where do I start?


Getting all the information together prior to searching, selecting, and sealing your order need not be a painful process.  Invitations are like small teasers that bring a taste of the wedding or event celebration to your guest’s front door!  Your invitations will reflect you, those involved and/or honoured in your event, and the event itself.  This is your opportunity to personalize your event to every one of your guest’s all at the same time.  Nothing else in your wedding or event planning carries such an overwhelming initial impact and first impression.  So have fun with it!  Do your research!  Share your ideas!  Allow your invitations to speak for you and your event! 


The best way to begin is to decide on what you need.  Here are a few questions you should be able to answer in the course of your planning:


  • How would I describe my wedding or event in 25 words or less?

  • What is the theme of my wedding or event?

  • What colours, shapes, seasons, time periods reflect in my wedding or event?

  • What do I want my invitations to say?

  • What do I want my invitations to say without words? (Try to think of your invitation without any words written anywhere)

  • What colours, sizes, styles do I NOT want reflected in my wedding or event?

  • What additional components do I want to include with the invitation and/or incorporate at the wedding event (ie. Wedding invitation-themed seating cards or programs?)

  • What ‘look’ do I want for my invitation? How would I describe it in one word?

  • How many invitations will I need?

  • Will I have my invitations printed or should I use a calligrapher?

  • Should I send out Save-The-Date-Cards?

  • How formal or casual will my wedding or event be?  Do my invitations reflect this?

  • What is my invitations budget?

  • Is all the information finalized?  What things may still change?

Obviously the list can go on and on.  The important thing to remember is that this is your event.  Small details may alter some small elements of your invitation, but you must feel comfortable with the look and style and feel of your event as seen from the perspective of your invitations.  If you are having trouble finding the ‘right’ invitation, consult any of the invitation designers that have invitation collections closest to the styles that do appeal to you. Oftentimes, your invitation may be out there, you just may need a hand in scoping it out!


Good invitation designers recognize the importance of finding the right invitation that suits you and your wedding or event.  You should never feel pressured or intimidated into selecting an invitation that you are not fully comfortable with.




what are the main components of a wedding invitation?


There are a lot of components that can be added to your wedding invitation depending on the type of wedding, guests, budget, and style of your wedding celebration.  We’ve broken down some of the essential elements including a list of additional components to give you a flavour of the types of components that may be included with your invitation and/or follow your invitation style.  


Essential Components: 


  1. The Outer Envelope

§      Anchors your ‘invitation package’.  This is your guest’s first impression of your wedding once they pick up their mail!

§      It is a good idea to have your return address printed on the back flap of the envelope in the same lettering as your invitation.

§      Your guest’s address may be handwritten neatly or written using the services of a calligrapher.


  1. The Inner Envelope

§      Historically, inner envelopes were created to provide added protection to the contents of letters or invitations.  That is, the outer envelope often suffered quite a bit of wear and tear between destinations, so the inner envelope would preserve the contents while identifying the recipient in case the original address information wore away.

§      The need for an inner envelope no longer exists, but the romantic tradition remains.  Nowadays, the inner envelope identifies only the invitees within the household (For example: Mr. & Mrs. Wilhelm Schneider).  No address is written on the inner envelope.  All contents of your invitation package are placed inside the inner envelope.  Usually the inner envelope back flap is left folded, but unsealed.


  1. The Invitation

§      The most essential component of your invitation package.  If your invitation is a folded card, all other components should be placed inside the invitation.  If this is not possible, or your invitation consist of a one sided card, place all other components on top of the invitation.  The goal here is to make the invitation package as neat and tidy as possible.


  1. The RSVP, Response, or Reply Card

§      Just as important as the invitation, the size and expense of your wedding is largely determined by RSVP cards.

§      RSVP cards usually contain a blank line where the guest fills in his/her name and indicates the number of persons attending from his/her party.  Usually an addressed and pre-stamped envelope is included to encourage your guest to respond as soon as possible.

