Before you order your wedding stationery, it’s always a smart idea to put together a list of all the paper elements you’ll need. This will help you and your spouse-to-be stay on budget and figure out which pieces are essential and which ones you may not need. To help, we’ve put together a wedding stationery checklist—a guide to all of the various paper elements you might need for your big day. Keep in mind, though, that this list is not meant to be all-inclusive—a vast majority of these elements are optional, can be done as a DIY project, or can be mailed electronically (besides the wedding invitation itself—we still think it’s important to send guests a printed invitation).
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Table of Contents
- 1 Make your wedding stationery shopping experience a little bit easier
- 1.1 Save The Dates Cards
- 1.2 Invitations
- 1.3 Invitation Inserts
- 1.4 RSVP Cards
- 1.5 Envelopes
- 1.6 Wedding Day Itinerary
- 1.7 Ceremony Programs
- 1.8 Escort and Place Cards
- 1.9 Menu Cards
- 1.10 Wedding Signs
- 1.11 Thank You Cards
- 1.12 Wedding Announcements
- 1.13 Change of Address Cards ( Optional)
- 1.14 Other Optional Wedding Stationery
Make your wedding stationery shopping experience a little bit easier
Here’s a guide to every piece you’ll need:
Save The Dates Cards
Before your guests get the invitation suite, they’ll receive you save the date card. As a general rule, you’ll want to send these out at least six months before the wedding date, although if you’re hosting a destination wedding eight months’ or even a year’s notice is recommended. When you’re sending out your save the date cards, you likely won’t know all of the key wedding details, and that’s okay! You are saving the date should include the wedding date (or dates if you’re hosting a wedding weekend with multiple events), a city and state, and a note that an invitation will follow.
A Save the Date signifies to the guest that they are invited to attend your event and should “save the date”.
Save the Date cards are not official invitations, they simply give the bride and grooms names, the date and some brief details of the location, town or area town the wedding will be held and notification that the formal wedding invitation will follow.
Save the Date cards are perfect for couples who need to give their guests advance notice of the wedding, particularly useful if you are getting married abroad or are inviting guests from abroad so they may begin to make travel plans.
If you have a wedding website you’d like guests to know about, this is a great place to include the web address as well. Since you don’t have all of your wedding details planned out, don’t worry about making the save the date card match the wedding theme or colours. Use these cards as an opportunity to get creative and have fun. Show off your engagement photos, make a reference to a movie you both love or add a fun pattern or colour. When your guests see you save the date, it should immediately make them think of you as a couple!
Invitations are definitely the most well-known piece of your wedding stationery, and with good reason. Your wedding invitation is a piece of stationery that will convey the most important information. You want to make sure your invitation includes key details for guests like date, time, and ceremony and reception locations.
Make sure you don’t leave the invitation for the last minute. You’ll want to send your invitations, and the rest of your invitation suite, out to your guests about six weeks before the wedding date and it’s going to take some time to design, proof, and receive your invites. Choose a wedding invitation designer early, so they’ll have plenty of time to design your invites. This is especially true if you want to do a more custom design, like a monogram, a watercolour image of your venue, or a sketch of the two of you. Your invitation is one of the first glimpses that guests will get of your wedding day and will set the tone for them, so don’t shy away from being creative. You want you to invite to wow your guests and get them excited for what’s to come!
Check out our post on How to choose wedding invitations?
There’s a lot of information your guests will need to know about your wedding, and you don’t want to try to cram everything onto the invitation itself. That’s where inserts come into play. Inserts give you the option to let your guests know some of the nuances of the big day. One popular wedding invitation insert is a reception card. The reception card will indicate to your guests the formality of the event, the location if it’s different than the ceremony location, and any special attire requests. Couples who are hosting out-of-town guests or a destination wedding will want to send out directions and an accommodations card. Those will give guests the information they need regarding your wedding hotel block, book flights, and basics for getting to the ceremony and reception. The inserts are also a great place to include a link to the wedding website, so guests will know where to go to get more info about the big day.
