Your save-the-date cards are your guests' first look at what your big day holds in store, but most couples don't nail down the major details until it's time to send out wedding invitations. That's why your invitations are such a vital part of establishing the style, theme, and overall feel of your wedding. From announcing your venue to teasing a fun country chic theme, the stationery you send out needs to be attractive, informative, and above all — unforgettable.
Here are 11 tips on how to pick the wedding invitations that are perfect for you.
Your wedding invitations should be a reflection of your personality while also providing a preview of your venue, theme, and even the season you'll be getting married in. You wouldn't want an invitation covered in seashells for a winter wedding at a ski retreat or a stark black-and-white design if you're going with a carnival theme.
Even if you haven't 100% nailed down your wedding details by the time you need to send out the invitations, you can still be in the ballpark. Just knowing how formal the event will be and what colors or design elements you want can help you narrow down the invite field so you can pick a layout you'll love.
You don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment when you're planning a wedding. Keep things positive and avoid falling head over heels for an invitation suite you can't afford by setting a budgetary limit ahead of time. Thankfully, the process is easy: take the total amount you want to spend on invitations and divide that by the number of invitations you'll need. Understanding that per-invitation price will help you as you build a package that includes not only the invitation but perhaps other options like embellished envelopes and RSVP cards.
The good news is that if you work with the right vendor, even affordable invitations can be stunning. Know which elements are non-negotiable and which ones you can live without.
Traditional fold-in-half invitations are what a lot of people picture when they first consider what they'll be sending out to guests, but there's more than one way to craft an invite:
- Shaped invitations put a little twist on the standard rectangular design by adding rounded corners or trading right angles in for a bracket shape
- Pocket wedding invitations feature a folded design that opens up to reveal a pocket holding supplementary goodies like your RSVP cards; the fold can open vertically or horizontally
- All-in-one wedding invitations are a one-stop shop, with invitation, envelope, and RSVP card included in one seamless design — guests can simply tear off the RSVP card (apply a pre-paid postcard stamp if you wish) and send it back
Even if you have a design already in mind, it's a good idea to take a look around at what else is on offer. You may be surprised by what you realize you like.
In addition to classic invitations, there are invitations made specifically for destination weddings, some that have more of a modern feel, and others that have a rustic aesthetic that's perfect for saying “I do” in a barn or in your backyard. Flip through floral invitations, see what a vintage wedding invite looks like, or maybe zero in on unique invitations that are delightfully offbeat.
Invitation paper is nothing like ordinary printer paper or the stuff you scribble on during Monday morning meetings. High-quality stationery not only looks different, it feels different. Some options include:
- Premium Smooth, a silky-smooth paper that lets design elements shine
- Luxe Satin, a modern style with a velvety matte finish — a necessity for raised foil designs
- Luxe Pearl, an elegant choice thanks to the paper's subtle sheen that gives off an iridescent quality that flatters photos
- Double Thick, luxurious 34-point paper that has the kind of heft paper enthusiasts know means quality
- Triple Thick, 51-point premium smooth paper that represents that top tier of opulent stationery
To get a feel for your paper choices (literally), ask for free samples. You'll not only get to evaluate the paper in person, you can also see how the rest of the layout looks once you've personalized it.
If you're the kind of couple that likes glitz and glam, you may want to add some sparkle to your wedding invitations. You can dress up your invites with foiling — apply it to certain words to emphasize them (like your names or your wedding date) or gild a few decorative elements for a vintage or art deco look. The options go beyond just gold and silver, too; using rose gold evokes another layer of romance, which is perfect for your big day.
If it suits you, you can add even more bling using envelope liners and vellum bands. The liners cover the visible part of the inside of your envelopes. Some people go for metallics, while others choose a matching or contrasting color so that the envelope makes the entire invitation more visually interesting. As for the bands, these paper wraps are sort of like the ribbon on a wrapped present — it's not necessarily holding anything together, but rather contributing the perfect final decorative touch.
Loopy script fonts and delicate cursive are charming, but they can also be very hard to read. Have a third-party proof your design before you sign off on it to see if they can understand everything you're trying to say. The last thing you want is for your guests to not understand key information because "e," "o," and "a" all look the same.
When in doubt, go for a simpler text and add sentimental touches using design elements like flourishes, flowers, and scrolls.
A crowded invitation can feel chaotic. At best, it's unsightly; worst-case scenario is you include so much style and information that your main message gets lost. If your invitation starts to feel less like a short story and more like the beginnings of War and Peace, it's probably time to start removing elements until the details you care most about have room to breathe.
One study found that using the right amount of white space between paragraphs and margins can boost comprehension as much as 20%. That's a major jump when you're trying to create an experience — and that's just what an invitation should do. Of course, it's also important that your guests can find the information they need, too. Don't be afraid to pick a few impactful elements and leave the rest off.
While some "add-ons" are just for show, there may be some particularly useful extras your stationery company offers in their invitation packages.
- Enclosure cards are info central and contain details like directions to your venues, the running order for the day, and reception guidelines (dress code, for instance). It can be nice to include these rather than writing that information on the invitation, so guests have the invite as a keepsake and the enclosure card to bring with them on the big day.
- RSVP cards seem like a no-brainer, but they're also easy to forget. Include them (and consider pre-addressing and applying postage to them) to increase the chances guests will return them to you in a timely manner.
- Address labels are useful for the wedding and beyond — plus, they're a lot less taxing than writing them by hand on 200 invitations.
This tip is so important we mentioned it briefly above too, but it's worth revisiting. You won't get a redo on your wedding invitation. If it goes out listing your future mother-in-law as Saddy instead of Sally, that's a mistake you can’t unmake. Incorrect addresses, ceremony start times that are off by an hour — every error you can think of has happened. Avoid duplicating those missteps by reviewing your proofs thoroughly before approving them for printing.
Wedding invitations are an incredible, irreplaceable keepsake. You'll want copies for your scrapbook or even to frame as part of a wedding-day picture collage. Will you still love that neon yellow background in 20 years? Does the overall design come across as inspirational, funny, sweet, or however else you want your guests to feel?
Above all, do you look at it and smile? That, in the end, is what really matters. Pick an invitation you love and don't let anyone change your mind.