Depending on the size of your wedding, addressing and mailing the invitations can be a large and daunting task. It takes significant time and planning to ensure that the job is done at all, let alone correctly! Sending wedding invitations is quite a bit different from sending a regular letter in the mail; here’s some basic tips and tricks for crossing this large item off your wedding to-do list in a timely manner.
Gather the Necessary Tools
This may seem obvious, but you will need to gather all of the necessary materials before you begin preparing your wedding invitations. In addition to the invitations, you will need a couple reliable pens, stamps, and return postage for the RSVPs. You will also want to have a glue stick on hand to assist with sealing the envelopes. While licking them will work, you will likely tire of that activity long before you are done. (Besides, self-sealing envelopes or glue sticks are much more sanitary.) You should also plan to have extra envelopes on hand because mistakes will be inevitable.
It is absolutely essential that you get your wedding invitations sent out in a timely manner. After all, you want to give your guests plenty of time to clear their schedules and make travel arrangements. So, how early should you start? The answer to that depends. Typically, couples shoot to have invitations sent out six to eight weeks before their wedding. (That said, save-the-dates should be sent significantly before that, usually six to eight months before the wedding date.) If you opt not to send save-the-dates, it may be a good idea to send your wedding invitations sooner than the typical six to eight weeks.
Couples planning a destination wedding need to give their guests more time to prepare. In these cases, it’s probably best to send the invitations out three months in advance. With all of this in mind, you will probably want to begin the process of preparing your wedding invitations a few weeks before the date you intend to send them off. This will give you ample time to collect the necessary addresses, stuff the envelopes, and write the shipping information.
Prepare the Inner Envelope
Before addressing your inner (and outer) envelopes, it’s important that you verify the spelling of all of your guests’ names. When you’re ready, address the inner envelope with the title and last names of the people you are inviting. Be clear, as this is your opportunity to explicitly state who can and cannot come to your wedding. If you are sending an invitation to a couple with a child, the child’s name goes below his or her parent’s name. (You are not, however, obligated to invite children to your wedding ceremony and reception. The absence of the child’s name implies they are not invited.) Keep in mind that using abbreviated titles like “Mr.,” “Ms.,” and “Mrs.” instead of writing them out is acceptable.
Prepare the Outer Envelope
The rules for addressing outer envelopes are quite conventional. You should use a person’s title and their first and last name. Invitations to couples who share an address but are not married should have both names spelled out on either one or two lines.
Stuff the Envelopes
Stuffing your wedding invitation envelopes is not as simple as throwing everything into the biggest envelope. There is, in fact, an art to it.
First, you should insert your invitation into your outer envelope, folded edge first and facing upwards. You want the printed side to be visible when the envelope flap is open. Next, collect all additional pieces; common inserts include maps, printed directions, and RSVP cards. You will need to arrange these by size, with the smallest item on top. At this point, it’s time to insert the inner envelope, which should remain unsealed. It’s inserted so that you can see the guest names when the outer envelope flap is open.
Before sealing the outer envelope, always verify that the guest names on all items match. In fact, it’s a good idea to have a second person check this before proceeding.
Verify the Shipping Cost
In most cases, a single stamp will not be enough to cover the cost of shipping a wedding invitation. This is especially true for double-envelope invitations. They are simply too heavy for the cost of a standard envelope.
To ensure you do not over or underpay for shipping, take one of your assembled invitations to the post office and have it weighed first. Many post offices offer wedding-themed postage that’s designed to cover the cost of these slightly bigger (and fuller) envelopes. Keep in mind, however, that these stamps may be out of stock at your local post office and that you might need to order them online. Regardless, a postal professional can help provide additional guidance if needed.