The wedding stationery suite consists of dozens of complementary pieces, collectively known as a wardrobe. Which elements you choose for your nuptials depends on the formality, size, and budget you’ve outlined for your big day. To determine what you need, it helps to first understand all the paper parts comprising the wardrobe.
Save the Dates
The save the date is the first official announcement of your wedding date. This card—sometimes sent as a postcard to reduce costs—can be casual. For consistency, it’s nice to have it match the other items of your wardrobe, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you haven’t chosen your wedding colors or theme yet. You can tie in save the dates to your event in other ways. For example, an illustration of a piñata if you’re planning a destination wedding in Mexico, or a delicate snowflake pattern for winter I do’s.
Here’s what the save the date can include:
- Your names and the wedding date—these are musts
- The location, if you know it, so that out-of-town guests can begin making travel arrangements
- The words “formal invitation to follow,” or a similar phrase
- The URL of your wedding website
This piece is optional, but it’s smart for destination weddings and if you’re expecting lots of out-of-town guests. It’s enclosed with save the dates to assist with booking travel and lodging.
What you may include:
- Hotels near the ceremony and reception sites
- Airfare or other transportation information
- Maps of the area
If you’re limiting invitation costs, include this information on your wedding website and direct guests there on the save the date.
The invitation is the pièce de résistance in the wardrobe spread. Guests will carry it along and use it as a guidebook for where to go and when.
Key information to have:
- The names of the hosts (often the parents)
- The names of the bride and groom
- The day of the week the ceremony occurs, as well as the date, time, and address.
But the invitation doesn’t travel alone. It’s accompanied by the following, all enclosed within the outer envelope:
- An unsealed inner envelope
- A reception card—especially if the party will be at a different location than the ceremony—with the date, place, and time of the reception
- The response card, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope
- A map or a directions card—spots to mark include nearby hotels, the sites of any events, and where the ceremony and reception will take place
Events or Itinerary Card
If you’re throwing a destination wedding or weekend-long celebration, consider an events card. It can detail planned activities, such as golfing or an afternoon tea, so that guests can pack accordingly. Events cards can be combined with response cards to save expense, with boxes guests can check off for activities they’d like to attend.
Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
Within many families, the groom’s parents issue this invitation. Because they likely won’t be your responsibility, it’s not necessary rehearsal dinner invitations match your stationery wardrobe. However, it’s a nice touch. Talk it through with your future-in-laws and let them determine how to proceed.
Programs are very important as keepsakes. The traditional approach is a small, bound booklet with the couple’s names on the front. But it can also be a single sheet of thick, textured paper if your ceremony is on the short-and-sweet side. Because of the program’s role as memento, many couples take a creative approach. For example, a fan-shaped program for outdoor weddings in warm months.
Programs typically include:
- The date of the wedding
- Names of bridal party members and their relationship to the bride or groom
- The order of events
- Titles of readings and songs
Some couples include a note to honor a deceased loved one, to explain rites within the ceremony guests may not know, or to offer a word of thanks to the hosts.
For a formal, seated dinner at a banquet table, place a menu at each setting. If your reception setup is an arrangement of small tables, it’s acceptable to have just one menu at each table. Another option is to integrate the menu into the place card.
Menu details include:
- A description of what will be served
- If a dish holds special significance, you may wish to explain why
- Wine and beverage choices
- If your wedding features cocktails, a list of martini options or the ingredients of your signature drink
These tell guests where to sit—and the options for doing so are practically endless. Tie them to a tree with ribbons in your wedding colors, place them among a bed of flowers so that each guest can pick one upon entrance, or pin them to a decorated board. Looking for the simplest solution? Use tented cards laid out in alphabetical order on a table.
The only two musts on a seating card are the guest’s name and his or her table number.
Designate each table with a name or number to help guests find their seats. Creative signs add to the festivity, such as clever names for tables or beautiful designs in your motif. Print these in dark colors—reception lighting is often dim. Stand the table cards up in holders or tent them.
Place cards tell guests which chair is theirs. The traditional spot for these is at the head of each place setting, but they can also be hung with ribbons from the backs of chairs. Or, rather than tenting the cards, attach them to an object indicative of your wedding theme. For example, if the reception is at an orchard, tie each name to an apple’s stem. For a garden wedding, entwine a silk flower around the card’s edge.
Another idea is to coordinate the colors of the place cards to entrée options. For example, pale green for the veggie dish, pink for the salmon, and so on. That way, waiters have a subtle clue as to who requested which dish.
Other than that, all you need is the guest’s name!
Favor Tags and Cards
Many couples have favor baskets or bags at the reception or waiting for guests in their hotel rooms. The tags on these gifts typically say:
- A gracious message, such as “Thank you for celebrating with us!”
- The couple’s name
- The wedding date
If you’re giving a donation, the favor tag can instead be a small card explaining your choice of charitable action.
For a fully personalized or themed event, many couples custom order signage to display at the reception. These signs can indicate buffet selections, cocktail choices if not listed on the menu, men’s and ladies’ rooms—basically any spot you can think to customize.
Order thank-you cards with your invitations in anticipation of early gifts, and to thank bridesmaids and the host of your bridal shower. These notes should be handwritten, and they should repeat an element from your wedding motif for continuity.
- Thank guests for attending and for any gifts
- Traditionally have “thank you” on the front and a personal note inside
- Include your new address, if you’re moving