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Category Archives: Invitations + Stationery

Wedding Invitations: At-Home Cards

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A tradition started in the 1950s, the at-home card is a small card sent to friends and family to formally announce the newlyweds’ new address and the date it is effective. Nowadays, the at-home card also serves to answer the infamous question, “Is the bride keeping her name?” While at-home cards aren’t required, you might want to mail them for tradition’s sake. Here’s a quick guide to getting them done.

When to Send
Traditionally, at-home cards are enclosed with the formal wedding invitation, but nowadays are more often included with wedding announcements post-wedding. You may also send them out separately after the wedding, but you will bear the additional postage.

How to Word
The at-home card helps to clarify how the bride and groom should be addressed once they’re married. Here are some examples:
Traditional at-home card wording:
At home
after the fifteenth of July
1570 Primrose Lane
Houston, Texas 12345
At-home card with names:
Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Hall
after the fifteenth of July
1570 Primrose Lane
Houston, Texas 12345

At-home card if the bride is keeping her name or is hyphenating it with her husband’s surname:
Dr. Julia Michaels
(or Dr. Julia Michaels-Hall)
Mr. Jonathan Hall
after the fifteenth of July
1570 Primrose Lane
Houston, Texas 12345

If both the bride and groom are hyphenating their names:
Mr. Jonathan and Dr. Julia Michaels-Hall
after the fifteenth of July
1570 Primrose Lane
Houston, Texas 12345
Formal Announcements

If you didn’t have a formal wedding but still want to keep this tradition, consider sending a postcard with more informal wording, such as:
We will be back from our honeymoon as the official
Mr. Jonathan and Dr. Julia Hall
As of July 15th.
You can reach us at
1570 Primrose Lane
Houston, Texas 12345
Who Prints Them?
Most stationers offer at-home cards as part of the general invitation or stationery package. Order them when you order your invites.

Wedding Invitations: A Glossary of Terms

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Choosing your invitations? Your stationer will lead you down many avenues, but don’t get lost in the shuffle. Instead, prep with this glossary beforehand. Knowing the terms is your ticket to total satisfaction.

A printing process that employs a die (see below) to yield colorless letters and images with a raised “relief” surface.

The perfected art of handwriting/penmanship. Often associated with fancy, curlicue script, calligraphy is now comprised of several genres and styles.

Term describing the appearance of paper with thick wrinkles, ridges, and grooves.
Cotton Fiber:
Type of paper made from 100 percent cotton. Arguably the most traditional and elegant option for wedding invitations.

Deckle Edge:
The irregular, feathered, “torn” edge of handmade paper.

An etched metal plate used to create engraved or embossed images and type. Die-cutting: The process of cutting various paper shapes, particularly with envelopes.
A printing technique that forms letters and images with a raised “relief” surface, imparting added dimension to the invitation design. Usually used for large initials or borders.

The most formal of printing methods, through which the letters appear slightly raised. A “bruise” typically forms on the back of the paper from the pressure. Engraving plate: An etched steel die used to create engraved type or images.

The ornate calligraphic details that frequent ultra-formal invitations.

(see “Typeface”)
A very thin, waxy paper. Thinner than vellum (see below), its surface is slick and shiny, whereas vellum is more translucent. Glassine is best suited for envelope use, while vellum is sturdy enough to be printed on directly for invitation use.

Handmade Papers:
Made from natural organic materials including cotton, rag, hemp, and plant fibers, uneven or “rough” in texture.

The various (calligraphic) script and lettering styles a talented calligrapher can create.
Industrial Papers:
Made from chipboard or newsprint, often from recycled fibers, industrial papers have a rugged, hip look about them. Corrugated cardboard and brown kraft paper (think brown grocery bags) are examples.

Initial Cap:
A term for the exaggerated, oversized first letter of a word you’ll sometimes see in lavish calligraphy or a decorative typeface.

