When it comes to their wedding, most couples know pretty quickly what stationery they need before the wedding. Couples don’t generally agonize over whether or not they are sending save the dates and pretty much everyone needs some kind of invitation for their wedding. When it comes to stationery for the actual wedding day however, couples begin to get confused or stress over everything they think they need or they simply aren’t sure what is right for their wedding. Worry no more, today I’m sharing my professional tips on understanding and deciding on just what day of wedding stationery items you really need.
Let’s get one thing clear from the start; every wedding is different. Every couple is different. That means that what you need may not be the same as what your friend that got married 6 months ago needed or bought. The key is to know what you have to spend and then make the choices that are right for you. I know there are so many stationers out there (myself included) offering a never ending list of items you can purchase for your wedding day but knowing what you actually need and what may be extra is the key.
Day of wedding stationery is a fairly simple and inexpensive way to personalize your wedding. Compared to flowers, an open bar or a three course meal for all your guests, adding in programs or printed menus really doesn’t add a significant cost in most cases when compared to the cost of those larger ticket items. The key is knowing where you want to spend your money and what is most important to you as a couple for your wedding day and then what you can do to make your guests feel the most welcome and comfortable. So now let’s talk about some of the more common items that fall under the day of stationery category.
The idea of a wedding program has changed a bit over the years. Wedding programs used to be simple booklets handed out at the church or other wedding location that listed the order of the ceremony, wedding party and any other information. While this is still true, wedding programs today come in many shapes, sizes and price points. Some couples are even skipping the programs altogether and doing a large sign at the entrance of the venue instead. Other couples aren’t going anything at all.
While the decision is totally up to the couple, if you aren’t sure what you want to do, I’ll give you a few things to consider. While you may think your wedding day is all about you, the wedding is actually for your guests. You are asking your family and friends to spend money, travel and give of their time to celebrate with you on this very special day. You are essentially hosting a party and you want your guests to be comfortable and enjoy themselves.
Wedding guests are generally expected to arrive well in advance of the start of the ceremony. A wedding program gives them something to read to occupy that time while they wait. While I think we can all agree that most guests have attended enough weddings to know generally what happens, those same guests may not know all of the people in your wedding party or how they are connected to you. The program is a way to list those in your wedding party and share who they are to you and why there were important enough to stand up with you on your day.
Wedding programs can also serve a function aside from just being a program. Program fans are very popular with couples getting married during the summer or those having destination weddings because it allows guests to fan themselves to stay cool during the ceremony and reception to follow.
Years ago, simple paper tent table numbers were very common to mark tables for guests to know where to sit. Today, there are many more ways to mark tables from cards displayed on holders, to ones displayed in pretty frames to numbers or markers made from other materials. Some couples are even getting creative by naming their tables after places they have traveled together or using photos of themselves at different ages. The options are endless but tables usually do need some kind of marker.
The fun thing about printed table number cards is that the design can often match your other wedding stationery. This consistent design throughout all of your stationery is a great way to “brand” your wedding and make it more personalized.
Depending on your wedding venue or other decor, you may also be able to use table numbers owned by the venue. Your wedding planner or rental vendor may also have pre-made table numbers you can use. Table numbers do not need to be printed cards. They can be anything you can think up!
When it comes to place cards or escort cards, they have traditionally been small tent cards located near the entrance to the reception venue that guests can pick up on their way in that directs them to their assigned table. This is the most common way to let your guests know where to sit but not the only way.
Today, couples are getting creative by incorporating the place card idea into their wedding favors or are using tags, or other shapes (and even more unique materials) for their place cards.
Other couples are skipping the place cards altogether and going with one, large sign where guests can find their name and then find their seat. Please note: if you decide to go the route of a large sign, you will find a large number of seating charts available online organized by table. This is NOT the proper way to list names in a seating chart. The proper way, as noted by real wedding professionals, is organizing the guests names alphabetically. This enables guests to find their name (and table) quickly and avoids a “log jam” at the chart as guests arrive. Make this easy on your guests and take the time to organize names from A to Z, not by table number.
When it comes to providing menus at your wedding, there is no right or wrong answer, however there are some things that you should consider. Here at RC, the only time we highly recommend couples ordering menu cards is when they are having a sit-down dinner where guests provide their meal selection to the server. This allows guests to have a chance to look over the options and make their selections without feeling rushed.
If budget is a concern but you want to have menus for your guests, consider one per table instead of one for every person. Another alternative is doing a couple larger signs with the menu on it so guests have the opportunity to see what will be served without having to have a larger quantity of menus made.
Get creative. The table numbers below had menus on the back! This couple let their table numbers do double duty and it saved them a lot of time, money and space!
If you are having a buffet, menus aren’t as important however consider your guests and their comfort. After all, you are inviting them to travel, give up a day or an entire weekend, spend money on a gift, etc. so having at least one menu sign at the start of the buffet line or labels on the food items will go a long way toward making your guests feel welcome and comfortable.
