The Wedding Series – The Formal Invitation – Part 3

“Details create the big picture.”
Sanford I. Weill

The formal wedding invitation suite may include all or some of several components that should be assembled carefully for the most accurate, beautiful and delightful presentation when opened. The suite may also apply to less formal invitations, i.e., those that use colors, designs, typefaces and so on that differ from the strictly formal guidelines that have been discussed in the previous two entries.

The most efficient way to handle assembling the invitation suite is to have a production line, in the following order:


Address and stamp the outer envelopes and response envelopes if you haven’t had them sent out to be printed or handwritten in calligraphy; if these envelopes do not have a printed or embossed return address, include that as well on all envelopes. (Hint: If you’re addressing the envelopes yourself ask your stationer to send you all the various envelopes in advance so you can have them addressed and stamped by the time the invitations and other components arrive.)

Address the optional inner envelope, if you choose to include one, according to the guidelines in last week’s entry.

My advice is to separate the outer, response and optional inner envelopes into their own respective trays to keep them organized as well as clean and smudge free. Then you can choose a particular envelope from each tray as you need it.

Once the envelopes are ready, proceed in order as follows to assemble the formal wedding packet.

Wedding Invitation

The wedding invitation is the main piece of the suite. If you have ordered optional tissue paper, the invitations should arrive with a piece of tissue paper already on top of each invitation; if the tissue has been included separately simply place a piece on top of each invitation prior to placing the inserts on top of each invitation, as described in order below.

Reception Card (Optional)

If your reception will be at a different venue than your ceremony, a reception card with the address and directions should be placed face-up on top of the of the flat invitation or inside the folded invitation.

However, if the ceremony and reception will be taking place at the same venue the reception card is optional and may be omitted as it’s really not necessary. As covered in previous entries, both the ceremony and reception information may be included on the invitation.

Map/Directions/Hotel Accommodations/Activities Card(s) (Optional)

Place other enclosures face-up on top of the reception card. If you will be including separate enclosures for directions to the ceremony and the reception, place the directions to the ceremony on top of the directions to the reception.

Reply Card and Envelope

Place the reply envelope on top of the enclosure cards flap side up, and tuck the reply card under the envelope’s flap face up so the printed side of the card is visible. Note that the reply card should not be inserted into the reply envelope; after the recipient has filled out the reply card he or she will insert it into the envelope, seal and mail it.

Back To the Envelopes, Full Circle

After stacking all the components properly as described above, and depending on whether you are using the optional inner envelope, do one of the following:

(1) Inner and Outer Envelopes: Insert the entire invitation suite into the inner envelope, with the front of the suite peeking out of the front of the unsealed envelope when the flap is lifted; the first piece that should be visible is the reply card tucked under the flap of the reply envelope. Then slip the unsealed inner envelope into the outer envelope with the name(s) written on the back of inner envelope facing so it is visible as soon as the flap of the outer envelope is lifted. (Of course, many people will use a letter opener to slit the top or side of the outer envelope and slip the invitation packet out that way; but the packet should be placed so that when the recipient slides it out of the envelope the name(s) on the inner envelope will be visible first.

(2) Outer Envelope Only: Insert the invitation suite directly into the outer envelope, with the reply card tucked printed side up under the flap of the reply envelope on top; this will be the first piece that is visible when the suite is slid out of the outer envelope by the recipient.

To Be Omitted From the Wedding Invitation Suite

It is a serious breach of etiquette to include gift registry information, no matter how attractively done, with your wedding invitation suite. Such information traditionally is circulated via word of mouth by the bride’s mother, the maid/matron of honor and other close relatives and friends. Today, the information can be transmitted via social media and email or on the ever popular “wedsite.” It’s fine to include the wedsite address on the save-the-date card or general information enclosure included the wedding invitation suite as the wedsite will contain other valuable information and updates leading up to the wedding; alternatively, parents and members of the wedding party can advise the wedsite address by email or social media, and most people can find it simply by searching online for the couple’s names.

An Alternative

An alternative to the above process involves the invitation suite folder with pockets for all the enclosures, as pictured in the graphic at the beginning of the entry. The presentation is a clever, fun and festive presentation of the wedding invitation suite, and you should ask your stationer to show you such ensembles if you are interested. Be aware, though, that this alternative will add cost and more paper — things to consider if budget and the environment are concerns.

A Group Project

Assembling the invitation suite with family, friends and/or members of your wedding party can be a fun project. Make a party out of it and serve lunch or a simple buffet supper afterward. No food or drinks near the invitation assembly line, though! Having a strategic plan for the major and timely project of addressing and stamping your envelopes, assembling your invitation suite and mailing everything on time will give you peace of mind, lower your stress levels and keep everyone involved calm(er).

Next time we’ll take a look at less formal invitations, which can be fresh, modern and reflective of your personality and style. Meanwhile, all my warmest wishes to you and yours for a Thanksgiving Day full of joy, peace and love.

Until next time,


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