Screen-printed paper that creates an illusion of layering; for example, paper that looks like it’s overlaid with a swatch of lace.

Paper that’s similar to Vellum (see below), with a rougher, bumpy finish.

A beautiful printing alternative to engraving (but more expensive). The labor-intensive method dates back to the fifteenth century and involves inking an image to produce an impression: the impression is transferred by placing paper against the image and manually applying pressure. The images and typeface appear precise — individually “stamped into” the paper — and very rich in color. Letterpress is great if you’re using unusual paper, motifs, typeface, or want to play around with pigments. Comparatively, engraving and thermography restrict the possibilities.

Linen Finish:
A paper type with a surface that’s more grainy than pure cotton stocks. Another elegant, classic choice for wedding invitations.

Marbled Paper:
Decorative paper marked by swirling, abstract patterns that resemble the surface of marble.

Paper with an opaque, non-reflective finish.

Foil-like paper, non-crinkling with a shiny, mirror-like finish. It’s best for envelopes, and not appropriate for the invitation (ink doesn’t take to it well).

The “flat” printing used on everyday fliers, letterhead, stickers, and more. It’s a nice choice if you want to save lots of cash, use highly textured paper, or several different colors of ink (with engraving and embossing, you’re usually limited to just one).

Cloudy, translucent paper that creates an airy, dreamy effect.

Point Size:
Unit of measure indicating the size of an individual letter or character.

Rice Paper:
A thin, soft paper, that is actually not made from rice. It’s non-traditional, but beautiful and elegant. It can only accept the letterpress printing mode; cream and ivory are the most common colors used in the design of rice paper wedding invitations.

Refers to the paper component of a project. The term is used to describe the thickness and heaviness of paper. Hardy card stock is ideal for formal wedding invitations. They’ll often come accompanied by a square of tissue or parchment (delicate stocks) for elegant contrast.

Probably the most popular print method (it’s less expensive than engraving.) A heat-based process fuses ink and resinous powder to create raised lettering. It’s virtually indistinguishable from engraving work. The subtle differences: thermographed text is slightly shiny and the back of the invitation remains smooth (no impression).

The style/appearance of a letter or numeral. With the arrival of desktop publishing, the term is more or less synonymous with the word “font.”

A term you might hear used to describe the look of certain paper or ribbon, meaning that it bears discreet hints of different colors.

Paper made from a cotton blend, with a translucent, frosted appearance, and a smooth finish.

The translucent emblem or “beauty mark” buried in fine paper that becomes visible when the paper is held up to light. A watermark denotes superb quality, signifying the exclusivity of the paper company or boutique.


Wedding Invitations: A Complete Checklist

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Before you go buying every pretty note card in sight, determine your needs by breaking down your wedding day. Use your wedding style, however formal or casual, as well as time and budget to guide you through the boundless options. It’s helpful to establish a thread of consistency — with color, theme, or motif — and apply it to each piece. For efficiency and cost effectiveness, strive to order all your stationery needs from the same place and, ideally, at the same time. Here’s everything you need to know about the paper products you’ll be ordering.

The centerpiece of your wedding stationery, the invitation reflects the tone of your wedding, whether black tie or beach party. An invitation can have several pieces: the outer envelope, an unsealed inner envelope, the invitation, a reception card (if the party is held at a different venue than the ceremony), and a response card with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Printed maps and information on hotels is often also enclosed.

These are heavy stock, 100-percent cotton or linen paper in white or ecru, engraved with black or charcoal ink, and with a square of tissue to protect the type.

Couples are steering away from the standard invitation and using papers in unusual sizes and colors, with exotic textures (perhaps relating to the color scheme of the wedding), and emblazoned with motifs, graphics, monograms, and family crests. Waste-conscious brides with less formal invites often forgo the unsealed inner envelope (originally used to protect the invitation from the elements when mail was hand-delivered and often arrived in shoddy shape).

