Before you go buying every pretty note card in sight, determine your needs by breaking down your wedding day. Use your wedding style, however formal or casual, as well as time and budget to guide you through the boundless options. It’s helpful to establish a thread of consistency — with color, theme, or motif — and apply it to each piece.
For efficiency and cost effectiveness, strive to order all your stationery needs from the same place and, ideally, at the same time. Here’s everything you need to know about the paper products you’ll be ordering.
The centerpiece of your wedding stationery, the invitation reflects the tone of your wedding, whether black tie or beach party. An invitation can have several pieces: the outer envelope, an unsealed inner envelope, the invitation, a reception card (if the party is held at a different venue than the ceremony), and a response card with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Printed maps and information on hotels is often also enclosed.
These are heavy stock, 100-percent cotton or linen paper in white or ecru, engraved with black or charcoal ink, and with a square of tissue to protect the type.
Couples are steering away from the standard invitation and using papers in unusual sizes and colors, with exotic textures (perhaps relating to the color scheme of the wedding), and emblazoned with motifs, graphics, monograms, and family crests. Waste-conscious brides with less formal invites often forgo the unsealed inner envelope (originally used to protect the invitation from the elements when mail was hand-delivered and often arrived in shoddy shape).
Three to four months before the wedding date. The sooner you order them, the more time you’ll have to proof them, make any changes, and address the outer envelopes (a calligrapher, for example, requires up to two weeks to address 100 invitations).
Six weeks before the date is the most common; eight weeks is ideal (10 weeks for guests coming from abroad). You have more leeway if you send save-the-date cards first.