Planning a wedding can get kind of scary. There are so many things to do, and it probably feels like there’s not enough time to get through them all. Instead of freaking out, having a nervous breakdown or becoming a bridezilla, why not try reading our new series, Planning the Paper? This 10 part series will give lots of tips and helpful advice when it comes to wedding paper. We’ll be covering topics that include budgeting, etiquette, preserving your paper after the wedding, and everything in between.
Today we’re starting with the Wedding Paper Timeline. This will give you an idea of what and when you should plan for your wedding stationery.
Part 1: The Wedding Paper Timeline
When: any time!
This could happen at any time – from 2 years before your wedding date, to 2 weeks for you impulsive and adventurous folks. Our timeline uses the average time frame of 1 year before the wedding. If your situation is different, don’t be afraid to ask us how you can plan out your invitations and stationery.
Create a guest list
When: As soon as you start planning your wedding
This involves coming up with a rough list, which eventually whittles down to the real list. It helps in budgeting, and estimating the number of invitations you will need to order. When you have the “real” list, collect all necessary information that you don’t yet have (names, addresses, kids’ names & ages, etc). Be sure to allow for extras (about 10-15%) – we almost always see unexpected guests get added to the original count.
When: As soon as you start planning your wedding
We find that a lot of couples skip this step, but it helps to have a pre-determined wedding stationery fund. It will help you in deciding exactly what items you need vs. what you can afford, and seeing which stationers fit into your budget.
Start visiting/browsing wedding invitation companies
When: anywhere from 5-12 months before the wedding
The reason why we have this step so early is mainly for the couples who want to order Save the Date cards from a stationer (which is the next step in the timeline). If you are not sending out printed Save the Dates, you can visit stationers closer to the 6–4 month mark.
Save the Dates
When: anywhere from 6-12 months before the wedding
This is an optional step that nowadays, many couples choose to include in their announcement process. If you are having a destination wedding, we consider this a must-have. It could be anything from a snail mail card to email to a video to word of mouth. Whether it’s a destination wedding or local, the city should be included in the Save the Date, which means you’ll need to either already have part of the venue booking done, or at least narrowed down.
Order the wedding invitation suite
When: 4-5 months before the big day
This is the biggest step in your wedding paper timeline, and will require the most time and effort. Initial visits to stationers should ideally happen 6–4 months before the wedding date. This gives your chosen stationer time to design/print/process your order. Some couples visit way earlier, even up to a year before the wedding. This is okay too, but make sure not to order too early; ceremony times and other wedding day details can change if you are still months and months away.
Keep in mind that your invitations may require extra time, so add in a bit of cushion here if you need to. Specialty printing/finishes like letterpress and embossing are more labour intensive than regular flat printing. Or maybe you want a paper or envelope that requires special ordering.
Send out wedding invitations
When: 2-3 months before the big day
Couples often think they have to send out invitations earlier than they need to. Typically, we suggest 2-3 months before the wedding; sometimes 3-4 months if your guests are overseas. Keep in mind, your overseas guests should already have received a Save the Date of some sort. For them, the invitation is almost just customary, so they don’t need all that extra time to send an RSVP back to you. 10 weeks is typically the perfect time.
Finalize all wedding day stationery details
When: 2-3 months up to a week before the big day
While you are working on floral and decor ideas, don’t forget any paper items you may need – place cards, menus, signage, seating chart; these should all be planned in advance so that you are ready to place an order with your stationer. Be sure to make a list of how items will be displayed, since you likely wont be the one setting up.
Order Thank you cards & day-of stationery
When: 1-2 months before the big day, or just after the wedding (for Thank You cards)
Couples often leave Thank You cards until after the wedding, but it’s very useful to print these beforehand. You can use them to pay (and thank) your vendors, for shower gifts and any other people you may need to thank other than your wedding day guests. On the other hand, some of you like to have a wedding photo on the card, in which case you would have to print them after the big day (and after you receive a photo from your photographer). Another option is to print a batch before the wedding using an engagement photo, and a batch after the wedding with your wedding photo.
For Papertalk Press, place cards and menus and other day-of stationery can be left until 7-10 days before the wedding (if you require shipping, add another week). Large seating charts, which we can do for our local couples, require 3-4 days for the design, and then another 4-5 business days to print.
When: the big day of course!
Today you will be the one receiving all the stationery! Enjoy your day, and think of a way to preserve all those wonderful cards that you’re going to receive from your loved ones.
Send out Thank you cards
When: as soon as you can after your wedding day
Your guests came to celebrate your big day, and likely contributed to your marriage generously in the form of a gift. It is only polite to thank them by sending a lovely thank you card. Couples, please try and do this as soon as you can – the longer you leave it, the more likely you are never going to send a card… ever. Your friends and family will appreciate the personal note you include with every card.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Planning the Paper. We’re going to talk about everyone’s favorite thing in the world: budgeting!