May 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
In last weeks Thursday Throwback post on how to save money on custom invitations I promised this week I would repost the follow-up on how to save money on your day-of wedding ceremony and reception stationery (something that is discussed much less often).
So, without further ado…
Many couples are so focused on their wedding invitations, they forget that their stationery budget also must include any day-of stationery or accessories required – that could be (but not limited to) programs, menus, table signs, placecards, escort cards, seating chart, general signage etc. So, repeat after me, the first rule for getting the most value for your wedding day stationery is: don’t forget to budget for it.
Notice I said, the most value – while I enjoy the sensationalism of the words “save money” in the title of this post, what I really mean is how to get the most value. It’s not always about strictly saving money, but rather getting the most for the dollars you spend.
Again, the caveat here is that I am talking about working with a designer/stationer, although many of these tips can be applied to DIYers as well. Here’s a tip specifically for those of you who are planning on doing it yourself though…DON’T.
Yes, I hear you thinking it…”here she goes again”. In this case, it’s not about the quality of what you can produce, the material costs involved, matching your day-of stationery to your invites etc. It is strictly about the “cost” *to you* of trying to produce your own day-of stationery. Remember that in most cases the information you need (menu choices, seating plan, number of guests) is not set until 2-3 weeks before your wedding. Which means that all of these are basically being produced “last-minute”. Think you may have some other rather important things going on 2-3 weeks before your wedding? Absolutely.
I can’t tell you the number of stories I hear about brides staying up ’till all hours the night before their wedding working on their wedding programs or place cards etc. In fact, I was that crazy bride too…up till 4am tying beads on to the bottom of ribbon keeping our programs together. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if I had it to do over, I would NEVER attempt to do it myself. I spent way too much of my time (and still quite a bit of money as well) dealing with something that would have been better left to a pro.
But, I digress (as usual!). So, let’s get to the juicy bit, shall we? Here’s my tips on getting the most out of your day-of wedding stationery budget:
Hire a designer/stationer
Not only because of my DIY rant above, but because a good stationery designer can help you to figure out exactly what you need, what will work best for your event, and how to fit all of those items into your overall budget. A designer/stationer’s assistance with these items can actually mean the difference between staying within budget and blowing the budget completely.
Order everything at once
If you think you have a good idea of exactly what you’re going to need and how many, order your day-of stationery (and thank yous, don’t forget the thank yous!) with your invitations. Some stationers and designers may offer a discount for orders over a certain amount, or may be more willing to negotiate a discount if you can commit to ordering your additional stationery at the same time. A word of warning though – this does not apply to every stationer. There are many out there (including Hip Ink) that do not discount at all, so don’t *expect* to get a discount just because you are willing to order up-front (but it certainly never hurts to ask)!
Choose the right items
Make sure you are choosing the right items for your needs. For example, make sure you consider exactly how much information will be going into your ceremony program. If you have a small amount of information, a one-page program will be just fine; but, if you order a one-page program and expect to fit in a tome approximate in length to the Declaration of Independence, well…that’s gonna cost you. Having to upgrade later will likely incur greater costs than if you are realistic at the beginning of the process about exactly what you need. What about seating? If your guests will be seated at large tables and will be able to choose their own seat, you’ll need escort cards (which indicate a table number) rather than place cards (which are inscribed with the guests names and are placed at their specific seat). What’s the difference? Escort cards are per couple/family, which place cards are per guest, meaning you’ll need at least twice as many (and pay twice as much unnecessarily if you order incorrectly).
Don’t over do it
Along the same lines – not every ceremony or reception items needs to be ordered on a per-guest basis. Ceremony programs are almost always wasted when ordering one per guest. Why? Couples or families tend to share their programs as they sit and wait for the ceremony to begin. Having enough programs for each and every guest will almost always lead to a large number of leftovers – a huge waste (of paper *and* money). Menus are a similar situation – while many couples choose to have 1 or 2 menus on their tables, there is a growing trend towards menus at each place setting. While this can be lovely (especially if they are personalized), it can also be a bit over the top (even in appearance, depending on the tablescape). Consider doing one menu for every other place setting and you can cut your costs in half.
Another way to get more value from your wedding day stationery is to have pieces that are multi-use. What about combining your menus and table numbers/signs on a tented or three-sided card? Or doing personalized menus or favours at each place setting (removing the need for placecards)? Being creative about pieces that can pull double-duty will allow you to stretch your day-of stationery budget, and possibly upgrade the quality of the fewer items you choose.