Three to four months before the wedding date. The sooner you order them, the more time you’ll have to proof them, make any changes, and address the outer envelopes (a calligrapher, for example, requires up to two weeks to address 100 invitations).
Six weeks before the date is the most common; eight weeks is ideal (10 weeks for guests coming from abroad). You have more leeway if you send save-the-date cards first.

Reply Cards
These cards are, of course, sent with your invitations with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Reply cards often ask each guest to check a box letting couples know how many people will attend the wedding. A date for the return of the reply card is essential.

Since so many people have dietary concerns, many reply cards now include the menu options so that guests can check off what they wish to eat that day, and so the caterer can be fully prepared for the number of vegetarian meals that needs to be cooked. Additionally, if it’s a weekend wedding, the reply card will often include a list of activities with check boxes so that guests can let the couple know which events (such as a tennis tournament or golf outing) they plan to attend.

With your invitations.
Reception Cards
These are cards sent with the wedding invitation to inform guests where the party will take place.

A small card that asks guests to join the newlyweds and their families for a celebratory reception. It gives the date, place, and time.

Play with fonts and designs (like a motif or monogram) on this card, especially if your invitations are classic.

With your invitations.
Wedding Programs
Not only can they provide useful information, they also make charming mementos. Programs are often in the form of a small booklet and include information about the ceremony, such as the date, the names of the bridal party (and perhaps their relationships to the bride or groom), the order of events, and the titles of readings and songs. Couples may also choose the program to honor deceased loved ones, to thank important people, and/or to explain unfamiliar rites of the ceremony.

On your invites, the “reply by” for the response cards should be at least three weeks before the wedding so there’s time to create the seating arrangements.

The front cover of the booklet bears the couple’s names or joint initials. The pages are bound, usually by the stationer, with a satin ribbon.

A less expensive option is a single piece of heavy-stock paper with a vellum overlay, tied together, by you and your bridesmaids, with a ribbon reflecting your color scheme. Some couples are including their favorite poetry or the story of how they met or got engaged. Other couples are crafting creative programs, such as ones shaped as fans (especially popular for beach or summer weddings).

If the programs will be formal and multipaged, it’s best to order them with your invitations. Otherwise, order four to six weeks before the wedding date.
Knot Note: Read more on wedding program basics before you visit your stationer.
Menu Cards
These cards are becoming more popular and thankfully so. No one likes to sit down to a meal when they have no idea what is about to be served.

Often designed as a single card in a heavy cotton stock in a rectangular shape and containing the elements of the meal, including different wines or other beverage options.

This is a great place to list why you’ve chosen a particular dish if it has cultural or personal significance. Drink cards (listing the five martinis available to guests, for instance) are cards that stand at the bar.

At least six weeks before the wedding day.

Place Cards
Place cards inform guests which chair to sit in. (Escort cards direct people to their tables.

Small, tented cards that are printed with each guest’s name and placed at the top of every setting.

You can choose to use any kind of prop you like to tell guests where to sit: small stones with hand-painted names, the tag of each favor, even a die-cut flower to enhance your wedding aesthetic.

With your invitations (or buy them about four weeks before the wedding day).
Knot Note: Instead of writing each guest’s table assignment on the escort card itself, slip the card into a small envelope that’s tagged with a table number. This way, you can easily swap guests’ table assignments up until the last second.

Thank-You Cards
These handwritten notes — from both of you — should thank guests for their gifts and/or presence at your wedding.

Cards that say “thank you” or have your new married monogram and new address stenciled into them.

Our favorite idea is a picture card or postcard with your wedding photo (or a photo of all the guests at the ceremony) on the front.

With your invitations.

No later than one month after your honeymoon for gifts received the day of your wedding. You should ideally send thank-you notes out immediately for any gifts received before the wedding day.

