Before your guests step foot into your wedding venue, their first impression of the big day will come in an envelope in the mail.

You can look at your stationery in three parts: the save-the-date, the wedding invitation and enclosures, and the day-of pieces. Whether you’re getting your stationery professionally designed or going the DIY route and designing and printing them yourself, you’re going to need to visit a stationery shop to get your hands on some paper and check out design styles. Typically, expect to spend around 5 percent of your budget on your stationery, including postage, but adjust as necessary.

SAVE-THE-DATE

As soon as you have your wedding date set in stone – the venue is booked – you should send out a save-the-date. It doesn’t matter if it’s a year out from the wedding or nine months out or seven – the point is you want your guests to get your wedding on their schedules ASAP.

You don’t need to go overboard on details; just your names and the date to keep open. If you have a wedding website already set up with details about the ceremony, reception and accommodations, include the URL. And, of course, you can mention that a formal invitation will follow.

INVITATIONS & ENCLOSURES

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Do not include registry information on the invitation. You’re inviting your friends and family to join in your wedding celebration; you’re not inviting them to bring you gifts! (You can list registry info on your wedding website.)

The actual wedding invite is where you officially invite your guests. Plan to put these in the mail around two months prior to your wedding. For some more creative ideas for wording your invites (and a quick primer on the basics), visit offbeatbride.com and search “wedding invitation wording.”

The RSVP card (self-addressed and stamped) is where guests will accept or decline invitation and, if you’re having a seated dinner, mark their dinner selection (see sidebar). List a date in which you’d appreciate their reply by, usually four weeks before the wedding date.

As mentioned, you might have all the pertinent info on your wedding website, but you’ll want to include a card separate from the invitation that lays out the wheres and whens for your reception and accommodations.

DAY-OF ITEMS

The invitation might be the main attraction, but there are still some paper pieces you need for the big day:

• Programs: If you’re having a ceremony in a house of worship, this will list info for the officiant, readings, the wedding party, etc.

• Table numbers/names

• Escort cards and Place cards: Escort cards tell the guest which table they are at. Place cards show them where at the table they are sitting.

• Menus: An outline of dinner, set with their place card, is a nice touch.

• Thank-yous: If you want to get a jump on showing your gratitude, it can be worthwhile to invest in stationery with your newly married name.

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