We’re talking all things stationery in this instalment of the Guest Supplier Blog Series, with Jacquie Lawes, Creative Director of White Olive Design Studio.  White Olive is an award-winning Oxfordshire design studio specialising in wedding stationery, modern calligraphy and branding.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jacquie on a number of projects (including the branding for Georgina Alexander Weddings) and her luxury, beautifully finished stationery shows her love of natural details and luxurious print finishes.  Her signature style of calligraphy, illustrations and hand-applied-detailing creates beautiful bespoke wedding invitations and wedding day stationery.

In the post, Jacquie shares her advice on timelines for choosing your wedding stationery.

Yay, you’re engaged! You’ve booked the venue and set the date! Now what? There’s so much to think about when planning a wedding, and many things you wouldn’t know unless you’ve been closely involved in the process before. Something you may be wondering is: “when do I need to order my wedding invitations and do I need to send out save the dates?” This is something I get asked all the time and it’s a really important one too. This really depends on a few things…

When is your wedding?
How long do you have before the big day and what time of year is it? If you’re planning a destination wedding, have guests travelling from overseas or your wedding is during the summer months when many people book holidays, save the dates are a great idea as it gives your guests time to plan for any travel arrangements and time they need to book off work.

How important is the stationery to you and your partner?
Just like many brides to be have that dream wedding dress in their mind, others have that beautifully designed invitation suite idea that they want to bring to life. If stationery is really important to you and you want to have something that perfectly reflects your style, a bespoke design is great as you work closely with your designer to create that perfect save the date or invitation design that can be carried through to all the other details of your wedding day stationery and thank you cards.  If you’re looking to work with a designer you’ll need to book early.

Many wedding stationers work alone and so can only take on a limited number of bookings per month. I recommend booking as soon as you’ve set the date as you can always confirm your text requirements and finalise design ideas closer to the design start date. I take bookings anything from 3 months up to 2 years before the wedding date so it’s best to book sooner rather than later if you have a designer in mind that you’d love to work with.

If stationery isn’t that important to you there is the option to order off the shelf designs that are customised with your text. Many designers offer these as an option, often referred to as House Collections or Customisable Collections. They’re a much more affordable option with a faster turnaround too so you could even order these a few weeks before you plan to send your invites out.

What style are you looking for?
It’s important to note that wedding stationery isn’t always quick to turnaround. Standard digital ink printing on standard paper is quick to turnaround whilst premium print finishes such as hot foiling, letterpress, embossing, debossing etc can be 2-3 weeks just for the print turnaround (this doesn’t factor in the design time).

If you opt to add on special finishes or assembly options such as calligraphy addressed envelopes, wax seals, silk ribbon ties, wraps and bellybands etc, this will add to the turnaround time.

For the actual design time it depends on the option you go for (bespoke design, customisable design or off the shelf design). This can be anything from 2 days to 3 months subject to the complexity of the design and how soon you’re able to provide any feedback etc.

It’s worth taking this into consideration and book sooner rather than later if you have your heart set on all the premium finishes for a bespoke design.

When will you have your wedding details confirmed?
Before your designs can be created there are a few pieces of information you’ll need, so finalising these should be your first priority after getting engaged.

First of course, is the date of your wedding, the time of your ceremony, and the venue. The second is the number of households you plan to invite, so you have a good idea of how many invitation sets will need to be printed. Once you have confirmed this information, do try to place your order as soon as possible (if you haven’t already pre-booked), since good designers are often booked up well in advance.  Following this wedding stationery timeline will ensure the process is smooth and stress-free.

Save The Dates
Save the Dates can be sent out anywhere from 9–12 months before the event. If you’re planning a destination wedding especially, you should try to give your guests as much time as possible to plan their travel and book time off work. On the other hand, if you’re working with a shorter timeline, you may choose to skip sending out Save the Dates altogether. If you’re ordering a customisable design for your Save the Dates, you should ideally order it 2–3 months before you plan to send them out if working with a designer, or for a bespoke design, 4–6 months before is ideal although it’s best to book earlier than this if you can.

Wedding Invitations
The actual wedding invitations are usually sent out around 5–9 months before the big day, to allow your guests to RSVP well ahead of when the venue, caterer, and other suppliers need to have a final head count. This depends on the wedding and how soon you’d like to send them though. Many of my bespoke design couples like to send their invites out about 9-12 months before their wedding date.

If you’re planning on having bespoke invitations, you should place your order at least 4-6 months before you plan to send them out. For customisable designs, you can wait a little longer; 2–3 months before you want to post out your invitations is usually fine.

Remember to allow enough time after delivery for you to assemble and address the invitations or save the dates if you’re doing this yourselves!  Make sure you also factor in the postage costs when setting your stationery budgets.

Wedding Day Stationery
At the 2-3 month mark, you’ll have had most of your RSVPs from your invitations, and it’s the perfect time to order your wedding day stationery, like menus, programmes, place cards and table numbers.

The process can take more or less time depending on the number of elements and the finishes you choose. I aim to have all wedding day stationery orders safely in my couples hands no later than a week before the wedding, but delays in ordering or checking proofs can cause stressful delays – definitely something to avoid when you have so much else to think about.

Of course, despite the best laid plans, sometimes you find yourself with less time available than the above. Many designers do offer rush orders, usually at an additional fee, so whatever your timeline, do get in touch with your chosen stationery designer to discuss your options.

Thank you so much Jacquie for contributing to this series, and for this great advice.  If you’d like to find out more about Jacquie’s stationery, you can find her website here, or follow her on social media Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest.

If you need help choosing your dream team of suppliers for your wedding day, discover how I can help you.

Image credit: Bailey & Roo