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Ask a CLINKer : Stationery 101

Our “Ask a CLINKer” series contains questions asked to us by our clients or by our readers. Please feel free to email your questions to

We love helping our clients design their stationery suites, but stationery is not easy. We have found that the same questions are asked time and again, and no wonder — stationery is a very detailed subject, with many elements of design, timing, and etiquette to consider. So we decided to tackle it head on in the hopes that some of these FAQs and their answers will help make the process as fun as it can possibly be!


Martha Stewart Weddings

When do we need to start thinking about the design of our invitations? 

There are many steps to the process before the invitations are stuffed, stamped and sent. First, you need to set a budget. Do you want engraved invitations with a hand-drawn custom monogram, or does flat digital printing work for your style? Educate yourself on what is available so you can plan for it cost-wise. And be honest with your stationer about your budget from the get-go, so you don’t waste time looking at invitations that may be more than what you are able to spend.

Once you’ve decided on the budget, it’s time to have fun and get creative! At the same time, it’s important to pay attention to the rules of etiquette when it comes to wording. Once your design is ready, and all proofs are approved, it’s time to go to print. This can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. After that, you need time to address and send.

So, when all is said and done, it’s best to give yourself from 4-6 months for the entire stationery process (setting the budget, choosing/designing the stationery, drafting the wording, reviewing the proofs, sending to print, and stuffing/stamping/mailing). More time is better than less, so you can be creative but also allow for kinks and production time along the way.


Dapper Paper

When do our invitations need to be mailed? Ideally, you want your invitations to go out eight weeks before the wedding date.

We don’t want to spend a lot of money on invitations, how important are they anyway?

Every guest who attends your wedding sees the invitation. In the grand scheme of your wedding budget, it’s one of the smaller costs, but your invitations have the potential to have a high impact. The second a guest opens your invitation, they will form an opinion about the tone of your event. Is it a casual backyard affair? A beachside celebration? A formal seated dinner? So much can be communicated to your guests about what the day will be like. It is an opportunity not to be missed!

As far as budget, there are many printing styles—engraving, letterpress, thermography and flat printing to name a few— all at different price levels, so you have options no matter what your budget is. You might be surprised about how reasonable invitations can be, even custom designs!


Martha Stewart Weddings

How do we let our guests know that children are not invited?

This is one of the most common questions we are asked. It can be a touchy subject, and of course you do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings. One thing is certain: it is in bad taste to print anything on your invitations about children not being invited. The rule of etiquette here is: the people invited to the event are listed on the envelope by name. But, some are not aware of this rule, so it is something that needs to be gently communicated to guests by word of mouth.

When should my RSVP date be?

We recommend four weeks before your wedding date. You will need to provide a guest count to your caterer, designer, and venue, so the more time before the wedding you have to finalize, the better. Many costs are related to the guest count (your catering bill, for example), so it is an important number to watch. 

And what should my RSVP card say?

The important information you need is the name of the guest and whether they are coming. You can also ask for entrée choice on this piece. We do not recommend saying “Number of persons attending” as that makes guests think they can add people and just put a random number, instead of who you have actually invited. This could pose a problem because you might not know their names (an issue if you are assigning seats), and your guest count could increase beyond your control.


Bernard Maisner

What is the piece of tissue for and do I need to use it?

This is a tradition from when all invitations were engraved, and the printer wanted to keep the ink from smudging as it dried. It is not necessary, but can add a nice touch to formal, traditional invitation suites.

Do we have to use two envelopes?

The short answer is no! This is also a tradition from when invitations were hand-delivered, and the outer envelope protected the inner envelope and invitation itself from getting dirty as it traveled to its destination. The benefit of doing two envelopes is ease of addressing. The outer envelope can be less specific (in the matter of inviting children, for instance), while the inner envelope lists each name of the invited guests. You can do both jobs on one envelope, but in some instances, it is easier to use two.

How do I let guests know the dress code, specifically black tie?

Traditionally, dress code is something that was communicated by the time of day of the event (after 6:00pm is considered formal), the formality of the invitation (engraved vs. digital, for example), and a traditional wedding venue like a high-end hotel ballroom. That said, times have changed and if you want a black-tie event, you might consider adding a printed “black-tie optional” enclosure to your invitation, and/or putting it on your wedding website. It is not considered appropriate to list dress code on the invitation itself.

I want to do place cards, but how do I handle last minute changes?

This can be tough. The easiest solution is to have extra place cards handy. That way, if it’s a last minute addition, your coordinator can hand-write their card. If you think this might be the case with your guests, a good recommendation is having a 2-piece escort card as well, where the guest’s name is on an envelope, and their table is on an insert that can be easily switched.


Elizabeth Hubbell Studio

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