I’ve seen many comments on sites like WeddingWire and The Knot about menus and many couples say that because their guests pick their meal on their RSVP cards ahead of time, menus aren’t needed. Again, while this is technically true for any type of meal service, just because your guests pre-select their meals doesn’t mean you don’t have to do menus. Remember that they are selecting their meal choices about two months before the actual wedding day and between the time they make their meal selection and the wedding, they may forget what they have chosen. Offering some kind of menu (as a sign, at each table or at each place setting) again goes back to making your guests feel comfortable and welcome.
Again, there is no right or wrong here and budget for stationery may not allow for a card at every place setting but consider your guests and their comfort when making the decision on what is best for your wedding day.
If you’ve shopped for your wedding on Etsy or visited any wedding stationery shop’s website, I’m sure you’ve seen signs for every aspect of your wedding date. Signs come in many shapes and sizes and while larger format signs can get quite pricey to have printed, they can also be extremely effective in welcoming and directing your guests as well as add extra special touches to personalize your day.
From simple Welcome signs for your guests to know where to enter the ceremony and/or reception venue to bar signs. Signs labeling the gift and card table, the guest book and even where guests can pick up their favors to grab some of those extra goodies from your Sweets table. The options are endless and smaller signs can also be a very inexpensive.
If you aren’t using a wedding coordinator and don’t want your parents or another close friend or family member to have to baby sit all night, consider using signs to help guests know where to go, where things are and have a great time!
When planning events around your ceremony and reception, an itinerary may be helpful so your guests know what is going on, when and where so that they have the opportunity to participate in as much or as little as they choose depending on their personal travel arrangements. From meet-and-greets the night before to farewell brunches or even golf or spa time in between, these additional events help bring your guests together and give them something to do especially if they have traveled a great distance to be with you.
In addition to the itinerary this is also a great way to provide additional information to your guests such as things to do in the the area, restaurants, shopping, etc. to make your guests feel more welcome and comfortable. If you have a wedding website, you may not need to provide a lot of additional information but keep this in mind when planning.
If budget is a concern, don’t be afraid to think outside the box by combining the itinerary with something else to do double-duty. This not only saves money but gives your guests less things to keep track of. Oh and combining it with something like the fun door hanger above is like a little extra gift for your guests to enjoy during their say.
Many couples today are providing their out-of-town guests with a little welcome bag or box with little items they may need or just as an extra thank you. Some couples compile items made my local artisans or that relate to the location of the wedding somehow. Others provide water, snacks and extra little travel items the guests may have forgotten. Another popular item many couples include in these gift bags is a door hanger for guests to use after the wedding to allow for some extra quiet time to sleep off that late night or hangover.
While these little extras are fun and relatively inexpensive, they are NOT required. If budget is an issue, this is one item that you can skip. On the flip side, like mentioned earlier, these door hangers work great at doing double duty. Instead of ordering separate thank you notes or itineraries, consider incorporating more than one use into an item. It will save you money.
Thank you cards are an absolute MUST so be sure to factor in this cost when planning your wedding stationery. Check with your photographer as well. Some photography packages include photo cards which means you don’t have to shop for them elsewhere.
If you need to order or purchase thank you cards elsewhere, you have many options based on budget, style and taste. In many cases your wedding invitation stationer will have matching thank you cards to match your other stationery including photo cards. Many thank you cards can be ordered as a traditional folded card (above) or a flat card (below).
Flat cards are great because they can include a photo or design on the front with the back left blank for your personal note. Often flat cards are less expensive making them a more affordable option for many couples.
Another great money saving tip is to order a larger quantity with your wedding invitations or soon after which allows you to use the same cards for both your shower and your wedding. This wont work if you plan to use a photo from your wedding of course but consider this another great use for those engagement photos or opt to go with a more simple design so that you can use the cards and personal stationery like below.
Instead of ordering traditional thank you cards with a photo or that looked super “wedding-y”, Chelsey and Ricky opted to use their wedding logo on the front so that they could keep the extras to use as personal stationery as they started their new life together. They saved money by ordering a larger quantity and because they were able to use the cards after the wedding was over.
Of course this list could go on and on with things that you may or may not need. Other popular day of items include favor tags, labels for the welcome gifts, reserved signs or tags and so much more. The key with anything that you consider for your wedding day is to know what purpose it will serve, if it will help make your guests feel more welcomed or comfortable or if it’s just something you saw on Pinterest that you liked. In most cases, there is no right or wrong but knowing your budgetary limitations and what will actually serve a purpose on your special day is the key to knowing what day of items you really need.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have questions about items for your own wedding or a specific item not mentioned here, please leave a comment below or send us an email and one of our creative team members will get back to you as quickly as possible.