Day of Details - What They Are and Why You Need Them
The wedding stationery train doesn’t just stop after you send you invitations out. There are many details that couples often completely forget about until a few weeks out. Nobody wants to be in that position. That’s why we made a list of the top stationery items you probably want for your big day. We want you to know what they are, why you need them, and when to order them so if you are just starting the planning process, you will be WAY ahead of the game!
Designers and planners have their own special ways of naming the pieces that you decide to incorporate into your wedding day. Here, we like to call them “day of details”. From escort cards to itineraries for your guests, these little details are one of the most important things that can set the tone, as well as add thoughtful touches for every single guest on a day that you may not have loads of time to devote to each of them. It’s such as easy thing to plan ahead for and have fun with. The more creative and personal you get with your details, the more memorable the entire day will be for everyone.
So let’s the get biggest question out of the way first. When do I need to start ordering all of these items?!
Our general answer is 3-4 weeks. But… it depends. It depends on what materials you are using, how big your guest list is, what printing methods you have decided on, how early you want them delivered, etc. Just like invites, timelines can range anywhere from a quick 3 weeks to a jaw dropping 8 weeks (if you’re getting seriously custom that is). Our best advice is to get as detailed as possible upfront so that we can give an accurate timeline. I will explain more in terms of what options can come into play below, and how that can affect your order.
Always factor in how many days of cushion you want. If you are getting married on Saturday the 10th, DO NOT ask them to be delivered on Friday the 9th. That is a recipe for disaster. We recommend receiving the items the week before at the latest. That allows for any shipping issues and lets you have a chance to get a good look at everything before it’s whisked off to your wedding venue.
Now, let’s dig into individual items, what they are, why you need them, and how material choices can affect them.
Are your guests from out of town, or are you hosting an entire wedding weekend?
Then you will likely be providing something with an itinerary; a piece with directions and addresses to each venue, and maybe even a map. These generally go in a welcome bag that you put in guests’ rooms. It’s great to remind them what the weekend looks like even if you included this in their invitation suite. They probably won’t bring that card, and they probably won’t think to look on your website, so just make sure everyone is on time and in the right place with one of these. You can print these in any form, although our favorite is a folded “pamphlet” style. This way, you can dedicate each panel to an event separating the information nicely without have to do a pricey multi-paged piece. The design process can get pretty lengthy on this depending on how many panels need designing, if you want custom illustrations, if there is custom lettering etc. In general, this is a custom piece which runs at around 4-5 weeks. Printing can be simple, flat printing which only takes a few days.
Details you need: ALL event descriptions and how you want to name them with addresses, times, and transportation information. What you want on your cover. Any other fun pages you’d like to add (where to shop, your fave bars, quick bites).
Let your guests know where to put those gifts and cards
These are the simplest of all the things you will need on your wedding day! There are many options that are pre-made and ready to purchase, we offer some options here and you can even customize color if you have a bit more time. They’re standard print size so they’re easily framable. Or just pop them in a photo stand. There’s nothing worse than being handed a card on your wedding day from a guest who couldn’t find the box (as it wasn’t clearly marked). I mean, how are you going to remember where you set it down? Did it get put away safely? Don’t worry about these things and mark your gift + card areas.
Tell your guests where to sit
Seating charts aren’t always essential. It depends on the size of your wedding and how organized you would like it to be. If you’re worried about everyone fitting into the space and getting to sit with their guest, definitely do one. It will minimize the chaos that is probably already happening in the dinner area. But, if your day is a bit more casual or cocktail style, I would think you could skip the chart. The seating chart will be in lieu of escort cards. Adding in place cards to the actual table again, is another choice up to preference and organization. If your table’s only 6 people, typically people can find their way. But bigger tables should definitely be organized with assigned seating. (BTW I am not saying don’t get place cards. Place cards are my favorite detail because you can get SO creative with them!)
With that said, let’s chat about options for executing a seating chart. There are foam core seating charts, wood charts, acrylic, fabric, mirror… you name it. People even get extra creative and put each table onto their own element, like this wood cutting board seating chart we created recently for a wedding. Paper or foam core will be the fastest and least expensive. As you change up the material, the time goes up for designing onto the special surface, application/printing/hand lettering onto that surface, and sourcing it. And this is after you have your RSVP’s back and the seating chart nailed down. If you are looking to do something a little more extravagant like the wood cutting board seating chart, I would recommend reaching out 5-6 weeks ahead of time to start sourcing materials. It’s good to get this going even before you personally have everyone’s seat assigned. Once you have your list over to your designer, they will need to design your chart (5-10 days). And once that is approved, expect 1-2 weeks for execution (the shorter being a basic printed stock, the longer being a vinyl appliqué on acrylic).
