to design a wedding invitation - and anything else was considered simply improper.
Now is not that time.
Your choices today for wedding paper goods are endless, and at times, overwhelming. But if you approach them with a goal in mind, it can become much easier to to narrow the choices and find the perfect invitation suite for you. Learn about your options step by step, and make the choices that are best suited for your wedding style.
Here you'll find all you need to know about the basics of wedding stationery. Armed with this information, you can confidently move into the design process knowing that you'll end up with a wedding stationery suite that beautifully expresses your love and your big day.
The first step in thinking about what your wedding stationery will look like is to define your wedding style and priorities. This will serve as a guide for each step of the design process, to ensure that every choice you make perfectly underscores your style.
Formal or Casual?
One of the most important things your wedding stationery suite should do is to clue guests in on what to expect from your event. This helps them to relax in anticipation of the big day, without wondering what they should wear or how to best prepare. Be sure that your design choices communicate the level of formality of your event - your typestyles, printing choices and even paper selections can all act as clues.
The time of the Season
Help your guests to get in the mood for your big day by making design choices that underscore the feeling of your wedding season. Choose colors, patterns and textures that evoke a certain time of year - go light, bright and breezy for summer, soft and romantic for spring, rich and warm for fall, or crisp and cool for a warming winter celebration.
Wedding stationery pricing is all over the board, and it can be hard to know just how much you should budget for save the dates, invitations and wedding day stationery. Do some research in the beginning of your planning process so you have some points of reference for making your budget. Then, prioritize what's most important to you. If you love beautiful paper and have always dreamed of a gorgeous custom letterpress invitation, you might be able to cut back on another, less important detail in order to make that happen. If a simple invitation will do, opt for flat printing and invest more in some unique wedding day details instead.
START THE PRESS
PRINTING METHODS TO BRING YOUR STATIONERY TO LIFE
It might seem like a small detail, but the printing method you choose for your wedding stationery has a big impact on the style of your finished suite - and on your pocketbook too. Each printing method has strengths and weaknesses, so choosing the right one is crucial. But don't feel tied to just one printing method - you can combine two or even three processes to help stay on budget and take advantage of the best that each process has to offer. Below is a quick comparison of printing methods, followed by a description of each process.
+ SCREEN PRINTING
Utilizing a screen-type stencil and a squeegee or blade, screen printing transfers opaque inks onto paper for a high quality, richly flat printed finish. Screen printing inks can be matte or glossy, and can also be printed onto fabric. Multiple passes can be used to create four-color images.
A raised printing method developed to mimic engraving at a lower cost. Ink is applied to paper and then dusted with powder before high heat is applied to achieve the final raised appearance. Thermography inks tend to have a higher gloss finish and rougher texture than their engraved counterparts.
+ LITHOGRAPHY / DIGITAL
Flat printing methods. Lithography printing is created by transferring ink from a plate onto a rubber blanket and then onto the paper surface, which is more efficient for larger quantities. Digital printing sent print-ready digital images directly from computer to presses and is ideal for smaller runs.
A raised printing method created by metal plates that have been engraved with text and/or design. This high quality process uses opaque inks, allowing for versatility in paper and ink combinations and crisp, clean printing results even with intricately detailed artwork. An engraved invitation can be identified by its matte ink finish and bruise marks on the back, a result of the high-pressure printing process.
Printing from a raised plate directly onto the surface of a soft paper, creating an impression in the paper. Plates are hand-set onto the press and sheets are fed through one at a time, requiring a separate run for each ink color printed. Designs can also be pressed without ink for a simple and textural "blind" impression (a Foglio Press specialty).
+ FOIL STAMPING
A process utilizing a hot printing die to fuse metallic or matte foil sheets to the surface of the paper. Great for crisp results with a truly metallic or sleek glossy finish, with a completely opaque coverage allowing for light colors to be printed on dark surfaces.
CHOOSE THE BUILDING BLOCKS FOR YOUR FINAL LOOK
Color, pattern typestyle and texture are the elements your stationer will use to craft a suite of paper goods that has your style written all over it. Here are a few examples to get the creativity flowing...
COLOR & PATTERN
Ink colors are the most obvious way to include color in your stationery, but they're certainly not your only option! Play with colorful papers, bright backing layers and borders, colorful belly bands or richly colored ribbons. And of course, one of our favorite pops of color at Foglio Press - a fabulously "wow" envelope liner!
One of the easiest and most enjoyable parts of customizing a wedding stationery suite is choosing your very own combination of typestyles. Each typestyle has its own personality and flow. We recommend choosing one to three styles that you love, and taking advantage of your designer's expertise in combining them flawlessly.
