One of the most common questions I get asked as a wedding stationery designer is “When do I need to get started with all this”. Even my wedding planner friends ask! Here’s the answer (drum-roll please)… the sooner the better! If you’re getting custom stationery for your special day, don’t delay in getting that process started. The more time you have to work with your stationer the better. There are tons of options when it comes to stationery (check out my Youtube video about card style options, which is just the tip of the iceberg) that the earlier you start, the better for your stationer and your stress levels! To help you plan accordingly, here’s an ideal timeline for handling your stationery and some important things you’ll want to keep in mind.
9-12 months before your wedding
- Put pen to paper on your guest list. Start planning who you want to invite and how many invitations that translates into. Remember, 150 guests doesn’t mean 150 invitations (unless you have 150 single friends, in which case, that’s amazing!).
- Start thinking about design. Start a Pinterest board with images that you love or browse wedding magazines to start thinking about your options.
- Decide if you are sending Save-the-Dates. Save-the-Dates aren’t a necessity, but I definitely recommend them if you are having your wedding during a holiday season, if you’re having a destination wedding, or if you’re inviting a lot of guests from out of town.
- Contact your wedding stationery designer. If you’re going the custom stationery route, contact the designer you want to use to make sure they’re available! This is especially important if your wedding is taking place during the traditional wedding season (May/June and September/October) or during holidays.
6-9 months before your wedding
- Work with your designer to order and send out your Save-the Dates.
- Start narrowing down those invitation options. If you’re noticing a trend in what you like, note them. Write down your colors, themes, and must-haves.
- Set up a meeting with your wedding stationery designer. Typically during this meeting, you’ll go over wording, invitation style, inserts, etc.
- Start planning your day-of stationery needs. This includes programs, menus, table numbers, escort cards, etc.
- Think about any other stationery needs you may have. This includes bachelor/bachelorette party invitations, bridal party invitations, and thank you cards.
3-6 months before your wedding
- Finalize your guest list. Make sure you have full names and addresses for all your guests.
- Order your invitations. If going the custom route, your stationery designer should be able to give you a good estimate on when you’ll receive everything.
- Want calligraphy? Ask your stationery designer if she has recommendations and book your slot. Get them the envelopes to begin addressing as soon as possible.
8-12 weeks before your wedding
- Prepare to mail those invites! If using a stationery designer, you’ll just have to address, stuff, and seal. If you’re not using a calligrapher, ask your stationery designer if they can print the addresses on the envelopes for you and it’ll save you a step. Here’s a tip – create a spreadsheet and give each address (not guest!) a number. Put that number on the back of your RSVP card. If a guest forgets to put their name on the RSVP, you’ll know who it’s for!
3-4 weeks before your wedding
- Reach out to those stragglers. Have your parents, significant other, or wedding planner reach out to those guests you haven’t heard from to see if their attending and send your final number to any vendors who may need them.
- Order your day-of stationery. If ordering escort cards – give your stationery designer the guest information as soon as it’s finalized. This includes how you want the cards to read (Mr./Mrs vs. just first and last name), table number and meal choice if applicable.
1-2 weeks before your wedding
- Receive your day-of stationery. Make sure all of your day-of stationery items are delivered to the right person for set up on your wedding day.
Within 3 months after your wedding
- Order and send out your thank you cards. It’s acceptable up to a year after your wedding to send out your thank you cards, but trust me – the sooner the better.