Keep it simple
Wedding invitations are a standalone, stand-out item that give your guests a glimpse into your big day – with big impact. Day-of stationery is just part of the overall look and feel of your wedding, so don’t feel that you need to have complicated, layered, embellished day-of stationery if it isn’t within your budget. There are many ways to creating striking and beautiful items that will fit in to your overall decor and theme, using a more design-based approach. Again, you’ll want to match your day-of stationery to the formality and tone of your event, but that doesn’t necessarily mean breaking out the ribbon, crystals etc. Well designed items on lovely, thick cardstock can go a long way (and stretch your budget a long way as well).
And now, as wedding season is now in full-swing, a big shout out to all of you getting married this summer and fall (especially our Hip Ink brides and grooms!). Congrats!
April 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
You’ve probably all seen articles advising you on the ways to save money on your wedding invitations, and they are often along the lines of “send invitations by email, do-it-yourself or by print-your-own boxed invitations”. Yes, each of those is a valid way to save money on invitations, but what about those couples that are looking for more value rather than just less cost?
I’m pretty sure there are a number of people who think this blog exists solely to help part engaged couples with their wedding budget. The fact is that I wouldn’t be in this business doing what I do if I didn’t love high-quality, unique, beautiful, gorgeous, over-the-top wedding stationery – and yes, often it’s pricey too. But I certainly have lots of couples who come to us with very specific budgets, and whatever that budget may be, the are looking to maximize the value they are getting. So, the title of this post may be a bit misleading – some of these tips will help you save money, but some will help you get more value out our your wedding stationery dollars.
Today I’m going to share my tips for getting the most value when choosing custom invitations/working with an invitation designer:
Get a head start.
If you’ve chosen custom invitations, you’re already off to a good start. Believe or not, working with an invitation designer can actually help save you money in the long run – designers can be much more flexible than many of the invitation companies out there, and can and will often handle requests that larger companies will not even consider, or will charge a hefty premium for. With a custom invitation, you can control the budget very easily, and make changes on the fly to help ensure that your invitation suite stays within a price range you’re comfortable at. If you’re in love with a design that way over-budget, a designer can also often simplify the design, keeping the elements that you love, but cutting out the ones you don’t need – giving you a similar look, for a much lower cost.
Avoid making those common mistakes.
Oh yes, we’ve talked about them a lot, haven’t we? Pretty much every big mistake covered on our Top 5 list will end up costing you money – make sure you learn as much as you can about how to avoid those mistakes, and your budget will definitely thank you!
Less is definitely more.
While it’s lovely to have multiple paper layers, pockets, ribbons, crystals etc., all of those embellishments come with a fairly high price tag – both due to the cost of the actual item as well as the labour cost involved in assembly etc. The best way to get great “bang for your buck” is to hire a great designer who can work with you to create a gorgeous invitation that is big on design and small on fancy accoutrement (that’s French for bling). It can be challenging to find a designer who can pull of this look – your best bet is to look for someone that has a strong background in graphic design and ask to see their portfolio of work that is simple with no embellishment whatsoever. A great designer should able to produce a stunning flat panel invite, as well as more embellished looks.
Pay attention to printing.
Printing costs can make a huge impact on the bottom line. While you may love the look of an engraved or letterpress invite, it may be necessary to consider digital printing instead – no, it’s not quite the same, but you may not feel the additional costs is really worth it. If you do choose an option like letterpress, understand where the costs are – setup. If you have a small number of invitations (say 50), letterpress is not terribly cost-effective because of the high set-up costs. If you’ve got a large number of invites (say 200), the cost becomes much more reasonable on a per invite basis. And stick to one ink colour, rather than going for 2 or 3 colours – each additional colour requires it’s own plate and pass on the press, so it raises the costs substantially.
Choose “high-impact” upgrades.
If you’re looking for something more than a flat card, consider the impact vs cost of some common upgrades. As an example, you may find that an envelope liner may be the same cost as a crystal embellishment – while crystals are certainly pretty, the envelope liner will have far more impact on the overall design and feeling of your invitation, and allows for more opportunity to add some unique flair. If you’re working with a tight budget, ask your designer for their advice on what choices will offer the most bang for your buck!
Ditch the RSVP envelope.
