Lately, my email inbox has felt like the Wild West. Every hour seems to present a different type of question, ranging from “we’d like to book you last minute” to “how do I know what to order” to “we’d like to learn about your postponement policy.” The most common question I’ve been getting has been “how late can I order invitations?”. It’s all over the place! And I get it — it’s for good reason. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now still for couples planning in the midst of COVID, vaccination rollouts, and inconsistent state-by-state protocols for events. I get that waiting as long as possible to decide about your wedding taking place as planned makes sense! So, in this blog I’ll be answering some of the common questions I’m fielding lately, so you’re ready to go with stationery, no matter what your event protocol looks like.
How do I know what to order?
Wedding invitations can feel overwhelming, and there are lots of moving parts. Remember that above all else, your stationery has to communicate key information to your guests. So here are the must-haves:
- The key nuts and bolts information: names, date, time, location of the wedding. If your reception isn’t in the same location as your ceremony, traditional etiquette suggests an added card with your reception information.
- A response card. With so much still changing daily, I’m encouraging all my clients to collect not just names but email address(es) for their guests. That way, if something happens at the very last minute, you’re not left scrambling to track people down.
- For a 2021 event, some acknowledgement of current events. Explain any expectations/protocols that will be in place for your celebration. Convey that the most updated information may be found on your wedding website, should plans need to be adjusted. This is best done on an added card, which may be combined with reception/travel/website information.
In terms of style, colors, print method, envelope addressing, and bells and whistles, this is all based on your vision for the big day and your budget! It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. I offer complimentary video consultations for anyone thinking about the semi-custom collection. We’ll talk through your color palette and vibe for the big day, as well as your overall guest count and budget. I’ll put together a personalized shopping list with everything we talked about, to make checkout a breeze!Schedule my free chat with Leah
Bonus: There’s also more stationery you’ll likely want than just the “must haves” with your invitation. I’ve created a FREE stationery checklist as a download, that walks you through every aspect of your wedding stationery from save the dates to thank you notes, with everything in between.Download my free checklist
How late can I order invitations?
It’s totally understandable that couples want as much time to decide about their wedding happening as possible before ordering printed materials reflecting a certain date. I get it and to be honest, if I were engaged right now, I’d be wondering “how late can I order invitations,” too! Your timeline for ordering is going to be affected by three things:
- the type of invitations you want to order
- any embellishments/upgraded printing you want to incorporate
- how far in advance you want to mail
Let’s take each of these factors, one by one.
The type of invitations you want to order
- Fastest: online from a big box store, knowing you may have to sacrifice on some things (2-3 weeks from when you need them in-hand)
- Still pretty fast: online from an indie stationery designer’s semi-custom line (4-6 weeks from when you need them in-hand)
- Slowest turnaround time: fully custom (8+ weeks from when you need them in-hand, bookings are often limited)
Embellishments/upgraded printing: Plan to add a bit of time if you’re going to have letterpress or foil stamped invitations, and/or if you plan to have your guest envelope addressing done by hand in calligraphy. I’d plan to add 1 week for each of these services to the above estimates. So as an example, for a semi-custom invitation that’s letterpress printed with envelope calligraphy, it could take closer to 6-8 weeks for total turnaround time.
How far in advance you want to mail: Typically, a mailing date is 8 weeks in advance of the wedding date. However, for a destination wedding, 10-12 weeks is more appropriate. Plus, you need to factor in a bit of time for you to assemble your invitations once you receive them, unless your stationery designer is handling this for you (which I offer exclusively for my custom clients).
So, how to determine this? My best advice is to work backward from your wedding date. Count back 8 (or more) weeks on the calendar to your mailing date. Count back another 1 week for your time to assemble them. Then, count back another _____ weeks, based on the type of invitation and embellishments you have your heart set on to determine a “must order by” date.
For my semi-custom collection, mailing 8 weeks out from your wedding, you need to place your order no later than 4 months in advance of your wedding date to get everything done and sent on time.
That being said, I have lots of clients who book earlier than their “deadline date” and right now are holding off on their printing/production process until the last minute. This way, they’re not scrambling, they have a vendor lined up with guaranteed availability, and they have the flexibility on timing in case of a change of plans. This turns “how late can I order invitations” into more of a question of “how late can we print your invitations” — with the guidance of a professional, on your team! It’s way less stressful this way!
Here’s a helpful chart — pin it as a reference:
What about a last-minute booking?
If you just read the section above and had an “oh crap” moment, feeling like you’re behind schedule, don’t stress! Vendors are here to help — you’ve got enough else to worry about with wedding planning right now… stationery timing shouldn’t be on the list.
If you need wedding invitations like yesterday and want to have personal service from a stationery designer, please book a complimentary consultation with me. There are ways to speed up the process, based on print method, and sometimes a rush production fee. I will do everything in my power to bust out your start-to-finish timing as quickly as possible!
We’re late… haaaalp!
What happens if we need to postpone?
So, this is the bummer question showing up still frequently in my inbox. And it’s fair. Right now, lots of my clients are electing to “hold” for print in light of ongoing uncertainty, until the last possible moment. This way, if we need to change one line (ahem, for a new date) before going to print, we can pop that change into an otherwise-complete design without any problems. No change fee from me to do this! While I haven’t had any clients postpone after printing, I’d offer reprinted invitations at a reduced rate to a client faced with this.
Taking the pressure off by booking your stationery vendor and establishing a relationship before it’s “crunch time” is a great idea. It allows you to get your design completed at a less frenetic pace, and you’ll be ready to go to print when the time is right, even if that means you’re sitting on a complete design for a bit. By ordering your invitations early, you’ll have a professional able to weigh in on when that print “deadline” is, based on your desired mailing date. This way, you have the longest time possible before having to decide if you’ll need to postpone without financial repercussions related to your invitations.
To sum up, here are some common questions I’ve been getting and helpful advice for each!
How do I know what to order? Download my free stationery checklist. Schedule a free consultation with me to talk through the semi-custom collection together — afterward, I’ll send you a personalized shopping list to make online checkout a breeze!
How late can I order invitations? Minimum 4 months before your wedding date for the semi-custom collection. Earlier is better!
What about a last-minute booking? I got you! Schedule a free consultation with me to talk about your options and we can make it happen, with some tweaks to print method and potentially a rush fee.
What happens if we need to postpone? Any client who’s booked with me will have my professional guidance about the last possible print date, so we can make any logistical changes as late in the game as possible — eliminating most postponement concerns. For anyone who has already gone to print before making this decision, I’m offering clients their reprints at a reduced rate.
So there’s a peek into my inbox lately, fielding “how late can I order invitations” and every other question under the sun. I’m honored to be a helpful resource to every couple I work with, under normal circumstances and unprecedented ones.