How to Plan Your Wedding Invitations

The Artisaire Way

With a million-and-one little decisions to make before you say, “I do”, wedding planning can be stressful – but it doesn’t have to be!

Whether you’re ready to get down and dirty and plan your wedding in 90 days or less (get it, girl!) or you’ve got 2 years until the big day, it can be so easy to get caught up in all the big decisions like venue, menu and guest list – but what good are those decisions if your guests don’t know when or where to show up!

That’s where your invitations come in!

In this post you’ll learn how to build the ultimate stationery timeline so you can stay on track and on for a great wedding day! 

What You'll Learn:

  • The 4 things you need to do before starting your invitations
  • The 3 most popular wedding invitations and where to find them
  • Why Save the Dates are so important
  • When you should order your invitations
  • What pieces you need to include
  • When you should send your invitations

Ready to get started?

Before You Start Planning Your Invites, Do These 4 Things:

First thing’s first: there’s no such thing as “right” or “wrong” when it comes to planning your wedding – as long as everything gets done in time and everyone shows up, right?!

So how do you make sure they do?

Wedding invitations of course!

Before we dive into wedding invitations, here are the 4 things you need to do before starting your stationery:   

Step 1: The B Word

Talking about money isn’t the most romantic thing ever (and is probably the last thing you want to talk about after getting engaged) but sitting down with your partner to make a game plan will be SO worth it later on!

Why It Matters: 

  • Talking about budget means you’ll have to decide what parts of your wedding are the most important to each of you – whether it’s the venue, being surrounded by all of your friends and family, your invitations, or your flowers – knowing these things before you start planning will help you prioritize from the very beginning!
  • Setting clear expectations and open communication about your budget is a HUGE way to help reduce stress later on, plus it’s great practice for all the big financial decisions you’ll make together during your lifetime!

Looking for more budget building tips? Click here! 

Step 2: Set Your Wedding Date

You can’t create wedding invitations or even start building your timeline without setting your wedding date – so get on it! ;)

Step 3: Build Your Guest List

Start working on your guest list as soon as possible! Even if it feels too early, the sooner you have a rough estimate of numbers, the sooner you can start booking vendors!

Why It Matters: 

  • The people part of weddings can be stressful (and take longer than you think) – especially if you are only inviting your closest friends and family, so starting this early is a big help! 

For more tips on building a stress-free guest list, click here! 

Step 4: Book Your Venue + Reception Space

The best venues (and dates) always book up quickly – so setting your wedding date and putting that deposit down, while scary - is necessary before any other planning (including your stationery) can happen!

Why It Matters: 

  • Most venues book 9-12 months in advance – but peak venues and dates can book upwards of 2+ years in advance, so contact your venue ASAP!
  • Saturdays are the most sought-after day for weddings – particularly in the summer months, so if you are budget conscious or are open to other days of the week, choosing a less common day often means you can get into popular venues sooner and often save some money!

How To Build Your Invitation Timeline

Now that you’ve decided on when and where – let’s make sure your guests show up!

Getting your invitations sent out in time is ALMOST as important as saying yes to the right dress! Ok… maybe not quite THAT important – but still, it’s pretty darn close! 😉

The first thing to do is download your free stationery planner.  This tool will help you create your own stationery plan as we walk through each section!

There are 4 different types of wedding stationery that you’ll need to plan:  

  • Save the Dates
  • Wedding Invitations (and everything that goes with them)
  • Day-of Stationery
  • Thank You Cards

To build your to-do list, click here for The Ultimate Stationery Guide.

When Should I Send Out My Save The Dates?

The first piece of stationery you’ll need to create are your Save the Dates!

Think of the last wedding you went to for a minute… when was it?

There’s a good chance it was on a summer Saturday afternoon – the most popular wedding day!
Summer weekends get booked up fast – so sending out Save the Dates to your guests 6-8 months in advance is a great way to get added to their calendar before they have a chance to RSVP to anything else! 😉

Photo + Stationery by Plume Calligraphy

Do I really need to send out Save The Dates if I’ll be sending out wedding invitations anyways? 

Yes!

Save the Dates are super important because they help your friends and family plan ahead and increase your chances of getting an RSVP back with “yes” for your big day when you finally do send your invites!

The best part about Save the Dates? All you need to know is when and where – meaning you can send them out before having any of the other detail planning done!

Artisaire Quick Tip: If you’re getting married over a holiday weekend (like 4th of July or Christmas) or are having a destination wedding – give your guests a little bit of extra time by sending your Save the Dates out 10-12 months in advance! This will help them make travel plans early – which they’ll thank you for later!  

When Should I Order My Save The Dates?

If you are making your own Save The Date Cards, we recommend ordering them 3-4 weeks before you plan on sending them (so 7-9 months before the big day).

Most online retailers can deliver within 1-2 weeks, which gives you 1-2 weeks to do any assembly or finishing (like addressing your envelopes or adding wax seals)!

Top things to look for from an online stationery retailer:   

  • How long does production take?
  • Is there a proofing process? If so, how long will that take?
  • Where are they shipping from?
  • How long does shipping take?
  • Do I have to do any assembly once they arrive?

