Your Story Invites wants to be sure your entire experience with ordering wedding invitations is fun and easy. We created this helpful wedding checklist to help you along, start to finish. This checklist will take you through the process and inform you about when you should order save the dates, when you should plan the wedding invites and when you should coordinate other important pieces so nothing goes overlooked. Use the checklist below to keep track of wedding to-dos and enjoy a stress-free wedding planning experience!
Start working on these items as soon as you have a venue nailed down. It's okay to skip the save the date or send it via e-mail if you're tight on time or budget. It generally takes 2-4 weeks to print invitations, so start the ordering process at least 3-4 months before the wedding. The earlier you can start, the better: This is the best way to prepare for any unforeseen complications and to allow yourself the time to address and mail the invitations.
Save the Dates
A save the date is an announcement of the date and general location of your wedding. It can be printed or electronic. Send it 6 months before your wedding, up to 12 months ahead if you're having a destination wedding. Include your names, date, city and wedding website and password if needed. Specific venue information is not needed at this point. We see save the dates as an opportunity to have fun and show off who you are as a couple. Do something creative and out of the box! Or, make it into your own love story and share something special with your guests. Go simple and classic or make it interactive. It’s all up to you. Remember, there are WAY more options than magnets, so explore all the possibilities.
The invitation is the formal announcement of the date, address and time of your wedding. While it is customary to send a printed invitation, you can e-mail an invitation if you are on a very tight budget. However, working with Your Story Invites, we are confident we can create printed wedding invitations – even within the tightest budget.
Start the ordering process 3-4 months before the wedding. Send the invitation 8-10 weeks before your wedding. If you're having a destination wedding, send it 12 weeks in advance. Must-have details include your names; the date, time and addresses for the ceremony and reception; and an RSVP deadline, which should be 2-4 weeks before your wedding. Optional information includes listing the names of the hosts (often the parents), the time the reception is due to finish (Carriages at...) and dress code guidelines.
OPTIONAL INVITATION INSERTS
A reply card is the card guests use to RSVP to your wedding. RSVPs can be sent via a printed card or electronically. If you choose to use a printed reply card, include it with a self-addressed, stamped envelope with the invitation.
If you ask guests to RSVP electronically via a website or e-mail, provide the site/e-mail address on the invitation or on an information card.
If you plan to offer entrée choices at the reception, ask your guests to choose an entrée or to list any dietary restrictions when they reply.
A reception card or section lets your guests know the date, place and time of the reception, sent if the party will be at a different venue from the ceremony.
Include the date, location, address and time of the reception.
These are not usually used in the UK, where reception details, even if in a different venue to the ceremony, would appear on the main invitation.
A direction card or section with in the invitations that offers directions as well as travel and accommodations information.
Include the addresses for ceremony and reception venues, directions to these venues and any pertinent accommodations and transportation details.
You can also include a map that marks nearby hotels, the ceremony and reception venues and any other event locations.
Include a schedule of events if you are having a welcome dinner, send-off brunch or other weekend activities
You can also include information about attire, childcare and/or whether children are invited and guest registry.
The accommodations card is optional, but it's smart to include one for destination weddings or if you're expecting lots of out-of-town guests.
Include a list of hotels near the ceremony and reception sites, airfare or other transportation information and maps of the area. If you have reserved a block of rooms at a specific hotel, let your guests know by including the special rate, book by date, address and phone number.
If you're limiting invitation costs, include this information on your wedding website or combined it with the info section.
An invitation to the rehearsal dinner
Within many families, the groom's parents issue this invitation. Because this invitation likely won't be your responsibility, it's not necessary for rehearsal dinner invitations to match your wedding invitations. However, it's a nice touch. Talk it through with your future in-laws and let them determine how to proceed.
AT THE WEDDING
Start working on these components once your invitations are in the mail. Some items will need to wait until the last minute, since they might depend on knowing the guest list, schedule and menu.
