Welcome back to the Building Your Invitation series, Part 4! If you haven't already, start at Part 1. The post for Part 1 will also link to Parts 2 and 3. Today's topic is one of my favorites--all about guest addressing. One of the most important elements of your invitation suite is the guest address. One of the biggest hurdles I see couples experience in the stationery process is forgetting to consider the method and cost of addressing: not merely the guest address, but the return address and the response address.
I am absolutely biased on this matter, as I started my business as an envelope calligrapher and believe wholeheartledly that hand-lettering on a wedding invitation envelope adds incredible emotion and value to the overall invitation itself. While there are plenty of options for addressing, I want to share my best recommendation based on three years of experience with envelopes.
HOW SHOULD YOU ADDRESS YOUR ENVELOPES?
This again, depends on the nature and style of your level. The more traditional your wedding, the more traditional the envelope addressing should be. However, in my career as a calligrapher, my offerings have run the gamut from full names and titles to simple first names, such as “Sam + Keri.” Each wedding is different, and there are tons of reliable guides out there that can help with the decision-making. The Emily Post guide is the most trusted source on formal etiquette. You can find it here. I recommend learning the formal etiquette and then deciding what's best for your wedding from there.
While it makes perfect sense to use the best etiquette for your envelopes given your wedding style, remember that the lengthier your addresses, the smaller the type overall. For example, If you want a calligraphic style that is big and bold, you should plan to use somewhat of an abbreviated addressing style to fit.
WILL THE POST OFFICE BE ABLE TO READ ENVELOPE CALLIGRAPHY?
You would be amazed at what ends up through the postal service! The short answer is yes, the postal system should be able to process most calligraphic styles. However, this is a good place to exercise judgment. If you are concerned about the legibility of your envelopes, take them to your post office and ask the professional opinion of the folks behind the counter.
While most scripts and fonts should be able to make it through the postal system without any worries, it does make sense to be aware of the ink color that you use. For example, gold ink on white envelopes may be harder to read, especially with a more metallic gold. Whites and golds often look the best on darker envelopes, in my opinion.
HOW SHOULD THE RETURN ADDRESS APPEAR ON YOUR ENVELOPES?
BEST CASE SCENARIO:
The best case scenario is this: Have your stationer print (digital, letterpress, or otherwise) the return address on the back flap of the envelope and print the response address on the response envelope. This will save so much time, energy, and cost overall. Your stationer can match fonts and colors and make the entire suite look cohesive. As a calligrapher, unsurprisingly, my preference would then be to see the guest address calligraphed on the front of the envelope.
OTHER OPTIONS FOR RETURN ADDRESSES:
CALLIGRAPHY FOR EVERYTHING:
It is absolutely possible to ask a calligrapher to add the return, response, and guest address to your envelopes. It’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and luxe options. However, this will double to triple the cost for the calligraphy and will require double to triple the amount of turnaround time for the average stationer.
PRINTED CALLIGRAPHY FILES:
If you’re working with a calligrapher who is also a stationer (like me!) your calligrapher should be able to make a file of a calligraphic design and print the return and response addresses so that it closely matches the style of calligraphy for the guest address. While I design full invitation suites and would be able to provide this service for my brides, I also frequently work with other stationers who hire me to hand-letter and digitize a return and response address, most often for couples I’m already working with to address the envelopes. In this case, note that colors can be printed as close matches, but exact matches are rare in ink/stationery relationships. Know that most guests will never notice minute differences, especially with a handwritten address.
You can also get a rubber stamp made for your response and return addresses. This is something that I frequently do for clients investing in guest address calligraphy, though most calligraphers and stationers should be able to offer this service. Bear in mind that rubber stamping is a DIY art. Ask if your stationer is able to add stamping services to your package if you feel nervous about stamping, and be sure to consult with your stationer about ink colors and options. Finally, make sure you thoroughly test your ink colors and let each envelope dry before touching the surface of another envelope in order to prevent smudging. The size that I recommend for common sizes of response cards is a rubber stamp at least the size of a 3”x1.5” rectangle.
You have so many great options when it comes to envelope and return addressing! Here are some of the most important takeaways:
- Guest address calligraphy is an excellent investment in making your guests feel loved and known.
- The best case scenario for return and response addresses is to get them printed on the envelopes by your stationer.
- If you want to opt for calligraphy for your response cards, return addresses, and guest addresses, be aware of the time and investment.
- Other options include getting a calligraphic file printed on your envelopes or getting a rubber stamp made.
I am so excited to share with you my final post tomorrow, all about special details and embellishments. See you then!