Direction Information (Maps & Accommodation Information)
Maps and direction information is useful to help out of town guests with the location of your church/ceremony venue and reception venue. Accommodation information contains contact details and web references for local hotels or B&B’s for guests who may require it.
Maps and direction information will prove especially useful to guests that are travelling from out of town, or if your wedding is in a lesser-known location. Provide them with the location of the ceremony venue as well as the reception venue. And even if your location itself is well known, you’re not off the hook! Guests need specific directions, so they know where to go once they get there. If you have an elaborate Sydney Opera House, wedding directions to the venue may not be necessary. Still, you want to save your guests from standing awkwardly on the steps staring over Sydney Harbour because they couldn’t find the room you were in. If you are supplying accommodation suggestions, be sure to include the contact details and web-references for booking. Hand-drawn wedding maps are a chance to get creative.
Evening Invitations/ Afters Invites
For additional guests that may not be attending the ceremony. Evening Invitations are formal invites for the wedding reception and celebration only.
Providing RSVP cards allow your guests to respond to your invitation easily. Typically, you’ll ask guests to write their names and if they will or won’t attend your wedding—either by checking a box or by simply leaving the card blank to allow for a personal message. You should also note when responses are “due”—typically two or three weeks before your wedding. Some couples ask their guests to choose their entree for the wedding reception on their RSVP card—but that’s up to you and your caterer. Don’t forget to include self-addressed envelopes and appropriate postage with your RSVP cards. It not only makes your guests’ lives easier but also makes it more likely that you’ll get the cards back in a timely fashion. If you’re concerned about the cost of the additional postage, a postcard RSVP card will cost less to send than one with an envelope.
In your invitation suite, you’ll likely have two envelopes: an inner and an outer. The outer envelope is the one that will be addressed and stamped. It will contain the entire invitation suite. The inner envelope goes inside the outer envelope, and that’s where you’ll write the names of the invited guests. Make sure to write the guests’ names clearly on the inner envelope, and it will help you avoid unexpected plus-ones. To save time, have the stationery company you choose to address the envelopes for you. Before you mail out all of your invites, take one to the post office and have it weighed. A lot of wedding invitation need extra postage. It’s better to know that in advance than to have all of your invites come back to you.
Wedding Day Itinerary
Although the word itinerary has connotations of a military boot camp, it can actually be a fun and playful addition to the wedding invitation suite. For example, for a 2 or 3 days wedding a festival-inspired itinerary could be useful – include dinner the night before, a second-day barbecue, cocktail hour and lots of time for dancing! You can also offer guests suggestions of what to do in any downtime – list some locations they might want to visit that are nearby or recommend a restaurant for lunch. You don’t want out-of-town guests traipsing to Bondi between the ceremony and the reception because they didn’t realise how long it would take to get across Sydney.
A ceremony program is all about introducing your wedding party and giving guests a sense of what to expect during the ceremony. Most ceremony programs include a list of the couple’s, wedding party members’ officiant’s and parents’ names, along with a “run of show” for the ceremony—or a list of the different rituals, readings, and other portions of the ceremony in the order in which everything will proceed. There are other optional additions to a ceremony program, including a thank-you note from the couple, an “in memory of” section listing names of close relatives and/or friends who have passed away, and a section explaining any religious or cultural traditions or rituals that guests might not be familiar with.
The order of service/ceremony booklet is used for the wedding service and contains the names of the bridal party, name of the officiant, the plan and songs, music etc. These differ greatly between various religions and can also be used for civil ceremonies.
Additional information could be added to make the program more personal to the day such as quotes or poems, bios of the bridal party, “in memory of” tributes to loved ones who have passed on, or a thank you to the parents and guests.