Wedding Invitation Wording: Sticky Situations

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If you’re like many Americans, your familial configuration is anything but nuclear. Parents that are divorced, remarried, or deceased are not uncommon. Likewise, wedding customs have changed: Instead of the bride’s family footing the entire bill, more couples are paying for their own festivities, under their own terms. In the wake of these changes, the innocent wedding invitation, where those hosting — um, paying for — the wedding are conventionally recognized, has become an etiquette minefield. Read on to escape unscathed with our solutions to sticky wording situations.

Rule 1: Divorced
The basic rule of thumb is to tread lightly — you don’t want to salt old wounds or, if one parent is happily remarried and the other is unhappily not, bring public attention to this fact, if only to spare the unmarried parent’s feelings. Your safest bet is to list your natural parents’ names only and on separate lines. If one parent has been remarried for a significant amount of time and that stepparent has played an important role in your life, it is appropriate to include that person’s name on the same line as his or her wife or husband. (And regardless of who’s remarried, always list the mother first.) If you are faced with two to four sets of remarried parents hosting the wedding, either list each couple on their own line or use the fallback “Together with their families” to keep the invitation uncluttered. Here are some examples.
honoring others
To honor a mother or father who has passed away, you can skip the once-obligatory invite mention and honor the parent at the ceremony or reception instead. Ideas? Light a candle during the ceremony, play his or her favorite song, or have his or her favorite piece of scripture or a poem read (its significance should be noted in the wedding program).
A divorced parent is hosting:
Mr. John Philip Monroe
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of his daughter
Elizabeth Ann
Kevin Charles Black
son of
Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Black
A divorced parent is hosting with new spouse:
Michelle & Timothy Wright
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of her daughter
Elizabeth Ann Monroe
Kevin Charles Black
son of
Barbara and Stanley Black
Divorced parents are jointly hosting:
Mrs. Michelle Wright
Mr. John Monroe
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Elizabeth Ann Monroe
Kevin Charles Black
son of
Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Black

Rule 2: Widowed
If the hosting parent is widowed, start with just the surviving parent’s name or the surviving parent’s new married name and his or her spouse’s name. Be sure to specify who is related to the bride. For example:
Michelle and Timothy Wright
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of Mrs. Wright’s daughter
Elizabeth Ann Monroe
Knot Note: In this example, the daughter’s fraternal surname is included to honor the deceased parent.

Rule 3: Ranked
Modern couples today include professional titles on all applicable names. If you choose to do so, keep a couple of things in mind: A title should not be used with Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Also, if you add a title to the bride’s name, you should add her last name, as well. Here are the proper titles and usage of common professions:
Lawyer: Michelle Wright, Esq.
Doctor: Dr. Michelle Wright
Judge: The Honorable Michelle Wright
Clergyperson: The Reverend Michelle Wright (Christian); Father John Monroe (Catholic); Rabbi Michelle Wright (Jewish)
Military: Captain (Commander or Major) John Monroe
Be sure to properly denote each title in a wedding invitation. For example:
Dr. Michelle Wright and Timothy Wright
Mr. John Monroe
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Elizabeth Ann Monroe
Kevin Charles Black, Esq.
son of
Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Black

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Wedding Invitation Wording: New Ideas

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There are hundreds of ways to address an invitation. The most important thing to remember is to include the full names of the bride and groom, the names of those hosting the event, and a “request line” — however formal, casual, or cool that may be. Now that you’ve learned how to word a wedding invitation, you can bend these rules to make your wedding invitation reflect who you are as a couple. Here are a few examples of what brides and grooms across the nation are doing today to put a small twist on the traditional.