Check with your stationer to confirm drop-dead deadlines for final proof approval.
A printed letter that welcomes your guests and fills them in on any planned events or optional activities.
This letter is especially helpful for keeping guests informed at a destination wedding or if you've planned a host of events for the weekend.
Leave the welcome letter in the guests' rooms, at the check-in site for the wedding or at the rehearsal dinner. Another option is to attach the note to the guest welcome bag.
Include a list of events and times, notable addresses, contact information, dress code requirements and maps.
A program is a printed list of the wedding party and the ceremony's order of events.
They can be placed on each seat before the ceremony, handed out by ushers or placed in a container such as a basket or decorative box for guests to help themselves.
While the program is only used the day of the wedding, start putting your program details together at least 1 month before the ceremony.
Include your wedding date, the names of the bridal party members and their relationship to the bride or groom, the order of events and the titles of the readings and songs. Some couples include a note to honor a deceased loved one, to explain rites within the ceremony that may be unfamiliar to guests or to offer a word of thanks to the hosts.
An order of service is a fuller form of the program and is usually a folded card or booklet depending on length of service. The cover has the venue, the couple's names and the date. Inside the sequence of the service is laid out with hymns and any responsorial prayers written in full. The readings can either be written in full or left as the title of the reading along with the author and reader's name. A list of the wedding party, the minister or officiant, organist, musicians and choirmaster may also be included.
AT THE RECEPTION
Printed cards that tell guests where to sit at the reception.
The options for displaying these cards are endless. Tie them to a tree with ribbons in your wedding colors, pin them to a decorated board or simply lay out tented cards in alphabetical order on a table.
Avoid seating chaos at dinner by setting out the cards early (before the cocktail hour if you are having one).
The only two "musts" on a seating card are the guest's name and his or her table number or name.
A large table plan (about 24" x 36") can also be used showing all the tables and seat assignments either by table name/number or arranged alphabetically. Be aware that at large functions, it is best to have this on display during the cocktail hour so that guests can find their seats over a longer stretch of time. It is suggested to have 2 or more table charts at the entrance of the reception hall depending on size of the venue and number of guests.
Printed cards that tell guests where to sit at the reception. Unlike an escort card, a place card is positioned at the guest's seat.
Traditionally place cards are tented at the head of each place setting, but they also can be hung with ribbons from the backs of chairs, or attached to an object indicative of your wedding theme.
Set out the place cards in advance; you want them in place before the guests arrive at the table.
All you need is the guest's name.
A printed table card designates each table with a number or name to help guests find their seats. Stand the table cards up in holders that the servers can remove before the dinner service or simply tent them.
You'll typically need one card per table, though you might want two or three per table if you're doing king's tables (long banquet tables that typically seat 15-20 guests or more). Set out the table cards in advance; you want them in place before the guests arrive at the table.
All you need is the table number or name. Make sure the table's number or name is printed on both sides of the card so that the guests can see it from different points in the room.
Printed menu cards let guests know what will be served.
Menu cards typically are placed at each setting and with the addition of the guest's name at the top, can sometimes double-up as the place card. A single menu can be used at each table if your reception is arranged in a series of small tables. Another option is to print one large menu or have it handwritten on a chalkboard for all to see.
Set out the menu cards in advance; you want them in place before the guests arrive at the table.
Include a list of what will be served as well as wine and beverage choices. You may choose to explain the significance of a particular dish or describe the ingredients of a signature cocktail.
A guest book lets guests leave a message or wish for you. It can be a traditional blank or lined book, or you can do something more creative, such as colorful note cards, a vintage typewriter with blank lined paper, in conjunction with a photo booth, vintage postcards or journals with questions on the cover to prompt guest advice (e.g. Where should we go for our 5-year anniversary?).
Set your guest book out at a welcome table at the entrance to your reception or at a prominent table during cocktail hour.
Include a sign that says "Please sign our guest book," or how-to instructions, if needed.
