Wedding Stationery Guide

So you’re getting married! Congratulations! As you have no doubt already discovered, deciding to get married is just the first of many decisions you’ll make on the way to the big day. This guide is intended to help you navigate through some of the finer points involving wedding stationery. We’ll also look at a few “modern issues,” areas where contemporary tastes run counter to tradition.

Invitations Set The Tone
Planning Your Invitation
Wording Your Invitation
The Reception Card
Assembling Your Invitations
Addressing Your Envelopes
The Mailing
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Stationery Guide

Invitations Set The Tone

Your wedding invitation will set the tone for your event. Whatever you decide to do for your celebration, your invitation should reflect both the event and your personality!

While the traditional ecru or white paper stock with black ink is still the most popular choice for a formal invitation, more liberal approaches are “pushing the envelope,” like invitations on textured papers, layered papers, in multiple colors, and with custom wedding designs. Whether you plan to exchange vows in a hotel, a place of worship, or on a secluded island beach, show your personal style and create a wedding invitation that truly expresses who you are, your values, and your individuality, a theme, if you may. Always hand address your envelopes. For a formal invitation, the ink should be black, dark blue, or gray to match the ink on the invitation. For a more casual invitation, you can either match the ink color of the invitation or use black ink. If you can afford a calligrapher, go for it, otherwise write them out yourself with the help of the wedding party and family.

With that said, it is still important to follow a few basic guidelines when planning your wedding stationery. Below is an overview that will acquaint you with the basics of wedding stationery. Please check out my invitation pages when you’re ready to put your stationery plans “on paper.”

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Planning Your Invitation

Order all of your invitations at the same time, leaving plenty time to have them hand printed and addressed. Gather and write down all the information you will need to create your wedding invitation:

Date
Time
Place
Parents’ names
Groom’s middle name
Number of people attending reception vs. wedding

Getting Formal

The most formal invitation is on ecru (cream) or white stock engraved or thermographed with black, dark blue, or gray ink. It is folded in half, with the text of the invitation on the front outside panel. A less formal invitation is on an unfolded ecru or white card, or any of the colorful designs to bring out your theme. Either of these papers may be plain or paneled, folded or flat.

Lettering Style

There are dozens and dozens of typefaces to choose from, from frilly scripts to austere all-caps. Choose one that expresses the spirit of your occasion and matches the tone of the stationery you decide upon. Be sure to see a printed sample of all the letters of the alphabet before you choose your typeface.

All pieces in your wedding ensemble should use the same paper and ink color.

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Wording Your Invitation

The content of a formal wedding invitation is fairly straightforward, albeit slightly more complicated these days due to changes in social attitudes and family structures. Regardless of your particular situation, the lines of your invitation should be in the following order:

  1. The hosts’ namesFormal invitations begin with the person or people involved with the hosting, using formal names and titles. For example:

    Mr. and Mrs. Richard Johnson
    request the honour of your presence
    at the marriage of their daughter

    If the bride and groom are hosting their own wedding the first lines would read:

    Isabelle Marie Johnson
    and
    Jack Hamden Robert
    request the honour of your presence
    at their marriage

  2. Invite your guests

    “requests the honour of your presence”
    (use honour when the wedding is taking place in a house of worship; honor when the location is a hotel, club, etc.)

    Casual: “requests the pleasure of your company”

  3. State the affair and relationship to the bride

    “at the wedding of our daughter”

  4. The bride’s first and second name

    “Isabelle Marie”

    If the bride’s last name is different from the host’s, it should also be included on this line, e.g.: “Isabelle Marie Johnson”

  5. The connecting, “to”

    This always goes on its own line in a formal invitation.

  6. The groom’s full name

    If the bride is using a professional title, such as “Doctor Marie Ann Cohen”, you should then also include the groom’s personal title, “Mr.,” “Dr.,” or whatever the case may be.

  7. The day and month

    In a formal invitation, spell out completely the date, time, and location of your wedding. Thus, the date would be: “Saturday, the twentieth of June”

  8. The year

    “Two thousand and three”

  9. The time

    “at two o’clock in the afternoon”

  10. The location

    “The Waybridge Country Club”

  11. City and state

    “Waybridge, New Hampshire”

  12. Reception line

    If you are planning to have your reception at the same location as the wedding, the line “reception immediately following ceremony” should follow the city and state.