§      RSVP cards can contain other information such as multiple dining options which must be chosen, or spaces for comments, requests, feedback etc.  A common tip is to lightly number each RSVP card with a corresponding guest/invitation list.  That way, if any RSVP card is returned blank without the sender’s information, you’ll know exactly which guest it is.

§      RSVP sizes are usually much smaller than invitations and contain an appropriately-sized return envelope.


Additional Components:


  1. Reception Card

§      For weddings where the ceremony and reception are not at the same place, an additional card may be required to inform your guests of the name and address of the reception hall.

§      This card may include information on parking, written directions, smoking rules, and the time of the event(s) (ie. Cocktails, greeting lines, seating times etc.)

§      Usually this card is the size of the RSVP card.


  1. Directions Card

§      If your ceremony and reception are not well know to any or all of your guests, it is proper etiquette to provide detailed directions to and from the sites.

§      Directions cards may be as simple or as detailed as appropriate to the scale of the wedding celebration.  If you have out-of-town guests, you may wish to include hotel information/directions, suggestions on where to rent a car or call a taxi, maps or drawings in additional to written directions etc. 

§      The information on this card is a service to your guests.  Use your own common sense to determine what information should be included.


  1. Program

§      A program reflects the chronology of events which will occur during your wedding day.  Regardless of what traditional and non-traditional elements may or may not be included in your particular wedding day plans, a program adds a nice touch and air of sophistication to your celebration.

§      Programs offer a high degree of creativity that can really stun and impress your guests.  You may wish to match your programs with your wedding invitation colours/styles.  You can present them as a scroll or booklet on the day of your wedding

§      Program information can include a chronology of events, speakers, locations, dance lists, greetings from family, messages from the bride and groom, and even credits or special information for guests.


  1. Announcement Card

§      The purpose of these cards is to ‘announce’ the joyous event of your marriage to absentee guests.  Usually, guests who live far away or could not attend due to other reasons are sent announcement cards immediately after the wedding

§      Announcement cards are simple and elegant.  They may consist of your names, the wedding date, the location, and a small quotation or greeting from you and your spouse.


  1. Save-The-Date-Card

§      Also called engagement cards, these cards serve two purposes.  The first is to announce your joint intent to marry and the second is to inform the guests to ‘save the [wedding] date’ on their calendars

§      These cards are a more recent addition to invitation components as engagement times are lasting longer and longer with many modern couples.  It is important that these cards contain the wedding date, location, and hotel/transportation information for guests.


  1.  Seating Cards

§      Seating cards may be used to identify the proper spaces each guest should be seated at.  These cards may be made for both the ceremony and the reception. Ceremony cards are also known as ‘pew cards’, whereas reception cards are considered ‘place cards’. 

§      There are many variations of seating cards.  Some seating cards are simply number cards, while others may only discern ‘bride’s side’ and ‘groom’s side’, or even state the full name of the guest. 

§      Seating cards are usually small in size and may be folded horizontally.  They usually match the invitation style exactly or coordinate you’re your wedding colours.


  1.  Thank You Cards

§      It is not only proper etiquette, but an expectation that the newlywed couple sends out Thank You cards.  Your guests’ wedding or shower gifts should be acknowledged in this form (even in addition to other personalized expressions of gratitude).

§     Thank You cards have evolved over the years.  The traditional card used to be a small book-folding card no bigger than 3”-5” containing a small handwritten expression of gratitude on one side, and a wallet-size wedding picture on the other size. 

§      Some modern alternatives include: Postcards that features a collage of wedding pictures on one side and a gratitude expression of the reverse; Cards that emulate the style and format of the invitation but contain the gratitude expression instead (picture may or may not be included); or the utilization of digital picture printing or even electronic Thank You cards.  Note: Electronic Thank You cards should always follow in conjunction with printed cards.

  1. Residence Cards

§      Also called “At Home Cards”, Residence cards are an elegant way to communication your new home or residence together to all your friends and family. 

