Points to know when ordering invitations and calligraphy
Wedding Calligraphy FAQS
- How much do invitations cost from the printer?
- How expensive is postage?
- When should they be mailed?
- Who should and should not be sent an invitation?
- How can I trim costs?
Invitation cost varies greatly depending on many factors:
1) Quantity of invitations you order
2) How many pieces are included in the complete invitation
3) The style of the invitation
4) The reputation of the printer
5) Where (geographically) you place your order
6) How soon you need them
It's a good idea to shop around as early as possible and shop thoroughly.
You'll need to place postage on the outer envelope and the return envelope if you include one. Usually a larger decorative stamp like the "Art Deco Love" stamp is used on the outer envelope and a smaller traditional "Flag or "Statue of Liberty" stamp is used on the reply envelope. Currently available are matching art deco stamps. Use this calendar to help determine your order and posting dates
You can trim costs by printing an RSVP phone number on your invitation instead of including a reply card. This saves money two ways; less cost at the printer and for postage.
Before you place your order I recommend that you take a complete invitation to the post office to inquire about the postage that will be required to send each. Some invitations cost twice as much as others to send! The trendy square envelopes, for example, require extra postage. A wedding I recently scribed for using square envelopes cost much more each to post excluding the inner stamp
Be mindful of the total weight of each invitation as this also determines the cost of mailing. Currently the first ounce costs .44 and each additional ounce is more. This does not include over-sized envelope charge.
Order extra invitations and envelopes. They will cost less at the initial order than if you have to place an additional order. Most calligraphers have an error rate of about 10%. Mine is 2% which I understand is low. This means you can expect that 2 out of every 100 envelopes will be wasted to mistake. Most calligraphers will request 10-15% extra envelopes.
OK, you've ordered the invitations, had them addressed, figured the postage costs and you are ready to mail them! All invitations should be posted at the same time. The mailing should be done six to eight weeks before the big event. The requested response date should be about four weeks from the wedding date. I always caution to mail your inviations eight weeks prior to the wedding because, invariably, some will be returned due to incorrect address. When you research and finally get the correct address, the invitation then gets to its proper destination, it's best that there are least a few weeks left before the event.
Another tip about mailing early is that most people who will not attend your wedding (average is 20%) will usually respond quickly. This allows you to add another person to your guest list which otherwise could not have been invited. It will not be obvious to the second invitee that he/she had been on the "maybe" list if the invitation is received six weeks before the event.
When you are ready to mail your invitations DO NOT use a mailbox. Assure their safety by taking them to the post office. I have never personally been a victim of mailbox vandalism but according to the Law of Murphy, such a time would happen only when your outbound mail is so important.
Be cautious about nicknames! Click here to see a list of common nicknames.
When making your guest list for yourself or your calligrapher, use my Zip By State chart to make sure that the first 3 numerals in the postal code are correct. If you want to make certain it is completely accurate you can use this free Zip +4 handy tool.
Who gets an invitation?
Each person in your wedding party should get their own invitation mailed to him or her, as does each spouse or date.
Every invitee who is 16 (some say 18) years of age or older also is sent their own invitation.
Don't forget the officiant. Whomever is performing the ceremony (Priest, Rabbi, Minister Justice, etc.) is also expected to receive an invitation.
Service providers such as the caterer, DJ, photographer etc. are not expected to receive an invitation.
Etiquette in addressing envelopes help.
The Knot Guide
is a terrific source for wedding etiquette.
Click the book to order from Amazon.
As previously mentioned, consider RSVP instead of reply cards.
Consider limiting your bridal party to just a few.
Carefully choose your invitations and assure you are not spending big money on postage due to invitation weight or envelope size.
Shop around! Costs for invitations and calligraphers vary greatly. Begin shopping early as time is usually a factor in pricing, especially with calligraphers. Beware of ordering on-line as the quality of the paper may not allow "wet ink" calligraphy. The cost of penning your envelopes and seating cards or boards can vary. You want to ask the calligrapher what error rate to expect, how long he/she has been professionally writing, if all the scribing will be done by him/her alone and what materials will be used. Watch for hidden costs (ink, script style etc). Read my terms before you order calligraphy from anyone!
Your Calligraphy Order
Your calligrapher will need your guest list. It can be prepared with a word processor, typewriter or hand written but make sure it is clear and legible. Your envelopes will be returned to you in the same sequence as the guest list unless otherwise specified.
You will also need to indicate every salutation (Mr., Mrs., Miss etc.) Help with proper etiquette is available here.
Nicknames are avoided when using a traditional/formal form etiquette, as are abbreviations and middle initials. Some couples choose to opt for using a very informal style for thier invitations to match the type of wedding they are planning. In such a case, formal etiquette may not be appropriate and may even seem misleading. Your invitations and the calligraphy should accurately reflect the mood and feel of your whole wedding. Whichever form you use, you should be consistent.
It is surprising to learn how many of us do not use our full given names. If someone is helping you gather names and addresses let him/her know of this concern. In my experience with guest lists I have found that about 30% of the names are nicknames. Some examples: Kim instead of Kimberly or Kimberley. Bob or Rob instead of Robert, and in one case Bud replaced Arthur! Click here for a chart of common nicknames.
If you would like the inside envelopes addressed informally (Ex: Auntie Annie instead of Mrs. Harold Carter) indicate this beside the name and address on your guest list. Where it is not written the former, formal will be used.
Postal codes are very important. It is quite a deflating feeling to find your invitation returned to you with a big, red, ugly stamp indicating incorrect address. If I locate a missing zip or if I correct a zip for you, there is a .75 charge for each. Don't guess-look it up!
By all means, get a sample and see for yourself the quality of the work. A professional will be able to provide an etiquette guide, instructions and assurance that all calligraphy will be penned by him/her alone.