    If this is to be a more casual wedding, you can use any wording you choose being sure to have the names of the bride and groom, day and month, year, time and location. You can be as creative as you like.

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The Reception Card

If you are holding your reception at a different location than that of your wedding, you will probably want to include a reception card with your invitation. This is helpful in a couple of ways. First, it will not crowd the text on your invitation. Second, if you are inviting only some guests to the reception, it is convenient to simply add a reception card to the wedding invitations of those guests.

The card should include the name and address of the establishment with “Reception immediately following the ceremony” at the top of the card.

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Assembling Your Invitations

The double envelope, that courtly feature of the formal wedding invitation, has its origins in the days when footmen delivered invitations to the landed class. At delivery, the footman would remove the clean invitation from its well-traveled outer envelope. The custom has survived, although with modern postal service the outer envelope is now sealed with the inner unsealed and placed with the guest’s name face up so that it can be read immediately upon extracting it from the outer.

Tissues were originally conceived in the days when inks took a bit longer to dry. Printers placed a tissue over the ink so that it would not smear. Today ink is quick-drying so that tissues are not imperative, but used out of tradition. If you choose to use a tissue, it is the first sheet of paper that covers the printed text of your invitation. The large sheet of tissue is for your invitation, the small for your reply card and other small enclosures.

Place in inner envelope items in relation to importance and size from back to front:

  1. Invitation
  2. Reply envelope closed and stamped but not sealed
  3. Reply card
  4. Reception card
  5. Other items, such as direction cards and accommodation cards, can be placed in order of size. If there are two cards that are of the same size, place them in order of importance.

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Addressing Your Envelopes

General rules for formal invitations:

  • Spell out all Avenues, Roads, Streets, Boulevards, etc.
  • Use the complete name of guest: i.e., Richard, not Rich
  • Write out numbers one to twenty; higher numbers write numerically
  • For a casual invitation, numbers are acceptable
  • Junior, Senior: should be stated on outside envelope, not inner
  • A boy under age 13 is referred to as “Master”

DOUBLE ENVELOPES – Address Samples

Most of your addresses will comply with one of the samples below. If any don’t, call me for advice!

Couple (married with same last name)

OUTER ENVELOPE:

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER ENVELOPE:

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson

Married, woman kept her name
Woman first or listed alphabetically

OUTER:

Ms. Karen Connor and Mr. John Ryan
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

Ms. Connor and Mr. Ryan

Man is doctor

OUTER:

Dr. and Mrs. James Hunt

INNER:

Dr. and Mrs. Hunt

Woman is doctor

OUTER:

Mr. James and Dr. Marie Hunt

INNER:

Mr. and Dr. Hunt

Both are doctors

OUTER:

Drs. James and Marie Hunt

INNER:

The Doctors Hunt

Family

OUTER:

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson
Isabelle and Matthew (children listed by seniority)

If you do not know the children’s names or ages, add “and Family” or “and Children”

Always send a separate invitation to children over 18 years old, even if at the same address

Two sisters:

OUTER:

Miss Isabelle Johnson
Miss Renee Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

The Misses Johnson

Sister and brother:

OUTER:

Miss Isabelle Johnson
Mr. Matthew Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

Miss Johnson
Mr. Johnson

Two brothers:

OUTER:

Mr. Isaac Johnson
Mr. Matthew Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

The Messrs. Johnson

Unmarried people living together (Woman first):

OUTER:

Ms. Susan Smith
Mr. Jack Roberts
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

Ms. Smith
Mr. Roberts

Listed alphabetically:

OUTER:

Ms. Roxanne Brown
Ms. Josie Hunter
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

Ms. Brown
Ms. Hunter

Single person with named guest (dating, cohabiting, engaged):

OUTER:

Ms. Susan Smith
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

INNER:

Ms. Susan Smith
Mr. Jack Roberts

Single person with unnamed guest:

OUTER:

Ms. Susan Smith

INNER:

Ms. Smith and Escort (or “and Guest” for a male)

Junior/Senior:

OUTER:

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Johnson, Jr

INNER:

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson

SINGLE ENVELOPES – Address Samples

Couple:

