Now that your sweetheart has popped the question it's time to begin planning your wedding. Once you have told all your family and friends, selected the perfect venue and reserved your special day, it's time to start thinking about your wedding invitations. Don't know where or how to start? No worries! We've got a helpful timeline for when and how to work with a custom stationery designer for your invitations. We can even recommend a few for you to meet with!
9-12+ months before your wedding
Begin with a little research on wedding stationers and calligraphers or even ask your wedding planner for suggestions. Reach out to the stationers and calligraphers whose work you love to discuss all of your needs for your big day. Also, try to have an idea of wording ready for your Save-the-Dates, as well as an estimated number of Save-the-Dates and invitations you’ll be wanting to have printed.
Send out 6-8 months before your wedding
It's important to send out Save the Dates before your wedding so that your guests have time to prepare for travel, hotels and other accommodations. Save the Dates are typically sent out anywhere from 6-8 months prior to your wedding. For destination weddings, however, it's best to send out your Save the Dates no less than 8 months in advance as your guests will need that additional time to plan.
Once again, try to have all of your wording ready for your stationery designer, and start discussing all the options and your design preferences for your invitations. If you need help with wording and etiquette, just ask! Your stationer would love to help.
Send out 2-3 months before your wedding
Invitations are typically sent out about 2-3 months before your wedding. You will want to order them at least 3-4 months out from your mailing date to allow time for your calligrapher to address each of them. You will also need some time for the assembly of each invitation suite before they are put in the mail. If you plan to have any specialty printing (letterpress, gold foil, etc.) make sure to allow extra time for for this. Always check with your stationer about their timeline for each step of this process - it will vary by stationer and calligrapher!
Due 3-4 weeks before your wedding date
Your "reply by" date on your response cards should be about 3-4 weeks before your wedding date. You don't want it to be much farther out than that, as that will make it difficult for your guests to know their schedule that far in advance. In the same vein, you don't want it to be too much closer to your wedding date, as your guests may already have plans. Plus, this adds in a cushion of time for you to call anyone who may be tardy with the return of their response card.
(As soon as possible!)
If you are wanting your invitation envelopes hand addressed by a professional calligrapher, make sure to book a time with that calligrapher at least 2-3 months before your anticipated mailing date. If your stationer also does calligraphy, or works closely with a calligrapher, feel free to ask them about their process for this. It is important to get your event on a calligrapher's schedule as far in advance as you are able, as envelope calligraphy takes quite a bit of time. Also, remember that the majority of calligraphers request 15-20% in additional envelopes for any transcription errors, ink splatters or late additions to your guest list.
Once you have confirmed all your final guest list with all parties involved (parents, future in-laws, your spouse-to-be), check with your calligrapher about addressing etiquette and send off that final guest list to them. Again, if you need help with addressing etiquette, just ask! Your calligrapher will likely have templates or can guide you in how to best word your guest list.
Book 2-3 months before your wedding date
About 2-3 months before your wedding date is the best time to talk with your stationer/calligrapher about designing additional paper items such as menus, programs, signage, escort cards or any other day-of items, as well as the design of your thank you cards. Send final menu and program wording to stationer/calligrapher by the time they specify to avoid any rushing and potential errors.
Send out within 3 months of receiving the gift
Your wedding day has come and gone, and you have a ton of gifts! It's time to start sending out those thank you notes now. You may have heard that you have a year after your wedding date to send out your thank you notes, but that is simply not true. You actually want to send them out within 3 months of receiving the gift. And if you are having a bridal shower, it's good to have these ordered beforehand to send out thank you notes for those gifts before your wedding.
Please note: This timeline is geared toward wedding stationery that will include calligraphy, and will vary from different wedding planners and stationers. Feel free to adjust accordingly if your wedding planning time is less than a year, and use this timeline as a basic guide.
Our favorite stationers & calligraphers featured in the photos are as follows:
Tocci Calligraphy (photo 1)
The Artisan Abode (photos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8)
Pretty Suite Paper Company (photo 7)