Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
The flowers. The lighting. The bride’s dress. All of these elements help define the special day, but there’s one detail that gets noticed even before the music begins: the wedding stationery. The formal invites and mailers not only communicate important details of the celebration, but they also make for a unique wedding keepsake that can be cherished long after the vows are spoken.
Whether you choose to send out a simple invitation or create an entire themed set of save the dates, menus, place cards and thank you cards, following these design rules for stationery can make this essential part of planning a breeze.
1. Decide on a style and theme.
Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a wedding since childhood. Now is the time to make that dream a reality! From colors to themes, knowing the vibe of your wedding can help you when making design choices later. If you’re unsure where to start, look for examples on Instagram or Pinterest to kickstart your inspiration.
2. Pick the best materials.
You can have the most amazing design picked out, but it’s also wise to choose card stock and finishes that show how important the day is to you. Wedding keepsake invitations need to last for years, and cheap, flimsy materials won’t help them hold up to the wear and tear of the big day. Not only do quality materials just look better, but they also go great in shadow boxes, scrapbooks and shelf displays, where they can be enjoyed for decades to come.
3. Keep it simple.
A few elegant touches, such as a gold lettering finish or monograms, can create a pleasing effect. Just don’t overdo it. With more white or open space, your message can stand out and really bring meaning. When using personalized extras, such as a photo, just stick to one or two, and don’t crowd the area. Avoid having the important details get lost in the design.
These same tips can be used for menus, thank you cards, place cards and other custom paper products. Less can definitely be more.
Templates can take the guesswork out of how to design your wedding invitation keepsake and other stationery products. By picking a design you already love, you can swap out photos, important date details and monograms, too.
4. Go for consistency.
Remember that wedding invitations are only part of the package. If you choose to do thank you notes, menus, place cards or programs, keep things like font, color and style the same across all elements. Because colors can have the same name and appearance in the design phase but look very different when printed at different shops, it’s best to have one print company do all of your pieces. You’ll also have less to keep track of when dealing with a single vendor.
5. Emphasize important details.
It’s tempting to smash a large amount of text onto an invitation or menu, especially if you have out-of-towners needing additional details for a seamless visit. Instead of trying to put everything on your printed materials, include just the essentials, then link to an online wedding registry or include a business card with a QR code that guests can scan for information. Menu QR codes can include ingredient lists and allergen information to help guests make informed decisions.
When designing invitations, put the names, dates and locations in the largest and most clearly read font. Then, include registry details or notes about the venue in smaller font. Having a hierarchy helps direct guests to note what matters first and can help reduce any confusion.
6. Time it right.
When should wedding invitations and other elements be designed, printed and mailed? It depends. By following these general rules, however, you can get each piece moving in time.
- Save the dates should be sent at least six months before the wedding — and even earlier for destination weddings that require advanced travel planning.
- Bridal shower invitations should be sent at least six weeks before the event.
- Rehearsal dinner invitations should be sent at least three weeks in advance.
- Thank you cards should be sent as soon as possible for gifts sent before the wedding — and no more than three weeks after the event for gifts received at or after the wedding.
Other paper items, such as menus or event programs, should be ordered as soon as you have finalized the wedding details and are sure these details won’t change. Don’t create a menu for the following year, for example, if you’re not sure how the supply or price of lobster may affect your finalized offerings.
Depending on who prints your wedding materials, it can take up to two weeks to get items printed and shipped — so make sure to account for time. VistaPrint can get items shipped to you within three to four business days.
7. Expect some changes.
While it would be so much easier to have things printed at once, that’s not always a possibility. It’s actually better to hold off on some printed elements if they could change at all. Most venues are set in stone, but menu options, venue alternatives for weather changes and even registry details can and do change.
Having to reprint your wedding stationery is not ideal. Finding a balance of preparedness and flexibility is key to making sure you don’t need to redo anything at significant cost and frustration.
8. Make it keepsake-worthy.
Finally, you may go through a lot of effort and trouble to create the perfect printed piece, so how do you make sure guests will want to hold on to these beautiful notes? It will depend on your situation, but the goal is simply to make friends and family feel cherished.
A simple signature may be all that’s needed to encourage them to keep your mailings. Or, penning your initials and a brief message may warm guests’ hearts and help your thank you notes stand out. And while handwriting invitations isn’t practical, you may consider hand-addressing the invitation envelopes if your guest list is small enough. There’s something elegant and cordial about receiving mail with that extra touch.
Another idea is to turn invitations and menus into keepsake displays and gift them to loved ones who have been instrumental in wedding plans. You can add the images of your invites to personalized gifts, such as wall art, pillows, desk decorations and more. Consider gifting one to yourself to commemorate one of the most important days of your life. You may be amazed at how guests really do want to remember that special dessert or drink menu they enjoyed during your celebration.
Celebrating with peace of mind
As so much work goes into planning a wedding, the stationery may not always be top of mind. Fortunately, there are many tools to make the project simple and help you put your heart and personality into each and every envelope. In fact, some couples may even find designing the printed materials to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding — because so much of it can be done for you!
With templates and design tools, there’s little to no guesswork. You can focus on color and theme, getting the information correct and planning the best mailing schedule. And when you order from a reputable printer that keeps your digital files saved to your account, you can easily order more if you decide to expand your wedding party or invite more loved ones to your event. In fact, some couples order extras to give as gifts. With wedding prints more affordable than ever before, this is a budget-friendly and beautiful way to show people you care.
Whether you design your stationery from scratch or use a handy template, the results can be equally stunning. For those who are on the fence about materials, colors and more, consider ordering a sample set to see how your vision will look when it hits the paper.
In the end, your wedding will probably come with a surprise or two. Your paper products don’t have to be one of them.