In designing our wedding invitations, I was definitely at a huge advantage over other DIY brides, and for that I know I am very, very lucky. I design wedding invitations and stationery for a living, and have been a graphic designer for six years, so there wasn’t a lot of guessing about how to begin or what to include. But thinking back to when I first designed wedding invitations for a friend over four years ago, I remember how overwhelming it was, which is what a lot of you may be going through. I thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you all, since it seems like a lot of brides go the DIY route for their invitations. I am certainly not claiming to be the end-all, be-all authority of wedding invitations… but I hope this can help a few of you out who may be struggling. 🙂
1. Make sure you give yourself enough time.
Designing, printing, assembling, addressing, and mailing your invitations will take a very long time… I’m not going to lie. It may be one of the most time-consuming tasks you will encounter while wedding planning. I’m not trying to scare you ”” just prepare you! If you think you can complete the task from start to finish in a month, give yourself two months. Everyone works at their own pace but it is better to err on the side of caution and give yourself plenty of time to account for your learning curve. A good rule of thumb is to mail your invitations 6-8 weeks before your wedding date, leaving your guests at least a month to reply before your response date, so try to plan things out so everything is completed several weeks ahead of this timeline in the event that you run into roadblocks along the way. I mailed our invitations on July 22 and our reply by date was September 1 (for our September 20 wedding), so our guests had ample time to let us know whether or not they would be attending.
2. Think carefully about your “reply by” date.
If your venue needs a final count a week before your wedding, set your response date for 2.5-3 weeks before your big day. This gives you a few days to let the procrastinators get their response cards to you (taking into account the fact that the USPS may take a few days), and then have at least a week or so to round up responses from the rest of the stragglers (still also allowing you enough time to put together your seating arrangement if you’re having assigned seating). If your invitees are notorious for being hard to track down, maybe push that date up one more week to give yourself extra time to get answers from everyone. Our reply date was September 1 and we started calling people who didn’t respond on September 6, as we had to let our venue know our final count on September 17th (and we also needed a few days to get our seating arrangement and place cards together).
3. When designing, START WITH YOUR ENVELOPES!!!!!
I have seen it happen so many times ”” a desperate cry for help when a bride has designed and printed her invitations but cannot find envelopes that are the right size and in the color they want. Ladies and gents, make sure you have the envelopes BEFORE you move full steam ahead with your invitations! There are very specific standard sizes out there, and if you accidentally make your invitations 1/2″ larger than the envelopes you later find, you are going to have a big problem. Also, while there are a lot more options these days for colors, sometimes it is still hard to find the exact color you need. Know all of the materials that you’re working with before you get too far into the process.
4. Work backwards with dimensions.
If your envelope is an A7 (which measures 5.25 x 7.25), it is best to make your invitation 5″ x 7″ so there is a little wiggle room to get your invitation in and out of the envelope. If you have a lot of inserts, make sure you test everything out in the envelope together as you may need to make the invitation a smidge smaller for it to get in and out of the envelope smoothly. Here is a good cheat-sheet that I use with envelope sizes and how large the enclosure piece should be; the sizes you’ll likely be using are towards the bottom of that webpage. (If you’re using Envelopments products, keep in mind that some of their sizes vary from standard sizes, so make sure you know the EXACT dimensions that you measure yourself!)
5. It’s “Two thousand nine”, not “Two thousand AND nine”.
This is a constant battle with some invitation clients who insist that the year should read “Two thousand and nine”, but grammatically, the proper way of writing the year is “Two thousand nine” ”” no “and”. This is a pretty common mistake, thus most of your guests think it is written with an “and” too, so ultimately it’s not a big deal if you already included it on your invitations. But, being the crazy OCD designer/typesetter that I am, I am a little crazy about making sure my invitations are grammatically correct and I always notice this now on other people’s invitations. (It’s a curse.)
6. Make your words look pretty.
Although the main purpose of the invitation is to be informative, it’s also a keepsake of your day. Why not make it as beautiful as possible? That can include the words you choose and how you write them. Write out “North Seventh Avenue” instead of “N. 7th Ave”. There is no need for you to include the zip code of your venue, and I usually think extraneous copy like this just junks an invitation up. Especially if you’re including a directions card (where you can write out the full venue address, including zip code), you definitely don’t need it on your invitation.