§      These are small cards that may be sent with invitations or shortly after the wedding.  They should include your names, your new home or residence address, phone number, and move-in date.


  1.  Website Cards

§      First, a bit of background: Many companies offer ‘free web space’ on the internet where you can design a website using some generic templates.  Some of these companies are wedding-themed and offer couples an easy and ‘low-tech’ way of constructing a “wedding website.”  The advantages of a “wed site” are numerous.  You can personalize a space on the internet that is accessible by anyone in the world through the internet.  You can update it with pictures, wedding details, gift registry information, quotations, letters, stories, and even solicit creative contributions from family and friends.

§      Website cards are physical cards that can be included with your invitations directing your guests to your “wed site”.  Essentially the cards contain your names, the website address (http://www.) and your email address(es).


  1.  Electronic Cards

§      Theoretically, any of these components can be duplicated electronically.  While the possibility of exploring electronic alternatives to physical cards is a tempting one, it is not recommended. 

§      Weddings are still considered formal and traditional events.  Even if every one of your guests is an active user of the internet, electronic cards and greetings should always be sent in conjunction with physical cards. 

§      Acceptance of electronic cards as substitutes for invitations or invitation components is not yet a reality.


  1.  Registry Cards

§      Many retail companies accustomed to registries print and offer their own special ‘registry cards’ that displays their logo.  A registry card announces an active registry with a retailer. 

§      There is still controversy over whether information regarding gift registries is better communicated through word-of-mouth rather than through invitations.  At present, gift registry cards are quite normal and ubiquitous in the wedding invitation world.  Ultimately, it is a personal choice to make.



when do I place an order?


As timelines go, you should probably consider your invitations a top priority in planning your wedding or event.  To ensure the fullest possible attendance for your wedding or event, invitations must be ordered and sent during the correct window of time appropriate for the type of event. 


Generally speaking, the earlier you start looking for your invitation, the better. Once you have a guest list and know when and where your event will take place, you are ready to place your order.  For a wedding or bar/bat mitzvah, it would be safe to start your search at least six to twelve months prior to the event.  You should place your order at least three to four months before the event.  For less formal events like birthday celebrations and showers, you can risk a little less time in planning and placing an order.  To avoid unexpected changes, mistakes, and headaches, try and place your order as soon as possible!



when do I send my invitations?


Generally speaking, for an event like a wedding, invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks before the event itself. If there are other factors such as events over the holidays or events requiring many on your guests to make flight arrangements to attend, you should try and send out your invitations ten to twelve weeks in advance.  Alternately, you can send out a Save-The-Date-Card earlier and then follow the normal timeline for your invitations.  Again, for less formal events, it is appropriate to send invitations approximately four to six weeks in advance. 


Ultimately the choice is yours as long as you consider the farthest your guests will have to travel and the nature or formality of your event.  When in doubt, use a little common sense and always err on the side of caution.



how many invitations do I order?


This is probably the most challenging question as the guest list is always in danger of fluctuating between too few and too many!


Many invitation designers limit the sizes of invitation orders to various quantity thresholds.  For instance you may only be able to order invitations in multiples of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 50.  Sometimes there are also minimum order sizes imposed which may force you to buy more than you really need if your wedding or event is a small one. 

To arrive at a close approximation of the exact number of invitations needed, consider a healthy buffer of extra invitations.  The precise amount of ‘extras’ is up to you and the type of event you are hosting or planning.  Here are some common situations where extras may be needed:


  • Invitations are returned to sender due to wrong address, or incorrect address on envelope

  • Last minute additions to guest list(s)

  • Invitations that were ‘lost in the mail’ that may need to be resent

  • Souvenirs for scrapbooking or framing as gifts for loved ones

Depending on what stage you are at in finalizing your guest list, you may want to ‘guess’ at the total number of invitations required if pressed for time.  Consider some of the ‘rules’ on who should get invitations: 


  • Married couples require only one invitation

  • Families with children under 18 require only one invitation

  • Children over 18 living with family should either be included on the family invitation (outer envelope) or receive a separate invitation

