They they are. All 107 of them. Beautiful, lovingly-prepared, pristine wedding invitations. They might look innocent. But appearances can be deceptive.
OH.MY.GOD. Future brides – nothing can prepare you for the complete headless-chicken-inducing palaver of the invites. If I could give you one piece of advice (and I know I have said this before on more than one occasion) it is to prioritise the invites above everything – yes, even above your dress!
With exactly ten weeks to go today (shit), I have left the invites pretty late. I lulled myself into a false sense of security by emailing Save The Dates to guests. This is a mistake. Don’t let this happen to you.
Invites should arrive between 6 and 4 weeks ahead of the wedding. Even later if you have a big international contingent, as we do. And we are sending them from Hong Kong so the post will take a lot longer.
The following check-list gives you an idea why the invites have been the bain of my existence for the last 3 weeks. If you are sensible you will just send emails, a great hassle-reducer. But many people these days still like print. So here goes…
1. Budget Find out how many guests you can have through either a) capacity of your venue/s b) budget (this may mean you firstly have to find out what the per head costs of food and drink will be, and work from there).
2. Guest List Decide on the guest list with a) your parents, if they are paying, b) your other half’s parents and c) your beloved other half (at this point, you will probably have to be ruthless and cut a few off. WARNING – this may cause friction. ADVICE – easier to cut out whole friendship groups or levels of family relations, e.g. second cousins, rather than having a few from here and there. I know this is easier said than done. Also, many people advise not inviting other halves unless they are engaged or married. Personally I don’t think that is fair and is less fun on the dance floor at the end of the day. Which is kind of the Holy Grail I am aiming for.)
3. Separate Lists If you are having a separate evening party, divide guest list according to day time and evening. Again, you may have to be ruthless. If you are having everyone come to the whole thing, go straight to number 4.
4. Postal Addresses Email/phone the entire guest list to check postal addresses, if you don’t have them.
5. Design Once you have your guest list, now you can start thinking about the invitations themselves. This is the creative part. First of all, think of your theme, if you have one. Is there an image/colour that will reverberate throughout the wedding? Or something personal to do with your relationship?
For example, for an upcoming friend’s wedding the colour scheme (bridesmaids dresses, bouquet, flowers) is dusky pink, and the theme is romantic. So she incorporated tiny pearls and a pale pink bow into her invites.
Another friend is getting married on Sandbanks beach, so they took a load of black and white photos of them walking hand-in-hand, barefoot on the sand. They used these throughout the invitations, and had all of the information in verse.
And you can go really off the wall. A very creative friend-of-a-friend is getting married in Bali, and she made her invitations like passports, see below.
Another friend-of-a-friend is a writer and literature lover. She printed out very simple invites with a typewriter style font, bought 150 thin, vintage books, slipped the invite inside the front cover and sent the whole package to her guests.
6. Production So now you know what they will look like, you have to decide how you will get them made, be it with a printer, online or DIY. A family member had red roses in her bouquet and red bridesmaid dresses. She bought a load of cream card and envelopes from Hobbycraft and did the invites, save the dates and name places embellished with tiny crimson paper rosebuds. So cute! You can also buy personalised rubber stamps and complete DIY packages from these stores.
The other alternative is getting them printed online. Weddingpaperdivas is brilliant and has a huge collection to choose from and allows you 8 free samples. The only downside (if you are as hopelessly disorganised as me) is that they are in the US, so postage can take a while. If you are seriously short on time and aren’t overly fussed on style, Moonpig does wedding invites, and they send them for you!
Alternatively, get them printed with a professional who can take you through the design step by step, and tweak according to your heart’s desire. I was recommended this veteran printing expert Teddy Tsang in Hong Kong and I can’t heap enough praise on him. He is quick, professional, good value for money, and most importantly, has the patience of a saint.
Remember when you are designing the invites, unnecessary parts will add weight, which will add cost when you are posting them.
7. Content Once you have the invites designed, you need to consider the extra information. The essential detail for the front page is:
Mr & Mrs W //Request the pleasure of the company of X // At the marriage of their daughter Y to Z // When // Where// RSVP
But these days a lot of weddings are pretty complex, my own included. Transport to and from the church, parking, accommodation for guests coming from afar is all useful, and of course information about where people can buy gifts, should they so wish. We managed to get all of this onto the back of our invite, so only used one piece of card.
Personally I think the simpler the better, and here my favourite Orwellian journalistic mantra comes into play. Cut it all down to the bare bones, and when you don’t think you can cut it any more, keep cutting. For example, do people need an address AND a map? Do they need five different taxi numbers? Do they need to know what time they are going to eat? No – so get rid of it.
You don’t need an RSVP card – people can get off their arses and send you a postcard - or even drop you an email.
8. Sign Off So you should now know how many invites you will need to send, (remember it will often be one between two or more), and the weight of the invite and envelope. You can go to the post office before and get your stamps so you can spend a lovely evening writing on names, putting the invites in envelopes, sticking on postage labels and stamps and coming to terms with the fact in 2.5 months you will be walking down the aisle – with all of these faces beaming at you (you hope).
9. Send fiance to post them!
10. Sit back with a cuppa and wait for the RSVPs (I don’t really have a 10, I just wanted a round number.)
TIP Get at least 20 more invites printed than you need. If a lot of people can’t come you may want to invite more. And if you are like me you will screw up several times, inexplicably whilst writing people’s names who you have known for years.