But maybe you don’t want a seating chart and you want to stick with escort cards and place cards, cool.
Then you just cut your timeline down significantly. You will need escort cards if you want to do assigned seating to tables. An escort card contains each guest’s name and the table they sit at. Sometimes it also includes something to mark their entree choice. If you want to take it a step further once they get to the table, you can do place cards. These are set at each place setting marking where each guest will sit. These can also include a mark that signifies the persons dinner selection. Some couples forgo escort cards and stick solely to place cards. It’s really up to the size of your party and how organized you’d like the day to be.
Place cards and escort cards as a standard are on simple colored cardstock to match your wedding paper. The timeline for these, once you have your list and seat assignments if necessary, will usually be around 1-2 weeks.
If you are wanting to try a different material for place/escort cards, you can source some pretty cool options. We’ve worked on acrylic, wood, driftwood, shells, leaves, etc. The sourcing of the materials will add a bit to your lead time, and in some cases, the actual time that it takes your calligrapher to hand letter all of them. Things like driftwood can be much more tricky to letter so this effects the cost as well as your timeline.
So, your guests need to eat! Here’s how to tell them what they’re getting
Dinner menus are another place you can have a little fun. Here at AFF we have simple, pre-made options that we can simply pop your menu details into, have printed and send them on their way. Other times, clients want something a bit more custom to match their day. In these cases we can do things like hand letter custom titles, create custom illustrations that show ingredients from your entrees, add a crest, or some even use these as a place card (you can see an example of that above in our pictures). Similarly to the place cards and escort cards, the more details, the longer your timeline, so start early if you are looking to get fancy here! It’s never a bad thing to reach out and ask about possibilities. While you may not have your menu nailed down, your stationer can always get started on other aspects of the order like sourcing a special paper or illustrating items that will be used in your design.
Serving drinks? Have one of these.
Bar menus follow the same outline as your dinner menus. You can go simple or big. Keep them on cardstock or get a little creative and have them done on acrylic. If you have a limited bar, I highly recommend you put one or two of these guys up. It will cut down on questions and let your bartenders do their job. Plus you can add special signature cocktails. If you and your spouse have favorite drinks, put them at the top of your bar menu and give them a fun name!
It’s great to list out the beer and wine brands/varietals that you have chosen for your big day. It gives people a chance to look ahead of time and make decisions.
Welcome your guests with a sign slash keepsake
I have a hunch that the welcome sign started as a thing when many weddings were held in ballrooms and you actually had to find your way to the reception. Nowadays, I think they’re more of a decor piece and something special that the couple can keep long after the wedding is over. We generally offer a wood option and an acrylic option as these are pretty standard right now. You can do foam core although I recommend going with something a bit more substantial and elevated. You want to set the tone for your day and doing so with nice materials is a great way to do that. These can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks as they typically have to be hand lettered and printed in many cases. This is one of the easiest pieces to order up front though. Couples usually add their names and wedding date, nothing else. You know that very far in advance so get this one going as soon as possible!
Tell your guests who’s who and what’s when
Wedding programs are necessary to share a few things with your guests; names of your wedding party, a ceremony outline, details/words to any special songs or readings, and in some cases a thank you note from the couple. The couples name’s are typically added to the top (or a monogram/crest) and some design details pulled from their invitation suite. This is a very simple printed piece in most cases and shouldn’t take more than 2-3 weeks to produce. If you are working with your invitation designer, they can usually pull elements from your suite so that it ties in and uses resources you have already paid for during that process (ie. if your names were hand lettered or illustrations created).
Don’t forget the table numbers
Obviously, these tell people where to go if you have a seating chart or escort card display. You can order a quick set of simple numbers on card stock and frame them, or get a little more creative and have them made on a giant selection of materials. If your designer or calligrapher can print or letter on it, it can be a table number! But keep in mind, the trickier the item is to source, the more time this adds to your overall timeline.
Last but not least, do you need to order all this stuff together?
In general, it’s easier and more cost effective if you do. There are almost always last minute changes and additions, but if you can get everything over to your designer in one chunk, they will be able to design and send to print together saving you time and money. This also cuts down on any chance that ink or paper colors won’t match if they are all being made together in one place.
My recommendation is to reach out to your desired designer 8 weeks ahead of time if not earlier, to start a conversation. Start the process with plenty of time on your side so you aren’t having to rush through any decisions or compromise when there is some detail that you’d really like to see. Even if you don’t have your details pulled together yet (like your seating chart or menu details), it’s totally fine to simply reach out. Many times you can get your details narrowed down to the point of being able to place a deposit and hold your spot in that specific designers queue. Remember, there are a lot of couples getting married all of the time and if you really want to work with someone, make sure they keep availability for you!