True story: I mailed my wedding invitations out four weeks before the big day. I was in such a panic, especially since I DIYed my invites and assembled with custom envelope liners, belly bands, vellum–you know, the works.
Overnight shipping from the print shop I used was outrageous, and once I had everything in my hands, I simply couldn’t get them assembled and in the mail fast enough.
You probably already know wedding invitations should be mailed out at least 6-8 weeks in advance of your wedding. (Even I knew that!)
But many brides are not sure when to order wedding invitations. (Hint: It is not a month before you need to mail them out!)
And while you’re juggling a full time job, planning a wedding, and trying to find a place together, little tasks like ordering invitations can really sneak up on you. (Trust me!)
In order to avoid rush fees, expedited shipping charges, and the added stress of mailing wedding invitations late, begin searching for a stationer as early as possible. Plus, the earlier you order, the more options you'll have to choose from–like specialty printing (hello, letterpress!) or envelope liners, both of which can take longer to produce.
So, when is the best time to order wedding invitations?
The Answer: Around 6-9 months ahead of your wedding date.
This is a timeframe that most stationers are able to accommodate. There are many variables to consider before ordering, such as printing options and addressing services, but I’ve found six months before the big day is a “sweet spot”. It gives you enough time to add embellishments, like envelope liners, and enough time to assemble.
Need in a cheat sheet? Take a peek at the timeline below to determine what month you should order wedding invitations.
While 6-9 months in advance might seem like a really long time, especially if you don’t care to add all the bells and whistles, it gives you plenty of time to research and make the right choice.
Curious what that looks like? Here’s a detailed outline from finding the perfect wedding invitation to booking your stationer!
9 Months Before: Research
Begin searching for wedding invitations at least nine months in advance of your wedding date, or as soon as you have your color palette finalized. I recommend scouring Pinterest or Instagram for ideas, but you can also ask your wedding vendors or wedding planner for recommendations.
Tip: Check each stationer's specific turnaround times for the most accurate timeframe. This is also the perfect time to determine if you want a completely custom design or a semi-custom suite.
You should order invitations now if: If your favorite wedding stationer or calligrapher books up really fast. Still, don't forget to order samples before placing your order.
8 Months Before: Order Samples and Finalize Your Guest List
Order a variety of invitation samples from all of your favorite shops. There are so many options for paper, envelopes, and printing processes–you'll be amazed at the differences between one stationer and the next. Ordering a sample is paramount in knowing what you can expect from your stationer, too. Did your samples arrive quickly? Are they high quality? Is it worth the cost? Do you like the colors?
Also, your guest list should be finalized around this time. It's also ideal to gather everyone's mailing address too. But it's okay if not, we'll get to that later.
You should order invitations now if: You want a custom wedding invitation design, and/or plan to use a specialty print process, such as letterpress, thermography or foil.
7 Months Before: Book Your Stationer and/or Calligrapher
You may book your stationer much sooner than this, especially if you would like a custom design or specialty printing options, like letterpress, thermography or foil. Otherwise, book your stationer at this time. Reach out to them and let them know you are interested in their designs. If you have questions or need customizations, this is a good time to ask.
Ideally, you should determine how envelopes will be addressed. It is okay to address your own or ask a friend with really nice handwriting. If your budget allows, I recommend hiring a calligrapher or seeing if your stationer can print envelopes for you. Calligraphers can have longer turnaround times for envelope addressing, sometimes up to 12 weeks. I recommend checking your calligrapher’s turnaround time first, and then seeing if your wedding stationer can accommodate.
Tip: You can also ask your stationer to send envelopes ahead of time to your calligrapher, if you get into a time crunch. However, this may add an additional shipping cost to the bill.
You should order invitations now if: You are using a specialty print process, such as letterpress, thermography or foil, and/or you want to hire a calligrapher for envelope addressing.
6 Months Before: Order Wedding Invitations, Finalize Wording Details
Feel free to book your stationer sooner than this if you are ready. Generally, if you are ordering a semi-custom wedding invitation that is digitally printed (meaning flat printed, with no texture, directly onto card stock), you can order five to six months before your wedding.
Tip: Due to our quick turnaround, some brides order as soon as four months in advance of their wedding date. This is fine for those who prefer a basic invitation suite with no embellishments, like envelope liners. Keep in mind ordering this close to your wedding does not allow much time for proofing, editing or delays, due to shipping or otherwise.
Finalize wedding invitation wording and enclosure card details at this time too, if possible. For example, if you are ordering an accommodation insert, be sure to have details from your hotel such as the cut-off date or a group code.
You can send over details card wording at a later date to your stationer, but it helps to at least have most details finalized. If you aren't quite ready to finalize insert card details, a website insert card may be a better alternative.
Similarly, if you are offering meal options at your reception, you may want to finalize the menu with your caterer at this time. Side dishes may change leading up to the wedding, but response cards only require listing the main course–such as beef, chicken, vegetarian–for guests to select.
You should order invitations now if: You are using a semi-custom design that is digitally printed. Now is the perfect time to book with Betty Lu Paperie!
What about everything else, like day-of paper?
Now you know when to order wedding invitations, but what about programs, menus, and place cards?
Nothing can cause quite as much of a panic as a last-minute seating chart… Or having to pay for overnight shipping for wedding programs only to realize you forgot someone’s name–and it’s too late to change it.
And what about the details you forget?
I missed out on so many sweet details on my wedding day simply because I either didn’t know they existed or didn’t have time to get them. Such as? An In Loving Memory sign would have been nice for the remembrance table we set up for my husband’s father. (Some relatives on my side did not know who the table was in remembrance of.)
I also skipped having an escort board simply because I didn’t really know what it was, which made it awkward for 90 guests to search for their seat, because yes, I did have assigned seating.
Enter the Complete Wedding Stationery Planner. This is everything that I wish I would have had five years ago when I was planning my own wedding! A glossary of terms, a stationery timeline, and a checklist–all to help you get ready for one of the biggest days of your life.
How does getting a massage before the big day sound as opposed to printing out last-minute wedding signs and seating charts? You’ll take the massage? I thought so! Download the guide below so you can spend more time relaxing and less time on miscellaneous stationery tasks you forgot to do a few weeks ago.