Unless you are having a very formal wedding, it’s completely acceptable these days (and can even be a much nicer option in some cases) to include an RSVP postcard which can be dropped in the mail as is, rather than the traditional RSVP card with return envelope. RSVP postcards are definitely growing in popularity, and you’d be surprised how much those tiny envelopes can cost! And while we’re at it – if you were considering using both inner and outer envelopes, forget it. Outer envelopes are quite unnecessary these days, and are generally only found on the most formal of invites.
Ditto for the Reception card (and other inserts).
Again, only formal wedding invitations these days usually have separate reception cards. While it’s traditional to include the reception information on its own card, it really isn’t necessary. You can also eliminate the need for other insert cards like maps, directions and accommodation and guest information cards by setting up a wedding website. They are easy and quick to set up, available for free from a number of sources, and allow you to simply direct your guests to your wedding website for more information – rather than including everything in printed form.
Consider postage carefully.
One way you can easily reduce your invitation costs is to make sure you consider the impact of your choices on the cost of postage. Your best best is to make sure that you choose a standard-sized invitation, and one that does not have lots of additional layers, pocketfolds etc. The heavier your invite is, the more you’ll pay in postage, and ditto for oddly-sized invites as well. Also, make sure that any embellishments that you’ve chosen don’t impact the post office’s ability to process your invitation normally, which will also result in additional non-machinable charges. Unsure? Make sure you take your hard copy sample to the post office so you are aware of any issues before your invites are produced.
Hope y’all found this week’s Thursday Throwback helpful – next week, I’ll be reposting on a similar subject you’ve probably NEVER seen mentioned: how to save money/get more value when it comes to your ceremony and reception stationery and accessories!
April 25, 2012 § 3 Comments
So, we’re back…finally…
First, I think I owe everyone an explanation of why I disappeared for last 6 weeks or so (oh my gosh! how has it even been that long!?!).
Hip Ink is mostly a one-woman operation – while I have a few people who help out with assembly etc., I’m on the hook for everything else – and don’t get me wrong, generally I like it that way. And if you’re a frequent reader you know that I am fiercely committed to making this blog happen every week. But sometimes in chasing your dreams, you forget about the reality that comes along with them.
The reality is, that I have been nearly drowning in work – not necessarily something I should have the right to complain about, but nevertheless, it’s turned things a bit upside down lately. I’m thrilled to have so many couples wanting to work with us, and orders from our new collection, but it has been a juggling act to try to keep up the same standards when it comes to response time, delivering on schedule and most of all, quality.
As much as I love The Invitation Blog, I know that my commitment to my work and my clients has to always come first.
So…I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re still busy, but in a more manageable way now that the crazy rush for early summer weddings is over, and so it’s back to blogging for me!
Today I wanted to share with you guys something that is so well-written, so truthful, so brilliant (and something that I’m so jealous I didn’t write myself) that I actually bumped my very first Invitation Advisor post in weeks, just so I could post this instead.
It was written by the lovely and talented Melinda Morris, owner of the fabulous Lion In The Sun Paperie in Park Slope, Brooklyn and appeared in The Huffington Post Weddings section on April 20, 2012.
I think it’s important read for any couple embarking on the wedding stationery adventure, and I think it’s equally important to read the whole article in it’s native form, so rather than reproduce it here, I’m going to tease you with Melinda’s “10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer” and ask you to please, please follow the link below to read the full, amazing, article.
10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer
1. ”They are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”
2. ”It’s only paper, why is it so expensive?”
3. ”I could do that myself on my home computer and print it on Day-Glo copy paper.”
4. ”Can you just make me one and I can just photocopy or email a scan of it to everyone?”
5. ”I know I approved the proof, but we changed the time of the wedding.”
6. ”But we only need eight more invitations.”
7. ”I left the invitations in the trunk of my car and then went to the car wash” or “We were drinking red wine while assembling the invitations…”
8. “We’ve addressed all our envelopes already, but I mail-merged the guest list incorrectly and all the zip codes are incorrect, what do you mean you don’t check each of our guests’ zip codes for us?”
9. ”I sealed the envelopes and I realized I forgot to stamp the reply cards” or “We just used regular postage and dropped them in the mailbox on the street.”
10. ”We would like to put ‘monetary gift only’ on the invitation.”
I’ve actually addressed many of these things on The Invitation Blog in the past, but it’s great to see them all in one place. At times it may sound like putting stuff like this together is just me (or whomever) preaching to couples out there to try to make my own life easier - I can assure you that isn’t the case.
