Wedding Stationery Timeline
The best thing about planning a wedding in these modern times we live in is that anything goes. (Want to skip the stationery and send an e-vite? Why not! Want to have a last-minute elopement that only involves your ten closest friends? Super rad!) That being said, there are a few general rules of thumb when it comes to ordering custom printed wedding stationery that are good to know before you jump in feet-first.
Custom Design: When Should I Book?
Yes, there are plenty of awesome print-on-demand websites out there these days for pre-designed Save the Date templates - and if you are in a rush or on a budget, those can be a great option! But, if you love custom design, and want your entire celebration to feel cohesive from beginning to end, then starting with the Save the Date’s might be a great way to get your feet wet with your stationery designer and start to develop your event’s design style.
Custom design is, you guessed it: custom. Which means that your designer will be creating a unique design just for you - that may be inspired by Pinterest imagery or other designs they have created before, but ultimately the are compiling a brand new design that encapsulates you, your fiance, and the celebration of your love. Because custom takes time, it is a good idea to book your stationery designer at least one month before you want to have your Save the Dates in the mail. This allows plenty of time for the initial design proposal, custom design concept creation, design revisions, and production.
If you’re super fancy and love letterpress, foil printing, or other more luxurious production methods, definitely book as soon as you can - as those production processes take a bit more time than a digital print.
Mailing Your Save the Dates
Generally, you’ll want to send Save the Dates as soon as you have a venue and a date, so your guests have as much time to plan as possible (because, let’s face it, attending a wedding can take some planning too!). If you are having a destination wedding, or a lot of your guests will be travelling from out of town, it’s generally a good idea to send out Save the Dates at least six months in advance so your guests have plenty of time to book hotel rooms and plane tickets.
Make sure to include a wedding URL on your Save the Dates so your guests can check back for important info while they await your official Invitations!
Mailing Your Invitations
As soon as your Save the Dates are in the mail, it might be time to start thinking about your invitations. Think of Save the Dates as the teaser - and the invitations as the main course (meaning, they are generally a bit more complex, and may take longer to produce).
As a general rule of thumb, I like to suggest that clients plan to get their Invitations in the mail at least 8 weeks in advance, and up to three months in advance is a pretty standard timeline.
The main factor in determining when to get your invites in the mail is the Reply By date, which should be based on when your caterer and/or venue needs your final guest count - generally about one month before the event. It’s good to give your guests plenty of buffer time for late replies, so the reply date should be at least a month and a half before. And guests should receive their invitations at least a month before that due date.
So, if your event is August 1st, and your caterer needs your final guest count by July 1st, your Reply By date should probably be June 15th (to leave a buffer for any stragglers), and your invitations should probably be in the mail no later than May 15th so guests have plenty of time to reply.
It can take some time to have your invitations addressed, especially if you are ordering custom calligraphy. Make sure to compile your final address list as soon as possible, and work backwards from the date you would like to have your invitations in the mail to determine when your addressing needs to begin (depending on the calligrapher addressing may take anywhere from two weeks to a month to complete).
For digital addressing, it’s good to allow at least a week for typesetting and production.
You guessed it: Once your invitations are in the mail, it’s probably a good time to start thinking about your day-of stationery items, especially anything which will be custom designed and produced just for you. (Not sure what Day-Of Stationery is? Check out this post for more info!)
Sometimes, I will start working with clients after they have sent off their invitations - so we jump straight into Day-Of stationery. In this case, it’s always good to allow at least a month (ideally closer to two) for custom design concepts, revisions, and production.
However, if you’ve been working with your designer from the beginning (meaning they already have a design structure set up for your stationery items) one month prior to the date is usually a good time to hit the ground running with day-of designs.
Usually designs can get started without final menu text and a finalized seating chart, but definitely try to get these finalized at least two weeks before so there is plenty of time to produce your Escort and Place Cards.