Picking out (and possibly making and assembling) your invitations is a hard thing to do. There are so many pretty options that are available that can speak about you and your beau as a couple. However, there’s a lot of keep in mind when actually sending them out, too. The good news is that I’m here to give you a quick rundown of what you should know before popping those beauties in the mail!
Image credit: Yvonne Wong Photography via Southern Weddings
If you choose to have your invitation envelopes dressed up in formal calligraphy, that’s the very next step in your invitation preparation. Make sure that you have a complete and accurate list of everyone who is receiving the invitation, including their formal names with suffixes and titles, and full addresses (think P.O. boxes, apartment numbers, zip codes, and countries or provinces if you’re inviting international guests). Most calligraphers prefer to have names sent in a Word document, and almost all require addresses to be typed out (to cut down on legibility errors!).
When researching calligraphers, keep in mind your wedding style, your budget and your time frame. Calligraphers may request two or three weeks (sometimes more!) to complete your envelopes. If there’s no room in your budget for a professional calligrapher (and you’re like me and your handwriting isn’t so pretty), you can opt for machine calligraphy, which is more affordable.
Image credit: Southern Weddings
Envelopes and Addressing
The practice of using two envelopes — an inner one with the names of the invited guests and an outer one with the address and postal information — was to ensure that the guests received a pristine envelope with their invitation. Nowadays, it’s not necessary to use both. Either way, your invitations should be properly addressed. There are many variations and nuances when it comes to addressing your invitations, but here are some guidelines:
- Use full names.
- Use “Mr. and Mrs.”
- If one of them is a doctor, use “Doctor and Mrs.” or “Doctor and Mr.” Basically, the doctor comes first, whoever it is. If both of them are doctors, write “The Doctors X”
- If they both have different professional titles, list the woman first.
- If they are married, write “and” between their names.
- If they are not married, but living together, write their names on separate lines without the “and.”
- Write out all numbers below 20 and all abbreviations in the address. (For example, “Thirteen Chapel Hill Avenue”)
Image credit: Focus Photography via Green Wedding Shoes
Stamps and Mailing
Your invitations are the first design element of your big day that guests will see, so feel free to dress up the envelope a bit with pretty stamps! I love seeing a bunch of vintage stamps artfully arranged on an envelope. You can find valid vintage stamps online and affix them to your invitations (just make sure that they add up to the proper postage amount!). We like The Paper Nickel, which sends you a variety of stamps in 44-cent packs so there’s less guesswork. They’ll also do custom orders, say if you want all of your stamps to be one color.
If vintage stamps aren’t your style, you can still personalize! The United States Postal Service gives you plenty of options when customizing your stamps or choosing from a wedding collection. Zazzle has a large selection of wedding stamps, but they also let you upload a photo to make your own or you can personalize one of their already-designed stamps.
If you would really like your invitations to arrive in pristine condition, consider having them hand-cancelled. This may be especially important to you if your invitations contain elements that could be easily damaged. Instead of running your invitations through a machine, hand-cancelling requires a person to just mark the stamp and imprint it with the name of the city or town. Since post offices are usually busy, the best bet is usually to ask (oh-so-sweetly) if they wouldn’t mind if you stood off to the side and hand-cancelled them yourself. Make sure to approach the friendliest face on duty with your request :)
Image credit: 100 Layer Cake
- Send envelopes to your calligrapher three or more weeks before you need them back to mail. (Double-check! Some calligraphers need longer.)
- Mail out your invitations about six to eight weeks before the wedding.
- Make sure your addresses are up-to-date, accurate, and thorough.
- Take a stuffed and completed invitation to your local post office to be weighed. It might take more than 44 cents to mail. Keep in mind that oversize or irregularly shaped invites might be more expensive to mail, too.
- Be careful of packaging elements that might cause your invitation not to lie flat, as it might have to be mailed differently.