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

Family:

Mr. and Mrs. Richard Johnson
Isabelle and Matthew
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

Always send a separate invite to children over 18 years old, even if at same address:

Miss Isabelle Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

Mr. Matthew Johnson
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

Two single people living together:

Ms. Susan Smith
Mr. John Roberts
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

Single person with named guest (dating, cohabiting, engaged):

Ms. Susan Smith
Mr. John Roberts
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

Single person with unnamed guest:

Ms. Susan Smith and Escort
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

Mr. Jack Roberts and Guest
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10000

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The Mailing

Before sending your invitations, take a sample to the post office with all pieces (exactly as you will be mailing them out) to confirm that you’re applying the proper postage before mailing! If you have international addresses, it is important to ask for postage for each individual country to which an invitation is being sent. These measures will ensure prompt delivery of your invitations. Don’t forget to place the appropriate stamp on the response envelope before sealing the outer envelope.

Once everything is properly stamped, you will want to adhere to the following timelines for mailing your invitations:

Four to six weeks before the event is the general rule for mailing your invitations to ensure your guests receive their invitations and are able to respond in sufficient time. If you have guests traveling from outside the regional area, it is courteous to mail their invitations 6-8 weeks ahead of your wedding date so that they can make travel arrangements. As well if you are planning your wedding around a holiday weekend, it is a good idea to get your invitations out 6-8 weeks prior so that your guests are sure to make your wedding the focus of the holiday.

Regardless of when the invitations are sent, they should all be mailed at the same time.

Now, sit back and relax – and start thinking about other paper planning! Your wedding reception will allow you to further personalize your affair and carry the theme of your invitations right through the day of your wedding. These stationery pieces can include invitations to the rehearsal dinner, the wedding program, placecards or escort cards, menus, and table numbers. I can help you put together a comprehensive plan of coordinating papers that will help create a lasting impression.

I carry papers for wedding-related occasions such as bridal showers, teas, engagement parties, and bachelor parties. Shop the designs at this site for a preview or ask for my theme ideas!

The Thoughtful and the Tasteful

Other printed stationery that is both useful and appropriate:

The Ceremony Card

If you are planning an intimate wedding with a small group of family and friends, but are then going to have a bash to celebrate, enclose a ceremony card along with the reception card.

Save The Date Cards

It is not unusual for an engaged couple to send out “Save the Date” cards when their wedding is months away. This is basically just a reminder for your guests to put it on their calendar now, so they won’t make other plans for that time slot. Just be sure that everyone who gets a “Save the Date” card is on your invitation list and does get an invitation when the time arrives. The wording is your choice, be creative. I have a few cards designed especially for this purpose. Once you choose your card, I will be happy to assist in the wording.

Wedding Announcements

Send these out the day of your wedding to friends who you did not invite to your wedding, but to whom you would like to announce your marriage! The traditional announcement would look like your invitation, (traditional is ecru or white paper with black ink), thermographed in the style of your wedding invitations. Mail in double envelopes if available. Most modern invitations are single envelopes.

Gift Received Cards

A gift received card is a helpful and tactful way of acknowledging the gift of your guest without delay, especially if you are having a large wedding or an extended honeymoon. The card acknowledges a gift and notes that a personal thank you will soon follow. This card can be preprinted because the personal thank you will be mailed out after the wedding.

Personalized Stationery

Traditionally, the bride took on the role of thanking the couple’s guests for wedding gifts. Nowadays, however, the groom is more likely to lend a hand or shoulder the burden. When he does, his monogram should be on cards he is writing, hers on the notes she will write.

Notecards with the married couple’s name, e.g., “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson”, or “Jane and John Newlywed” are used by husband and wife for replying to formal invitations, sending thank yous, personal notes, or an invitation. If notecards are needed before the couple is married for shower or engagement gifts, notecards can be made out with the first names only, e.g. “Jane and John”. It is not a waste of money to purchase both style notecards because they can be used throughout your life for any personal note.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Stationery Guide

The only difference here is that Bar/Bat Mitzvah invitations are usually themed, use many colors and designs, and come with just one envelope. The child’s name can be included in both Hebrew and English on the invitation and the wording is somewhat more creative. For more wording ideas, just ask and I will be happy to help.

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