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You never get a second chance to make a first impression...

Imagine each of your guests opening the mailbox and finding a beautifully addressed envelope. Can you envision their reaction as they open the envelope and slide out your wedding invitation... the first glimpse that most of them will have into your wedding event? Are they racing to their calendar to reserve the date for your wedding, or are they yawning, adding the invitation to the stack of other mail on the counter, and wondering what else they may have going on that weekend?

A wedding invitation sets the tone for the entire signals the formality and style of the event, reflects the personalities of the couple, and has the potential to make the invited guests very excited to be included in the celebration.

Before you order your wedding invitations, here are 10 things that you need to know and do

Before your appointment with us:

Get a clear picture in your mind of your dream wedding and of your personal taste and style. Close your eyes and envision your wedding day. What do you see? Is it a black-tie affair, a less formal garden or beach wedding, or something in between? Is the event during the day or in the evening? Is it in your hometown or a destination wedding?

Write down at least five adjectives that best describe how you want your wedding day to
look and feel. For example: traditional, romantic, lavish, minimalist, sophisticated, elegant, fun, casual, party, etc.

In your fashion, decor, and lifestyle do your tastes tend more toward traditional or more contemporary? More subtle and understated or more bold and colorful? Classic elegance with an updated twist? It’s OK to be a mix of styles, just try to hone in on the types of things you are usually drawn to and your own personal style.

Determine if your wedding will have a theme or a symbol that is significant. Is your wedding in the mountains or at the beach? Do you share a love of sailing? Did you meet on a train? Are there any items of significance that you want to incorporate into your wedding and possibly your invitations or accessories? Do you want to create a custom duogram (first letters of your first names) for your invitations and/or a custom monogram to use at the reception and following? This custom duogram or monogram can serve as a “logo” for your wedding that can be carried through as few or as many pieces as you’d like.

Decide if there is a color palette for your wedding. Do you want to carry a particular color or set of colors into your invitations or accessories? What color(s) are the bridesmaids’ dresses? Is the wedding in a particular season that you’d like to incorporate: the Fall (think browns, greens and orange), in the Spring (think bright pinks or greens), in the Summer (think colors of the sun or of sailing like navy and pink), or in the Winter (think silver and light blue)? If you have specific colors that you’d like to include in your invitations or accessories, it would be great to bring in any samples or swatches with you to the appointment.

Determine the number of invitations you will need to send. Keep in mind that this is not the number of guests that you’d like to invite...this is the number of households to which invitations will be sent. For example, if you are inviting 200 people and three-quarters of them are married, the number of invitations you will need is more like 125 or 150. Always order extra invitations.

Guest lists have a way of creeping up, often suddenly and at the last minute. The cost of ordering more than you think you’ll need as part of your initial order is far, far less than the cost of ordering a small number at a later date. (Keep in mind that the cost of invitations is primarily based on the design, layout and running of the printing press, not in the quantity of invitations, so ordering a small number later can often be nearly as expensive as the initial order.)

Understand the various invitation printing methods and choices in invitation stock. We will explain each of the methods of printing and the differences between them. These methods include letterpress, engraving, embossing, thermography, and flat printing (including offset or lithography, digital, and desktop printing like laser and inkjet). Before your appointment, start to notice any mentions in bridal magazines about the various ways that featured invitations are printed. If you have a preference for one or more, let us know what you like or don’t like about each style. It’s also great if you can bring in magazine pages or samples of invitation styles that you like.

We will be able to explain to you and show examples of different paper stocks, including
papers made from tree pulp, cotton, and bamboo, as well as the different weights and thicknesses of invitation papers. Are you concerned about using eco-friendly papers? We will be able to help you select papers and other components that are easier on the environment if this is important to you.

Decide what enclosure cards and features to include with your invitation.
Would you prefer a reply card and envelope or a reply postcard? Will you need a reception card, directions card, accommodations card, or wedding website card? Do you like pocket folds, belly bands, ribbons, envelope liners, or all of the above? Do you want single envelopes or double envelopes? You will want to see, touch and feel a variety of samples to help you decide what you like best as you build your perfect wedding invitation suite.

Have a rough idea of your budget. However, be open to being educated about what different invitation styles and printing methods cost. Too often, bridal magazines do a disservice by showcasing luxurious suites of high-end wedding invitations with all the bells and whistles, but then advise in the back of the magazine that you assign a woefully low percentage of the budget for wedding invitations and accessories. This just creates unreasonable expectations from the outset. We will inform you about the varying costs of different printing methods, stocks, and add-ons and will work with you to
create a wedding invitation suite that is within your monetary comfort zone.

Determine who will be issuing the wedding invitation.
Does your family situation fit the traditional mode in which the bride’s parents issue the invitation? Or does your family situation look like many these days in which varying circumstances dictate wording that is different from the traditional? For example, are your parents divorced? remarried? one or both parents deceased? Are the grooms’ parents equally involved and contributing to the wedding financially? Are you paying for the majority of the wedding expenses yourselves?

We will be able to navigate with you the wording of your invitations as may be dictated by any complexities in your family situations and etiquette guidelines. Believe it or not, there are guidelines for just about any situation and it’s best that you are fully aware of how to properly word your wedding invitation so as to avoid offending anyone or causing any embarrassment or hard feelings. That being said, we will inform you of the etiquette and make recommendations; your job is to make an informed decision about what feels comfortable for you and your family situation.

You will also need to decide whose address will be on the reply envelope or postcard (the bride’s parents, the bride, the bride and groom?). Similarly, you will need to decide whose address to put on the outer envelope flap. Typically, this is the address of the person(s) who are issuing the invitations.

Decide how you would like the wedding envelopes to be addressed. Will you or your family or friends be hand-addressing the envelopes? Will you hire a calligrapher? Will you have the addresses printed on the envelopes? Always order extra envelopes (typically 15% extra) for any errors in addressing.

Make your decision. Making your final decision doesn’t have to be stressful. Be sure to give yourself a chance to be informed and to look at several options before you buy. Trust your own instincts. There will likely be one invitation style that you continue to come back to over and over...that is generally “the one.” Ask yourself three questions about each of the invitation options that you are seriously considering:

1) Which invitation reflects the tone and spirit of our wedding day?

2) Which invitation most fits our personality and style? and

3) Which invitation do I see my guests getting really excited by when they find it in their mailbox?

Once you’ve found an invitation that fits all of these criteria, smile and’ve done it!

All of these variables and decisions may seem overwhelming at first. Just take a deep breath and take them one at a time. Decide on those things that you can before your appointment (e.g., your personal style, number of invitations). During your appointment, we will walk you through and educate you on all of the other variables to help you make an informed decision that feels comfortable for you and your families budget.

Your wedding invitation consultant should be a valuable part of your wedding planning team. You should accept (and expect) help from a knowledgeable, professional and friendly wedding stationer. A good consultant will ask lots of questions to get a better understanding of your vision for your special day. They will want to be helpful to you and will likely have some recommendations for you.

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