Oh do I have a treat for you today?!?!?! Lovely Carly of With Bells On! wrote this amazing and comprehensive wedding stationery guide. You will find out everything – what do you need, what should it say and how to budget for it! Enjoy!

Wedding stationery guide - picture of a wedding invitation

Congratulations if you’re engaged! Nothing makes me happy the way a couple-all-jittery-about-getting-married does. It’s an exciting time, but as many fiancées will tell you, it feels like a lot to plan and you can easily get overwhelmed. Not only does it seem like there’s a million things to think about and organise, but of course you’re not going to be expert at getting married, so let me lend you a hand.

First up, you don’t NEED anything. Your wedding day should reflect your relationship and what you love. Try not to feel pressured into tradition or what other people say. With that aside, I’ll tell you the basis of what each part of stationery in a suite is for. Then you can decide what you need!

Save the Dates

What are they?

The name is on the tin with this one, but it still might be complex to navigate in terms of what to say and when to send it. Save the Dates are usually very simple. They say your names, the date of the wedding and usually the city (and country if it’s not where you live). They encourage your guests to clear their diaries and ensure they can come to your wedding. Here’s an example:

Karina & Antonia are getting married!
11th April 2020
in Seville, Spain
Invitation to follow

You can of course add simple details and use whichever formatting of numbers and wording you prefer.

When should we send Save the Dates?

My recommendation would be as soon as you’ve chosen the date, and potentially booked the venue. This will mean the foundations are in place. If there’s another element to your day you can’t live without, like a specific band you just need there, for example, then make sure you have that sorted too. The basic rule of thumb is, as soon as you can!

What format should the Save the Dates be?

Any format you like! The most basic is a text message or email, but my advice is that people see it as a more formal and important occasion when they receive post. A simple one-sided postcard would do the trick!

When might we not need Save the Dates?

If you’re newly engaged but you’re getting married very soon, say the next 6 months, you could probably skip straight to the invitations. Equally, if you plan only to invite someone to the evening, you may decide not to send them a Save the Date card.

What budget should we have for Save the Dates?

This depends on the quantities, time frame, complexity of design and finishes. The more you have and the more intricate the design – we’re talking bespoke watercolour illustrations, coloured foils, that sort of thing – the higher the price. However I would say that Save the Dates should take up 10 – 15% of your wedding stationery budget.

Wedding stationery guide - picture of a wedding invitation

Wedding Invitations

What are they?

Your wedding invitations are both a formal way of requesting the presence of your guests at your wedding and giving them the information they need. This will help them decide whether they can make it and also how to navigate the event – especially if you’re organising entertainment on the days before or after.

When should we send Wedding Invitations?

This can vary on a few factors. If you’re having a destination wedding, people will need to know as soon as possible what the details are for travelling and staying abroad. They might also have to plan Visas, jabs and child/pet care so I’d recommend sending invitations for a wedding like this as soon as you’ve nailed down the ceremony and reception venues and the accommodation (if you’re providing it).

It’s extra work, but it’s also really helpful to provide some flight suggestions and remind your guests not to keep checking online for this information as it makes the flight prices go up for everyone!

If you’re getting married closer to home, then 6-9 months before your wedding would be my recommendation. Don’t panic if this isn’t possible, you can always get things sorted with quick turnarounds. If you think it’s too stressful to wait for things to fall into place before posting paper invitations, you can opt for a digital solution. You can have a website and email your guests when details are updated. Bear in mind though that older guests may not be so savvy with tech!

What format should the Wedding Invitations be?

Wedding invitations can be a booklet, a series of info cards, a website, a folded poster… The digital and paper-goods possibilities are endless! It’s really up to you, how much information you have and what your aesthetic is for your wedding.

Wedding stationery guide - picture of a wedding invitation


What are they?

Whether it’s a text message, email, postcard or letter, your RSVPs allow your guests to respond to your invitations. The acronym stands for ‘Répondez s’il vous plaît’, which is French for ‘Please respond’. You can ask your guests to let you know however you like, but it’s quite popular to get them to either email a specific address you’ve set up or fill out a card you’ve included with the invitation.

With their response, they’ll need to tell you whether they can come, and often whether they need accommodation, and what their meal choice is. This can be as simple as just including their dietary requirements.

What budget should we have for Wedding Invitations and RSVPs?