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The Wedding Program/Reception Programme (Optional)
This informs guests of how the evening/reception will unfold from the meal to the speeches that will be made, the cutting of the cake and the first dance. At Irish weddings, this isn’t very usual but sometimes is written as a blackboard sign. Helpful if you have lots of things planned or a venue with many rooms.
Seating Plan/Table Plan
Seating or table plans are on display at the entrance of the reception area and show your guests a plan of the table layouts so they can easily find their seat. These can correspond with the place cards or escort cards and the table numbers (names).
Escort and Place Cards
Yes, escort cards and place cards are two different things, even though the words are often used interchangeably. The escort cards will be placed near the entrance of your reception (usually in an ultra-creative display) and will tell guests what table they’re sitting. Once they arrive at the table, they’ll find the place cards which tell them which seat at the table is theirs. Place cards aren’t mandatory, but they’re incredibly helpful if you’re having a big wedding or a plated dinner. Even if you chose not to have place cards, you should have escort cards that will assign guests to a table. It takes the stress off your guests of finding a seat, and you don’t have to worry about anyone accidentally sitting at the wedding party table.
Escort Cards (optional)
The same idea as place cards, escort cards are more usual in the US, but allow more creativity than place cards so are starting to be seen at Irish weddings. They are used to assign each guest to their seat at the wedding reception. This can correspond with the table/seating plan.
Whether you’re having a plated dinner or a buffet-style meal, your guests are going to want to know what they’re eating. For plated dinners, your guests have already selected their meal on the RSVP, so use the place card as a way to remind them of what they’re getting and what salads and sides will accompany it. For a buffet-style, you can opt for either individual menu cards or a couple of menu boards near the buffet line. The menus will give guests something to look at while they wait for the food and will help speed up the buffet line since they can figure out what they want before they get there. If you have guests with any allergies or food sensitivities, menu cards can be a lifesaver. The last thing you want is someone to have an allergic reaction at the reception!
Wedding signs are a fun and informative element to add to your ceremony and reception decor. Ranging from small to large, these come in all shapes, sizes and styles.
Thank You Cards
When your big day is over, it’s time to thank your guests for celebrating with you and for the gifts they gave. Although it’s a general rule that you have a year after the wedding to send out thank you notes, it’s better to send them sooner rather than later. Aim for getting all of your thank you cards out two months after the wedding. Order your thank you cards when you order the rest of your wedding stationery. It will help keep the theme consistent, and then you’ll have one less thing to think about when you get back from your honeymoon. You may be dreading writing out all of the thank you notes, especially if you had a big wedding, but remember to make each one personalised by specifically mentioning the gift the person gave you or a memory from the wedding day. Don’t be the couple that sends out the dreaded generic thank you!
To announce the couples marriage to family and friends if a couple has a small intimate ceremony or elope.
Change of Address Cards ( Optional)
Change of address cards can be useful if the bride or groom has changed their residence following the wedding.
Other Optional Wedding Stationery
Suppose you’re planning a lot of venue decor ideas at your wedding, like having a sweet bar or dessert table, a photobooth, baskets in the bathrooms, a fingerprint guest book etc.. In that case, you need to think about appropriate signage and stationery for it. There’s nothing worse than a hand-scrawled or word/clipart sign to ruin all your great work. Worse, with no signage, people mightn’t even use what you’ve created. Common things you may need include:
- Wishing Tree Tags
- Wedding Guest Book
- Wedding Favour Tags
- Sweet Buffet Tags/Labels
- Signage ( this can indicate buffet choices, drinks choices, men’s and ladies’ rooms -basically any sport you can think to customise)
- Thumbprint tree
Wedding stationery serves one of the most important purposes: to outline what guests can expect at your affair, from the invitation right down to the table numbers. It’s a polite way of providing guidance along the way for guests. While all stationery is not necessary, keep in mind that it is a great way to make guests feel informed and included.
My recommendation is to hire a stationer who can design all of your wedding stationery–from your invitations to the place cards. This can truly make your wedding one beautiful, cohesive affair.