You have announced your engagement, set the date for the big day and started making your plans. Now you have to design, sort and send out the invitations, but where to start? Many have said it before, but I will also say it, the invitations will set the tone of your wedding and give your guests an idea as to what they can expect on your big day. It will let them know the style, the dress code and the kind of wedding day you are planning. No mean feat eh?! However, this isn’t something to panic about. Designing your invites can be a really fun thing and is one of the first steps on the way to your wedding day.
The kind of invitations you choose can very much depend on the type of wedding you are having, where it is being held and your thoughts and plans for the day. If you are having a more formal day in a grand setting then something a little more elegant and classic might fit the bill. Are you planning a relaxed countryside wedding with games and hog roast? If so an invite that looks a little more eclectic, fun and casual would be a good match. You can take inspiration from the colours you have chosen for your wedding or the theme you are going to use (if you have one). Your venue or location could be your starting point. Do you have a favourite flower or animal? Another option is to use a photo of the two of you. One way of doing this is to have photos done during an engagement shoot to use on your invite. It can be a really nice way to send a very personal invitation to your wedding guests, and something that you can have a bit of fun with. Whatever your starting point make sure it is ‘you’. By that I mean that it truly captures your day, the two of you together and is something that reflects your wedding, your way. Pinterest is a great place to start getting ideas, just watch out as its very easy to lose 2 hours browsing and pinning. I have done it many times!
Now you have your ideas flowing and a style of invite coming to mind, where do you go next? You can choose to go down the route of finding a company who offer ‘off the shelf’ wedding invitations such as Not On The High Street, Printed.com, Paper Themes or Paperchase. You can also find a graphic designer to design your invitations along with the rest of your wedding stationery, such as Lucy Ledger, The Finer Details, Emmy Designs, Made By Molu, Paperknots, Kate Ruth Romey and Myrtle & Co.
Working with a bespoke designer can really help your ideas to come to life, especially if you aren’t naturally the most creative person. They will come up with something beautiful and get it all printed and ready for you to write, post and send. As a trained Graphic Designer this appeals to me. I am a lover of nice paper and I will always appreciate a gorgeous printed piece of design. But that isn’t the only way to go.
You may decide that you want a more environmentally friendly option and might like the simplicity of doing everything online or via email. Even I, a paper obsessive, have discovered the joy and ease of online invitations! If you want to keep the costs down one way you can do this is to choose digital invitations. I recently discovered Paperless Post when I was planning my own 40th Birthday. I was really impressed with the number of off the shelf invites they had that were so easy to adapt and make personal. It was a very straightforward option for designing an invitation and making it mine. Its also great for keeping on top of who you have invited, who has replied and who hasn’t! You can easily chase and remind the people who take forever to get back to you, always handy when it comes to wedding invitations! Check out the Paperless Post blog, for lots of great ideas and information about invitations.
Another great online resource for digital designs is Canva. I discovered this not that long ago either, when I was building some mood-boards for a project I was working on. I was very impressed with the design capabilities and ease of use. They offer a postcard design option too, which would make for great online invites or thank you cards.
With digital invitations you can still follow your design style and stick to the ideas you have, they just won’t be printed on paper. If you like the idea of having something designed and created just for you, but would also like to use digital invitations it would be worth chatting to a designer and asking if they can create something that can be used in a digital medium. I know Paperless Post have the option to upload your own design as well as working with ones they have created. If you decide you would like to go down the route of using a photo for the invitations then you can either book in an engagement shoot with your wedding photographer or you can start looking through your old photos and find something that grabs you. Always guaranteed to bring the cute factor you could choose to use photos of the two of you when you were kids or babies. If you decide to go for the engagement shoot option, during your shoot you can capture particular photos that can be used for the invites or thank you cards. While there are no hard and fast rules as to what to do for these kind of photos I always advise keeping it unique and personal. Think about the style of the invitations you want, is it in keeping with your wedding theme and colours or are you happy for it to be separate? Would you like to use any props or specific locations in the photos or will it just be a lovely photo of the two of you? There is no right or wrong, it’s whatever is right for you.
Something to get the ball rolling and the brain thinking. Here are a few ideas for things you could do or places you could go to to have photos you could use for your invitation:
• by the sea (treat yourself to some fish and chips while you’re there!)
• go on a carousel (I have practiced travelling backwards on a carousel while taking photos, its a challenge and a fun one at that)
• on top of a mountain or somewhere with a stunning view
• photos at sunset or sunrise
• at a place that means something to you or you love to visit (where you got engaged maybe)
• hanging out with your pet
• chilling at home
• relaxing at a favourite cafe
• walking in the countryside
• hiring a cool car for the day and going for a drive somewhere scenic
• spending time with your kids
• using props or signs that show the message you want to send
• at your wedding venue
• be silly with confetti or bubbles
• plan a picnic with champagne and your favourite foods
In the same way as I photograph weddings, I approach all my couples photography with a natural and relaxed style. For me its all about having some fun, enjoying the time together, capturing you as a couple, who you are and how you are together. As such a photo designed for an invitation or thank you card should have the same feeling, whether you take inspiration from something, use signs and props, go to a location you love, or simply use a beautiful photo of the two of you.
Now, before I finish up, it’s time to look at a few more practical aspects. What information do you need to include? Well, the obvious ones. Your names, the wedding date, the wedding venue and reception venue (if a different place). Including directions helps and you will also need to make it very clear if the guests are invited to the whole day or just the evening. On this count its often easier to have separate invitations so there is no confusion. It is also good to inform the invited guest who the invitation extends to. Is it just them or can they bring a plus one? Other information that it is really useful to share in the invitation is what the style of the wedding is, whether its formal, relaxed, an intimate wedding or a big do. You should make sure any dress code is clearly noted, whether the men need to wear morning suits or lounge suits and if hats should be worn or shoulders covered. It saves you time to add this information now as people will probably ask anyway and you will end up with a lot of emails or phone calls to answer!
You ideally should send one invitation for every couple and family. If there are multiple people in a family who are on the one invite make sure to list all the names of those included. If you are inviting children make sure to include their names and let the parents know they can bring their children if they wish to. If you don’t want children at your wedding then leave their names off the invitation and let your guests know that it’s a no children wedding.
Invitations are normally sent out 6-7 weeks before the wedding date, however its not uncommon to send them out 10 weeks before. This way your guests have more time to arrange accommodation, travel and potentially child care, if its a child free wedding. It is worth having a deadline for the RSVP clearly marked at the bottom of the invitation. This is also the time to check if any of your guests have special dietary requirements. It is sometimes easier to have a separate RSVP card that is created specifically to get this information. Usually the deadline for the RSVP should be about 4 weeks before the wedding date. If someone hasn’t replied a week after this date you can then start chasing up with a phone call or quick email reminder.
If you choose to go for printed invitations then make sure to order extras to allow for mistakes (this will happen, especially by the time you get to the 50th invite and you can’t feel your hand any more!). It’s also worth bearing in mind that about 30-35% of your invited guests will be unable to attend, so having some spares is useful to invite others. Lastly having extra invites means you can send them to your parents and wedding party to keep as souvenirs, even though there should be no doubting that the date is firmly in their diaries! From a photographers point of view its always lovely to have a copy of the invitation so I can get photos of it during the bridal prep time. Another way to keep the memories alive.
So, get back to the fun bit. Get thinking, get creative and get planning what you would like to do for your wedding invites.
I hope you found this helpful. I would love to hear what you are doing for your wedding invitation and what ideas you have come up with.
Thanks for popping by