When my couples are happy, I’m happy. When a couple makes a mistake on their invite, when they need “just a few” more, when they use the incorrect postage etc., those things affect me as well. While there isn’t always anything I can do, and while often those issues aren’t my reponsibility, I still feel for couples who find themselves in those situations. So some of the above deserves to go in the “the more you know” category, because it will only help you to keep those things in mind when dealing with your wedding invitations.
The first four are more related to just being respectful of the stationer/designer you are meeting or working with. While I can understand why a couple might say some of those things, in reality it makes little sense to walk into a lovely stationery store or meeting with a stationery designer if you don’t understand or appreciate the value of what they do. If you feel that their invites are “too expensive”, if you think, “hey, they are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”, if you’re happy with printing your own invites on copy paper or photcopying or emailing your invites – to be perfectly honest, you’re in the wrong place.
As a stationer, I believe it’s every couples’ right to do whatever they want when it comes to their wedding invitations – whether or not I agree with it, like it, find it attractive or think it’s in good taste, the point is that it isn’t about me. It’s about you and your wedding and your guests. But when a couple comes in with an attitude that’s disrespectful towards how I make my living, towards my “art”, that makes me a little testy.
It’s a good lesson in general, to think about what you say to your vendors when meeting with them. By all means, ask questions – but make sure they understand that you are there because you respect what they do and their work, and you’ll find they’ll give you their best.
March 15, 2012 § 3 Comments
Today’s throwback post looks at something that I hope is slowly changing in the wedding industry – matching every dang thing to your bridesmaids’ gowns or flowers or [insert details here]. It’s just not necessary and sometimes it can actually be crazy-cheesy looking too. My advice – choose what you love, don’t be limited by “matching” every single thing. Your guests probably won’t notice anyway (truth).
We’re going to talk about a phenomenon in the wedding industry in general, and definitely in the stationery business…let’s call it, “Matchy-Matchy Syndrome”.
I will agree that they heyday of “Matchy-Matchy-ness” has passed (the ’80s anyone?); but, like the stink of an old piece of gorgonzola, it lingers long after it’s time has passed.
Need proof? I still have clients who come to me and insist that their invitations match their insert-wedding-detail-here exactly. Usually it’s bridesmaids dresses, sometimes flowers, sometimes linens, and yes, they bring swatches. Lots of swatches. And they insist that it NEEDS to match exactly. No amount of coercion on my part will convince them.
Yes, I expect that cut-rate big-box wedding dress retailer to sell invitations that match their bridesmaids dresses – not a big surprise. But, when I’m running a business called “Hip Ink” and have clients who come to me with their strict “Matchy-Pants” on, you’d best believe that it is still a rampant issue in the wedding world.
Who was it, I wonder, who determined that everything needed to match exactly? Because if I catch him, I’ll tell you right now, I can’t be held responsible for what I’ll do.
I’m gonna be straight about it ladies (and gentlemen):
Your wedding invitations do NOT need to match your bridesmaids dresses. Or anything else for that matter.
I don’t really have an issue with someone who *really* wants to incorporate the same colour into their invites; but, it seems to be the easy go-to thing to just say, “well, let’s make them match the whatever“.
Believe me when I tell you that no one is going to receive your invitation and say, “Oh wow, chartreuse, can’t wait to see the matching bridesmaids dresses”. No one is going to show up at your wedding with their invite, pick up the tablecloth and say, “Tsk tsk, this is clearly royal blue, not cerulean!”. No one is going to gasp, “Oh, the horrror”, when they realize that your ranunculus centerpieces aren’t the same shade of pink as your invitation envelopes. And if by chance they do, trust that therapy is in order.
Yes, your invite should evoke the same feeling as your event, the same general tones, but they don’t have to match in every aspect exactly. In fact, there is something to be said for the element of surprise – no need to give away your whole colour scheme with your invitations. Maybe you are having a bright yellow, fuchsia and deep purple colour scheme (yes!) – why not choose one of those colours to show off on your invites? Yellow and Grey anyone? Maybe sneek in one of those other colours in a small way – just a hint. Or maybe go for shades or tones of those colours – more or less intense than the colours you’ll be using in your decor etc.
No, you are certainly not breaking the cardinal rules of invitation design by wanting your invitations to match your ________, but consider the all the possibilities you are shutting out by not at least considering something just a bit different.