Not-So-Proper Parents
List the parents names without the proper surnames; it almost seems archaic to address everyone as a Mr. or a Mrs.
Jason and Eliza Miller
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Katie Lynn
Robert Luke
son of
Randall and Meredith Richards

Relaxed Request Line
Alter the “request line” to suit the style of your wedding. Many couples not marrying in a religious institution or marrying in a very casual setting, pen their invitations with “pleasure of your company.”
Jason and Eliza Miller
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Katie Lynn
Robert Luke
son of
Randall and Meredith Richards

Really Relaxed Request Line
Other couples are forgoing the traditional “honor of your presence” or “pleasure of your company” altogether and are opting for a more relaxed and festive “request line.”
Jason and Eliza Miller
invite you to share and celebrate
the marriage of their daughter
Katie Lynn
Robert Luke Richards

Couples Come First
Many couples who are hosting the wedding alongside their parents, choose to eliminate their parents’ names and save space with a simple suggestion of their financial help and loving support.
Katie Lynn Miller
Robert Luke Richards
together with their parents
request the pleasure of your company
at their marriage

For couples entirely hosting the wedding themselves, parents names are not included on the invitation. However, it is important to remember to thank each set of parents for their support with a toast at the reception.
Katie Lynn Miller
Robert Luke Richards
invite you to share in their joy
as they exchange marriage vows


Wedding Calligraphy: The Basics

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The ancient art of elegantly curved and curly handwriting, calligraphy has its root in Greek: kalli, meaning beautiful, and graphia, meaning writing. If you’re planning a grand, high-style wedding and want formal, intimate, au courant invites to match, calligraphy may be the perfect printing technique for you.

What It Costs
Whether you choose sumptuous curves or sophisticated lines, calligraphy adds a personal touch that reflects the tone of your event. Of course, this handcrafted, luxe look may set you back a pretty penny. Wedding calligraphers that painstakingly handcraft each address can charge anywhere from $2 (for less-experienced calligraphers) to $10 (elaborate jobs by seasoned professionals) per envelope. For an entire invitation (inner and outer envelopes, plus return address on response cards), the price jumps significantly.

Selecting Script
You’ve got a lot of styles to choose from. While it may seem overwhelming at first, in the end, your final choice should look great with the printed script on your invites and, at the same time, reflect your wedding style. Keep in mind also that most have variations and/or can be customized to complement your invitation typeface. Below are the seven most basic styles.

By far the most popular, this simple “hand”-or “style”-looks good on any paper. Italic letters slant upward to the right and are based on an oval shape, with the width of the letters usually half of their height. Created with a broad-tipped pen, the lines are clean and crisp. Multiple variations of italic include Chancery (sharper and more formal), Scroll (which resembles cursive handwriting), Straight (less formal), and Flourished (which is enhanced with a calligrapher’s personal touch). Good for: semi-formal ceremonies such as a Sunday afternoon wedding.

Scripted with a pointed pen hand-dipped in ink, this style uses pressure to create thick and thin lines. Developed in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, Copperplate is a graceful hand most famously exemplified in the Declaration of Independence. It is one of the most difficult alphabets for a calligrapher (due to the slow process of applying and releasing pressure on the nib); therefore, it tends to be the most expensive. As with Italic, there are endless variations. Rook, for example, has exaggerated curls, while Sloop boasts capital letters with elongated curves. Good for: setting a romantic mood.

Also called Old English or Blackhand, Gothic is a very formal, heavy hand written with a broad-tipped pen. Good for: theme or period weddings.

Uncial (pronounced “un-seal”) is one of the oldest styles of handwritten alphabets, though its straightforward style has contemporary flair. Used in Greek and Latin manuscripts of the 4th to 8th centuries A.D., this rounded and stylized alphabet is mostly all caps, with the letters about the same height and width. Good for: Irish-themed affairs and for matching simple print typefaces.

Developed by Italian scholars in the 14th century, the classic, clear, round alphabet of Roman lettering is one of the most recognized of all styles. The subtle serifs of Roman calligraphy make it less formal than its related print typeface. Two variations: Antique Roman, a stately script with capital letters that are much taller than its lowercase, and Roman Capitals, a typeface similar to traditional Roman but all caps. Good for: showers and other casual parties.