If you are working with an invitation designer – make sure to contact them as soon as possible (most book 9-12 months in advance for custom clients) as each designer has different turnaround times! Save the Date cards can often be created faster than invitations – but still can take several weeks, so it’s always worth it to plan ahead!

The Artisaire Way: Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. While Amazon Prime is one of the best creations of all time – wedding invitations and stationery are custom pieces created just for you, meaning they often take longer to make and ship than you think! 

When Should I Send My Invitations?  

Your wedding invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before the big day!

If you’re hosting a destination wedding or have many guests coming from out of town, send your invitations out a few weeks earlier (10-12 weeks) so they have plenty of time to coordinate travel plans if they haven’t already!

Is there such thing as sending my invitations too early?

Yes!

If you send them out too early – you’ll likely get fewer returned RSVP’s and more last-minute cancellations for those who do.  This often means more stress for you and your vendors - so avoid sending your invites out more than 4 months early unless it’s over a big holiday weekend like 4th of July or Christmas!  

Photo by Tara Lynn Butterworth | Stationery and Modelling by Jenny Sanders

When Should I Order My Invitations?  

Depending on where you’re ordering your invitations from, your timing on this will vary!
While we talk all about the difference between custom, semi-custom and pre-designed invites and how they will affect your timeline here, here's a quick look at the 3 options:    

Option 1: Custom Invitations

Custom wedding invitations are created for you, from scratch by an invitation designer.

When to Order: 6-8 months before your wedding (custom invites typically take 2-4 months to create depending on the designer)

Artisaire Quick Tip: Most designers only have a limited number of spots for custom clients each year – so do your best to contact them 9-12 months in advance if you’re interested in going this route!

Option 2: Semi-Custom Invitations

Semi-custom invitations are curated stationery sets that are created and printed by an invitation designer – with your choice of design elements. 

When to Order: Order 4-5 months before your wedding (can take up to 4-8 weeks to create depending on the designer, plus time for assembly and postage)

Artisaire Quick Tip: Many stationers will offer assembly services with their semi-custom invitations – which is a HUGE time saver and great option! 

Option 3: Predesigned Invitations

100% ready-to-print wedding invitations bought through online retailers, pre-designed invitations are already put together so all you need to do is add your text and checkout!

When to Order:  Order them (including any embellishments or extras) 3-4 months before your wedding (most online retailers will take 1-2 weeks to print and ship them) 

Artisaire Quick Tip: Don't forget to add extra time for assembly, addressing and adding any embellishments once your invitations arrive! This can easily add 1-2 weeks to your timeline - which can add up quickly! 

What Pieces Should I Include In My Wedding Invitations? 

The pieces you include with your wedding invitations will directly impact your timeline!

Your invitations should include everything your guests need to know to attend your big day!

Here are the basic invitation must-haves:   

  • Invitation Card (the main invitation)
  • RSVP Card
  • Return Envelope (for the RSVP card)
  • Invitation Envelope

If you're looking to add more style and personality to your invites and the best ways to share important info with your guests, don't miss our Ultimate Stationery Guide, here.

When Should I Set My RSVP Date? 

Set your RSVP date 1 month before the big day for best results!

The Artisaire Way: Play to your guests’ strengths. If you know 90% will RSVP via text anyways – consider switching to an online RSVP! Just make sure that your RSVP card is clear on how and when you need their responses by!  

When Should I Start Planning My Day-Of Stationery?

The sooner the better - especially if you’re working with an invitation designer!

Most designers will create a suite of complimentary day-of stationery that will match your invitations upon request. If that’s something you’re looking for, make sure to include that in your initial consultation!

Remember to reach out to your stationer ASAP as many of them book 9-12 months in advance!

Artisaire Quick Tip: Many stationers will even provide discounts to couples who buy a full invitation suite + day-of pieces - so make sure to ask if your stationer has any great deals like that!  

If you’ll be making your day-of stationery yourself, planning what pieces you want as you’re working on your invitations is a trick for creating a cohesive look across all your stationery!

Just make sure they arrive at least 1-2 weeks before your wedding, so you have time to put it all together! Day-of stationery often has the most assembly of any wedding stationery – a lot of which can be done ahead of time, so plan ahead and order early whenever you can!

Recommended for you: The Ultimate Invitation Planner

Photo + Stationery by Michaela Mcbride Calligraphy

When Should I Send Thank You Cards For My Wedding?

The last piece of stationery you’ll to plan for are your Thank You cards! 

These should be sent out no later than 2 weeks after the big day! 

An often-overlooked detail, thank you cards mean so much and should always be included in your checklist – especially if the guest brought you a gift on the big day!  

The Wrap Up

No matter what your timeline looks like – remember to plan ahead and give your guests as much time as possible to coordinate plans for the big day!

Everyone will enjoy your wedding so much more if you do!

Up next we’re answering ALL of your budgeting questions:

  • How much do wedding invitations cost? 
  • What kinds of invitations should I choose?
  • Should you hire a stationer? 
  • How much does it cost to mail wedding invitations?

 For all those answers and more, click here

Happy planning,

The Artisaire Team