photography: Kristen Wynn Photography
Wedding planning is a big job. Whether you’re hosting a casual backyard reception or painting the town red at the Ritz, each element should work harmoniously to create a unified style. Though invitations aren’t part of the big day itself, they are the first hint your guests will get of your vision, so they deserve a special place in your planning process.
Like everything else involved in planning a wedding, designing wedding invitations can seem daunting. There are just so many choices! Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. When you know how to break down the design elements of your invitation, it becomes much easier to narrow your choices to reflect your overall theme.
First Steps: Lock Down Your Wedding Plan
Before you can begin to design your wedding invitations, you’ll need to get the broad strokes of your wedding plan down. (Not sure where to start? Check out our Ultimate Party Planning Checklist!) Your invitation lets your guests know the five W’s of your big day, so you’ll need to commit to the who, what, and where of the event in advance. Here’s what you need to accomplish before heading to the stationer (or to Google):
- Set the date and times for your wedding.
- Secure locations for the ceremony and the reception.
- Set up hotel room blocks for out-of-town guests.
- Register for gifts.
- Finalize the guest list.
Photography: Wednesday Photography
You’ll also want to give serious thought to the style of wedding you want to have. That’s because your invitation should reflect the tone and style of the event to give your guests a sense of what to expect. If you haven’t already done so, consider your choices for:
- Level of Formality: From a beachside clambake to a black-tie affair, knowing how fancy you want to be is important information for your guests.
- Color Scheme: From bridesmaids’ dresses to flower arrangements and table linens, color is key. Choosing your color scheme early will help streamline all the rest of your wedding design decisions.
- Theme: Your theme could be as detailed as a Star Wars wedding or as general as “velvet and lace“. Whatever inspires you is fine, but it’s a good idea to name it to help guide your design choices.
- Style: Theme and style are closely intertwined, so if you’re having trouble deciding on a theme, consider what types of decorating style you love, whether it’s Victorian frills or clean, modern lines.
Wedding Invitation Design Elements
Once the basics of your wedding plans are set, you’re ready to design the invitation! There are five major elements to consider:
Wedding invitations are typically printed on cardstock, which is much sturdier than plain paper. This is perfect for turning invitations into a potential keepsake. There are several choices. Linen cardstock features a woven texture, while cotton cardstock is a smoother choice. You can also get creative with translucent vellum, papers with a bit of pearlescent sheen, or even kraft paper.
Design Tip: Linen cardstock is ideal for traditional and formal weddings, while cotton provides a more modern look.
The style of lettering does more than any other element to set the tone for your event. First, chose between cursive script or a printed typeface with separate letters. There are so many modern fonts to choose from, so don’t be afraid to try something unique. Swooping script can be harder to read, so make it larger to compensate. You may wish to feature your names in cursive and the other details in a contrasting typeface that’s easier to read.
Design Tip: If your wedding theme matches a historical period, research popular fonts or handwriting styles from that era to guide your choice.
Traditionally, wedding invitations featured dark ink on white or cream colored paper, and this is always an elegant choice. Laser printing has made it much easier to make color work, though, so you should feel free to incorporate the colors of your wedding dresses and table linens into the invitation.
Design Tip: Contrast is key to make sure your invitation is legible. If you fall in love with a dark paper color, consider white or metallic ink to help the words pop.
Another way to highlight your theme is by including graphics or images on your invitation. A monogram is highly formal, and floral borders will work well for traditional events. Modern invitations include all sorts of graphics, from photos of the coupleto hand-drawn artwork and comic book characters.
Design Tip: If you’re having trouble finding exactly what you want from a vendor, you can create your own design from free artwork on the internet.
The final step to designing your invitation is to hammer out the wording. Traditionally, the hosts of the wedding are named first, followed by the names of the couple and the date, time, and location. Formal wording includes the phrases “request the honor of your presence,” but you can modernize the language to ask people “celebrate with us” or “join us in celebrating the marriage.” There are many, many variations on this template, so you should do what feels right for your situation and what reflects your values as a couple.
Design Tip: Formal style, formal wording. For more modern or colorful invitations, feel free to make the language more casual if you like.
Photography: Molly Connor Photography
When designing your invitation, don’t be afraid to ask for a sample of two or three different versions to help you narrow down your choices. This can often be done online very easily, but it’s even better to get a printout to see what the invitation will feel like in hand. Play around with combinations of color, fonts, and graphics until you’re satisfied. There’s no right or wrong way to design your wedding, so feel free to get creative.
Once your invitations are sent, it’s time to turn your attention to all the other aspects of planning your wedding and reception. Be sure to check out Linen Hero’s blog for more great wedding planning advice, and the Linen Hero website for everything you need to set the perfect table for our reception.