Hi guys, Ashley from Fine Day Press here! Welcome back to our Invitation 101 series, all about wedding invitations. Today’s post is all about timing: when to gather inspiration, when to order your wedding invitations and save the dates, when to send wedding invitations, and more!
Wedding planning the one time in life where we combine an incredibly joyful event with the complicated logistics of running a small army! I recommend keeping the invitation process stress-free by allowing yourself lots of time. This is also super helpful for your guests so they can make travel plans and other necessary arrangements to be there on your big day.
A YEAR IN ADVANCE
Start thinking about your invitations as early as possible in your wedding planning process. This could be a year or more in advance. Last-minute invitations would not be fun, not to mention the rush charges alone could blow your budget.
You can begin by envisioning your dream invitations with an inspiration board and identifying a few possible stationers to work with – see my first post for more details on getting started.
6-9 MONTHS IN ADVANCE
If you’re mailing a Save the Date, especially for a destination wedding, this is the time to get those in the mail. Our previous post covered Save the Dates in more detail.
If you’re working with a local paper shop, this is a great time to schedule an appointment to review the ins and outs of their ordering process and timeline. If you’re working with an online stationer, go ahead and order a few samples to get an idea of the products and papers you might like to use.
WHEN TO ORDER
For ready-made invitations, I recommend ordering your invitations 3 months in advance for local weddings or 6 months in advance for destination weddings. This will allow time for design, proofing, production, assembly, and mailing your invitations, while providing ample notice for your guests.
If you’ve decided to go the custom invitation route, this will usually add anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks on to your invitation process, so it’s important to consider this from the get-go and factor this in to your timeframe.
We’ve created a handy cheat sheet of important dates! Click here to download a printable PDF.
PRINTING & PRODUCTION
For digital printing, also known as flat printing, you can expect a production time of up to 2 weeks. Letterpress or specialty printing typically takes 3 weeks. Production can usually be expedited, but there is usually a charge associated with this. We’ll cover print and production methods in more detail in the next installment of this series.
Planning to have beautiful calligraphy on your envelopes? Calligraphers generally require 2 to 3 weeks for addressing envelopes. Your stationer may be able to provide blank envelopes in advance so that this can get started while the invitations are printing.
WHEN TO SEND
A general rule is to send out invitations 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. If it’s a destination wedding, at least 3 months ahead is the standard to allow time for travel plans.
Don’t forget to save a few days (or at least a weekend afternoon) for assembly. This could be as simple as putting the invitations in the envelopes and adding postage to the envelopes. but may require additional steps if such as assembling liners into envelopes (note: many stationers can assemble liners for you and may offer invitation assembly as well) or stamping a return address if you chose an address stamp instead of a printed return address.
This is the time to call in your troops. Grab your besties and ‘maids to lend a hand; bribe them with pizza and wine post-project. Or this is could be a for you and your fiancé/ée to tackle together – put on some Netflix and make it a date night. Finally, tack on a few more days for mailing. International invitations can take anywhere from 6-10 days to arrive. We’ll cover mailing and postage in a later post.
AFTER THE BIG DAY
Once your wedding is over and you’ve had a blissful, relaxing honeymoon, it’s time to send out thank you notes to guests and loved ones! If you like, you can keep your thank you notes in the same design theme as your invitations and usually get them printed at a lower cost than your invitations – At Fine Day Press, we offer returning clients a 10% discount on day-of and thank you note orders – I’m willing to bet other stationers might do the same.
Stay tuned for our next Invitation 101 post; it will cover one of my favorite topics – printing methods.