Ornate and flourished, Spencerian is a formal offshoot of Copperplate that dates back to the 18th century. Created with a pointed pen, the thick and thin lines create sophisticated letterforms and rhythms within the script. Good for: matching unusual printed scripts, as Spencerian has no set alphabet for calligraphers to follow.

London is hand lettering made to look like a printed typeface. Based on the Spencerian hand, it is beautifully classic, formal, and highly readable. It can be scripted with or without loops on the ascending letters. Good for: sophisticated city affairs.

Finding Your Calligrapher
Your stationer or printer can usually refer you to calligraphers, and online portfolios of calligraphers’ work can be found on the Internet. You can also ask friends for recommendations if you favored the lettering on their invites. Most calligraphers require roughly 10 to 14 days to address 100 invitations. Keep in mind, though, that if you are getting married during a popular month (May through October), more time may be needed, especially if you are looking for something elaborate (designs, scrolls, and so on). Be sure to double-check the turnaround time.

recurring motifs
To carry the formal look of calligraphy throughout your wedding event, consider adding a little swirly script to the programs, reception cards, escort cards, place cards, table numbers, favor tags, dinner menus, and more!

Deciding Factor
Before you hire, you’ll want to solidify fees, ask about minimum orders, garner a list of references, and inquire about each of your prospects’ backgrounds. A calligrapher should have a degree or certificate in the arts, not just a dog-eared how-to book. Ask how long they’ve been in the biz. Quality comes with experience, and a new-to-the-field hobbyist’s work may not have the confidence of stroke you’re seeking. You’ll also want to show each calligrapher your invitation and ask for a font sample before you make a decision. The key to good calligraphy has always been consistency: Shape, stroke, weight, spacing, and rhythm are all factors in letter perfection. So be sure to survey as many samples of lettering designs from each calligrapher as possible.

Avoiding Errors
Once you’ve made your final decision, you’ll be asked to give your calligrapher a typed guest address list (handwritten lists, even if legible, may introduce errors). Be sure to check your list twice and make sure that someone else familiar with the names takes a careful look as well. To make it easy to follow, leaving little room for error, lay out your list in an orderly, three-line format:
Mr. and Mrs. John Davidson
123 Main Street
Merrytown, MA 12345
Still, what to do if your calligrapher spells your Aunt Millie’s name with a “y”? Will you have to pay for the correction or are re-dos done free of charge? It probably depends on whose mistake it is — hers or yours — but get the answer in writing before you hand over the envelopes and addresses. When ordering your invitations, make sure to order extra envelopes just in case there is a slip-up. It’s common to order 25-percent extra.

Finishing Touches
When you receive the finished product from your calligrapher, check and double-check each invite and envelope. Remember, your invitations are the first tangible example your guests will have of your wedding, and they can go a long way toward setting the tone.

A final consideration: In addition to addressing the envelopes, some calligraphers, for a nominal fee, will stuff, seal, and stamp the invitations, which is a simple way to save some time. Find out if this is an option.


Top 10 Most Common Wedding Stationery Mistakes

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Mistake #1: Trying to incorporate every aspect of the wedding into the invitation design
While it’s good to give your stationery a personal element (like your venue’s amazing chandelier), less is more. “We’ve had brides who are adamant that we include the lace pattern of their dress, the architectural elements of their venue, and a motif based on their floral arrangements all in the same design,” says Matt McNary at Hammerpress in Kansas City, MO. Instead, work with your stationer to choose one.

Mistake #2: Missing typos
Ask your grammatically inclined friends to look over the invitation proof and read it carefully. You’d be surprised at what you could miss. Erika Firm at Delphine in Rancho Sante Fe, CA, told us about a bride who accidentally spelled her groom’s name wrong! The invitations printed and shipped out to guests (even though the bride and groom and both their parents reviewed and approved the proof). Take a note from copy editors and read from right to left so you don’t accidentally gloss over something that’s wrong.

