Most everyone is on some sort of budget these days, and when it comes to wedding planning that is less the exception and more the rule. If you’ve got the time and conviction, doing it yourself works wonders for a lot of this. And with regards to your invitations, programs, menus, etc., here are three simple tips and tricks to help you stretch your dollar, while still making an impact on paper. The name of the game: size really does matter!
(photo credit: la vida creations photography)
1. Know Your Paper… and Optimize
Whether you’re printing everything yourself or taking it down to your local print shop, do your research and find out what the standard sizes of available paper are. How does your creation fit on that sheet? How about your printer – what’s the optimal size sheet that will fit? If your inkjet can only accommodate a standard letter-size (8.5″x11″) sheet, and your card is 6″x6″ square, your pretty much doomed to yielding a single card per sheet of paper (and wasting a ton in the process). On the other hand, if you trimmed things down slightly to 5.5″x5.5″ square, suddenly you’re printing twice as many cards on half the number of sheets! And the simple math adds up for you: less paper = lower cost.
2. Smaller Never Hurt
We are all familiar with the standard A7 card size (5″x7″) for invitations and announcements. The dimensions work perfectly for the tidbit we went over in #1, but what if you’re still over budget? Bigger may be better for some things, but in this case, going the opposite direction could work in your favor. By using something slightly smaller, you can finagle a few more $$ out of the process. The same theory applies in optimizing each sheet of paper — smaller dimensions allow you to yield more items per sheet. But in addition to that, smaller envelopes cost less too. Again, let’s look at the math: smaller envelopes = less paper (for the manufacturer anyway) = lower cost for you.
3. Speaking of Envelopes…
Unique shapes and sizes are always fun, and they definitely make an impact on your guests. But being aware of available envelope sizes will also help you save money and time in the long run.. that and your local postal workers won’t have a fit when they see you coming. The consequence of NOT designing your custom creation to fit one of these standard sizes is creating your own instead. And amidst the rest of your wedding planning, the last thing you want to do is fold your own envelopes. Additionally, when it comes time to MAIL everything, the post office has its own set of guidelines governing what is and isn’t acceptable. If what your sending can’t zip through their normal process, it will require an extra step, which usually also means extra postage, OR even worse – it may get rejected altogether!
Wedding Program Etiquette
Now, wedding etiquette doesn’t require a wedding program; however, there are many reasons for considering one. It gives you space where you can introduce your wedding party and even write some thank you notes. Wedding programs need not be complex, and they don’t represent a huge investment.
The basic elements of a well-constructed wedding program include a cover with the name of the couple, the date and location of the wedding, and some type of design element that ties into the ceremony’s theme. Second, akin to a play’s program, this item lists the order of events in the ritual from beginning to end. Third, you want to list the members of the bridal party including the Officiant, parents, and anyone reading quotes or readings. These three elements make up the simplest form of a wedding program.
For an expanded program, wedding program etiquette suggests explaining unusual elements in your ritual. If there’s a lot of movement that the audience is expected to follow include those instructions (sing, sit, stand, etc.). For individuals who are missing a family member due to death, the program can include a memorial with an explanation of the relationship between that person and the bride or groom. Two more good additions to your program are an explanation about your wedding’s theme, and directions to the reception along with a phone number should people get lost.
A highly detailed program might also include bios for each member of the wedding party, information on your musical selections including meaningful lyrics, and thank you notes to the parents. No matter what, keep each aspect of the program personalized. For example, if you’re having a medieval-themed wedding, use parchment paper as the media for your program so it fits the atmosphere (you could even do it as a scroll).
Once you’ve determined what information goes into your program and get them printed, the next question is how to present them? Wedding program etiquette gives you lots of wiggle room here. Some people use baskets while others put them on pews or chairs individually, and others still use ushers to hand out programs as guests arrive. All three approaches are perfectly suitable.
After the wedding, you can send extra programs to anyone who could not attend so they have a keepsake too. This is wholly optional but a really nice gesture particularly for people who took the time to RSVP with a reason. It’s practical recycling at its best!