If you're doing a guest book, it can a nice touch to put your names and the wedding date on the cover.
OTHER PAPER DETAILS
Signs can be used to indicate anything from buffet selections and cocktail choices to the direction of the restrooms. Signs allow you to highlight important information for your guests within the style of your wedding's theme.
Put signs out wherever and whenever they're needed at the ceremony or reception.
At the ceremony, possibilities include a simple welcome sign, a sign for a welcome beverage if you're serving one and reserved seating signs. At the cocktail hour, bar signs can be used to list drink choices or highlight specialty cocktails. At the reception, you may choose to have a guest book sign and labels for a dessert bar or buffet stations. Signs can also be used for any amenities or treats you're handing out during the evening.
Paper can be a wonderful, inexpensive way to decorate. Consider ideas like:
Patterned paper wrappers for vessels and votives
Streamers, pom-poms, pennant garlands and paper link chains
Crepe or tissue paper flowers (in lieu of or in addition to fresh flowers)
Patterned paper or table runners (or butcher paper, if you're going for a more minimal look)
Paper placemats and napkin rings
Paper details in bridal party attire, such as corsages, pocket squares (made of paper instead of fabric) or bouquets
Many couples give a small favor or charitable donation on behalf of their guests.
You can create favor packaging, such as a tag or label, depending on what the favor is. Many baking and packaging supply shops sell plain pastry bags, cello bags, glassine bags, boxes and more. These are a great starting point. You can add your own tag or label to personalize them and give them creative flair.
On your tag or label, include a gracious message—such as "Thank you for celebrating with us!"—along with your names and the wedding date.
If you are giving a donation to charity, you can print a small donation card or print the message in your program or at the bottom of your menu cards. Example wording: "In lieu of favors, we have made a donation in your honor to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America."
A favor can also double as a seating card or place card by adding the guest's name to the tag or label.
Drinks are a perfect place to add some simple decoration to add to the festive mood.
Drink flags, which can be made from a bamboo skewer or a straw combined with a flag made from paper or ribbon, can add a festive touch to your signature cocktail.
Cocktail napkins and coasters are available in a wide range of colors and can be custom printed by vendors like www.foryourparty.com. You can even think about adding pretty patterned paper liners to trays on which drinks are being served or presented.
If you are serving a signature drink from a large pitcher, make a decorative sign with the drink name and tie it on with colorful ribbon.
Food packaging is great place to add creative detail, especially if you're serving finger foods during the reception or giving guests a bag of chocolates, candies or pastries as a welcome or farewell gift.
Baking and packaging supply websites like www.bakeitpretty.com sell many of the basics you'll need to present your food in a tasty and stylish manner, from popcorn boxes to cupcake liners and pastry bags.
You can add your own creative touch with customized labels. For example, place a custom label on the front of a glassine bag containing sweets or biscuits.
If you are doing a candy bar, you can make decorative signs for jars and bowls.
AFTER THE WEDDING
Thank you cards are stationery used to thank guests for attending your wedding and for any gifts.
A nice touch is to carry your wedding theme into the thank you card design
Send thank you notes within 2 weeks after receiving a gift.
These notes should be handwritten. Include your new mailing address if you are moving.
We are passionate about creating completely customized solutions to fit your wedding day and unique style as a couple. We specialize in telling your story through beautiful, innovative and timeless concepts and designs. From start to finish, we make sure your experience is stress-free and tailored to your exact needs and budget. Follow us and see more of our work:
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“Your Story Invites was able to mix our vintage theme with our own individual interests into all of our printed material and completely floored our guests. We STILL hear from guests how they have never seen invitations like it! ”
"We gave Your Story Invites an idea and they brought it to life giving us multiple amazingly creative options to choose from, both in design and materials, that were within our budget.."
"We didn't have much in mind for our invitation other than to be a little different than the typical. After meeting with Your Story Invites we were blown away by what they came up with! People are still talking about them."