And hey, while you’re at it – consider the fact that the pieces of your invitation suite don’t need to match either. Yep, I said it…and lots of people are doing it these days. And if everyone else is doing it, then…wait, nevermind.
March 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
Whew! Have to admit I played hooky the last couple days of last week – too much excitement from the Hitched by Hip Ink launch!
But, today we’re back with a continuation of our in-depth series on invitation wording (using the word in-depth is awesome and makes things sound very important, like we’re on 60 Minutes!) – looking at how to word your venue information, as well as wording for receptions.
I’m sure you can’t handle the excitement, so let’s get to it
While I will admit that venue wording isn’t as tricky or dramatic as some of the other things we’ve talked about, I do think it’s important to know how things are done traditionally, as well as what’s currently in favour.
I’m actually going to talk about venue and reception wording together, as one often has an impact on the other.
There are basically two options here: ceremony and reception at the same location, or ceremony and reception at different location. Yes, technically you could have a ceremony or reception-only invite, but for today’s purposes, we’ll just pretend that doesn’t exist to save me from getting carpal tunnel and you from eye strain. If you’re in the situation where you need to do a ceremony or reception-only invite, just as Uncle Google – he always knows how to help.
Ceremony and reception at the same location:
Traditionally speaking, you would usually see the following:
“Saturday, the ninth of June, two thousand twelve
at six o’clock in the evening
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Notice you don’t use the word “at”. You don’t need to say “at” Chuck E. Cheese on an invitation, just name the venue, and people will get the idea. Second, notice that the street address is missing. Traditionally, and formally, an invitation does not include a street address – simply the city and state/province. Back in the day the reason was that most people knew exactly where the venue was, because there weren’t many choices and most of them would be local anyway. These days, well – times have changed. There are tons of traditional and non-traditional wedding venues, and many, many guests are travelling and unfamiliar with the city where the venue may be located.
It is acceptable these days to put the venue’s address on your wedding invitation. I just think it’s unattractive and unnecessary – strictly personal opinion. I feel that the address doesn’t belong on your invite – that’s what a direction/guest info card or wedding website or GPS or the internet or whatever is for. I may be in the minority on this one, but I don’t think THAT much hand-holding is necessary for guests. I’m not saying that the address shouldn’t be somewhere in your invitation package (one reason I’m a fan of the catch-all Guest Information card), just that it doesn’t necessarily belong directly on your wedding invitation. That said, it’s not “wrong” to include the address at all.
As for the actual venue information, how should you word it? I have to say that because of my stance on not including the address, I think very specific and detailed wording is necessary for the name of your venue. I like to include exactly what the venue is, ie. St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Four Seasons Hotel, Carmen’s Banquet Centre, Spencer’s on the Waterfront Restaurant. If it’s a hotel or banquet hall that has multiple rooms, it’s also acceptable to include the specific room (ie. Main Ballroom, Vancouver Room etc.) – although that information can also appear elsewhere.
What if it’s not a place with a name? What if it’s your backyard or a public space or something similar? In that scenario, I do think you can include the address if you’d like, although again, it’s not 100% necessary on the invite if you’ve got it elsewhere as well.
And what about the reception?
If the reception is at the same venue/location, you can include reception wording directly on the invite (either as part of the main wording or as “corner copy”, meaning in smaller text in the lower right-hand corner of the invite).
You can use all sort sorts of wording, like:
“Reception immediately to follow”
“Dinner and dancing to follow at 6 o’clock”
“Join us for revelry and merriment after the ceremony”
…whatever “fits” with the tone of your celebration. Just remember that if the reception does not immediately follow the ceremony, that should be made clear by giving a start time for the reception itself – guests are much happier and more comfortable when they know what to expect. Also, I think it’s important to specify what type of reception guest should expect – ie. cocktails and hors d’oeuvre, dinner, light refreshments, whatever. If what you are doing is non-traditional in any way, give your guests a heads up to make sure your celebration runs smoothly.
Ceremony and reception at the same location:
Traditionally in this case you would use a separate Reception card, inviting guest to the reception. Again, the wording is fairly flexible – you might say something like the following:
“Please join us at a reception in honour of the new
Mr. and Mrs. Jingleheimer Shmidt
at six o’clock in the evening
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Grand Ballroom
181 Wellington Street West, Toronto, Ontario”
You can pretty much word it in any way that communicates the information and fits with your invitation wording.