  • Friends living in the same home together should each receive a separate invitation

  • Extended family members living at home require separate invitations

When you are ready to place your order, have all your wedding or event details and facts worked out.  Even if you don’t know exactly how many guests you will finally have, try to arrive at a reasonable estimate and include a few extra invitations with your order.  At the very least, extra invitations make beautiful and thoughtful gifts or souvenirs.  You could consider framing them and presenting them as keepsakes to the bride’s or groom’s parents and/or special honoured guests after the wedding or event.  Either way, you’ll be glad you ordered the extras.




how do I handle baby announcements and/or adoption announcements?


This is a situation where you will be thrilled that you did some advance planning.  For baby announcements, you probably should start shopping around when you are five to seven months pregnant.  Try and look for one neutral design or two separate designs that appeal to you if you don’t know the gender of your child.


If you do know the child’s gender, you may still want to opt for a neutral card.  It is a good idea to place your order well ahead of time.  Once the baby arrives, you can send your invitation designer all the information on your new baby (name, birthdate, weight) as a final step.  Then your announcement cards will be ready to print and then mailed out within weeks of your child’s birth!


Adoption announcements operate no differently from baby announcements.  The only additional information added is the “Arrival Date” in addition to “Birth Date”.   For older children, you can even include their name change on your announcement card.




who assembles my invitations?


Most invitation designers do not have the time and resources dedicated to assembling invitations.  Therefore few companies will assemble your invitations as the time and costs involved in labour make this practice impractical.  Your invitations may arrive as multiples of each component.  In this case, if your invitations contain multiples layers with ribbon, you would be responsible for folding, assembling and tying the ribbons for each invitation. 


Some invitation designers offer the added service of assembling your invitations.  It is usually included in the per invitation cost.  This is an advantage for those sophisticated invitations with multiple layers, eyelets, and ribbons.  However, you also may have the choice of opting to assemble your invitations yourself for a small cost savings.  It is best to find out what your invitations designer’s policy is in this area prior to ordering.  Regardless, don’t be afraid to ask what exactly is and is not assembled with your ‘completed’ order.  You need to know what to expect so that you don’t experience any unforeseen surprises when you receive your invitations.


Stuffing envelopes is not the same as assembly.  Nearly all invitation designers require that you stuff your own envelopes.  This can be a tricky task depending on the style and invitation format you’ve selected.  


Here are a few tips to keep in mind when stuffing your envelopes:


  • Any extra components such as RSVP cards, receptions cards, and/or donation cards should be placed directly on top of the card. Usually the response card is placed on top of the other components tucked under the flap of its stamped envelope.

  • If you are choosing to include an inner envelope with your invitation, place all components into the inner envelope with your main invitation facing upwards.  It should be the first thing your guest sees when opening the envelope.  Then place the inner envelope inside the outer envelope, with your guest's name(s) facing the back so that the name(s) are immediately visible when the envelope is opened.

  • Return addresses are usually printed in the same font and colour as the rest of your invitation, centered on the back flap of the envelope.  Your complete address should be printed.  Traditional etiquette rules dictate omitting your name from the return address, but the choice is ultimately yours

  • When your invitations are fully assembled, do not assume standard postage rates apply.  Check with your local postal outlet to ensure that you have the proper postage.  Square invitations, oversized invitations and heavy invitations usually require additional postage. 

  • Also, check with your postal outlet to insure that your invitations units are cancelled by hand rather than being run through the bar-coding machines.  While efficient in sorting regular mail, postal bar-coding machines may leave unsightly markings on your envelope or even damage your invitations before they arrive in your guest’s mailbox!  

Don’t settle for the default stamps!  Check with your local postal outlet to see what other stamps are available in the denomination you require.  Sometimes you may be able to find stamps that match the colours and/or theme of your invitation.  The cost is the same, but your invitations will have a much nicer touch that will surely separate them from the rest of your guest’s incoming mail!