Invitations and stationery don't always have to be two-dimensional. Adding texture creates visual interest and richness that can make your suite memorable and unique. Elements such as ribbons and fabrics or unique materials like wood or plastic can all add texture and underscore your wedding style. Or try using textural paper and printing elements like a watercolor paper or letterpress blind impression for a more subtle feel.
PIECE IT TOGETHER
THE ANATOMY OF AN INVITATION SUITE
Once you've chosen the design elements to make your stationery shine, it's time to get down to the details - which pieces will make up your suite, and the timeline for sending everything out. This is where your excellent planning can really make your guests' experience easy and fun, so be wise and thoughtful with each of these details. Let etiquette be your guide (that's what it's there for!) and adjust as you and your stationer see fit. The result will be an impressive and well-organized suite that is informative, succinct, AND gorgeous!
Save the Date
The first piece to go out, a Save the Date card is exactly what it sounds like - it announces your wedding date so your guests can mark their calendars. For destination weddings or if you have many out of town guests, include accommodations and travel info so guests can start making arrangements early.
The main event! This gives guests all the details they need to get to the wedding on time. The best invitations provide just the necessary details for the big day - no more, no less.
Reply Card (3)
An essential tool for keeping track of your final head count, and each guest's meal selection if you are having a plated meal. Cards should include their own stamped envelope, or they can be in the form of a less formal postcard (also stamped).
Reception Card (2)
When your reception venue is separate from your ceremony, a reception card is traditionally included. Provide the name of the venue, the address, and the reception start time.
Maps, directions and accommodations information can be included with your invitations or on your wedding website instead. Edit as much as possible, and include more lengthy details online only.
Wedding websites allow you to share more details about the big day than would be practical on a printed invitation. It's fine to include the URL on your invitations, but often a business-card sized enclosure or a sweet tag tied around the invitation looks more polished and appropriate.
Inner & Outer Envelope (4 & 5)
Double envelopes are a nod to tradition and suggest luxury and classic elegance, but they are not a must - single envelopes are perfectly acceptable if you prefer. Envelope liners line the inside of the inner envelope or single mailing envelope, and are a great option to add a pop of color or pattern to the invitation suite.
KNOW WHEN TO SEND
Getting all of your stationery pieces designed and mailed on time is an important part of helping your guests to plan. Follow our timeline for a seamless process from start to finish!
DOS AND DON'TS
ETIQUETTE CHEATSHEET FOR THE MODERN WEDDING
For some modern couples, "etiquette" can seem like a dirty word - a senseless list of rules to follow. But etiquette is actually intended to make social situations, especially planning a big event, easy and painless for all. These guidelines have been respected by generations of brides and grooms and wedding guests, and for good reason - they offer a simple standard for avoiding complications and confusion. So it can be worthwhile to learn the guidelines and then make your own, educated decisions on what works best for you.
To us, the following are some of the important guidelines to follow as gracious hosts:
+ DO SEND SAVE THE DATES & INVITES ON TIME
Allowing enough time for ordering, stuffing, addressing and stamping your invitations on time not only helps with your guests' planning process, but saves your sanity as well.
+ DO ALLOW ENOUGH TIME FOR RSVP'S
It's not realistic to expect guests to RSVP three months before your wedding, or the day after receiving an invitation. Allowing a proper amount of time (usually about a month between receiving the invitation and the RSVP deadline) ensures a more accurate headcount, and happier guests.
+ DO RESEARCH PROPER WORDING
Make sure you're communicating clearly by working with an expert on invitation wording as well as addressing your envelopes correctly.
+ DON'T INCLUDE REGISTRY INFO WITH INVITATIONS
Leave this information to be spread by word of mouth or on your wedding website instead. Your invitations are for communicating a warm welcome to your family and friends, not requesting gifts.
+ DON'T USE OFFICE LABELS FOR YOUR ENVELOPES
Handwritten envelope addressing is best; addresses digitally printed directly on the envelopes are also perfectly acceptable today. Labels are almost never OK, unless they are beautifully designed to work with a more casual invitation style.
+ DON'T OVERWHELM YOUR GUESTS
Your friends and family are undoubtedly excited about your big day, but they probably don't have an hour to kill just reading through your wedding invitations. Be respectful of their time and include only the information they really need - folks don't need a detailed timeline of the entire wedding day; they just need to know where to go and what time to show up. Any other fun details you want to share can be included on your wedding website.