What's Included In a Wedding Invitation Suite: A Guide
Before you buy every pretty piece of wedding stationery in sight, determine your needs first. Factors like the size of your guest list, the timeline of the wedding day, and your budget can affect what to include in your wedding invitations. After all, a wedding invitation suite is more than just the invite—you'll also need save-the-date cards, RSVP cards, reception cards, wedding programs, menu cards, place cards and thank-you cards.
Wedding stationery is a great opportunity to personalize your nuptials, so don't be afraid to get creative with colors and designs. It's helpful to establish a thread of consistency—like the color, theme or motif—and apply it to each piece of paper. For efficiency and cost effectiveness, strive to order all your stationery needs from the same place and, ideally, at the same time. Both stationers and online retailers (like our very own stationery marketplace, The Knot Invitations) offer the below items. Here's everything you need to know about what to include in your wedding invitations.
What to Include in a Wedding Invitation Suite
Since the various elements of wedding invitations might be overwhelming, we're here to help. Below is a checklist of all the items you'll likely need for your day.
If you're unfamiliar with a term, keep scrolling—we've broken down what each item is; plus, ideas on how to personalize each element.
- Response cards
- Reception cards
- Wedding programs
- Menu cards
- Place cards
- Thank-you cards
Save-the-date cards are the first piece of stationery you'll be sending out to your guests. They're a casual notice to ask guests to hold your wedding date on their calendars (hence the name, save-the-date).
Save-the-dates are typically a double-sided postcard or a one-sided card that announces your wedding. They list your names, the location of the wedding (the town or the venue) and the date.
Couples are getting more creative with their save-the-dates by opting for personalized details. Send out an illustration of yourselves, a photo of where you got engaged or a map of the city the wedding will be in.
When to Order Save-the-Dates:
Save-the-dates are a way to ensure your guests keep their schedule free of conflicts on your wedding day. As such, it's better to order them earlier rather than later. You can order your save-the-dates eight to 12 months before your wedding date.
When to Send Save-the-Dates
As a general rule, send the save-the-dates out six to eight months ahead of the wedding date. That will give your guests plenty of time to arrange accommodations, flights and child care (if necessary). If you're hosting a destination wedding, give your guests more time to prepare by sending your save-the-dates eight months in advance.
The centerpiece of your wedding stationery, the invitation reflects the tone of your wedding, whether black tie or beach party. An invitation can have several pieces: the outer envelope, an unsealed inner envelope (to protect the contents), the invitation, a reception card (if the party is held at a different venue than the ceremony) and a response card with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Printed maps and information on hotels is often also enclosed.
Usually, invitations are heavy stock, 100% cotton or linen paper in white or ecru, engraved with black or charcoal ink, and with a square of tissue to protect the type.
More couples are steering away from the standard invitation and using papers in fun sizes, colors and textures (perhaps relating to the color scheme of the wedding). Finding unique wedding invitations that feel true to you, the couple, is a great way to get your guests excited for your nuptials. Waste-conscious couples often forgo the unsealed inner envelope, skip the reply card card in lieu of online RSVPs (courtesy of The Knot wedding websites), or opt for seed-infused paper to cut down on waste.
When to Order Wedding Invitations:
Send out your wedding invitations three to four months before the wedding date. The sooner you order them, the more time you'll have to proof them, make any changes and address the outer envelopes.
When to Send Wedding Invitations:
Six weeks before the date is the most common time to send out wedding invites, but eight weeks is ideal (10 weeks for guests coming from abroad). Psst: You'll have more leeway if you send save-the-date cards first.
Your wedding RSVP cards (which guests use to indicate if they're coming to your wedding) are sent with your invitations with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Wedding RSVP cards often ask each guest to check a box letting couples know how many people will attend the wedding. A date for the return of the reply card is essential so that you can give a headcount to your venue and caterer. It's best practice to add postage to the reply cards to make the process easier for your guests.