When you see the listed prices of custom invitations and custom stationery  components, it is important to understand how these prices are arrived at.  Many custom invitation companies aren't quite as forthcoming with respect to their pricing.  This is understandable considering how competitive the invitation industry is.  One of the advantages of being a leader in the custom niche of the invitation world is our ability to cover this and related topics on our website.

After all, we feel - as customers - you need to be confident you are making an informed decision when ready to purchase.  To that end, we've broken down some of the factors involved in the pricing of custom invitations. 


Material alone account for the largest proportion of the per invitation cost. Reputable custom invitation companies do not have the luxury of substituting high end materials with passable lower end stationery.  Using high-end, top quality materials is critical to the creation of your perfect invitation.  It's fairly easy to spot the difference between a quality invitation and a substitute.  The following costs may be factored into the material cost:

  • Ribbons - On a typical invitation, wider (non-standard) ribbon widths may be used which often carry additional costs.  Also, the quality of ribbon varies greatly.  Anything less than double-faced satin isn't something you want on your invitations and stationery.  Also, ribbon manufacturers are found all over the world.  A good custom invitation design house will know exactly where to find the best imported ribbon suitable for a specific design.

  • Seals - Where seals are used, look out for companies that use "real wax" seals.  Real wax makes a beautiful seal, but if you're planning on mailing your invitations, beware as many will break in the mail and the impact of your whole invitation package will suffer as a result.  We did an experiment once where we sent out 50 wax sealed invitations by mail to various preset locations.  All but two arrived at their destination with broken and crumbled wax.  A good substitute for wax seals are replica self-adhesive seals.  The highest quality replica seals are molded out of high quality plastics which allows for extra durability and resilience in the mail, while still maintaining the singular elegance that only a seal can bring. 

  • Cover Papers -  Many papers consist of thick, embossed, high-quality, patterned and/or textured colours, sizes, and styles.  What does that mean, exactly?  Well, when you run your hand across the outer invitation paper, you should feel the quality of the cardstock.  Some cardstock has a unique shimmer, texture, or deckled edge. The best cardstocks are originally imported European papers from renowned paper mills in Italy, France, and Germany.  Many of these paper mills are still family-run operations by the descendants of their founders.

  • Inner Papers/Overlay Papers -  Inner papers often have the same attributes as cover papers.  However, they can also be thinner and include various shades of vellum or translucent papers.

  • Envelopes - Matching envelopes are also sized according to your invitation selections.  Ideally, an invitation should fit snugly into a matching and/or coordinating envelope.  Depending on the size of your invitation, a custom-sized envelope may be required which can also add to the package cost since it's not a 'standard' size.  White or Ivory are still the standard colours.  Of course, custom designers offer envelopes in a multitude of colours, shade, styles, shapes, linings, and sizes.  Non-standard envelopes often result in additional costs. 

  • Adhesives - Professional invitation designers use proper adhesives for each step of your invitation and stationery construction.  Some parts of your invitation (ie. decorative embellishment) may have a self-adhesive backing, while others may require a few dabs from a glue gun.  However, the majority of your invitation materials should be professionally attached with special commercial adhesives not found in your local craft shop.  Adhesives remain an integral component material of proper invitation construction and also an added expense (but well worth it for the perfectly assembled invitation!)


The next significant cost is in the labour.  The process of proofing, cutting, folding, printing, and assembly of the invitation and related materials is also factored into the cost.

  • Proofing - Most reputable custom invitation design houses will work with you until your completely satisfied with your wording and typeface/font design style.  Formatting text for every component in your order may be a labourious process under a normal timeline (let alone in a rush situation or if there's a lot of 'back-and-forth" proofing). 

