If your wedding is a story, then the invitations are the prologue. And like any great story, it’s important to get the beginning right.

Consider: is your wedding story a romantic fairytale or a modern classic? Is it an intimate backyard afternoon or an elegant evening event? Your stationery should clearly convey the tone and style of your big day to guests in terms of both design and actual information.

So, before you put pen to paper (or decide it’s just easier to send out a Facebook invite), here are a few invitation tips and trends from industry experts.

First things first, you’ll need to determine your timeline for designing, ordering and sending out save-the-dates and invitations.

“The biggest problem can be timing. Start early. At least five months before the big day. Earlier if you want to incorporate hand calligraphy or custom artwork for the design,” says Austin Ackles, Director of Events and Celebrations at Dempsey & Carroll. “The later you start, the fewer options will be available to you. If you’re having a destination wedding or, it’s in a smaller town where flights and accommodations are limited, send a save the date at least six to nine months ahead of the wedding.”

The next most important question is: how many invites do you need to order? Of course, you don’t want to order too few and run out, but you also don’t want to over order and waste money.

“Always remember that you don’t have to send everyone on your list an invitation because typically one invitation invites two people or a family,” says Ceci Johnson, founder of luxury design company Ceci New York. “So my recommendation is to take your guest list count, divide it in half then add about 25 extra invitations for cushion. Unless you have a lot of single friends, this math should cover you.”

Finally, you need to decide what you want your stationery to actually look like. That includes the save-the-dates, envelopes, liners, response cards, direction cards and, of course, the invitation itself. Here are a few current trends to consider when designing your wedding invitations.

1. Classic Luxuries

As pendulum swings away from theme weddings, the novelty invitations that went with them as also on the way out. In their place are timeless and elegant details and materials like double envelopes and tissue liners.

“We’ve seen an uptick in requests for the most classic, foldover invitation that your mother or grandmother might have had,” says Ackles. “The rough-hewn letterpress look on coarse paper of a few years ago has been traded for a cleaner, firmer cotton paper and, while still handmade and slightly quirky, the finer technique of engraving.”

2. Metallics and Foils

Nothing says special like a little extra shine. As part of a larger trend towards urban and industrial motifs, metallic colors and foil letters create modern and sleek looking invites.

“I'm predicting copper is the new rose gold,” says Johnson. “Metallics are still strong and always will be, but the rose gold color that was all the rage last year is now moving to its neighbor, copper.”

3. Custom Monograms

Take the classic interlocking letters to the next level with a custom monogram. This trend also fits in perfectly with recent royal weddings (if it’s good enough for Megan and Harry, it’s good enough for your nuptials). Find inspiration in family heritage, your home state(s), shared interests and other meaningful details of your life together.

4. Geometric Shapes

Triangles, squares, diamonds and line patterns produce a crisp and graphic look perfect for a contemporary style wedding. For even more drama, add pops of bright color.

5. Marble

This trend is stolen straight from home décor where marble countertops, wallpaper and accessories are all the rage. Gray or black and white are classic choices that pair well with other current trends like metallic colors and calligraphy lettering.

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