Mistake #3: Using too much color
We’re all about making invites pop with bold and bright colors (think: a yellow chevron pattern or pink dahlia motif), but don’t get carried away. Always balance bright colors with something neutral, and make sure the text is visible. Kristy Rice of Momental Designs in Scranton, PA, suggests a palette of three to five colors, with one or two being neutral, such as ivory, white, gold, or tan.

Mistake #4: Addressing the envelopes yourselves
Addressing the envelopes takes time, and many stationers offer the service at little or no charge. If you decide to do it yourself, don’t do it all in one sitting. Give yourself plenty of time to avoid making any mistakes.

Mistake #5: Giving guests too much time to reply
Give guests too much time to RSVP, and they’ll get lost. Set the deadline no more than three or four weeks after they get the invitation. “Any more than that and they’ll forget they even have an event to respond to,” says Rice.

Mistake #6: Over-ordering
Keep in mind that you don’t need an invitation for every person, so take a look at your guest list and figure out how many houses you’ll be sending invites to before you give your stationer any numbers. It can cut your order in half.

Mistake #7: Or…not ordering enough
On the flip side, you don’t want to be stuck having to order more. Order at least 25 percent extra to ensure you have enough for late additions, lost invites, and keepsakes. “It is very expensive to go back to print with letterpress, engraving, or offset printing,” say Kristen Armstrong and Cheree Berry of Cheree Berry Paper in St. Louis, MO. And ask for extra envelopes too, in case of any addressing mistakes.

Mistake #8: Forgetting to put stamps on the reply envelope
It’s an obvious one but an often overlooked detail. “Seriously, it is near impossible to steam open an envelope once it has been sealed,” Armstrong and Berry say.

Mistake #9: Purchasing postage without weighing a sample
We know you’re excited to order the invites and check another thing off your list, but weighing it at your local post office first will save you the headache later. “No one wants to deal with the hassle of invitations returned because of insufficient postage,” says Rice.

Mistake #10: Waiting too long to hire a calligrapher
You should book your calligrapher when you book your stationer so the two can work together from the start. Hire too late, and you may have to pay a rush fee.

Save-the-Dates: Etiquette Q&A

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The ring is on your finger and the planning is underway — time to get your guests in the loop. Your first step: Send a wedding save-the-date card. This pre-invitation mailing officially announces your wedding date and lets guests know that they will, in fact, be invited to the celebration. Here are the answers to your most-asked etiquette questions.

Where to Start
Q. Do we have to send a save-the-date?
As destination weddings and three-day weekends have become more standard, so have save-the-dates. And if you’re marrying during high-travel times like a holiday weekend or summer in a beach town, a save-the-date is an expected courtesy. Of course, you don’t have to send one if you don’t want, but it will give guests the heads up about your wedding plans. Between travel arrangements and busy schedules, sending a save-the-date will increase guests’ chances of attending your celebration. And that’s the goal, right?
If someone receives a save-the-date and will be unable to attend, they are likely to offer regrets far in advance. You still need to send a wedding invitation as a common courtesy.

Q. When do you send them?
As a general rule, it’s best to start spreading the news at around six months prior to the ceremony (eight months for a faraway destination). This gives wedding guests plenty of time to book their travel, save a bit of cash, and ask for days off from work. Any earlier, and they may toss the notice aside. Any later, and it might as well be an invitation.

Q. Do we have to send save-the-dates to everyone?
Just to the people that you want to come to your wedding. Even if you’ve already received confirmations from certain guests, you still need to send them a save-the-date (bridesmaids, siblings, and parents). But remember: Only send to those that you definitely want to attend. Once these are in the mail, there’s really no turning back.
Sticky Situations

Q. Do we need to add “and guest,” or can that wait for the invitations?
It’s best to be clear about who’s invited to the wedding, even this far in advance. Always call your best friend’s boyfriend by his nickname? Now’s the time to find out what’s on his birth certificate. By including the actual names of every intended guest on the envelope, you’re less likely to have any assumed invitees (like your third cousin’s new boyfriend), or general confusion (is your seven-year-old niece invited?). Being up front about who’s invited also gives families with uninvited kids ample time to plan for child care, and out-of-towners time to figure out hotel room shares.

