15 July 2011

Wedding Invitations - Tips & Advice

Wedding invitation planning can be a bit of a nightmare when you have so much information to think about, wording to choose from, and things to remember. This post aims to highlight the main things you need to consider, from our experience - both as stationers and as a couple who have just gone through the process themselves.

1. Who is doing the inviting - you, or your parents?

There is around a 50:50 spread between our couples who have opted to address their invitations from themselves, and those who decided to use the more traditional approach, and address them from their parents. Putting the whole to-follow-tradition / to-not-follow-tradition to one side, it is really more of a decision about whether you are prepared for the job that will come with putting yourself forward as the one to be contacted. Your guests will inevitably have questions and individual issues that they will want to address, and soon enough the decision you made to put your name on the invites turns out to bring more responsibility than you bargained for. Having said this, I think that the amount of thought that you put in to the information you include with the invitations, goes a long way to ensuring there are fewer of these questions and issues.

2. Extra information - how much to include and why.

Extra information can include anything from gift list details to a full blown itinerary of the day. A lot of our couples decided to include maps and directions, and for ourselves, we decided to include a small amount of gift information, maps, accommodation details, and a few other scraps of info that we felt would be good for people to know. While some people may consider this a little over the top, it is really more about being organised and addressing potential problems before they arise. It makes it easier for guests to know what is happening, and it makes it easier for you too - you will have already nipped most major questions in the bud, and made the whole decision making process on whether guests can make it so much quicker; they can immediately see how far they need to travel and can get their accommodation sorted with ease. This all makes for quicker RSVP-ing, which leads us nicely to point number 3.

3. RSVP's - what to include and why.

RSVP's are by far the most important bit for you, as they hold the information that impacts on a number of other details, such as numbers for food, drinks and chair covers etc. What to include on your RSVP's really depends on your plans for your day, but the main things are to identify not just the number of people attending, but the names of those attending (which directly impacts on details like name placings) and dietary requirements (which directly impacts on the menu). For those that want to keep a close eye on budget, it is also a great idea to find out who will be drinking alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks for toasts and the breakfast, so that you can get the numbers right and save money there.

Another thing to think of with RSVP's is how you would like your guests to respond. Traditionally, it is by way of an RSVP slip or card, included with the invite, for guests to fill out and post back, but if you are having more of a modern wedding or aren't too bothered about this particular tradition, then you might want to consider alternatives - like response by email. Lets weigh it up...

Pro's and Con's of Postal Response:

For this kind of response (aside from the fact that it is lovely and traditional), is that they are exciting to receive, they can be a keep-sake, and they perhaps make things easier to organise, as you can keep them in your wedding planner book or folder with the rest of your plans. However, believe it or not, no matter how easy you make it, guests will still find it too difficult to get to the post box and send it back promptly!

Pro's and Con's of Email Response:

As so many people use a computer on a daily basis - whether that is for their work, keeping in touch with friends, or to shop - it will always be the most accessible option to them. Simply popping an email across without moving from their spot, and perhaps while they wait for something to load, will always be deemed easier than taking a walk to a post box.

Having said this, you must consider elderly relatives who may not own a computer or be able to email a response. The ratio of computer illiterate and computer literate elderly people seems to have shifted in recent times, but I guess it just depends on the individual. There is of course the option to include a phone number with the email address, but think very carefully about the possible repercussions of that - with all of the other planning and things on your to-do list, do you really need the phone to be constantly ringing? Or do your parents?! Similarly, by supplying an email address and/or phone number, you are opening up a dialogue with your guests, which perhaps suggests that you are open to organising them as well as yourselves.

If you decide to go postal, make it as easy as possible for them to fill out and respond. Keeping questions simple, clear and few, will be easier for your guests to understand and get through quickly, and self-addressing them is also a major incentive for guests to respond faster. You could do this by including it on the slip/card if you decide on a post-card style RSVP, or on an RSVP envelope that you can include with the invite. Some of our couples have even gone as far as stamping their RSVP's themselves, to save even more time for guests, which is very clever and does work, but it really depends if you have the budget for this. If you decide to go with the email response, think about setting up a special email address, only for that purpose, which will keep your replies separate from your whole load of other mail, preventing messages from getting lost (plus you can give it a special name).

4. Addressing your guests.

Do you spend extra money on getting your invites printed with the individual guests names on them? Or do you hand write them? - which can look lovely and personal if you have neat writing, but there is a risk of mistakes, smudged ink and not being happy with your writing. It has been a common dilemma for our couples.

While some wanted the personal touch of hand writing the names within the invites, others chose to address their guests on the envelopes only, and it worked out very well. In either case, you do need to think about how big the families you are inviting are, as you need to consider what space you have given them to write their names on the RSVP's (if you are having postal responses). You can get around this by inviting anyone aged 16 + separately from their parents - they are old enough after all, and it makes them feel valued.

Well, we hope that this has been helpful to a lot of you reading this, and please feel free to leave any feedback or ideas in the comment box, and indeed any questions if you have any, which we would be happy to help you with. We do love to hear from our readers, so be encouraged!

All images have been taken from our portfolio, which you can view here.

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