Today, wedding invitations come in so many different mediums (paper or not). While we celebrate all the new variations in design, we love holding onto our invitation roots. There's a beauty to which the traditional suite unfolds and complements each other, piece by piece. However, we know it can be a little daunting for many engaged couples and families to know all that they will need and want in their wedding invitation. So, we've pooled our knowledge for a simple guide on what makes a wedding invitation - from the content it should hold, to common sizes for each piece. We hope you enjoy, and learn a little something new!
Who to tip and how much.
Knowing who of your wedding vendors you should tip and how much is a delicate matter. Each individual works so hard and often goes beyond expectations to make your day the best it can be. Having worked in and being married to someone in the service industry, I know it can be a touchy situation to navigate. However, it is important to show gratitude when you are happy with the service you have received. We've done some research so that you can be informed for your wedding. We have of course consulted Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette and we've also interviewed a favorite wedding planner of ours Vikki Marsee, who is one half of All You Need Is Love Events.
APB: How long have you been in the wedding/event planning industry? How did you get into it? What drew you to it? What is your favorite part?
VM: "We started our company at the end of 2009 and had our first wedding in 2010. We started it out of a love for events and specifically weddings. Everyone loves a good wedding – a time when family and friends came together to celebrate the union of a couple and the entire day is centered around love. It is truly a very special occasion that we always feel honored to be a part of. We love every part of this process – meeting the couple for the first time, hearing their vision and their dreams, and doing our part to make that become a reality. We love the details of planning, working with other incredible vendors in the industry to create something beautiful, and of course, we love the wedding day. We love seeing the bride getting ready, the look on the groom’s face when she walks down the aisle, and we love exceeding all expectations on their day. It’s a passion for perfection and a lot of hard work that makes this job so fulfilling."
ABP: When it comes to tipping your wedding vendors, what are some common misconceptions or faux pas that come to mind?
VM: "I would say a faux pas that comes to mind is asking the vendor if they require or expect a tip. I think it puts the vendor in a very sticky situation and it’s difficult to answer that question professionally. Another misconception would be not to tip a business owner. I think all professionals appreciate a tip if they have gone above and beyond the service, no matter if they own or work for the business."
ABP: Are there any general rules you tend to adhere to?
VM: The most general rule that we adhere to is that tipping is not required for most vendors and it’s always appreciated but never expected. They are expressions of appreciation and gratitude. And furthermore, these are simply our suggestions, but giving more or less is completely up to the host of the event.
ABP: The same questions applies to all of the below: Should they be tipped and how much? When should the tip be delivered. For some of these, such as the professional services, would a thank you note and gift be sufficient?
Ceremony officiants and musicians:
VM: For officiants, this one really varies. If you’re marrying in a house of worship, donations are usually accepted and we usually recommend anywhere between $100 - $500, depending on how active a member you are. For a nondenominational officiant, whom you are already paying a fee, tip between $50 and $100. Some court clerks are prohibited from accepting tips, so therefore a nice thank you note and gift would be sufficient. Many of our clients also have their friends officiate the wedding and in that case, a nice gift would be appropriate.
For ceremony musicians, we usually say 10 – 15% of the fee split between the musicians.
Reception musicians or DJ:
VM: For a band, usually $50 per band member is recommended. For a DJ, 10% of their overall fee.
Reception venue staff and catering staff:
VM: Sometimes this is built into the fee as a Service Charge, so we always suggest checking your contract first. If it’s not included, $20 per service staff is suggested.
VM: 10 – 15% of overall fee split between all drivers
Professional services: wedding planner, florist, photographer videographer, and reception manager
VM: This is sometimes where a gift and a nice note is more common then anywhere else. However, again, we always say the amount you tip each of these vendors is based on the level of service you receive. We always recommend tipping those that have gone above and beyond their services and this can be anywhere from $50 - $100 each to 10% of the overall bill which can be $1000 - $1500. A tip like this would not be uncommon if it is a larger event.
Vikki's insights are so helpful as she is on site at weddings year round helping her own clients through these very questions! A few important additions from Emily Post are 1) bartenders: you should tip that as a group, 10 % of the total liquor bill. 2) If there is a chef onsite you should tip them $100 or more and 3) the maitre d or headwaiter 1-3 percent of the contracted food and beverage price.
Emily Post also adds that for the officiant and ceremony musicians, all fees and tips should be delivered right after the ceremony, prepared in label envelopes and a short note of thanks. The same applies to the reception manager or maitre d' and other service staff after the reception.
As always, you should check your contract beforehand to see if there is any tip included.