Q. What if we send save-the-dates and then change the date or location?
This scenario is very unlikely, since no couple should send out formal wedding information before setting the plans in stone — but stranger things have happened. In the event of an unexpected change of plans, your best bet is to update your wedding website, pick up the phone, and start spreading the word. You do have the option of sending out another mailing that explains the dilemma — but a personal, verbal notice is the best way to avoid confusion. (If your wedding guest list is a bit overwhelming, enlist the help of your bridal party.)

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DIY Wedding Programs: DIY Wedding Program Basics

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The more guests feel involved with your wedding, the more likely they’ll have a great time. Wedding programs are a wonderful way to help your friends and family follow the ceremony and understand the wedding traditions you’re incorporating, plus they can take theirs home as a keepsake. The key to crafting a good wedding program? Think practically and creatively.

What’s Included
No matter what design you choose for your wedding programs, consider adding the following elements:
The full names of the bride and groom, the wedding date, and the city and state where the wedding is taking place
The order of the wedding ceremony, including the musical selections (and the lyrics if they’re especially meaningful to you), the composers, and the performers, as well as readings, the source or author, and the readers
Wedding party bios with brief descriptions of each attendant’s relationship to you

The name of the officiant
A thank-you note to both sets of parents; one to all the guests is another frequent addition
For religious and secular ceremonies alike, it’s important to keep guests in the know by briefly explaining traditions, rituals, and ethic customs
If you wish to honor deceased loved ones, you can include a memorial on the back page with a photograph, a fond memory, poem, or quote

Personalizing Them
Your wedding program is an opportunity to tell guests a little more about you as a couple and to set the tone for the rest of the event. The easiest way to personalize your programs is to add special touches, such as favorite poems, quotes, or photographs. Here are some creative concepts:
One couple we know extended their old-world European theme with programs printed on marbled parchment paper rolled into scrolls and tied with a sage-green ribbon and a sprig of eucalyptus.

Two actors created a Playbill for their programs: a booklet complete with The Players (each attendant’s picture and a short bio), a description of Acts (the ceremony events), and a Producers’ Note (a letter to guests from the bride and groom).
High school sweethearts reprinted their senior prom picture on vellum and used it to top the program, setting a lighthearted, playful mood.

Knot Note: Instead of making just a ceremony program, consider creating a program for the reception as well. Combine it with the ceremony program or create a separate handout for the beginning of the reception. The goal of the event program is to let people know the approximate times for must-see things like the cake cutting and special dances, as well as special symbolism of particular events.

Making Them
Whether you choose to create a program that’s bound with a wax seal or a single sheet of paper, there are four basic ways to make your wedding day programs.
Set up an arts-and-crafts station in your home, complete with colorful papers, ribbon, and decorations, and host a bridal party DIY night.

Create them using template designs from a computer program. With the right program, you can create almost anything imaginable.

Have them crafted by a professional designer.

Purchase a DIY kit from a company like Paper Source. All you have to do is follow the directions and put the programs together.

Knot Note: DIY programs can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially if you get hung up on technical details, so do a test run. Time how long it takes to put together a single program before deciding to make them yourself.

Presenting Them
Because wedding programs can come in unusual shapes, sizes, and colors, they can be presented in various ways. Here are some ideas:
Fill baskets, tin pails, or antique trays — whatever works with your wedding style — with programs and place them at the entrance to your ceremony site. Guests can grab one as they arrive.

For an outdoor wedding, put a program on each chair and set a few pieces of colored sea glass on top to keep them from blowing away.
Ask a friend or family member to greet guests and hand out programs as they arrive. It’s the perfect way to give a special role to someone special who isn’t a bridesmaid or a groomsman.
Have your ushers hand guests a program right before they’re seated.