Since many people have dietary concerns, wedding RSVP cards often include the menu options so that guests can check off what they wish to eat that day—and so the caterer can be fully prepared for the number of vegetarian, vegan or other special meals that need to be cooked. If you're planning a wedding weekend, the RSVP card wording will often include a list of activities with check boxes so that guests can let the couple know which events (such as an outdoor barbecue or a golf outing) they plan to attend.
When to Order Wedding RSVP Cards:
Ordering your wedding RSVP cards with your invitations is easiest. That way, you have everything you need.
These are cards sent with the wedding invitation to inform guests where the reception will take place after the ceremony.
Typically, these small cards ask guests to join the newlyweds and their families for a celebratory reception. It gives the date, time and place.
Since this is an invitation to a party, feel free to play with fonts and designs (like a motif or monogram) on this card. Some couples add the reception details on the actual invitation and skip this card altogether.
When to Order Reception Cards:
Again, it's best to order the reception cards with your invitations.
Not only can wedding programs provide useful information, but they also make charming mementos. Programs are often in the form of a small booklet and include information about the ceremony, such as the date, the names of the wedding party (and perhaps their relationships to the couple), the order of events and the titles of readings and songs. Couples may also use the program to honor deceased loved ones, to thank important people and/or to explain unfamiliar rites of the ceremony.
Wedding programs are booklets that traditionally bear the couple's names or joint initials on the front cover.
A less expensive option is a single piece of heavy-stock paper (if you want to dress it up, you can add a vellum overlay, tied together with a ribbon reflecting your color scheme). Some couples include their favorite poetry or the story of how they met or got engaged. Other couples craft creative programs, such as ones shaped as fans (which are especially popular for beach or summer weddings).
When to Order Wedding Programs:
If the programs will be formal and multi-paged, it's best to order them with your invitations. Otherwise, order four to six weeks before the wedding date.
Menu cards are becoming more popular, as guests typically enjoy knowing what kind of food will be served.
Menu cards are often designed as a single card in a heavy cotton stock in a rectangular shape and contain the elements of the meal, including beverage options.
Menu cards are a great place to explain your personalized wedding menu. List why you've chosen a particular dish if it has cultural or personal significance (like it's your go-to date night food option). Drink cards (listing the five martinis available to guests, for instance) are cards that stand at the bar.
When to Order Menu Cards:
Order your wedding menu cards at least six weeks before the wedding day.
Place cards inform guests which chair to sit in. (Escort cards direct people to their assigned tables.)
Place cards are small, tented cards that are printed with each guest's name and placed at the top of every setting.
You can choose to use any kind of prop you like to tell guests where to sit: small stones with painted names, the tag of each favor, or even a die-cut flower to enhance your wedding aesthetic. Or, you can skip assigned seating altogether if you'd rather group people at tables and let them choose their seats.
When to Order Place Cards:
Order your wedding place cards with your invitations (or buy them about four weeks before the wedding day).
The Knot Note: Instead of writing each guest's table assignment on the escort card itself, slip the card into a small envelope that's tagged with a table number. This way, you can easily swap guests' table assignments up until the last second.
These handwritten notes—from both of you—should thank guests for their gifts and/or presence at your wedding.
Thank-you cards traditionally say "thank you" or have your new married monogram and address stenciled into them.
One creative and thoughtful idea is a picture card or postcard with your wedding photo (or a photo of all the guests at the ceremony) on the front.
When to Order Thank-You Cards:
Order your thank-you cards with your invitations. That way, everything will match and you won't have to worry about your selected pattern going out of stock. If you're using a picture from the wedding, order them right after your nuptials so you can send them out in time.
When to Send Thank-You Cards:
Send your wedding thank-you cards no later than one month after your honeymoon for gifts you received the day of your wedding. You should ideally send thank-you notes out immediately for any gifts received before the wedding day.
Updated July 2020