How to Buy Wedding Invitations

Invitations will be your guests' first glimpse at the style of your wedding. Make sure your invitations reflect your vision of your day. Traditional wording can be used, or you can use inspirational wording or write your own. Unless you have a degree in art, English, and etiquette, don’t try to make your own—people will notice, and it will set a tone for your wedding that you may have a hard time escaping. Whatever you do, remember that the invitation reflects your joy in having your guests share this special day with you.


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    Start looking. Go to stores and look at invitations. Tiny pictures on the web will help you get an idea, but they're not enough to order from. Most online invitation vendors will send samples, sometimes for free or a small fee that will be placed towards your order.
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    Make a list of friends and family to send invitations to. Remember to count each couple or family as one invitation so that you don't over order. It's up to you whether to make wedding invitations or wedding announcements, or a combination of the two. If you're just announcing the wedding, expect to send 300-600 announcements. Brides who make invitations average under 100 invitations. Remember not to cut the number to save money--realize that (and your mom is too polite to say this aloud) every $1.00 invitation you send will bring back $50 in gifts. But remember to keep in mind the cost per-head at the reception if you expect them to come.
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    Remember that it takes time to print the invitations (sometimes as little as two to three weeks, although it sometimes it takes as much as six) and it will take you an additional week or two to address the envelopes. The return address should be printed, unless you want to hand-write 500 of the same address, and take time to make sure the same person hand-writes the front and back of the envelope.
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    Know how to spell your fiance's and parent's names. That may sound funny, but many brides have to make multiple trips to see their stationer because the bride doesn't know something basic on the invitation, i.e. how to spell her parents' full-names, whether they want their full names, what the name of their chapel is, etc.
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    Proofread! Have at least two other people read the proofs from the designer or printer. Don't count on yourself to be the only proofreader, as you probably have memorized some of the information and may skip over a typo.
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    Know these things in advance: Your parents’ preferred name-format (“Mr.& Mrs. John Smith" vs. “John and Jane Smith"); the spellings of names; wedding date and time; wedding location (address, building name); reception time(s), place(s), and date(s).
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    Choose font style, color, and size. Remember, a simple font allows you to put more wording on your invitation. The “frilly" fonts only look good in larger type-sizes. If you have your heart set on a particular “frilly" font, consider using a combination of fonts, with your names in a larger, more elaborate font and the rest of the text in a simpler, smaller font. When choosing a font, be sure to look at the first initials of your names in the font you are considering. If you like your first initial in a font, you’re likely to like the invitation when it’s finished. Unless you have a degree in art, don't try to pick a font or layout an announcement yourself.
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    Don't include a registry card; this is considered a tacky and impolite gesture. Count on your parents and wedding party to spread the word. They will be asked! If you feel you must put a registry card in your invitation, do it right. Don't use the ones with the store's logo in bright-red. You can use a "pew card" for this purpose—a small blank card that matches your invitation. Web sites are better than multiple enclosures, and appease those who hate registry cards. You can print on a pew card and it will look a lot better than “Aimee and John are registered at Classy Joint We Really Hate. Web pages allow maps to the event-sites, additional pictures, registry links, stories about the couple, and are considered a thoughtful gesture.
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    Buy your thank you at the same time as your invitations. The reasons for this are simple—first, your parents will pay for them now. Second, most brides who don’t order them before the wedding never get around to it later. And no, you can’t go to a superstore and buy a 500-pack of blank thank yous, they don’t sell them in packs greater than 12. Only people who sell invitations can sell you thank yous in increments larger than that.
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    Consider RSVP cards, also called “response cards. If you are having any sit-down events, you will need them. Consider the math. If you’re paying $25 per plate for a dinner, being two guests more accurate will save you the average price of RSVP cards. You will definitely be at least two people more accurate.
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    Decide how far in advance to send your invitations, based on where you're from and where your guests live. Send invitations 6-8 weeks in advance for most places. Easterners like 8 weeks, Californians like 6 weeks, and People who live in Utah, generally expect 2-3 weeks. If you’re tight on time, sort your invitations list by zip code, and then send them out in that order. Send out all invitations on the same day, and then keep an accurate list of responses. You will need an accurate guest count for both the ceremony and reception.
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    Expect to purchase many, if not all, of these things from your stationer/printer: Announcements; Thank You Notes; Invitations & Envelopes; Ceremony Programs; Response Cards & Envelopes; Seating Cards; Save-the-Date Cards; Location Map; Napkins; Stationery


  • If you are having a small wedding or a second wedding don't forget about invitation software. Your family and friends will understand.
  • Generally, the only two things that will raise the price of postage are the weight of the invitation and whether it is square. Size doesn’t matter. Be sure to assemble an invitation and have it weighed for the proper postage cost. Most invitations will be sent with a first class stamp. Also, remember to budget for a return stamp on your reception response envelope. You will have a better response rate by doing so. Also, if your wedding is months away and your budget is tight, look into any postal rate increases that may be coming. If not taken into consideration it can really bust that budget.
  • The easiest way to address the issue of divorced parents is simply to list the parents separately, with both last names. “Sally and Bob Collins" implies they are still married. “Sally Collins and Bob Collins" implies that they aren’t.
  • There are many permutations of wording. Any professional will proofread your invitation and offer advice for free, even if you’re not using their services for design and printing. Be sure, besides just choosing the card you like, choose whomever is making the invitation. Be sure they have actually studied grammar, art, and etiquette, and don’t just copy other invitations for your wording.
  • There are various ways in which you can make invitations. You will hear processing terms like "thermographic," "raised lettering," "offset," "letter pressed," "engraved," and "embossed." There is a big difference in these styles, especially depending on your level of formality. Most brides use "raised lettering," which is the same as "thermographic." "Engraved" is extra-fancy and extra-expensive; and, frustratingly, most people can't tell the difference between engraved and raised lettering. Offset is used only when the other two are not possible, i.e. when a really high resolution is needed (for photos, etc.) or when you're designing a very original invitation that the traditional presses can't handle. But be careful--some offset printers do not use film and finished product can result in something looking like it came off your inkjet printer from home. Make sure your offset printer is a professional, and ask any printer to provide samples of something similar for your reference. Offset can be a great alternative to letterpress, engraved or thermographed printing. It's crisp and clean when done well.


  • Be certain to send the invitation with correct postage. Square invitations require extra postage.
  • Don't skimp on wedding invitations! Seriously, recognize secretly if not publicly that for every dollar you put into an invitation, you're going to get $40 in gifts in return. If you save $50 by not getting a particular accessory or by sending out fewer cards than there are people who care about you, you could accidentally end up setting the tone incorrectly, and your gifts will average $15 instead of $50.
  • Make sure the invitations you purchase fit in with your budget. You don't have to be extravagant to find quality invitations. Go with your priorities.

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Categories: Wedding Planning | Invitations