There’s so much to think about when planning a wedding, and many things you wouldn’t know unless you’ve been closely involved in the process before. Something you may be wondering is: “when do I need to order my wedding invitations?” You’re not alone – this is a question clients ask me all the time! It’s a good one, too – making sure you allow enough time for a designer to create, refine, print, and mail your invitations and other paper goods can be the difference between a beautiful, bespoke design and having to settle for something you don’t love. Following this wedding stationery timeline will ensure the process is smooth and stress-free!
The biggest factor in how long stationery takes to produce is the level of customisation. White Olive Design Studio offers both a customisable house collection and completely bespoke designs. Customisable invitations take around 4–6 weeks for both design and printing, which allows for up to three digital proofs and two proof revisions, so you can get the wording just right. For a bespoke invitation, the design process varies, depending on the complexity of the design and the print finish, but usually takes around 9–10 weeks, although it can be more during busy periods. Calligraphy in particular can take more time, since each piece of artwork is hand drawn, and each envelope individually addressed.
Before you place your order, there are a few pieces of information you’ll need, so finalising these should be your first priority after getting engaged. First of course, is the date of your wedding, the time of your ceremony, and the venue. The second is the number of households you plan to invite, so you have a good idea of how many invitation sets will need to be printed. Once you have confirmed this information, do try to place your order as soon as possible, since good designers are often booked up well in advance.
So when should you order each item of your wedding stationery? Here’s what I recommend:
Save the Dates
Save the Dates can be sent out anywhere from 9–12 months before the event. If you’re planning a destination wedding especially, you should try to give your guests as much time as possible to plan their travel and book time off work. On the other hand, if you’re working with a shorter timeline, you may choose to skip sending out Save the Dates altogether. If you’re ordering a customisable design for your Save the Dates, you should ideally order it 2–3 months before you plan to send them out, and for a bespoke design, 4–6 months.
The actual wedding invitations are usually sent out around 5–9 months before the big day, to allow your guests to RSVP well ahead of when the venue, caterer, and other suppliers need to have a final head count. If you’re planning on having bespoke invitations, you should place your order at least 3–4 months before you plan to send them out. For customisable designs, you can wait a little longer; 2–3 months before you want to post out your invitations is fine. Remember to allow enough time after delivery for you to assemble and address the invitations if you’re doing this yourselves!
Wedding Day Stationery
At the two month mark, you’ll have had most of your RSVPs from your invitations, and it’s the perfect time to order your wedding day stationery, like menus, programmes, place cards and table numbers. The process can take more or less time depending on the number of elements and the finishes you choose. I aim to have orders safely in your hands no later than a week before the wedding, but delays in ordering or checking proofs can cause stressful delays – definitely something to avoid when you have so much else to think about!
Of course, despite the best laid plans, sometimes you find yourself with less time available than the above. I do offer rush orders at an additional fee, when the studio schedule allows, so whatever your timeline, do get in touch to discuss your options.