7. Don’t include registry information.
Please don’t beat me up for this one! Although I have heard the argument that some people need to know this information and it’s more convenient for guests to have it all right there, the truth of the matter is it is just not polite. 80% of your guests may appreciate the information, but are you willing to accept that you’ll offend the other 20% enough that they won’t show up to your wedding, OR give you a gift? Proper etiquette can sometimes be stuffy, but this is one etiquette rule that I think should be followed because there are bound to be some traditionalists on your guest list. Stick to passing registry information along by word-of-mouth (tell your parents and bridal party, and they are free to include it on a shower invitation since THEY are hosting the shower for the purpose of showering you with gifts). If you or your parents are close enough to people to invite them to your wedding, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to pick up the phone to call you or a family member to inquire about your registries. Perhaps also include it discreetly on your wedding website, which you’ll likely direct your guests to via an insert in your wedding invitations. But just don’t include your registry information in your invitations.
8. Print out drafts of your design ”” don’t just look at it on the computer.
This is something I still have to remind myself to do, but seeing an invitation on paper, at actual size, is different than looking at it on your computer monitor. The type may be larger or smaller than you intended, or the script font you chose may be more difficult to read than you expected. Seeing it all on paper is a great way to make sure everything is easily readable (for young and old eyes, alike) and for you to be able to see what tweaks you may need to make.
9. Proofread, proofread, and proofread some more.
Have several people proofread your invitations before you print everything out. Especially people who have never seen it before ”” a fresh set of eyes is an invaluable resource (and more likely to catch a mistake than you, who has seen it a million times). Read every. single. last. word. Spell-check is not always dependable when it comes to something like an invitation, where you use locations and names of places that wont be caught whether it’s spelled correctly or incorrectly. This may sound weird, but look at it upside-down. Sometimes mistakes stick out more when you’re looking at a piece in another way. “Fourth” and “eighth” are often misspelled.
10. Weigh everything before buying postage.
When you have an accurate mock-up of your invitation together (it doesn’t have to have finalized copy ”” it should just include all of the paper layers, ribbons, etc. that you’ll be including so it is the correct weight), take your invitation to the post office and have it weighed to find out what your postage will cost. If you’re paranoid like me, take it to two different post offices and have it weighed. I have, in the past, had two different people at two different post offices tell me two different things. Just make sure you are 100% sure of how much postage you need before purchasing it. (This includes postage for your response card if it happens to have a few layers or anything else that may make it heavier than a regular letter.) Also, remember that square envelopes require higher postage than rectangular envelopes ”” an unexpected cost that can really add up if you aren’t expecting it.
11. Send an invitation to yourself before sending to your guests.
If you are at all worried about your invitation being bulky or your envelopes not staying sealed or ANYTHING at all, send a full invitation to yourself before mailing them out to your guests. It will give you the peace of mind that yes, it will arrive to your guests in one piece (or it may inform you that you need to use a stronger seal or glue to keep the envelope sealed). Don’t be discouraged if your envelopes get a little banged up ”” unfortunately, this is just what happens when something goes through the mail, and it’s what’s inside the envelope that is most important!
12. Take a deep breath and send ’em!
I was more nervous on the day I mailed our invitations than I ended up being on our wedding day! (That should make Mr. Cupcake feel nice, since I had no doubts about marrying him!) I was just so worried about the invitations getting out to everyone after having spent SO much time on them, but I had to just let go of any worries and get them in the mail. You’ve stressed over them enough… just send ’em!
I hope this helps some of you and makes designing your own invitations a bit simpler. It is definitely a complicated process that can be stressful and time consuming, but if you give yourself enough time and educate yourself on the process before beginning, you’ll be successful and so proud of the end result! Most importantly, though, don’t kill yourself over the process. If you find that DIY just isn’t for you or making your own invitations is more stressful than you can handle, do NOT feel bad ”” it’s not for everyone, and there are a lot of amazing resources out there for non-DIY brides who still want beautiful invitations.
What are some of your DIY invitation tips?