Wondering what to include in a wedding invitation suite? You're not alone. Designing, packaging, and sending wedding invitations is a major undertaking. If your head is swimming from stationery overload and you can't tell a reception card from a response card, we've compiled a helpful guide outlining exactly what to send with wedding invitations.
What Is a Wedding Invitation Suite?
A wedding invitation suite consists of all paper goods sent along with the wedding invitation. It should always include a response card, as well as important information like directions and accommodations.
1. Wedding Invitation
Naturally, your wedding invitation suite should include your wedding invitation—and though it may seem obvious what should be written on an invite, couples commonly (and surprisingly) forget to include key details like time, date, ceremony location, and/or the reception location. So make sure to check over your invite, and then check it twice! As for less obvious additions to your invitation, consider corner copy. "Corner copy is a great place for quick bits of information, such as 'reception following ceremony,' if they're in the same location," says stationery specialist Shanna Zuelch from Invitations by Dawn. "You can also use corner copy for 'no gifts please' or a note about attire."
Meet the Expert
Shanna Zuelch is a stationery specialist from Invitations by Dawn.
2. Reception Card
If your wedding reception is not going to be held in the same location as the wedding ceremony, you'll need to include a separate card with the reception information with wording that indicates the formality and nature of the event. "If you are hosting a reception before 1 p.m., the first line should say 'Breakfast Reception.' Anything after 1 p.m. is just 'Reception,' " Zuelch advises. Do you want to indicate a sit-down meal? The first line should read 'Dinner Reception. As for the oft-contested younger guests, if you'd like to throw an adults-only affair, you should notify guests through word-of-mouth and by the names addressed in the invitation. If you must include an "Adults-Only Reception" line, do so on the reception card, and as the last line, says Zuelch.
3. Response Card
When sending response cards, don't forget to include a stamp for your guests' convenience. Zuelch advises to "number the names on your guest list, and then write that number on the back of the corresponding response card. You can then look up responses by number just in case you can't read the handwriting or someone forgets to include his or her name." If you're having meal choices, this is also the card where you leave checkboxes for people to choose chicken, fish, steak, vegetarian options, etc.
You can, of course, forego response cards altogether and direct guests to RSVP on your wedding website, but Zuelch cautions couples to be considerate of older generations. If you can foresee that certain guests might not be comfortable using a computer, consider sending them a response card even if you're not including them with the majority of the wedding invitation suites.
Don't leave guests to their own devices when it comes to getting to your wedding on time. While Google Maps are alive and well, a guest's phone could die or lose reception and that is a recipe for tardiness. Plus, your elderly guests might not even have a smart phone that can give them directions instantaneously. So, to be on the safe side, always include a direction card. You never know when your guests will need it.
On the direction card, legibility is key. "Carefully consider the font you use on your direction cards," says Zuelch. "It's important to make sure the font is easy to read for all of your guests." And, in the event you don't include a direction card in your wedding invitation suite, you should still list the directions to your venue and its address on your wedding website as another backup.
5. Accommodations Card
You don't have to send accommodation cards to everyone, just to out-of-town guests. "Including a deadline for making reservations on your accommodations card is optional but helpful," suggests Zuelch. "Rooms can book up fast, so it's nice to give your guests a date to shoot for." If you're covering guests' accommodations, it's proper etiquette to indicate that on the accommodation card, says Zuelch.
This is also where you can include any information regarding transportation to and from hotels to the wedding.
6. Weekend Itinerary
If your wedding will span a weekend and will include multiple events such as welcome drinks, an after-party, a day-after brunch, etc., it's a good idea to include a full itinerary for guests so they know what to expect and pack for.
7. Inner Envelope
This is the place to clearly write the names of each wedding guest, and effectively indicate exactly who is (and isn't) invited to the wedding. If your guest will have a specific plus-one, write both their names. If they can bring anyone, the envelope should include their name and a generic guest: "John Smith and Guest." If there's not a plus-one, it's simple: just include the guest's name.
This is also the way to indicate whether or not children are invited. For example, if you are inviting a family, the envelope should be addressed to "The Smiths." If it's just the parents, however, it should read "John and Victoria Smith."
8. Outer Envelope
Don't forget the stamp! Luckily, you don't have to hand write the addresses yourself—many stationery companies offer addressing services. "Envelope moisteners are lifesavers when assembling hundreds of wedding invitations!" says Zuelch.
9. Belly Band
A belly band (or invitation wrapper) holds all the pieces of the wedding invitation suite together neatly. Choose a coordinating color and accentuate the band with a ribbon or jewel for added glam.
With all this stationary, your envelope may weigh more than standard postage covers. Head down to the post office with a your invitation suite and get it weighed to see what postage you'll actually need. This is also the time when you can go over stamp options to find a stamp that's suited for a wedding. From hearts to flowers, you'll be surprised at the variety of stamps they have hiding behind the counter!
When you actually mail the invitations off, request that the stamps be hand-cancelled rather than machine-cancelled. All stamps need to be cancelled when they're sent out so that the stamp cannot be reused, but stamps that are cancelled by a machine can leave tacky, wavy lines all over your beautiful envelope. Avoid any unexpected marks on your envelopes by asking for your wedding invitations to be cancelled by hand rather than by machine.
Even if you don't mind the wavy lines, hand-cancellation might be necessary: if you put the return address on the back of the envelope rather than the front—which is common practice for wedding invitation addressing— he machine might not be able to read which side of the envelope is the front, thus necessitating hand-cancellation.