This depends on the same factors as your Save the Dates. Invitations are more complex and detailed than a simple card. If you opt for paper invitations, remember to consider finishes, quantities and postage costs. If you opt for a website, factor in hosting and domain costs and the on-going up-keep. Wedding invitations should take up 45-50% of your wedding stationery budget.

Wedding stationery guide - picture of a wedding invitation

On-the-day stationery

What are they?

On-the-day stationery covers all the paper goods that help your guests work their way around the event. It covers welcome signs, orders-of-service for the ceremony, maps, signposts, table plans, menus, place cards, table names or numbers and/or escort cards. I’ll outline these below!

Welcome signs

What are they?

These are posters or banners that are placed at the entrance to your venue(s). They have a nod to the ‘branding’ your guests have come to recognise is yours, and are very simple. Something like:

Karina & Antonia
11th April 2020

We’re so happy you’re here!


What are they?

Some couples have these as booklets for the ceremony, especially if it’s a religious affair as they can contain hymn lyrics or passages. They can include the order of what is going to happen, like prayers, vows and readings and they can list who is in the wedding party. Other couples incorporate this into their welcome sign if it’s a list of timings for the whole day. For example:

3:15pm – Cocktails and canapés
5:00pm – Wedding breakfast
6:30pm – Speeches
7:30pm – Let them eat cake!
7:45pm – Hit the dancefloor!
9:30pm – Hot snacks
12:30 – Carriages

Table plans, menus, place cards, table names or numbers, escort cards

What are they?

I’ve bunched these together because they’re in the same realm of stationery for the day. All of them direct guests where they’re sitting to eat – you won’t need these at all if you’re having a relaxed buffet-style meal where anyone can sit where they like! It’s sometimes nice to have a planned table for a few reasons:

  1. You can plan in advance for wheelchairs, highchairs and anticipate any potential accessibility issues to make your guests feel as comfortable and stress-free as possible
  2. You can mix up social groups to get your guests to mingle
  3. A sit-down meal feels special and relaxed before the festivities ahead.

Once again though, I encourage you to do what you both want and what your budget allows!

Okay, so here’s an explanation of each thing:

Table plans – These show a map of each table, it’s name, vague location and who is going to be sat on it

Menus – These display what’s on offer for your guests to eat. Often they’ve chosen well in advance so they might like something to jog their memory!

Table names or numbers – This simply differentiates one table from another. Often couples choose names which reflect their over-arching wedding theme, such as cities, books or films.

Escort cards – These can be displayed on a welcome table and incorporate both the guest name and table name/number on to one card.

What budget should we have for On-The-Day Stationery?

This depends on which items you choose, quantities and materials. Some couples opt for a perspex or wood welcome sign, for example, which is more expensive than paper. I’d recommend setting aside 30-40% of your wedding stationery budget.

Wedding stationery guide - picture of a wedding invitation

Thank You Cards

What are they?

These not only thank your guests for coming along to your wedding, but for any gifts they may have given you too.

What format should the Thank You Cards be?

Again you can opt for email, but I’d really push for something printed here as a keepsake. You could choose your favourite wedding photograph or something memorable about the day. In one wedding recently, the groom surprised the bride with fireworks, so they chose to reflect that in their signature illustrative style on their thank you cards.

When should we send Thank You Cards?

When you get a chance amongst that post-wedded bliss! If you’re waiting for the photographs to come back, going on honeymoon and adjusting to married life, I anticipate it’d be 4-6 weeks after you tie the knot.

What budget should we have for Wedding Invitations and RSVPs?

I’d recommend saving 5-10% of your wedding stationery budget for thank you cards, including postage.

Wedding stationery guide - picture of a wedding invitation

My Top Tips

Whatever you choose to do, your wedding stationery can really reflect you both. Don’t opt for run-of-the-mill – get one-off suites that are truly bespoke and embody your love story.

Make your aesthetic consistent. Once you’ve settled on your look, carry it through everything. It’ll get guests excited on the lead up and help them on the day as they’ll be able to recognise signage. If you do choose to have on-the-day printed stationery, then this helps build the visual style across your venue and will be reflected in all of your beautiful wedding photography.

If you’re into social media, create a fun hashtag so that photos taken by your guests on the day are collated together. You’ll do lots of mingling and hosting so it’s amazing to look back at the magic moments around the room that you might have missed. Put that hashtag on your stationery before and during the event to encourage your guests to use it and capture the whole journey in one feed.

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