Want to please your guests? When it comes to wedding stationery, it turns out that over half of guests prefer to receive a handwritten invitation
New research by Royal Mail has highlighted just how important the written word is – post is still the preferred way for the bride and groom to communicate with their guests. Of those questioned, 52% of guests prefer receiving a physical invite to all wedding-related events; from the save the date to the post-wedding thank you note. Many like to receive an invitation as it means they can display it in their home.
Etiquette expert Jo Bryant extolls the virtues of a handwritten note. “In our fast-paced digital age, beautifully designed and worded invitations and letters received by post have never made more of an impact. Add the sense of excitement that a wedding brings, and it is clear to see why the written word is still everyone’s favourite method of communication for such a milestone event.”
When it comes to written wedding etiquette, here are some of Jo’s top tips:
She said yes!
Engagement parties are held as soon as is practical and convenient after the proposal. Everyone who is invited should also be on the wedding guest list, so think carefully before you send out the party invitations.
It is convenient for guests to receive save-the-date cards so they can plan accordingly. For UK weddings, send them around six months in advance; for destination weddings, give guests 10–12 months’ notice.
The wedding invitation gives your guests a first glimpse of the look and feel of the wedding; make sure your stationery reflects the style of the day. It is sophisticated and practical to keep all your wedding stationery consistent not only in design, but also in the formality and style of the wording.
Remember, invitations are important documents, providing guests with all the key information: location, timings, RSVP details and sometimes a dress code.
Order spares of all your stationery to allow for mishaps and mistakes – don’t forget, too, that you will want to keep a copy of everything as a keepsake.
Choose the best quality card possible for your invitations. Guests may put them on display at home (for example on the mantelpiece, kitchen pinboard etc), and will refer back to them before and on the big day.
Write invitations, thank you letters and envelopes in proper ink. Black or blue is traditional but, if it suits your style of stationery, make a statement with a more contemporary colour.
Writing lots of invitations and envelopes can be tiring, so approach the task in small batches to avoid mistakes. Double-check tricky spellings and, if possible, find out the names of guests’ partners rather than writing ‘and guest’.
Guests’ names are written in the top left-hand corner of the save-the-date cards and invitations, unless there is a dedicated space/line for them.
Keep a detailed log of who has received invitations and who has sent a reply. It is surprisingly easy to get in a muddle, which only adds to the planning stress.
If the venue is very small, more guests can be invited to the evening portion of the reception. These evening-only guests should receive specially worded invitations specifying this.
Add personality and elegance by using a professional calligrapher to write the guests’ names on the invitations or, if budget allows, to address the envelopes too.
Think about how formal or informal you want to be, and word your invitations accordingly. For example, you need to choose between writing guests’ first names or using the more formal ‘Mr and Mrs’ etc on the invitations.
Enclosing reply cards with the invitations, for guests to fill in and send back, can help with admin (or ‘wed-min!’) Alternatively, it is usual nowadays to include both written and email RSVP details on the invitation.
In addition to your postal invitations, a dedicated wedding website can help guests find out more details, for example, about accommodation, transport and logistics.
Send your other half a wedding-morning letter. The romance of putting pen to paper creates a lasting memory and keepsake and beats a text message every time.
Thank you thoughts
Thank you letters for wedding presents should be handwritten and sent as soon as possible after the honeymoon or, if the couple is going away later, after the wedding.