Before you got engaged, the word ‘stationery’ probably conjured images of pens, pencils and staplers. But wedding stationery is something entirely different. ‘Wedding stationery’ refers to all the printed elements of your wedding - things like invitations, thank you cards, table plans and menus. While it’s possible to print your own wedding stationery, it’s easier to order from a professional wedding supplier such as Bride & Groom Direct.
Some wedding stationery items, like wedding invitations, are very important. But others might not be strictly necessary - especially if you’re on a budget. If you’re a wedding stationery novice, our guide will help you understand what each piece of stationery is for, and whether it’s necessary or optional.
Engagement Party Invitations
Not every newly engaged couple chooses to have an engagement party. But if you do, you’ll need engagement party invitations (and, of course, envelopes to send them in).
Engagement party invitations should include the date, time and location of the event, as well as a RSVP deadline. You should send your invitations out at least a month in advance - longer if any of your guests will have to travel.
Necessary or optional? It’s not essential to send physical invitations if it’s not a formal event. For casual engagement parties, you could invite people via Facebook, word of mouth, email or phone call. The choice is yours.
When you’ve decided who you want to be your bridesmaids, you’ll need some way of asking them. Some brides-to-be like to pop the question using special “will you be my bridesmaid” cards.
You can send these in the post, but if at all possible, you should deliver them in person - that way, you get to see their reaction and get their answer right away! Of course, you can also ask your best man, groomsmen, flower girls and any other attendants in the same way.
Necessary or optional? They’re a sweet gesture, but not strictly necessary if you’re on a tight budget. You can simply ask your potential bridesmaids in person or over the phone.
Once you’ve finalised your wedding guest list, you’ll need to send save the dates. These usually come in the form of cards, but you can also get save the date fridge magnets. Their purpose is to let your guests know your wedding date, before you’ve finalised any of the details. That way, they can keep the day free in their calendar, so they don’t schedule a clashing commitment. The formal invitations follow later.
Save the dates are usually sent out between 4 and 8 months before the wedding day. For destination weddings, you might send them up to a year in advance.
Necessary or optional? Save the dates are pretty essential. If you don’t give your guests plenty of notice, they may not be able to make your wedding. But if you’re on a tight budget, you can call or email your guests to tell them the date, and send out your invitations earlier than you usually would (at least 3 months before the wedding).
Next up, you’ll need to start thinking about your wedding invitation suite. This consists of the wedding invitation itself, as well as the response card and various note cards containing vital information (such as directions to the venue).
A wedding invitation suite can hold an awful lot of information. So, which bits are necessary, and which aren’t?
● The wedding invitation itself: this is, of course, necessary. It contains the date, time and place of your wedding ceremony.
● The reception card: this contains details about the wedding reception (time and place). It’s not necessary if you can fit this information into the invitation itself.
● Directions to the venue: essential for out-of-town guests, but may not be needed for guests that are local to the area.
● Accommodation and travel details: as above.
● Reply card (RSVP card): this is essential, as you’ll need to know who’s coming and who isn’t!
● Menu card: this is only mandatory if you’re offering your guests a choice of food.
● Itinerary: essential only if your wedding is spanning more than one day.
If you can’t afford to print and post a huge wedding invitation suite, the alternative is to create a wedding website to hold all the details. Simply include a link to your site on the invitation.
Wedding Rehearsal Invitations
Wedding rehearsals are commonplace in the U.S., and slowly becoming more popular in the U.K. They’re normally held at the wedding venue a few days before the wedding, and are followed by a rehearsal dinner.
If you’re having a rehearsal, you’ll have to send your guests an invitation. You don’t need to invite every guest - only those in the wedding party. For example: the bride and groom’s parents, the bridesmaids and groomsmen (and their partners). Don’t forget the officiant!
Necessary or optional? Mailed invitations are preferred for formal rehearsals. But if you’re having a casual affair, you can send your invitations out via email, Facebook, or text instead.
Order of service cards (also called order of the day) are handed out to guests on the wedding day, before the ceremony begins. Normally, the ushers stand at the entrance to the venue and hand out the order of service cards to each guest as they enter.
The point of an order of service card is to inform guests of what’s happening during the day, and when. It contains readings and hymns or songs that you’ll have during your ceremony. Finally, it lists the names and roles of everyone in the bridal party.
Necessary or optional?
Order of service cards aren’t essential, but they make life a lot easier. Your guests will really appreciate knowing what’s coming next, and especially when to expect food. If you can’t afford to have individual cards printed, display one large order of service poster that your guests can refer to throughout the day.
The table plan, also called the seating chart, is hands-down one of the most important pieces of wedding stationery. It’s how you’ll organise how many tables you’ll need, and who’s going to sit where. By creating a table plan you can ensure that everyone is sitting next to someone they know - and that family members who don’t get along will stay apart.
Necessary or optional? 100% necessary. A wedding meal without a table plan is a recipe for disaster. Everyone will be confused, and some couples won’t be able to find seats together. Always have a table plan printed, and display it prominently at the entrance to the dining room.
When making your seating plan, you can either give your tables a number, or a name. But whatever you choose, you’ll need to give your guests some way to distinguish each table. That’s what table number cards are for.
Wedding place cards indicate which guest sits where. Each card displays a guest’s name, and is put in their place so that there’s no confusion over whose seat is whose.
Necessary or optional? Necessary if you’re having assigned seating - if you don’t have table numbers and place cards, your seating plan is essentially useless! People won’t know where to sit.
Wedding menu cards let your guests know what they’ll be eating. Whether you’re having a sit-down three course meal or a more casual buffet, you’ll need some way of telling your guests what food to expect. Usually, each guest gets their own menu card, which is put in their place next to their cutlery. Alternatively, you can dot a few menu cards on each table.
Are they necessary? Menu cards are nice to have on the tables, but they’re not strictly compulsory. Instead, you could print out one large menu and display it on an easel in the dining room - or include the menu on your order of service instead.
Wedding venue signs tell your guests where to go and what to do. For example, you might have a sign at your sweet table telling guests to help themselves, or a sign pointing the way to the bar.
As well as serving a practical purpose, venue signage also acts as part of your wedding decor. Choosing signs that match with your wedding theme will help create your desired atmosphere (beachy, rustic, classy, etc) and provide a nice visual aesthetic.
Is it necessary? Signage isn’t strictly necessary if you’re getting married in a small venue, or there are ushers and staff on hand to tell people where to go.
The last wedding stationery items you’ll need to order are the thank you cards. All of your wedding guests and wedding party should receive a thank-you card, as well as anyone else who contributed towards your big day. This includes invitees who couldn’t come but sent a gift, as well as anyone who did favours and ran errands for you.
You have up to three months after your big day to send your thank you cards. But ideally, you should post them as soon as possible.
Are they necessary? Yes! Your guests deserve to be thanked for celebrating with you, as well as for giving you a gift if applicable. Thank you cards are one piece of stationery that you absolutely can’t skip. You’ll risk causing offence or upset if you do.