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Wedding invitations can be unique, but there are some things they should all have in common. Photo by Metro Creative
Wedding invitations often provide guests with a first glimpse of a wedding's style. Invitations also may serve as the means by which distant friends and relatives find out about a couple's pending nuptials if a formal announcement was not made.
Amid the flourishes of calligraphy and impressive paper stock is information that speaks to the importance of the day when two people will be joining their lives together. Guests will learn not only the time and the place of the wedding from the invitation, but also the formality of the event and the scope of the party that will follow.
Couples should keep certain things in mind as they begin to design their wedding invitations.
* Have a good idea of your potential guest list. Before shopping for wedding invitations, it is key to have a strong idea of just how big the wedding will be and how many guests will be invited. This way you will know how many invitations you will need. Invitations vary in price, so cost may be a consideration if your guest list is extensive.
* Decide on the formality of the wedding. Will you be hosting a black tie affair, or will it be a casual gathering at the shore? Guests infer many things about the wedding from the invitations, which should match the formality of the event in style and the sentiments expressed. An ornate invitation written with classic wording suggests a more formal affair, while a whimsical invitation with less formal wording could indicate a more laid-back event.
* Dare to be different by playing with invitation sizes and shapes. Rectangular cards are standard for wedding invitations, but you can explore your creativity by choosing more modern, artsy invitations. Circular invites or scalloped edges can add some whimsy to the wedding mood. Invitations that fold out or are embellished with ribbon or other decorations can be appealing. Just keep in mind that cards that are not the standard shape and size could be more costly to send. Always have the entire wedding invitation weighed and priced at the post office so you will know what the postage will cost.
* Choose a legible font and text color. Your invitation may look beautiful, but it may prove ineffective if it is difficult to read. Do not risk guests misinterpreting the date or the location because they cannot read the writing on the invitation. Steer clear of pastel or yellow text colors, and remember to have a high contrast between the color of the invitation and the text you are using for easy reading.
* Keep the invitation simple. It may be tempting to load the invitation with lots of information, but all you really need are the key pieces of information, such as the "who," "what," "where," and "when." Crowding the card will take away from its aesthetic appeal. Most stationers will suggest a separate, smaller insert in the wedding invitation for the reception information and response card. Never put information such as where you are registered or "no kids allowed." This is material better reserved for word of mouth or on a wedding Web site.
* Do some math. It is important to know your dates so you can receive the invitations on time, mail them out, and give guests enough time to respond. A good rule of thumb is to mail out the invitations at least two months before the wedding. Have an RSVP date of no more than three to four weeks before the wedding, giving ample time to the caterers and accommodating anyone who procrastinates in sending in a response. You will need the final headcount in order to confirm seating arrangements and plan for centerpieces and favors.
* Handwrite the envelopes. Your invitation will look more impressive if you address them by hand, rather than printing them off of a computer. If your handwriting is not very neat, consider hiring a professional calligrapher to write out your envelopes.
* Make it easy for guests to respond. Be sure to place a stamp on the response card envelope and have that envelope already addressed with your home address so that guests will have no excuses not to mail a response back promptly.
* Always order extra. Mistakes happen, and you may need to send out a few extra invitations that you hadn't originally counted. Always order extra invitations just to be on the safe side. And don't forget you will probably want to keep one as a keepsake for yourself.
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