You’ve determined a budget, confirmed details with your venue, assembled a dream team of vendors, and are well on your way to realizing the goals you set when you first began planning your event. Now, it’s time to invite your guests! There are several considerations to be made when organizing the invitation process and, as usual, the very best piece of advice I can share with you is to be organized!
When you began the budgeting process, I suggested you create an Excel spreadsheet and I am going to suggest the same thing for this stage. The most basic spreadsheet should include five columns, although you can certainly include more, depending on how detailed you want to be.
- Column 1: Guest Name
- Column 2: Guest Address (email or street address, depending on how you’ll send the invitations)
- Column 3: Invite Sent (simply fill in an “X” when you have sent the invitation)
- Column 4: Guest Response
- Column 5: Notes (any special things to remember about the guest in regards to your party such as food allergies)
You can fill in the first and second (and maybe the fifth) columns right away and fill in the rest of the columns as you complete them. This spreadsheet will serve as a quick and easy way to know where you stand in terms of your guests as the big day draws close.
Now, it’s time to choose your invitations! Your first big decision is whether to send invites the traditional way (snail mail) or electronically (email). Some people feel a traditional invitation shows more respect and care to the receivers while others prefer the quicker, more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly option of keeping things electronic. I’ve utilized both methods and don’t recommend one way over the other. Simply do what works for you and your event.
If you choose to go the traditional route, you have a few options. You can visit your local stationery store (Katie & Company, Paper Source, and Papyrus just to name a few) to pick out an invitation style unique for your event. Oftentimes, you will find that stationery stores have a calligrapher on staff or know someone who offers calligraphy services if you’re interested in a fancier look. If you have a little extra time on your hands and want to send personalized, handmade invitations to your guests, you should head straight to an art or hobby store to collect the supplies you’ll need; Texas Art Supply, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby are great options. Lastly, the HGTV website has stylish invitations you can download, fill in with your guests’ information, and print out to send. Just be sure you buy enough card stock.
If you’d prefer to go the emailed invite route, you’ll be happy to know you also have tons of options! Evite and Punchbowl are two great sources for creating (free!) fun and cheery invitations. Both sites offer online event management tools like tracking your RSVPs and sending both you and your guests reminders regarding your event. A third option is to create a Facebook “Event”. It’s a great option, especially for more casual events, as it is free and can be updated at the stroke of a key. Of course, you’ll want to be sure that your guests are all on Facebook.
Invitation etiquette is important as this is often the first impression of your event that guests will have. Here’s a few tips regarding this topic:
Style: Is your event themed? Seasonal? Benefiting a cause? Kid-friendly? Black tie only? Consider this as you choose your invitation colors and style. You want everything to do with your event to be consistent, starting from the moment they find your invitation in their mailbox (or inbox).
Timing: Plan to send your invitations six to eight weeks ahead of your event. If you expect many out of town guests, you may consider sending Save the Dates four to six months ahead of your event so they have plenty of time to plan their trip.
RSVPs: Some vendors, such as your caterer, may need the final headcount for your event two weeks before your event. If at that time you have unaccounted guests, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. If you opt for an electronic invite, keep in mind that there is a possibility your invitation accidentally ended up in the spam folder. So following up with guests is mucho importante.