Church, Reception or Both
Start off by establishing exactly how many wedding reception attendees will fit your budget and the locale. It's generally considered good form to invite people to both the ceremony and the reception, rather than the ceremony alone. However, a few couples elect to invite a smaller pool of friends and family members to the reception. This is usually due to budget constraints or the size of the reception hall.
Enlist the aid of a trusted friend or family member to help you tactfully create a reception attendee list. This can be tricky as well as time-consuming, so buy pads and pens, break out some snacks and make a fun night of it. You're in for the long haul!
Buy Pre-made or Make Your Own?
Creative types will have a blast creating their own personalized wedding reception invitations. If this describes you, keep in mind that your options are virtually limitless. Investigate different paper types and weights (bear in mind that the heavier weight the paper, the more expensive it will be). Textured paper, foils, glued bows and unique folds can lend a personal touch.
Even if you will be hand-creating the covers of your invitations, make sure the information inside is professionally printed. You can use a computer printer for this purpose, but if you do, make sure the quality of the printing is excellent. You should never skimp on this part of your wedding reception invitation. If you have doubts, visit your local print shop owner; he or she will have great deals for you, and probably some great paper- and font-choice tips as well.
Your other option is, of course, to buy your wedding reception invitations. Search online or scout out your local wedding supply shop for options.
Make sure you make or buy five to ten percent more invitations than you plan to use. This will cover accidentally damaged invitations, as well as any last-minute mailings.
It's What's Inside That Counts
The most important part of your wedding reception invitation is the information it contains. Embellishments are fine, but be sure to clearly print all pertinent information centered in the middle on the inside of the invitation. You will want to include:
- Your name and your fiance's name
- The date, time and location of the wedding ceremony
- The time and location of the reception
- Directions to the reception hall from the ceremony location
It is also helpful to enclose a small map of the surrounding area. Print a cell phone number on the bottom of the map so that attendees can call if they get lost en route. You might want to ask your mother or another willing person to be the contact individual, since you will be busy getting from the wedding location to the ceremony yourself.
A brief poem on the opposite (left-hand) side from the informational print adds a nice touch. Ask friends, visit your local library or look on line for special words that will fit the occasion.
An absolute must in any wedding reception invitation is the RSVP card. Request a response at least a month before the wedding date. Be considerate and include a small, stamped envelope as well. Most pre-ordered invitations will include an envelope for each invitation; otherwise, buy these separately.
When to Order; When to Send
Different wedding supply vendors have different lead times. Check with your vendor for this information. In general, you will want to receive your blank invitations three months in advance of the wedding reception so that you can have them addressed, mailed and to your guests with two months to spare before the big day. Allow more of a lead time if your wedding hall insists on an exact head count or if it is a very formal locale. Some brides might want more time than that to prepare; if so, order sooner and send sooner.
Above all, enjoy the process! You are making a memory that will last you -- and your guests -- a lifetime.