  • Putting It All Together - The best custom designers offer full/near-full assembly of your invitations and stationery.  There's a lot of steps involved in this stage of your order.  Often several people/service providers may be involved with your order construction on the back-end.  This means a lot coordinating and quality control steps to ensure your invitation is perfect!  Even assembly is a tricky process that requires skilled hands and a lot of patience.  At Laura Paladino, we have one assembler who is skilled in and thus solely responsible for tying ribbons into bows.  While it may seem frivolous, it's important to realize that the visual impact of properly constructed invitations is one-chance-per-guest opportunity.  In most cases, all you'll have to do is address, stuff, and mail your invitations! 

We hope this gives you a better understanding of how custom invitations are priced.  Of course other factors such as overhead costs, packaging, marketing, etc. are general considerations that play a role as well. 



how can I reduce the cost of my invitations (Custom Work Only)?


High quality invitations can be quite costly.  Factors such as paper and envelope materials, decorative accessories, labour, printing, and level of customization make up the fixed costs of your invitation order.  However, there are ways in which you can reduce some of the other costs involved without compromising on the quality and/or choice of invitation.  Here are a few things you can do to get those invitations to fit into your wedding or event budget:


  • Black Ink: If your invitation designer is also printing your invitations, consider selecting invitation styles and models that use black ink.  Colour ink is usually costlier than traditional black.  If you have your heart set on a particular invitation line which uses colour ink, ask if it is possible to print your order in black instead.  Black is still a very formal colour that is acceptable and in many cases the preferred print colour for many invitation and stationery designes.  You may be able to have the perfect invitation and save a little bit on the per invitation cost!

  • Unprinted Option: You can save some money by having only certain components like the invitation card and RSVP card printed, while items such as envelopes and seating cards can be handwritten without damaging the impact of your invitation.  Perhaps you can call upon a friend or relative who is skilled in fine penmanship or calligraphy!

  • Invitation Component Alternatives: Save money on postage by using an RSVP postcard instead of an RSVP card and envelope. Postcards are almost always less expensive.

  • Mixing & Matching:  Consider making your own seating cards or selecting an inexpensive seating card style!  There is no rule that a seating card must match the type and style or your invitation.  The same is true of programs and other components.  Remember some invitation designers sell the same paper and supplies, which are used in their invitation lines and collections.

  • Choose & Order Early:  As soon as you have a date and place, you are ready to order!  Costly mistakes are often made because of rushed invitation orders.  Time is a critical resource for invitation designers.  Last minute custom changes, reprinting or missed component ordering may devastate your budget. 

  • Customize: Customizing does not necessarily mean spending more money!  There are countless varieties of invitation stationery.  Sometimes you may be able to opt for a thinner stock paper, or a non-embossed cover paper for your chosen invitation that looks nearly identical to the thicker, embossed version.   You’ll even save on postage, as heavier invitations cost more to mail!

  • Stick To Simplicity:  Invitations that fold and/or contain covers, pockets, multiple layers etc. tend to cost more than single card styles.  Remember simple is still elegant!

  • Add Extra To Your Order:  The number one rule regarding invitation ordering is always order more than you think you need.  You never know when you'll need to add another guest to your list.  Also, consider ordering a few extra envelopes in case you make any errors when addressing.  Remember these things cost A LOT more when you have to order them at the last minute!

  • Discount Thresholds: Look for quantity, subtotal, bundle discounts.  It may be better to bump your order o qualify for a higher discount threshold – and you’ll have extras in case you need them.

  • Combining Components: You don’t always need to have separate components for your invitation.  For example, if your ceremony and reception are at the same location, you could probably combine the information on your invitation.

These are just a few tips.  If you are having trouble finding the right invitation to suit your budget, always contact the invitation designers and ask for some help.  A good invitation designer will be able to work within any reasonable budget. 





Yes!  There are a number of resources available to help you get your invitation and stationery wording just right!  There are a few online websites that offer help choosing the right wording or verse.  To get you started, we've assembled a few of our more popular wording choices in a few samples for wedding invitations and response cards.   You can view these by clicking here.


Alternately, visit our LINKS page for a listing of some of the resources that may be able to help you find what you're looking for.  If you still can't find the right wording, try a general internet search on Yahoo! or Google.