In the midst of all the wedding planning, you’re managing multiple vendor schedules, appointments, bridal showers, and life. (whew!) It can be easy to get overwhelmed, or miss out on details in your wedding because you missed a deadline to order them. As wedding vendors, we try to make the process easy as possible for you, and keep the stress at a the lowest level possible. To that end, I wanted to provide a complete checklist of what to order when, and what information you’ll need at each step of the way to get all of your paper details, invitations, and signage in time for your wedding, with zero stress!
Please note, I’ve included the two scenarios I most often encounter. Each wedding is different, and you’ll need to take into consideration the time your guests will need to respond to invitations and plan for travel. If you have questions, click here to contact us, and we can walk through your personal timeline together!
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If you are wanting semi-custom or custom invitations, it is never to early to book your stationer. Most Stationers book up up to 9 months ahead of time, so you don’t want to miss out! Don’t worry if you don’t have your final details, I won’t need those until we get to your actual design dates. Once we’ve booked, we can help you with the rest of this timeline!
Save the Dates traditionally are mailed out at least 6 months in advance, but no earlier than one year ahead of your wedding date (just to make sure no one shows up to your wedding a year early!). If the majority of your guests are within driving distance, and your date isn’t over a holiday, 6 months is fine. If, however, you’re inviting guests from out of town, having a destination wedding, or your wedding is over a holiday weekend/weekday, I recommend sending save the dates out 10-12 months in advance so your guests have plenty of time to plan ahead for travel and hotels. Bonus for you if you already have a room block!
If you are working with me or another designer to design your save the dates, allow 4-6 weeks for design and production ahead of your mail out date to make sure we have time to get them just right!
Typically, invitations mail out 6-8 weeks prior to your wedding date. If you add on the 2 months you’ll need for your stationer to design the perfect custom design and send it off for production, then you’ll want to get started around the 4-6 month mark. The more time you allow your designer, the more likely you are to have a stress free process, and get the best work! I like to have some creative cushion to make sure you get the very best design for you and your fiancé! Before you get your invitation started, you’ll want to have your date and venue picked, and we recommend having at least one design meeting with your planner (if you have one), so that your invites really reflect your overall design. You’ll also want to have at least a preliminary guest list (complete with addresses), so that we can plan for the correct quantity of invitations! Set your rsvp date for 5-6 weeks from your wedding. (We’ll address following up on that at the 6 week mark!)
Around the 3 month mark, you’ll want to start planning your day-of signage and paper details. This includes signs, chalkboards, menus, placecards, favors, escort card/seating charts, etc. (the sky is the limit!) You’ll want to think about what you need, as well as how many. Don’t forget to plan for signs that help your guests through your venue (bathrooms!), place settings to indicate meal choice (if your caterer requires), as well as fun touches to bring out your personality. This is a great step to talk through with your planner if you have one! I’m also happy to talk through the options with you, or you can visit our gallery here for inspiration. Once you know what you need, you’ll want to book your calligrapher/designer. Typically I only have openings for two weddings per month for day-of details, so don’t wait too long!
You’ll want to drop those puppies in the mail to give your guests time to reply. Traditionally, invitations are mailed 6-8 weeks ahead of time. If you are having a destination wedding, you might extend that slightly to 9 weeks. Make sure to take a fully completed invitation to the post office you’ll be mailing them from to get it weighed for how much postage you’ll need!
At 8 weeks out, you’ll want to finalize how many day of pieces you need and approve any preliminary designs your stationer sends you, so that they can get all of the materials on hand to complete them in time for your wedding. You’ll also want to start working on finalizing ceremony order, your seating chart, any setup requirements (easels for signs, tables for escort displays, etc.). You can talk this through with your planner or venue coordinator, or if your designer will be doing setup, they can help you make sure you have all the display materials.
Your RSVP date should be 5-6 weeks out from your wedding date to allow time for you to finalize quantities on your day of pieces, how many meals you’ll need with your caterer, and if you’ll really need that extra table at your reception. If you haven’t heard back from some of your guests (which happens more often than you’d think!) this is the time to call or text them to confirm if they’ll be coming.
While this can be daunting, you can do it! If it helps, traditionally you will seat your and your groom’s immediate families at the two tables closest to you, and work out from there. Don’t stress too much about this, though. Everyone will have a great time no matter where they sit.
At this point, you should start working on the wording on your signage and ceremony program with your designer. If you need help with wording, Pinterest is a great reference!
At 4 weeks, you’ll need to finalize your guest list and seating chart (complete with any necessary details like meal choices), as well as wording for any signage, menus, and your ceremony program. This allows your designer the needed 2-3 weeks to complete all the lettering, design, and production.
Once you get all your pieces from your designer, take the time to organize them based on who will be setting them up on your wedding day. If you don’t have a planner, and have friends helping instead, make sure everyone knows exactly what they are responsible for, and where/how to set it up. You can pack them by the table or area they will go to make the process even easier!
Make sure to set aside a complete copy of your invitation, as well as any shower invites or other details you would like captured for your photographer. Pack this with your getting ready bag, so your photographer will have it first thing and be able to capture all those sweet details!
Enjoy! You did it! If you followed this timeline, you don’t have anything to do but soak in all the sweet moments as you begin your forever together.
Want a copy of this handy? Click the image below to download the printable timeline!
Need more details about planning your stationery? Contact us today to schedule a consultation!