We hope this clears up some misconceptions and helps you avoid putting your vendors in awkward positions!
Illustrations by Hanna Snyder
In the digital age that we live in now, the art of the handwritten thank you note is a dying discipline. But I would argue that, with everything we could ever want or need being accessible at the touch of a button, a handwritten thank you note holds more weight now than it ever has. It takes more time and effort to sit down, write something meaningful and walk it to the mailbox. Since it is not as easy as sending a text, we're here to give you some tips and tricks so you don't have to scramble for paper, stamps, etc. when you need to write your next thank you note, as well as give you some etiquette guidelines to follow.
Tips and Tricks
- Always have nice pens, stationery and stamps on hand and in an easily accessible place. This will making writing a thank you note, less of a scramble and more of a streamlined process, leaving more energy to sit down and write something meaningful.
- Think about the people you're thanking before you write anything. How would you say it if you were thanking them in person, this may provide some inspiration. Write from the heart.
When To Send
- When you've received a gift: According to Emily Post every gift should be acknowledged in writing and it should be prompt. The only exception is if a family member or close friend gives you a gift in person and you sincerely thank them on the spot, but a thank you note is still a nice touch.
- After an interview: As a recruiter in my previous career, any candidate that sent a hand written thank you note went to the top of my list. It made them immediately stand out. If they showed that attention to detail in their own life, it proved they'd be able to do it for the company.
- Thanking a host or hostess: Opening up your home is no joke. Acknowledging that someone took the time and effort to plan a nice evening or meal will go a long way and you're sure to be invited back!
- Timing: According to Emily Post, it's best to send a thank you note within two to three months. Kate Spade, in her book Manners, suggests a three day rule, to hold yourself accountable. But regardless, the number one rule to go by is: the sooner the better! Having your thank you materials readily available will make following this rule a breeze.
What to Write
- According to Kate Spade: "when you send a note, refer to the actual gift, event or conversation that you're acknowledging." Yes, you can thank people for a conversation!
- Let's talk about thanking people for money for just a second: you should thank people for monetary gifts, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel! You can use the phrase "generous gift," in lieu of mentioning the actual amount, which is optional. Also mention what use you will make of the money.
- Don't send form letters or cards with printed messages and just your signature or use email or post a generic thank you on your Facebook instead of personal notes.
"An engraved or printed thank you card, no matter how attractive, cannot take the place of a personally written message of thanks." -Emily Post
Illustrations by the lovely Hanna Snyder
When to Order, Assemble And Mail Your Invitations
As printers and stationers, it is perfect for us to start our etiquette about wedding stationery. Embedded within wedding stationery are many traditions and suggestions for how to properly inform your guests so they can enjoy your wedding.
Why does the timing of the arrival of your invitations matter? As a courtesy to your guests you want to provide them with all the pertinent information and give them plenty of time to plan and prepare to attend your wedding. Furthermore, it's important to give yourself the time and space to allow your invitations to be well thought out and meaningful. You want them to express the style and feel of your wedding and to evoke excitement in your guests.
Wedding planning requires it’s own strict timeline, so how do you even fit an invitation timeline within that? Where do you start? How far in advanced should you start thinking about invitations? How much time should you allocate to each task? These are all questions we hope to answer in this post. We created a chart focusing on the major milestones to simplify the wedding invitation process as much as possible.
We turned to Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette written by Anna and Lizzie Post to verify our findings. A key tip that we found was to count backwards from the date of your wedding. Anna and Lizzie recommend mailing invitations 8 weeks before your wedding, but here at Alissa Bell Press we suggest mailing your invitations about 8-10 weeks before the wedding if you’re having a local wedding and 10-12 weeks before if it's a destination wedding. Allow 1-2 weeks to address and assemble your invitations. If you’re having a calligrapher, get the envelopes to them ahead of time, usually about 2-3 before you plan to assemble them. At Alissa Bell Press we can facilitate the envelope coordination with calligraphers to streamline the invitation process even further.
Another key step is placing your invitation order on time. Anna and Lizzie recommend that once you choose a stationer, be sure you know how long their production process is. They say that if you're using traditional engraving, allow 2-3 months, but it all depends on the type of printing you choose. Maybe your choice of stationer will even depend on the how long you have to get your invitations out. Here at Alissa Bell Press, our process takes a minimum of 7 weeks, with about 3 of those being production weeks. If you order through our Read to Order collection online, it only takes 3-4 weeks!
We hope that this has clarified the wedding invitation process a little bit more. Stay tuned as we tackle some more etiquette questions surrounding this topic!