Let's face it - wedding planning is a huge whirlwind! Well, I'm here to make it as easy as I can for you as far as your wedding stationery deadlines to move everything along smoothly and get your paper pretties organized!
In general, you'll want to get in touch with your calligrapher/stationer about 10-11 months before the big day to secure their availability and production time. The design process for each piece takes quite a bit of time, as well as the printing and any additional pieces such as calligraphy addressing, etc.
Save the Dates
You want to send your save the dates out around 6 months before the wedding date for a non-destination wedding (about 8 months for a destination). Once you're in touch and have secured your stationer/designer/calligrapher, that design process would usually take about 5-7 weeks depending on their production schedule.
When I work with clients on custom save the dates, there's a total of three proofs and the client makes revisions on each one so I can design exactly what they're looking for. I give them a timeline with deadlines to stay on track with their stationery pieces and once the save the dates are done, we move on to the invitation suite!
In general, you want to get your responses back at least one month before the wedding date. This means that you want to send your invitations at least one month before that date to make sure they get to each guest. I always suggest that if you have an "A" list and a "B" list, to send out those A's at least 6 weeks from the date you want the responses back in order to have an appropriate amount of time to send those B list invites out.
For example, if your wedding is OCTOBER 1ST, you want your responses back by SEPTEMBER 1ST (at the latest). This means you want to send all of your invitations out by AUGUST 1ST. If you had an "A" list, that would be sent by JULY 24TH.
These include a main invitation card, reply card and inner and outer envelopes. To design each piece and send to production, the whole process takes about 8-10 weeks. You want to make sure that there's enough time (for you and your designer's sanity!) to make all necessary revisions.
3- PIECE SUITES:
These include a main invitation card, reply card, an informational card and inner and outer envelopes. To design each piece and send to production, the whole process takes about 9-12 weeks.
These include a main invitation card, reply card, informational card and map design, as well as inner and outer envelopes. For this design process, it'll add a few more weeks and would take around 12-14 weeks to create.
There are a few things that can delay the invitation process such as invitations that require extra assembly. These would include wax seals, ribbon or string tied, belly bands, etc. These can add 1-2 weeks depending on your designer.
Menus and programs are a great way to tie in the same design throughout your wedding. These items are usually a different design process and can take 3-6 weeks for design and production from beginning to end. Make sure to leave enough time for this and get your food/program details secured before designing!
More often than not, I get rush orders for the addressing because they didn't secure a calligrapher's time or only left a week to get it done before they need to go out. I always recommend that at least 3 weeks before, the calligrapher should have the envelopes and the final guest address list in hand.
Most brides don't think about signs until their final venue walk-through and by then, it's far too late! Guests can be easily confused with where to go, what's happening with the bar, what to do with the polaroid that's sitting on the table next to that book..
Always walk through your venue pretending to be a guest there for the first time. Is it obvious where the ceremony is? Is it obvious that that's the card and gift table? Is it obvious that it is or isn't an open bar?
About 4-5 weeks before the wedding, order all of your signs to make sure that all areas of your venue are covered for any wandering or confused guests.
I always recommend to book your calligrapher for your place cards at least 3 weeks in advance to have them back on time and avoid any rush fees. This might also give some time for you and the calligrapher to talk about different options for this because the possibilities are endless!
I hope this helped you get a better understanding for your wedding stationery! Always check with a calligrapher or designer ASAP to make sure they have the time available because they may already be booked. It's my favorite thing in the world to work one-on-one with couples to bring their personalities out through their invitations and give their guests and awesome first impression of their wedding. It's my goal to always make it so easy, fun and relaxing for you with the invitation process and it's one extra thing you don't have to stress about!