Anatomy of a Wedding Invitation Set
You're recently engaged, congratulations! You've found the perfect venue and made some of the basic decisions such as the time you would like to get married and what kind of reception you would like to have—now how do you go about inviting your loved ones to this party? Pinterest is an endless deep dive of inspiration that can quickly become an overwhelming rabbit hole that leads you to feeling even more confused about what your wedding invitation needs to be: what the heck is a belly band? Do I actually NEED an envelope liner? There are no dumb questions when it comes to wedding invitations as more than likely, this is a beast you have never encountered before. Fret not, we are here to hold your hand and make this process much easier—and more practical.
Let's start with the basics: What is an invitation suite?
The term "suite" seems to be intimidating to most—it's really just a dressed up word for "set", and each suite / set is unique to each love story depending on needs, desires, and amount of information that needs to be delivered to your guests; it can very well be viewed as the most important piece of your wedding, no pressure! Your invitation sets the tone for your wedding day: is it formal, casual, indoors or outdoors, a sit down dinner or happy hour party? Your guests need to know these details so they know how to dress, whether bringing children is appropriate, and overall what to expect for this awesome party!
SAVE THE DATES
The beginning of the suite is typically your save the date, however you do not have to have the same designer create your save the date and your invitations. Couples who want to utilize a photo from an engagement photo shoot with their photographer typically order save the dates from a resource like minted.com and why not, they do beautiful work! This means if you approach a different designer for your actual invitations, there may be a design discrepancy from your save the dates—seriously this is not a big deal, save the dates are a quick glimpse for your guests to mark their calendars and have all the happy feelings for you. Invites are where you can really dig into the overall vision for your big day. If you do have your eye on an invitation designer (hope you're looking at us :) ), be sure to ask them if they also do save the dates—more than likely they do, and can help create a save the date that will flow into your invites.
Now let's look into the real superstar—the formal invitation and it's accompanying components. Obviously if you are wanting to do a mailed invitation, you start with the invitation card (yes, duh we know). The wording of your invitation card conveys the where and when, who is hosting, and appropriate attire if that needs to be communicated. The invitation itself tends to be the most elaborate card in your suite—it's the one piece your loved ones will probably hold onto as a keepsake, so if you are going to opt for upgrades like letterpress and metallic foil, this is the card to start with.
Your reply or RSVP card is how you will collect the names and headcount of guests coming to your wedding. This is also where guests can choose their meal selection (if applicable) and also where you can communicate if children are welcome at the wedding or if this should be an adults only affair. Guests can also include their recommendations for music choices (if you want to give them that power)—you've been warned!
This seems self explanatory, but of course there are options—you can choose to do an inner and outer envelope, or just the outer. The inner envelope typically has just the guests' names and serves as an added layer of protection while your beautiful invitations are at the mercy of the postal service. Inner envelopes are more typical of a black tie event, but whatever your heart desires is doable in the world of invitations. Another key component of envelopes is addressing. Calligraphy, digital printing, and white ink printing are all options L&D offers, with calligraphy being the more expensive option, and digital printing the more budget friendly but still beautiful alternative. Digital addressing can include the same font choices, or even a fun image on your envelopes carried over from your physical invitation, and covers your return address, guest address, and RSVP envelope address.
If you are wanting to do a mail back RSVP card, you can either opt for a traditional envelope, or you can have your RSVP card designed as a postcard, just be sure for both options you account for the postage you will include for your guests to mail them back.
The add-on pieces
The pieces referenced above make up the "core" of an invitation suite and they may be all you need, but maybe not. Below are other pieces to consider to up the wow factor of your invites, as well as if you have more information you need to convey.
If your ceremony and reception are in separate locations, or you have specific info you need to distribute to guests such as accommodation information or dress code, this is a great card to have, especially if you’re providing transportation to and from each location. A details card can also include your wedding website as well as the RSVP information if you are choosing to have guests RSVP online.
