Many wedding invitation designers offer stationery assembly to their clients as part of their various packages. What does assembly mean? In short, your invitations and any additional paper pieces you've selected will be packaged, stamped, and addressed by your stationer, then sent to guests without you ever having to lift a finger. Since this requires a great deal of work, there's typically an additional cost associated with assembly, so you'll have to decide whether it's necessary for you.
In an effort to provide all the background information you need to make the decision, we're turning to a stationer for a little more information behind what's involved in prepping wedding invitations to get them ready for the post office. Here, we've asked Audrey Woollen, founder and creative director of Urbanic, to outline the basics.
What's involved in assembling an invitation set?
Woollen says, "A typical invitation set usually consists of four pieces, made up of the invitation, RSVP card, and both envelopes, plus any additional cards such as details cards, weekend events, and maps. When assembling the stationery, you want to make sure that the items are stacked from the back of the envelope—largest to smallest, so that nothing is missed by the recipient—and always facing the recipient upon opening the back flap. The RSVP envelope needs the postage stamp affixed before assembly and the reply card should be just tucked under the flap, not inserted. And once the envelopes are all packed up with the invitation pieces inside, it's time to stamp, seal, and address them (unless pre-printed)." More involved stationery suites, including those with custom envelope liners, belly bands, or wax seals, have even more associated steps.
And what's this I hear about numbering invitations? Is that really necessary?
Woollen says, "Some folks (or their stationers) put a tiny number discreetly on the back of the reply card that correlates with their guest list. This helps with any potential confusion on handwritten names or hard-to-read responses." Is it necessary? No. But it makes it much faster to figure out who has or hasn't RSVPed.
How long will it take to assemble the average stationery suite?
"For just the assembly, stamping, and sealing, I would say for an average sized wedding of approximately 100 invitations, the couple would most likely spend a couple of hours," says Woollen. "The majority of the couples we work with really love that tactile moment of handling their invitations and getting them prepped and ready to be delivered to their guests. I've heard the phrase, 'This is all suddenly feeling real!' so many times, and usually stated with huge grin." If you have the time and are planning to mail out a pretty average stationery suite, handling assembly yourself wouldn't be out of the question.
Are there any trickier or more time-consuming steps that would make assembly worth the extra cost?
"Invitations can be sent with many different types of embellishments to make them stand out and make them even more unique. Wax seals and string-tied components are both examples of this. Using a collection of curated vintage stamps for the outer envelopes is another," Woollen explains. "If the couple feels comfortable with being hands-on with some of this detail-oriented assembly, it could be enjoyable for them to take on the process. But, if there is any apprehension at all regarding their precision, it might be worth it to pay a service fee to have everything finished for them, or alternatively enlist a group of crafty friends to help!"