These days, it’s becoming more rare to see reception cards, and I frequently have couples who ask for all of the wording to be on the main invitation. Again, I would say it’s totally acceptable to do so at this point, although I do think a reception card is still de rigueur for very formal events.
As for the rest, much of the above still applies; however, it’s important in this case that it’s completely clear that the ceremony and reception are at two different locales and the exact time that each starts. In many cases guests may have to amuse themselves in the break between the ceremony and reception, so make sure they know exactly how much time they will have to kill.
March 7, 2012 § 3 Comments
Whew – what a whirlwind the past week has been!
I’m happy to announce a few things:
1. Hip Ink Paper Co.’s Etsy shop is finally live, with sample and deposit listings for all 20 Hitched by Hip Ink design collection invitations (and more to come over the next few months!). Currently Etsy is the only marketplace where you can purchase Hitched by Hip Ink, so do mosey on over and check it out, y’all.
2. That means that I can officially stop pimping out Hitched by Hip Ink designs on Wednesday, and get back to showing off some really cool custom designs. But don’t worry, I’ll be featuring one of our Hitched designs every Friday, with an in-depth look at the design and the inspiration behind it.
On a personal note, launching this design collection has been a labour of love, and I use the word labour on purpose. It’s literally been about 9 months since I made the final decision to design and create a Hip Ink invitation collection, and it’s been 9 months of growth, change, nervous anticipation, joy, sadness, doubt and everything in between. But now my babies are out in the world and I couldn’t be happier.
Most of all, I’m thrilled to be able to share my designs with a much wider audience. As a custom designer, I can only work with a limited number of couples every year, to insure that they receive the best quality product and experience possible. While I absolutely love creating custom designs, I realized that I was turning away so many clients because of a tight schedule, or a modest budget, and I realized that many of the potential clients didn’t necessarily need a completely custom invitation, but rather were after that Hip Ink signature look – something fresh and modern, and something not available in every invitation album or big box store out there.
So that’s when Hitched by Hip Ink was conceived – an invitation collection that takes the best of what I have to offer as a designer, and makes it accessible to anybody, anywhere (and for any event).
Here’s the low-down:
The Hitched by Hip Ink collection is digitally printed on your choice of extra-thick specialty paper:
White Matte (110 lb) – paper has a smooth flat texture
White Metallic (111 lb) – paper has a metallic sheen and sparkle
White 100% Cotton (118 lb) – paper has a soft luxurious texture, tree-free (eco-friendly)
The basic Hitched invitation set includes the following:
* Main Invitation and matching envelope
* Choice of response card and matching envelope, or large enclosure
* Digital PDF proofs with up to two rounds of revisions, personalized with your wording and choice of style for response or insert card
* Choice of paper
Many designs also include choice of colour(s) from over 40 available standard ink colours (custom colours are also available for an additional fee).
In addition, we’ve got lots of add-ons and upgrades available (including addressing) and invitations are available without response/enclosure cards as well (for use as Save The Dates, shower/engagement party invites etc.).
Prices start at just $4 per set (based on quantity ordered and paper selection), so what are you waiting for?
March 6, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Back this week continuing our series on breaking down invitation wording and the etiquette behind it – and today, it’s by the numbers.
Well – dates and times at least!
Traditionally speaking, no numerals (numbers) would be present on an invitation at all. While certainly for very informal or modern weddings we do often now use numerals in place of words, most invitations these days still use very traditionally formatted versions of the date and time.
Which means that dates and times can be one of the trickiest parts of wedding invitation wording, because these days most people aren’t used to writing out formal dates and times – so format, capitalization and even spelling can be a challenge.
When’s the last time you wrote a friend an email and said, “Hey Bertha, can you meet me on Saturday, the twenty-seventh of March, two thousand thirteen at half past seven in the evening”? Probably never. In fact, those of us who aren’t old enough to have written cheques probably never spell out numbers higher than ten.
So, let’s look at how this info would traditionally appear on an invite:
the marriage of their children
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
Jane Ann Katz
Saturday, the twenty-ninth of December
two thousand twelve
at seven o’clock in the evening
Believe it or not, those three little lines are full of opportunities to mess things up (from a traditional etiquette, format and spelling point of view) and also some controversy thrown in for good measure. Who knew?
Let’s start with the date, shall we?