ADDITIONAL INSERT CARD
If your details card is full and you just need to add your wedding website, registry information, or another small bit of information, this is a great way to do that, or it is a great place to include rehearsal dinner information or an invitation to a welcome party. Your guests will be impressed that everything you’ve sent them goes perfectly together!
Your envelope liner is a fun place to add a little surprise within your invitation suite. It is a great place to include either a pop of color, a metallic shimmer, or even a custom printed pattern or monogram! If you have inner and outer envelopes, traditionally the inner envelope would be the one that is lined. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can also opt to line your RSVP envelopes—however you are the one who receives this back in the mail, so if you need to cut cost, this is a good place to start.
Belly bands are typically reserved for invitation sets with multiple cards. The function of the band it to package all the pieces together as the guest pulls it out of the envelope—it definitely adds to the overall “experience” of opening the invitation as well as adds to the “wow” factor. Belly bands can be printed or solid card stock, vellum, or ribbon. Bear in mind ribbon tied in a bow can add to higher postage costs.
You're so extra...
For those looking for the luxury experience for their guests, these add ons create show stopping invitations that will leave your guests in awe and in anticipation for what is to come on your wedding day!
Custom wax seals are a fun surprise to seal your inner envelopes or pocket-folds. Designs can range from monograms, to botanical drawings, or even pup portraits! You can also have a keepsake wax seal press made that you can use for your future mail, a fun keepsake!
CUSTOM / VINTAGE POSTAGE
Including custom postage is another level of personalization that is available in invitation suites. This allows you to incorporate illustrations, a photograph, special flower or monogram to the outside of your envelope. Another unique option for postage is to curate vintage stamps to collage on your envelopes. Vintage postage must be a collage because vintage stamps only come in lower denominations and will not meet the current USPS postage rate unless you add multiple stamps on the envelope. Vintage postage can be curated to fit within your invitation suite design through color, location, or imagery, however bear in mind this can again lead to higher expenses to source and procure these stamps.
VELLUM WRAPS / ENVELOPES
Vellum is a semi translucent paper that can be wrapped around your invitation suite, attached as an overlay, and can be printed on. vellum envelopes are also available, which are stunning for a modern wedding and give guests a peek at what’s inside.
Pocket enclosures essentially act as the inner envelope as well as the belly band. Guests have the experience of opening the clutch style pocket which typically has the invite mounted to one panel, and a pocket containing all additional pieces in the next fold. You also have the option to create a tri-fold invitation, which even includes a perforated RSVP card and reduces the amount of paper in the suite.
Letterpress printing is a beautiful option to give your invitations depth and a luxury feel. It is created by using plates to create an imprint on each individual piece of paper. An important point to note is that each color that is letterpressed = 1 plate, so the more colors you use the higher the cost will be.
Whether you are looking for a glamorous statement with gold or silver, or something funky like blue or green, metallic foils are a great option for a little glitz and glamour—as an added benefit, foils show up on dark as well as light paper stocks. This process does add some cost onto your wedding invitations, but worth it for the added “wow” factor!
DOUBLE THICK CARDSTOCK
Double thick options are a classy and luxury option for your wedding invitations, however they are typically best for letterpress or foil stamping, which adds significant cost. As implied, double thick cardstock is twice the thickness of already thick cardstock so you
essentially must pay for double the paper as they are layered to create this effect.
DECKEL EDGE / HANDMADE PAPER
At L&D we use a cotton rag handmade paper which has a beautiful, romantic quality about it. Deckel edge paper limits designs as it can not be digitally printed to the edge, so think more simple designs if you are wanting to use this luxury paper.
Remember, your wedding invitation suite should reflect you and your partner and what you value for your wedding day. Whether you choose to go completely baseline with your invites or over the top, they will be beautiful because they represent the two of you. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions about invitations or the design process—we now offer digital invitation design for those who like us, would love to see reduced waste in the wedding industry!