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The Modern Wedding Invitation - Article

The Modern Wedding Invitation

The days of being limited to the traditional white or ivory wedding invitation are over. Today’s bride and groom have so many more invitation options than they have in the past and they can be quite overwhelming. So many couples come to me wanting fun, vibrant invitations but say they are feeling pressure to purchase traditional invitations. Some are feeling pressure because of the influences of their families and some because of the things they’ve read about wedding invitation etiquette.


Remember that your invitations are the first thing your guests will receive regarding your wedding so they should indicate what type of event to expect. With so many new and exciting options available to you, why not put a little bit of your own style and personality into your invitations. You can select from hundreds of paper and envelope styles in a range of colors and textures, choose one or more font styles and colors, add embellishments or artwork and select from several different printing techniques to create your own unique invitation.


In this article we will discuss what modern brides are doing differently than brides of the past and review some basics you should keep in mind when browsing for invitations.


Don’t be afraid to consult with a custom invitation designer

 By the time you are ready to choose your invitations you might be tired of meeting with vendors but there are a lot of advantages to meeting with an invitation designer. You will get a chance to meet with someone who is very knowledgeable about all types of invitations. They can help you narrow down your search and give you recommendations based on your tastes and budget. They will have samples of the invitations and envelopes that they carry and you’ll able to look through sample books for ideas. It can be difficult to imagine what the invitations in a catalog or on the internet will look like, so it can be very helpful to see the invitations in person. Custom invitations don’t necessarily cost more. It all depends on the types of papers and printing techniques you choose and the assembly involved in your design. Most custom companies also carry traditional styles so don’t count them out even if you want a traditional design. The personal attention they can give you can save you a lot of time, money and stress from the time you begin shopping to the time you put your beautiful invitations in the mail.

Paper and Envelope choices


Paper choices have expanded greatly in the past few years. Beautiful papers are available in almost any color and pattern, and textured or metallic papers can add a whole new level of sophistication and style to your invitations. A popular trend right now is to use a two layer invitation. Typically a colored paper is used as the bottom layer with the invitation text printed on a white or ivory top layer. Matching envelopes are available for most solid papers so don’t assume that you have to use white envelopes if you don’t want to.


Traditionally all wedding invitations came with outer and inner envelopes. Today, many couples are opting to use only outer envelopes to save money. This brings up some addressing questions like how to address single guests with dates on the outer envelope, especially if you don’t know the name of the date. Traditionalists will say that’s what the inner envelope is for, but lots of modern couples are just putting “and guest” on the outer envelope and skipping the inner envelope all together.


Don’t forget about all of your other paper needs like menus, programs, thank you cards, place cards and shower and rehearsal dinner invitations. Ordering them all from the same stationer can save you time and money and lead to a beautifully coordinated event.


Addressing your Invitations

I’ve yet to meet a bride that doesn’t ask me if they have to hand address their own envelopes. More and more brides are opting to have their guest lists printed on their envelopes or printing labels. Some brides would rather spend that time concentrating on other wedding details and some think they have messy handwriting. Whatever the reasoning, having your addresses printed directly on your envelopes in a font matching your invitation looks especially elegant, but if you really want the hand addressed look and don’t want to address your envelopes yourself, hire a calligrapher to address them for you.

Invitation Wording


Choosing the wording for your wedding invitations can be pretty challenging. For example, if the bride’s parents are divorced or the groom’s family is contributing to the wedding it can leave a couple fairly confused about how to word their invitation. In many cases “Mr. and Mrs. Smith request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter….” simply doesn’t make sense anymore. Many couples are opting for less traditional wording styles like “Together with their families, Anne Marie Smith and James Robert Jones request the pleasure….” Or “Mr. and Mrs. Jones and Mr. and Mrs. Smith invite you to celebrate with them at the marriage of their children…” These wording styles allow the couple to acknowledge more than one family on the invitation. Ask your stationer for wording examples for your situation or visit invitation websites for ideas.








Invitation Basics


Understanding Printing Techniques


Printing Method


How it works

What it looks like

Offset (Flat)

Most Economical



Image is printed flat on the paper

Looks much like what you print on your home inkjet printer




Most Popular

Ink is mixed with a powder and then heated to produce a raised image

Raised Printing


No indentation on the back or font of the paper




Losing Popularity over the past few years

The text of your invitation is raised from the paper by pressing the paper against a copper plate

Raised printing

(Traditional Method)


You can see the indentations from the plate on the back of the invitation




Gaining popularity over the past few years


The Text of your image is pressed into the paper using a plate

Text is embedded/Indented into the paper


Looks like the reverse of engraving.


Fonts and ink colors

The font type and colors that you use can drastically change the appearance of your invitation. Consider using more than one color or 2 different fonts for a dramatic effect. Ask your stationer to show you examples of different combinations.


Square envelopes, some box mailers and invitations that are heavier than one ounce require additional postage. Using an enclosure around your invitation like a petal enclosure or folder may cause your invitation to exceed the weight limits for a first class stamp. Take your proof or an extra invitation to the post office and ask them to weigh it for you before you purchase your stamps to make sure you have the correct postage.


Invitation Assembly


It’s best to address your outer and inner envelopes before you start assembling your invitations. If your inserts are in the envelope when you start addressing, your writing surface will be uneven and you run the risk of getting impressions from your pen on your invitations.

Your invitations inserts should be placed in the following order from bottom to top: Reception card, followed by any map/directions or accommodations cards, followed by the response card tucked under the flap of the response envelope. Don’t forget to stamp your response envelope or response post card!

If your invitation is a flat card or a folder with the wording on the outside, place all of these items on top of your invitation card face up. If you have a band or ribbon around your invitations, place all of your inserts under the band to hold them in place. If your invitation is a folder with the wording on the inside or you are using an enclosure, place all of these items face up inside the folder or enclosure. You may want to place tissue paper between the invitation and your inserts to protect the invitation from having any color or ink rub off on it. Then place everything inside the inner envelope (if you are using them) and then inside the outer envelope.

Placing your Order/ Invitation Timeline

Start shopping early so you don’t feel rushed into making any decisions; about 6 months before the wedding should give you enough time. Plan to have your invitations, envelopes, and inserts ordered no later than 4 months before the wedding. Some companies require up to 6 weeks to process and ship your order so this will ensure that you have enough time to address your envelopes and get them in the mail 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. You can take a little extra time to decide on programs, menus, thank you cards and place cards.

Make sure you order enough invitations and envelopes! It’s a lot less expensive to order extras when you place your initial order than it is to get extras after your order has already been processed. You will need one invitation for each couple and one for each single guest and their date. Children 16 and over get their own invitation and children younger than 16 can be included on their parents’ invitation. Make sure you order some extras for keepsakes, and last minute guests.

It is customary to order 10% more envelopes than invitations to account for mistakes in addressing or any invitations that are returned because of an incorrect address. If you are having your guest list printed on your envelopes or place cards order and extra 20% for set up and printing flaws.

The Perfect Invitation for you


Wedding trends have changed a lot over the years and our ideas about invitations have not kept up with the changes. A generation ago, no one had ever heard of a destination wedding and every wedding was a formal affair. Today it is just as common to have an informal wedding as it is to have a black tie event but most invitations still imply a black tie affair. Let the type of day you are planning be your guide to the type of invitations you choose. Your invitations should express the theme and mood of your wedding. For example, if you are planning a barefoot wedding on the beach, get the message across in your invitations by using colors, images or embellishments that coordinate with the sand and the sea. With a little creativity you can design your own unique wedding invitation and have a little fun in the process.

Written by Renee Mauzey

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