Traditional Wedding Invitations: The Elements

Outer envelope

Historically, this envelope told a bride’s footman to which household an invitation should be delivered. This large, outer envelope is usually a square shape and complements the invitation inside. For more information on how to properly address outer envelopes, click here.

Inner Envelope

In the old days, a servant would receive the invitation package, remove the inner envelope, and hand the inner envelope to the member of the household to whom it was addressed. Many modern brides continue to adhere to this tradition. More on inner envelopes here.

Wedding Invitation

The wedding invitation is where you give guests the information they need in order to attend your event on time. It’s also an opportunity to let guests know how formal the event will be, and set the tone for your special day. More on invitations here.

Response Cards

The Response (RSVP) cards are a critical component of the invitation and wedding planning process because they allow your guests to let you know whether they will be attending, as well as how many people they will be bringing to the event. RSVP cards can be blank to allow guests to write their own message, or they can be printed to allow guests to fill in a blank or two. An addressed, pre-stamped envelope should always accompany response cards in order to make it as simple as possible for your guests to respond in a timely manner.

Some options for response cards include:

Classic fold-over cards
Panel cards
Double-sided postcards

Reception Cards

A reception card may or may not be needed for your event. If the reception will be held at the same location as the ceremony, you may choose to simply include an additional line on your invitation saying “You may be choosing to invite only a select number of guests to the reception, or you may be inviting everyone who is attending the ceremony. Either way, a reception card can easily be incorporated into the invitation. Traditional reception cards are made of the same paper and type style as the invitation, and are generally half the size of the invitation itself.

Direction Card

All your guests will likely not be as familiar with your chosen locations as you are! By including a map or direction card, you help ensure that no one will get lost or arrive late to your event. For an elegant and cohesive look, have the printer of your invitations print your map/directions card as well. This way, you can be sure that the paper stock and type style will match your invitations perfectly. An alternative option to including a direction card with the invitation is to wait to receive RSVPS, and then send directions and/or maps to attendees who have indicated that they will be attending.

Here are a few options to help your guests arrive in style…

  • Simple text directions provide your guests with turn-by-turn directions to each of your destinations (usually from each direction to the church or ceremony site, and then from the church directly to the reception)
  • Hand-drawn map made by a friend or local artist
  • Professional map provided by the church or reception site
  • Combination of directions and a map

Ceremony or Reception Site Map

Most churches, parks, and reception sites will have their own professionally made maps. Simply request a copy and submit it to be printed on your card.

*Please note that not all brands will allow you to submit your own map. Make sure to inquire about this option when you have decided which invitation you would like to order.

Accommodation Cards

Whether you are hosting a destination wedding in a vacation spot, or simply know that many of your guests will be traveling to attend you event, you will probably want to provide accommodation information. An accommodation card might include helpful information for everyone attending your wedding, or you might choose to include this card only with the invitations being send to your out-of-town guests.

Helpful accommodation cards include:

  • Local hotels in a variety of price points
  • Room block information, if applicable
  • Places to rent in the area
  • Any local destinations or activities in case people will be coming for more than a day or two.
  • Be sure to include phone numbers, web sites, and any other information your guests might need to make their arrangements
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