Wondering what to include in a wedding invitation suite? You're not alone. Designing, packaging, and sending wedding invitations is a major undertaking. Before you even get to the designing aspect, you'll need to do your research.
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. Jill Velez, the owner of Copper Willow Paper Studio, suggests that couples understand the guest list, map out which events need extra information, and create a stationery budget. The average cost of wedding invitations varies per printing method. You can spend as little as a few hundred dollars with digital printing, or prepare to drop a few thousand with more extravagant methods like letterpress and engraving.
Meet the Expert
- Jill Velez is a stationery designer and owner of Copper Willow Paper Studio in Los Alamitos, California.
- Shanna Zuelch is a stationery specialist from Invitations by Dawn.
Reach out to designers with your wedding invitation ideas in advance. "Make sure their timeline fits yours and that their capability covers the items desired," says Velez. "Most stationers can meet stylistic requests; it's the logistics that can hamper the process." There's also the option to use a website to design your own wedding invitations. Minted, Zola, Artifact Uprising, and Zazzle have countless options to choose from and are extremely user-friendly.
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.
- Response Card and Envelope
- Mailing Envelope
- Inner Envelope
- Reception Card
- Weekend Events Card
- Accommodations Card
- Invitation Wrapper
Naturally, your wedding invitation suite should include the actual 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.
Add your wedding website somewhere on the invitation or on its own small card. Even if you mentioned it on the save-the-date, still write it somewhere in the invitation suite.
Before reply cards existed, couples would send a single-letter sheet invitation, and guests would have to use their own supplies to respond. "Invitations now typically include a way to reply; no one expects guests to own personal stationery anymore," says Velez.
When sending response cards, don't forget to include a pre-addressed envelope and 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, put checkboxes on the response cards 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.
Another obvious mention: you'll need an envelope to send off all the paper goods. Luckily, you don't have to handwrite the addresses yourself—many stationery companies offer addressing services. "Envelope moisteners are lifesavers when assembling hundreds of wedding invitations!" says Zuelch.
With all this stationery, your envelope may weigh more than standard postage covers. Head down to the post office with 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 one that's suitable 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, request that the stamps be hand-canceled rather than machine-canceled. All stamps need to be canceled when they're sent out so that the stamp cannot be reused, but stamps that are canceled by a machine can leave tacky, wavy lines all over your beautiful envelope.
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—the machine might not be able to read which side of the envelope is the front, thus necessitating hand-cancellation.
Inner Envelope (Optional)
Slightly smaller than the outer mailing envelope, the inner envelope holds the invitation and indicates who specifically is (and isn't) invited to the wedding. This is the place to clearly write the names of each wedding guest. 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 adults-only, however, it should read "John and Victoria Smith."
Reception Card (Optional)
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.
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 smartphone that can give them directions instantly. So, to be on the safe side, always include a direction card. You never know when your guests will need it.
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. For some added personality and an intimate touch, Velez recommends including a custom weekend map. They make a great addition and keepsake for you and your guests.
Weekend Events Card (Optional)
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. "Between the website and the invitation, guests should receive as much information as possible to better plan their weekend," says Velez. "Guests will appreciate the extra info, especially for those traveling from out of town, and the planner and/or couple will handle fewer questions."
A lot of websites include detailed logistics, but Velez recommends that couples still include an insert card that lists weekend events. "This insert officially invites guests to these activities and puts the details physically in their hands." Include things like hotel recommendations with room blocks and transportation locations and times. This is also where you would mention if any wedding weekend activities are adults-only.
Accommodations Card (Optional)
If you have guests coming in from out of town, they will appreciate the extra card detailing hotel options. "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. Be sure to include any information regarding transportation to and from hotels to the wedding.
Invitation Wrapper (Optional)
Once you properly assemble your wedding invitation suite, an invitation wrapper like a belly band or silk ribbon may be used to hold all the pieces neatly together. Choose a coordinating color and accentuate the wrapper with a jewel or botanicals for added glam.
For those hosting a destination wedding, you'll have some extra things to consider. "It's important to establish the wedding guest list early to get a grasp on where all of the guests live and will be traveling from," says Velez. If the whole guest list is traveling to a destination wedding, be sure to give plenty of time for planning by sending the save-the-date cards well in advance. These should include recommended online travel information that can be accessed early. "Additional information in print is helpful for navigating foreign destinations, so don't be shy with the weekend information," says Velez.
If only some guests are traveling from a different country, keep in mind the invitations may need extra mailing time, and an alternate/online reply method is recommended.