Q: The money for our wedding is coming from several pots - my folks are chipping in, my future in-laws are giving us money, and my fiance and I are paying some of the costs. How do we reflect this on the invitations?
First of all: lucky you! This is quite a common conundrum these days, with more mature (read: older) brides and grooms sharing the big costs of their Big Day with their families. "I run into this a lot," says Sylvia Golden, owner of Events by Sylvia Golden in Needham. "The wording is usually, "Together with their families, John Smith and Jane Brown invite you to share the joy of our marriage." Simple solution. Of course, it's never that easy. "Many times the parents of the bride will balk," says Danielle Cameron, founder of Details Within Wedding Consulting in Merimac. They'll say, "Well, traditionally it should read the parents of the bride." Well, sure, in the olden days when they paid for everything. Just be forewarned that they might take a little more convincing on that.
Q: Is it okay to send wedding announcements to a wide group of family and friends, and then send invitations to just some of them?
No. You should never send announcements before your wedding. Send them the day after your wedding to let people know the marriage took place. Announcements are a nice way to inform friends and family who cannot be included in the ceremony and reception because of financial or other limitations on the size of the wedding. Simply reverse your scenario, sending out your invitation first and later announcing the happy event to a wider group that was not invited. Keep in mind that people receiving wedding announcements are under no obligation to send a gift.
Q: A close friend, a talented graphic artist, volunteered to design invitations for the wedding. She has come up with a design she thinks is divine - and I think is horrid! I don't want to offend my friend - but I don't want to send out awful invitations. What's a bride to do?
"This calls for a candid and caring conversation, the kind of talk people should be able to have if they are truly friends," says Mark Kingsdorf, owner of The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants in Philadelphia. "Start by telling your friend what kind of invitations you had in mind and then exchange ideas." If the friends can't iron out their creative differences, the bride's wishes should prevail. Devote as little time as possible to telling a friend you don't like her design - and as much time as possible to telling her how much you love and appreciate her.
Q: My future in-laws gave us a ridiculously long guest list. How do I tell them tactfully that they can't invite all these people?
Keeping within the budget. A lot of times, people fall in love with something that's more than they'd hoped to spend. There are so many wonderful designs with layers and wraps and pockets - but because of the number of pieces and the labor it takes to create those, they're a higher price. And when people host whole-weekend affairs, those separate cards add up.
Q: What are some ways to keep the costs down?
Print in one ink color, since there's additional charge for more than one. Avoid using too many layers or wraps - your invites can still make a strong design statement even though they're simple. You can also purchase some components and combine them yourself. If you loved a printed card with a satin ribbon over it, you can order the card, buy ribbon, and tie it up on your own. And you can skip the calligrapher - your own hand-addressed envelopes are a nice touch.
Q: In a pinch, can I save money by making invitations from scratch?
If you're a designer, or really crafty, doing your own invitations certainly adds dimension to your event. But mainstream companies have begun hiring really creative people to develop unique stationery. Letterpress printing, for example, used to be strictly custom, but now it's available through larger companies. So it's a lot less work, and usually less expensive, to order rather than try to do it yourself.
Q: What are popular invitation ideas?
Layering and pockets are really big. So are motifs - we had one couple getting married in Venice who used custom sketches of the city on all of their stationery. We're also seeing lots of delicate floral designs, and patterns that bleed off the page - and letterpress is really popular. Five or six years ago, the look was very crisp and modern. Now it's a little softer, more romantic.
Q: Do the bride's parents, or whoever's writing the check, still have to get top billing?
With extended families and divorces and (older couples) getting married, there's a lot of "Together with their families." Names used to indicate who was paying, but not anymore. Even if an older couple is getting married and paying for it themselves, they'll sometimes include their parents just because they want to. And people who want to include children from a previous marriage can use all of the names. We've had wording like, "Please join Jamie and Chloe at the marriage of their parents," or, "The children of so-and-so invite you to the wedding of..." We've had international couples write the invitations in two languages, we've also had people use poems. There's a large range of options.
Q: Is there a polite way to list your wedding website or your registry?
Not on the invitation. Just give them the time, date, place, reception, and whether it's black-tie. A direction card is a better place for a wedding website. As for the registry, you could possibly include it on a save-the-date or a shower invitation, but not on a wedding invitation, not even on an enclosed card. The implication that you expect a gift is not considered tasteful.