Sunday, July 24, 2011

100th Post & Invitation Etiquette Part 1

I cannot believe I have already had 100 posts! Whoohooo, thanks everybody for supporting my blog!! I've decided to go back to the blogs' roots for this post - Invitations! I'd like to bring to you some of my personal tips and tricks regarding invitations and etiquette.

Let's jump right in....

Save-the-Dates - You do not need to send save-the-dates, however I would really suggest sending them especially for destination weddings, or if your special day will be held on  either a three day weekend, a holiday, or another popular date (think, 9-10-11, or 11-11-11).

They should be sent out ASAP, especially for the above chosen dates. Ideally I'd say to send them at around 8 months, but definitely no later than 6 months before the big day. If you send them too late it's really a waste, as you might as well just be sending the invitation. I know there are some very charming designs out there, but anything after 6 months I would definitely skip the save-the-dates and use that money on some fabulous day-of stationery instead!

Each card should state the name of the bride and groom, the location of the wedding (just city and state, don't need to put the venue on these) and travel/hotel accommodation information.  Additionally, if you have set up a wedding website, put it on the save-the-dates so people can keep track of any changes before the big day.

Oh, and while many other folks would tell you that you don't have to send a save-the-date to everybody, I would suggest thinking carefully who you send to.  If you haven't nailed down a guest list yet, but know the people you absolutely want to join - just send to them. For my own wedding I only sent save-the-dates to close relatives and folks that would need to travel, however word spreads like wildfire in an Italian family, and some people were very offended they were not "special" enough to get the save-the-date. Just be warned.

Websites - Right now wedding websites are all the rage, heck, I had one! Websites are a great way to keep guests aware of details you might not want to list out on a formal save-the-date or invitation. In addition to fun little blurbs about the couple, the website should also have:
  • the date of the wedding
  • the location/time of the ceremony
  • hotel accommodation details
  • directions from the hotel to the ceremony/reception
  • transportation details (if you are providing transportation)
  • all registry info
  • some local activities for out-of-towners
  • maybe even a hint about attire; for example, my wedding was at a beach where the temperature drops at night, so I advised guests to bring something lovely and cozy, in case they got chilly
  • some info about your bridal party might also be a nice way to make the day seem more personal for the guests
You may be wondering why I didn't suggest putting the time of the reception on the website. Well, you can if you'd like, but I do think the website gets passed to many people that are not always invited to the wedding, so I would just be a little careful there.

Plus, many sites offer free basic websites! Some of my favorites (free or not) are Wedding WireeWedding, Momentville, and My Wedding.

Invitations - this is the big one.  Here are my top tips:
  • These should be sent out around 6-8 weeks before the wedding
  • The RSVP date should be around 3 weeks before the wedding.
  • Generally final headcount needs to go to the caterer about 1-2 weeks before the big day
  • You will spend at least one week after the RSVP date hunting down Great-Aunt-Sally, and Aunt Jamima since neither have responded on time
  • You do not NEED an inner envelope. Sorry, but as a stationery designer it kills me when I get a very poorly made invitation, but, oh wait, it has an inner envelope, so it must be nice. Insert sarcasm. Instead of inner envelopes, I'd spend the money to have a beautiful invitation made and add a gorgeous liner to the one and only envelope. Yes, my grandmother is cringing right now. 
  • Make sure guests have enough information. You can do this by adding different informational enclosures. Add a coordinating enclosure for each piece of information, including reception location and time, directions, map etc. Or, if you are on a budget, add just one enclosure that states all details could be found on your wedding website. Then make sure you have a wedding website.
  • Gramma says that when sending wedding invitations, one MUST have the addresses hand written. I say they need to look nice, and so if you cannot afford hand calligraphy, ask your invitation designer to use a calligraphy font to print the addresses. It's much prettier than the handwriting of your maid-of-honor. Sorry MOH, but it's true. 
  • Gramma might also say to add registry information somewhere on your actual invitation. Don't do it, it's tacky and presumptuous. If a guest is curious about your registry, they can check your website or ask a member of the bridal party.
Alright, I could go ON and ON about wedding invitations (in fact, I will in the next, Part 2, post) but really those are my major points. Please feel free to let me know if I am missing something, and if you want more details, well, it's 2011 and you can probably just google "wedding invitation etiquette".

Lastly, I want to talk about thank you cards.
  • Gramma says you have a year to send them. Ok, I can understand that after the wedding you want to relax, go through your pictures etc etc, but really, a full year? I'll have mine out by the 3 month mark, but if that's too soon, I'd try to have it done no later than 6-8 months after the wedding. 
  • Do NOT forget to send thank you cards to the people that kindly gave you a gift, even though they were not invited to the wedding reception. Maybe your neighbor gave you a gift card or a lovely bottle of wine. Make sure to thank everybody that was generous both in gift and in thought. They will appreciate you taking the time to thank them. 
  • It is a nice gesture to send thank you cards to your vendors too. They'll probably stick it on a wall in their office/showroom.
Last, but definitely not least,  my number one tip is to have fun. Your wedding day is all about you, so if you don't want to go the traditional route, then don't! If you want whimsy, then go get it! Take the time to enjoy the process of wedding planning, and go with what your heart desires!!

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