It all starts with the invitation, the centerpiece of the stationery suite. But, what else do you need to go in that ever important envelope? Your wedding invitation sets the tone for your wedding and tells the who, what, when, where of the day. It’s very confusing (since you only pick these out once in your life!) to know what parts you need to include in your invitation and why. I’ve broken down, below, what the different components of a wedding invitation are and if or why you should include them.
Invitation: This is the main part of the stationery suite. Your design starts here and includes all the information about your ceremony. It includes who is hosting, who is getting married, the date, time, and location of the ceremony. Wording always changes due to personal preference and formal vs. casual, but the content is still the same.
Enclosures: Enclosures are the other pieces of the stationery suite included with the invitation. Usually smaller than the invitation and can be the following:
Reception Enclosure: If your reception is in a different location than the ceremony, it is customary to include a separate card as an invitation to the reception. The invitation is for the ceremony and the reception enclosure invites guests to the reception. The reception enclosure includes the location, address, time (sometimes just “following the ceremony”) and sometimes form of dress (black tie, semi-formal, casual, etc). If your ceremony and reception are at the same location, just include “reception to follow” at the bottom of your invitation but do not include your reception information on the formal invitation, use an enclosure.
Response Enclosure: Most brides need to know how many guests they will be hosting in order to plan for food and rentals. A response card, or RSVP or Reply card, allows guests to send back their response if they are or are not attending. This card can be done in a couple of different formats.
Card with envelope: Typically a 4.25×5.5” flat card in a matching pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelope. (Make it as easy as possible for them to respond!)
Card: If you are a non-traditional or more tech-savvy bride, use a wedding website with RSVP collecting capabilities or create an email account for all of your responses to be emailed. Include this information on a card with instructions on how to RSVP.
Tip: When sending out response cards in your wedding invitation suite, lightly write numbers with a pencil on the back. These numbers should correspond with your spreadsheet rows and will help you track who has responded if they forget to write in their name.
Content for responses usually include a response deadline, a line for the guest to write their name, a check box for accepting or declining the invitation. Sometimes it includes menu choices if you are hosting a plated dinner. A more fun idea is to include a place for guests to include a song request.
Accommodation: Some couples choose to include information on room blocks for the weekend of their wedding. Usually, the information listed is a website or hotel name and phone number and name of the room block. You can also combine with a directions card or list a wedding website that has up-to-date Accommodation and Direction information.
Directions + Map: For out-of-town guest, listing directions from the different places they may be driving from is nice, or from ceremony to reception directions. Most people do have GPS on their phones, but they will likely bring the invitation with them to remind them of this information and it’s great in case of an issue with phone connectivity. You can include both written directions and a custom designed map.
Other enclosures: Some couples include a “Things to Do” card for out-of-town guests, listing their favorite restaurants and sites or even include the rehearsal dinner invitation for those guests who are invited, with the response included on the original response card for the ceremony and reception.
Envelopes: What is the difference between inner and outer envelopes and a single envelope?
Inner Envelope: This envelope holds the invitation and enclosures that you choose. This envelope also lets guests know who is invited. If you have invited a girlfriend who is single, this envelope would include “Sara and guest” if you have invited her to bring someone along. It would include “Sara” if you have not included a guest to attend with Sara. The same would go for children. If Bob and Sally’s children are invited, you would include “Bob and Sally” and on the line underneath their children’s names (Jack and Jill). These names, no matter who is invited, are informal names – what you call them on a day-to-day basis.
Outer Envelope: This envelope holds the inner envelope and is addressed to the head of the household with their mailing address. Formal names are used on this envelope and guests (+1’s) and children are not included here. Using the example above, it would list “Mr. and Mrs. Bob Knight / Street Address / City / State / Zip”. Your return address is printed on the back flap of this envelope.
Single Envelope: Not everyone wants to use the inner + outer envelope method, and that is okay. Using a single envelope, your invitation and enclosures are held inside and the names can be listed as “Mr. and Mrs. Bob Knight / Jack and Jill / Street Address / City / State / Zip”. Your return address is printed on the back flap of this envelope.
Don’t get overwhelmed! I am here to help you decide which of these you need and you don’t need. This is a great and comprehensive start to helping you understand the different parts you have the option to include.