Most people have no idea what goes into creating a one-of-a-kind wedding stationery ensemble. I will try to make this an interesting multi-part series about creating a bespoke stationery wardrobe from save the dates to thank you notes.

Engagement announcements

You can send out printed announcements, spread the news via the local newspaper or broadcast your love online.

If you plan to mail your announcements, call a stationer to have cards made (this is also a great way to screen invitation candidates). For printed notices, call the publications where you want your announcement to appear and find out the name of the appropriate editor or department. Ask for their guidelines or a standardized form, if available. Also ask if there’s a fee for publication and whether they accept pictures.

Typically, published announcements mention career details about the two of you, your parents’ names and places of residence, and your educational credentials. Obviously, only include what you’d like the world to know. If you haven’t nailed down your wedding date or want to keep readers in suspense, you can include something like, “A June wedding is planned.”

Engagements are officially announced by someone other than the couple (unless there is no close relative to assume the honor).

EXAMPLES

  • The Bride’s Parents Host
    Mr. and Ms. John Doe of Little Rock announce the engagement of their daughter, Jane Annette, to Jack Smith, son of David and Beth Smith of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. Ms. Doe, a graduate of Vassar College, is a professor at Barnard College in New York City. Mr. Smith graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, attended law school at New York University, and works at Smith, Golden, his mother’s law firm, in Fort Lee, New Jersey. A June wedding is planned. (Or: No date has been set for the wedding.)
  • Remarried Parent, Hosting With New Spouse
    Ms. Janet Jones and Mr. Timothy Chapin announce the engagement of Ms. Jones’ daughter, Jane Doe, to Jack Smith… Ms. Doe is also the daughter of John Doe of Sioux City.
  • You’re Hosting the Wedding Yourselves
    Jane Doe, a professor at Barnard College, is to be married to Jack Smith, a partner at the law firm of Smith, Golden in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Ms. Doe is the daughter of Mr. John Doe of Sioux City, Iowa, and Ms. Janet Jones of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. Smith is the son of David and Beth Smith of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. A June wedding is planned.

Save the dates

While save-the-date cards have been around for a while, it’s still possible they might be mistaken for the actual invitation. Include “Invitation to follow” at the bottom of the card. If you have a wedding website, that address can be included as well. If someone receives a save-the-date and will be unable to attend, they are likely to offer regrets far in advance. You still need to send a wedding invitation as a courtesy.

Duograms

The increasing popularity of civil unions, hyphenated last names or brides keeping their maiden names, has given rise to the duogram. I swear I didn’t make that word up. Like a monogram, which displays the stylized initials of ONE person, a duogram is a combination of TWO people’s initials. While a monogram combining your initials and your dearly betrothed’s initials should only be used AFTER the wedding, a duogram can be used on all of the pre-wedding paper products.

{More dorky info: A kalogram is a type of monogram in which the entire name is used rather than just the initials.}

Maps

You don’t want your guests getting lost on the way to your wedding. Spell it out for them with a custom map or detailed directions with your invitation and on your wedding website. Consider including a map from the ceremony site to the reception venue in your programs too. Laura Hooper is one of my favorite designers for hand-drawn maps.

Ceremony programs

Just like at the theatre, a wedding program allows your guests to follow along and makes them feel included in the celebration. You can include explanations of any cultural or religious rites, names of the bridal party and their relationship to you, or a formal tribute to deceased loved ones.

The program should complement the rest of the wedding stationery but it doesn’t have to match it. Provide guests with the order of events, who’s participating, and any other special notes about the ceremony or reception. Guests should receive a copy of the program as they arrive for the ceremony.

Rehearsal dinner invitations

Traditionally, the groom’s family hosts the rehearsal dinner and issues its invitation. These are generally less formal than the primary wedding invitation but should reflect the nature of the event. Send them two weeks before the wedding.

Table cards & Place cards

If you’re assigning your guests to tables and/or seats, these are efficient tools for traffic control. Placed at the entry to the reception, table cards have your guests’ name written on them with the appropriate table number on it. When they get to the table, place cards at each place setting tell them where to sit.

FROM THE CRANE & CO. WEDDING BLUE BOOK
Rarely used today, escort cards were small cards that told a gentleman which lady he was expected to escort into the reception. The gentleman’s name was written on the envelope and the lady’s name appeared on the enclosed card.

A custom seating chart can be used as an alternative to table cards. It provides an alphabetical list of guests’ names with their table assignments. You table numbers or names should be displayed prominently in the center of the table so guests won’t have to wander around too long looking for their spot.

Menus

If you’re having a sit-down dinner, menu cards (obviously) list the items being served. Include wines alongside their appropriate courses. A monogram or duogram can appear on the menus and the menu should always match the placecards.

Anything else?

You already know that the options for things you can personalize for your wedding are endless: bridal shower invitations, favor tags, ceremony runners … pretty much anything can be customized for your wedding day. Your stationer or planner should direct you if you have any questions or special requests.

Next up: Post-wedding courtesies.

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