Notice that only the day of the week (Saturday) and the month (December) are capitalized – never the day of the month. Seems pretty easy right? Maybe. How good are you at spelling ordinals (technically that’s what days of the month are ie. first, second etc.)? No sweat right – tenth, eleventh, twe…uh…twelveth? twelvth? twelfeth? twelfth? And don’t forget those hyphens if it has two words. Wait. Is seventeen one word? Or is it seven-teen? Exactly my point. You can always check out the table of ordinal numbers here if you’re unsure.
And by the way, I’ve read a few resources that will tell you to put a comma after the date on a wedding invitation. I’m here to tell you they are clearly smoking crack. Punctuation (just like abbreviations) is most unwelcome in wedding invitations, unless absolutely necessary.
Okay, so maybe the date isn’t so bad. But what about the year?
Ooooh, the drama here folks! First, let us give thanks that it is the 21st century, and we now do not have to write things like “nineteen hundred and ninety-six”. But, those pesky 2000s (and 2010s especially) do cause their own problems.
The question of the day is: do we write the date “two thousand twelve” or “two thousand and twelve”? Or is it actually “twenty twelve”?
I’ll save you searching on Uncle Google and give it to you straight. Who knows? It’s actually quite controversial (I know, really, right?). For every “authority” you will find that says one thing, you find someone equally important who says the other.
Technically speaking, there is no black and white answer – the British tend to use the “and” while here in North America we tend not to. Both “two thousand twelve” or “two thousand and twelve” are correct; but, while it’s easiest to say “twenty twelve”, it isn’t really the formal way of spelling the year (plus it just looks yucky on an invitation – it really does).
If it’s up to me, I tend to use “two thousand twelve” – looks cleaner, less wordy, that’s my preference. Just know the whichever you choose, you aren’t really wrong!
This another example where we almost never write out the time with words, so certain elements may be tricky.
First, format-wise, again there is no capitalization, and it’s important to note that rather than using AM or PM, the time of day is included (ie. “in the morning”, “in the afternoon”, “in the evening”).
So while it’s not that complicated if your wedding is at 7 pm (that would be seven o’clock in the evening), what if it’s at 7:30 pm?
Again, I’ve read multiple different arguments on how to word this, but traditionally speaking, you would say “half past seven in the evening”, or “half past seven o’clock in the evening”. These days it’s most commonly written without the “o’clock” and I prefer it that way myself, as I think “o’clock” actually sounds awkward in that context. It’s also acceptable to say “half after seven in the evening” and more common in the UK, Australia etc. What you don’t want to say is “seven-thirty o’clock in the evening”.
Oh, and a tip – if your ceremony is at noon, or midnight, that’s exactly the way to write in. No need to say noon o’clock or noon in the afternoon. Just plain old noon will do, since that is a specific time of the day and is not repeated.
And while we’re on the subject, do you have to specific morning/afternoon/evening? Are people really going to think your wedding is at seven-thirty in the morning? While they won’t, formally the time should either include AM or PM, or the time of day written out. Since abbreviations of any kind are a no-no for formal invites, you should in fact include the time of day (and it just sounds nice).
Now on to controversy number two – when does afternoon end and evening begin?
Traditional speaking, afternoon would be considered noon until 6 pm, and then evening from 6 pm onwards. There are some that would say evening begins at 5pm – not sure where that comes from to be honest, but I’ve seen some serious internet throw-downs on this topic.
When it comes to invitations, most etiquette mavens will tell you that indeed, evening begins at 6 pm, so if your ceremony is at 5:30 pm, you’ll need to say “half past five in the afternoon” rather than “half past five in the evening”. Frankly, “half past five in the evening” just sounds really wrong to me somehow; but, that said, I don’t think you’ll be tarred and feathered if you feel it makes more sense to you.
And that brings me to…
Do I really have to follow this traditional/formal stuff anyway?
If you’re a frequent reader of The Invitation Blog, you know the answer already. No, you don’t. While I would say that most of our clients actually do place a lot of importance on their invitation being “correct”, we also do invitations often that bend or break the rules above, but there is one important thing that makes it work – it fits the event. Writing the time informally on your invite as “7:30 pm” is fine, if you are having a more casual wedding or have chosen a very modern invitation style. If you are having a huge formal affair – probably not appropriate.
You know what “fits” you and your event – if you’re throwing a backyard do and would never be caught dead saying “half past seven in the evening”, then go for whatever works for you.
So, did you know there was so much controversy and drama involved with dates and times?