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Congratulations, you are getting married! A date has been marked on the calendar, a venue has been booked and a budget has been set. Now it is time to delve into your wedding invitations.
The wedding invitation plays a very important role leading up to your big day. It informs your guests about the important details of the wedding - date and time, location, directions, etc. It also provides the only glimpse many of your guests will have into your plans before the wedding itself. The perfect invitation creates excitement, builds anticipation and sets the tone for your wedding.
So, before you bury yourself in wedding magazines and start rushing around to every stationer within 100 miles, you need to do a little planning.
First, begin tackling your guest list. It is never too early to start working on the list. You will need to determine how many invitations to order. It is amazing how quickly the list grows and how many people are absolutely "essential" to invite. It is equally amazing how hard it is to obtain addresses for everyone on the list. You don't need every last address and zip code now, but a reasonably complete list is a great starting point and will help prevent a frantic last minute phone call for fifty more invitations. While you are compiling the list, it is a good idea to get first names for everyone. Don't forget the children's names for the families that you are inviting. You will need first names later for placecards, and after your honeymoon they are handy for writing the thank you notes. The guest list is the one item that if completed early and accurately can smooth the entire wedding planning process. Remember, the number of invitations you will need is less than the number of guests because many invitations will be sent to couples and families.
Second, determine your schedule. You should allow at least four months before your wedding date to design, create, address and send the invitations. This gives you a few weeks to shop around, a few weeks to have the invitations made and enough time left to address and send them the customary six to eight weeks prior to the wedding. Of course, the specifics of your wedding may change the schedule. If your wedding date is on or near a holiday, if many of your guests will be travelling from afar, or if you are planning a wedding in an exotic locale, you may want to consider sending the invitations a few weeks earlier. Alternatively, you can send save-the-date cards. Save- the-date cards are sent six to eight months prior to the event to let your guests know the date and location of the wedding so that the necessary travel and accommodation arrangements can be made. If you decide to send save-the-date cards, start shopping for them about a month before you want to send them.
Third, make a list of all of the accompanying pieces you will need to send with the invitations. Most invitations are sent with a response card, accommodations information, transportation arrangements and directions. A rehearsal dinner invitation for the evening before the wedding and an invitation to a post-nuptial brunch the following morning can also be included. This allows for the creation of a cohesive invitation ensemble and eliminates the need for additional mailings. Typically not all of the guests will receive all of the pieces. Hotel information need not be sent to local guests and rehearsal dinner invitations are usually exclusive to the wedding party, close family and friends. As you look for invitations, you may also want to consider other wedding stationery needs such as programs, placecards, menus, gift tags and thank you notes.
Lastly, think about the style you want to express and the tone you want to set for your wedding. Are there particular colors you would like to use? Is there a motif that expresses a common passion or one that is symbolic of your wedding venue? During what season will the wedding take place? Will it be on the beach at sunset or in a grand ballroom? Do you envision tuxedos and evening gowns? Mark pages in wedding magazines of invitations that strike your fancy. Clip out pictures that evoke the feeling that you are trying to achieve. Search on-line and print out web pages of items of interest. Collect your ideas and then it is time to go shopping!
Visit at least a few stationers to find the one who will not only design your dream invitation, but who can also guide you through the process and help you avoid pitfalls along the way. Look for a stationer you are comfortable with because you will be working together for months before and possibly even after your wedding day. As you begin your quest for the perfect invitation take a deep breath, relax, and most importantly have fun.
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