Invitations 101: What Invitation Pieces Do I Need?

Invitations 101: What Invitation Pieces Do I Need?

The prospect of ordering invitations can be overwhelming. There are so many options, styles, pieces, papers, fonts, colors, etc. that it can be hard to figure out where to start. The best place to start is by figuring out what invitation pieces you’ll actually need. That way, as you start looking at designs, styles and papers you’ll also be able to accurately figure out pricing.

An invitation suite usually has anywhere from 2-5 cards plus envelopes. We’ve put together this handy guide to help you figure out what you need and what you don’t. The most common cards and enclosures are:

A. Invitation
We’ll start with the invitation, since that’s what this whole thing is about! Most invitations are for the ceremony and list all of the important information: the couple’s names, parents’ names (if desired), date, time and location. If your ceremony and reception are in the same place, it’s fine to just write something like “Reception to follow” at the bottom of the invitation, which implies that everything is held in the same location. If they are in different places, most times you will also need a Reception Card (D).

It’s not uncommon, especially with destination weddings or a private ceremony, to have two separate invitations, one for the people invited to the actual ceremony and another invitation for those that are invited just to the reception. In that case, it’s just a matter of changing the wording to make it clear that the invitation is for the reception only.

B. Outer Envelope(s)
Wedding invitations can have either single or double outer envelopes. Traditionally, all invitations came with double envelopes. The outer envelopes would be addressed formally with the name and address of the guests. Inside of that would be a slightly smaller, non-gummed envelope (doesn’t seal) with only the names of the guests that would contain the invitation and all of the enclosure cards.

In the past few years, many invitations have gone to single envelopes. There are pros and cons to both. Some people like the formality and how a double envelope looks. With a single envelope, you do need to change the address format slightly to make sure that all of the guests’ names are included on the outer envelope, since you don’t have the inner one for that. On the other hand, double envelopes can increase costs due to having to pay for a second envelope and a potential increase in postage because of the added weight.

One of the most common questions I get is, “Why are there double envelopes?” Like a lot of other wedding things…tradition. Double envelopes actually go back to the days when mail was delivered down dirty streets on horseback. The outer envelope would get dirty. It was part of the butler’s duty to remove the outer envelopes from the mail and present the clean inner envelope with it’s contents to the man or lady of the house. I think it’s safe to say that this doesn’t happen much any more, so it’s absolutely fine to just go with whatever envelopes are included with your invitation! Click here for some handy tips on addressing your envelopes!

C. Envelope Liner
Envelope liners are an optional way to add an extra pop of color to your invitations. For invitations with double envelopes, the liners go in the inner envelope. Since people don’t always open the outer envelope nicely, it helps keep the liner intact.  Some envelopes are available pre-lined; some you must assemble yourself. It’s always a good idea to ask how yours will come. Assembly is usually fairly simple, but some people don’t like to bother.

D. Reception Card
As we mentioned before, if your ceremony and reception are in different locations you will probably need a Reception Card. They are usually fairly simple and list the time the reception starts, the name of the venue and the address. If you are having an adult reception, this is also the place to mention that. If you don’t have any other enclosure cards, sometimes there is also room to add a wedding website address. Sometimes people will separate out the times for cocktail hour, dinner, etc., but we usually just recommend putting a general start time that you want people to arrive.

E. Accommodations Card
An Accommodations Card is great to include if you have reserved a block of rooms for your guests or if you just want to give them a few nearby options. Generally, you want to include the name, address and phone number of the hotel(s). If you do have a designated block, you may also want to include any specific reservation codes or cut-off dates.

F. Information Card
You can include any other information that you may need on one or more general info cards. It might include things like information about hotel shuttles, backup locations for outdoor weddings in case of rain, wedding websites, etc. We’ve even had weddings where people offered complimentary babysitting during the ceremony and reception for their guests! Whatever you need, we can include it.

One thing that generally isn’t included in a wedding invitation is registry information. For etiquette reasons, it is generally considered rude, as you don’t want to imply that your guests are required to bring a gift. Most probably will, but you don’t want to make it seem mandatory. Registry information is best left to wedding websites, shower invitations, and word-of-mouth.

G. Response Card
Once you let every one know all of the details, you’ll want to know exactly who is coming. Even in the digital age, probably about 98% of the invitations that we print still have a traditional, mail-back response card. You want to make them as user-friendly as possible for both you and your guests. Check with your hall and caterer to find exactly what information they need to know and put it all on the response card. Some people just need a head count. Some need to know meal choices, which can be either a count or by individual person. Some need to know the number of adults vs. the number of children. We’ve also done plenty of non-traditional response cards with lines for song requests, Mad Libs, and all sorts of other fun things. Just make sure that you collect all of the info that you need.

Response cards almost always include a response envelope. Some will include printing your address in the price, some do not, so always check on that as well.

H. Thank You
Most invitation styles also offer a matching thank you card. Odds are that you’ll be getting gifts from your guests, so matching thank you cards are a nice way to keep your theme going even after the wedding. Usually, they are a folded 3.5″ x 5″ card with an envelope, so you can have a nice design on the front and a blank interior for writing your thank yous.

Since every wedding is different, there is no right or wrong set of items that you need.  Sometimes that’s just an invitation and response card. Sometimes it’s the whole package that we have shown. Just make sure that you order all of the invitation pieces that you need to let your guests know the details.

Best of all, we’re here to help! With over 8 years of invitation design experience, if you’re still not sure, we can help you figure out everything you need. Just contact us via email or at 863-588-0102 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have!

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