Ordering stationery (invitations) can be a simple process that can also be complicated if you are not aware of what is needed to make this a smooth process. There are numerous moving parts to what is included in the invitation suite, to etiquette in regards-to wording, to who should be invited, to creating a process to receive returned responses. In this article we are going to explore the (4) common oversights for you to avoid when ordering your stationery. We reached out to our preferred stationery designers and asked them what they witnessed the most with customers when ordering stationery.
Whether you are working with a professional stationery designer or making your own invitations, it is important to be prepared with budgeting everything that is included to order invitations and having a complete guest list. This is the first step in preparing for your invitations. The second step is to order your invitations in a timely manner so that you can receive them and mail them out. We consulted with two of our preferred stationery partners with their advice on being prepared.
“A common mistake we run into is clients not having their mailing addresses ready when we are prepared to order the invitations. It’s important to get these ready as soon as possible so as not to hold up the order or affect your ordering time. We also find couples do not factor stamp costs into their budgets. We supply this as a part of our quote, so clients don’t forget that is a necessary part!” (Emily Baird of Emily Baird Design)
“A client should really order their invitations four to five months before the event date. This allows you time to resolve the unexpected because you just don’t know what may come up. Once design and wording has been finalized, production time varies. Production time for custom invitations take 18-21 business days, made-to-order invitations take 10-12 business days. If the client wishes to have a calligrapher to address the envelopes, allow additional time (7-14 days) for that as well; leading up to 30 days to complete your invitation suite. So, we generally encourage more time.” (Nicole Fingers of Fingers in Ink)
Once you have prepared your guest list, now it is time to determine how many invitations you need to order. Do you order by number of guests or do you order by number of households? Here is what our preferred partner, Letrice Penn of LePenn Designs LLC advised:
“A very common mistake couples make is ordering too many or too few invitations. The first step is to write out your guest list according to households. When you have the list organized by household it is much easier to determine the number of mailing addresses, which will equal the number of invitations you need to order. Some clients think that they need 150 invitations because they are inviting 150 people but that is definitely not the case. You should order your invitations by the number of households and add on 15-20 extra invitations. Always order extra invitations just in case you add to your guest list, any get lost or damaged in the mail and of course for keepsakes for yourself!”
So, you have mailed all your invitations to your family and friends and now you are waiting for them to respond. Having your guests to respond allows you to know exactly who will be attending your fabulous event, gives you an exact count to provide to the caterer so they will know how much food to prepare, in addition affects your overall setup for your event (tables, chairs, linens, etc.), and affects your final budget. As a Planner, our team recommends our clients to mail their invitations 6-8 weeks prior to their event date and providing a response date that is two weeks prior to the deadline to give a final headcount to the caterer. Our preferred stationery partner Teaira Abston of Dreamcatcher Stationery, also weighed in on the mayhem of planning for your guests’ responses:
“Many of our clients assume their friends and family will get the RSVP cards back to them within a timely manner. For instance, the couple may need to have the final guest count by a specific date, so they request their guests to RSVP a week before the final count is due to the cater. We always encourage clients to cushion their response deadline (two or three weeks prior to caterer’s deadline) to correct any guests responses, and cushion for the late responders – there are ALWAYS guests that miss the response deadline”.
The most amusing part of the invitation process is when guests’ responses return with more people than you invited to attend your event. For example, you send an invitation to Mr. & Mrs. John Black with the intentions of just the two of them attending. However, when you receive their response card, it highlights they are coming with 2 additional persons – Wow! This is where the non-glamorous but hilarious excitement begins for you. So how can you avoid or reduce the dilemma of the “assumed” extra guests, although you have addressed your envelope with the guests’ name on the front? We asked our preferred partner, Dreamcatcher Stationery for their advice on an additional step to prevent the un-wanted guests:
“A common blunder we find with our clients is not telling guests how many seats you have reserved for their party if you have a really strict guest count maximum. An easy way to do this is to include on your response card the wording, “We have Reserved (insert number here} Seats in Your Honor” on the response card. You can fill in the number for each invitation. This additional step to add this wording to your response card eliminates any confusion to the recipient as to how many persons can attend your celebration, and eliminates you having that awkward conversation with your guests about who can and cannot attend.