Wedding Invitations: A Guide To Envelopes

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navy blue envelope to a wedding invitation with white calligraphy and three colored stamps tied with a white ribbon

While it may seem like an afterthought, your wedding invitation envelope really deserves some attention. It delivers the first impression of your wedding’s style and personality to your guests. Whether subdued or statement-making, it’s a prelude to the invitation and the event itself. So without further ado, let’s celebrate this paper enclosure with everything you ever wanted to know about wedding invitation envelopes.

Envelope Size

If you’re designing custom wedding invitations, it all starts with the envelope! Wedding invitations should be designed from the outside in. Envelopes come in standard sizes, and these sizes can even vary by manufacturer. So it’s best to select your wedding invitation envelope first, choose a coordinating paper, then move on to design, ink colors, and other fun stuff.

wedding invitation suite in shades of light and bright pink with gold large lettering

Photo Credit || Sera Petras Photography

To Outer Envelope, or Not To Outer Envelope?

In olden times and Jane Austen novels, invitations were handwritten and delivered by a messenger on foot or horseback. The outer envelope would protect the contents from the elements. Upon delivery, the outer envelope was removed and the inner envelope was hand delivered on a silver tray (or something fancy like that) to the recipient. In modern times, you can use inner and outer envelopes to address the invitation to specific people. But you can also use a band of paper with the guests’ names written on it, or write their names directly on the single outer envelope. Double envelopes are becoming less popular because they’re not always necessary and are an additional expense.

Whether you have one or multiple envelopes, keep yourself sane and your guest list completely organized by utilizing Zola’s free Guest List tool—you can upload your own spreadsheet, email guests directly so they can add their own addresses, even import the contact info from your phone to get your entire guest list loaded quickly and easily into the super handy, totally mobile-friendly tool. Then manage those RSVPs as they roll in in real time! Extra bonus: if you used a free wedding website from Zola, the RSVP feature on your site will sync up automatically with your guest list’s RSVP tracker.

wedding invitation suite with purple envelopes and white invitations with purple crown motif

Photo Credit || Brandi McComb Photography

Return Address

Your return address (or the address of whomever is doing the inviting) typically goes on the back flap of the wedding invitation envelope. Have it printed on your envelopes when you print your invitations, or invest in a custom rubber stamp. This way, if any invitations go astray they’ll hopefully come back to you.

wedding invitation suite with a brown envelope with red wax seal

Photo Credit || Erika Follansbee Photography

Envelope Liners

Envelope liners are completely decorative, but completely awesome if you can splurge for them. They’re a great way to tie the design of your paper suite together, or to add a pop of color to a simplistic design.

wedding invitations

Photo Credit || Kristen Wynn Photography

Addressing Decisions

If you love the look of fancy hand-lettering and have room in your budget, definitely get in touch with a calligrapher. The most formal approach is to hand-letter your envelopes because it adds a personal, special touch to the invitation. If you are printing addresses on self-adhesive labels, however, pick a font that coordinates with your invitation’s typography or blends well with your outer envelope. If you are the DIY type and want to try your hand at, well, handwriting your envelopes, make yourself a stencil and grab a light table.

wedding invitation suite with brown paper envelopes and white paper invitations with black ink calligraphy

Photo Credit || J. Ellis Photography

Double Check Everything

Measure twice, cut once. Make sure you have the correct spellings of your guests’ names and addresses before you begin addressing.

Postage

Don’t forget about postage when calculating your budget for invitations. You’ll need postage not only for your invitations, but for the RSVP response envelopes, should you chose to include paper RSVP cards (rather than have guests reply RSVP online).

Keep in mind that heavier and non-traditional sizes require more postage. Before you buy the stamps and begin sticking, prepare an wedding invitation envelope exactly how you’d like it sent and bring it to the post office to determine necessary postage.

A non-traditional postage stamp is a fun detail and is especially doable when sending out a smaller number of invites. Go traditional by exploring USPS’s collection of love-themed stamps, or why not tell a bit about the couple’s story by having the stamps reflect their personalities?

Another resource: Zazzle has a wide collection of stamps, including those specifically for RSVP or save the dates, but you can also make your own. Ebay has tons of options available as well, but you might have to do a bunch of digging to find ones that work well for your invites. Although it’s a tad obvious, let’s state it anyway: make sure they’re unused!

wedding invitation suite with a nautical theme with three postage stamps including a lighthouse stamp

Photo Credit || Elizabeth Friske Photography

Hand-Canceling

After you mail something, the postal service puts the envelope through a machine where it sorts out the post and cancels the postage so it can’t be used again—that’s the city, date, and squiggly lines you’ve probably noticed appearing on top of the stamp in the left corner. Going through this machine, however, can tear, bend, and even mark up envelopes a little. It seems just silly to spend so much time and money on beautiful wedding invitations to have them arrive looking banged up. A way to alleviate this problem: ask the post office to hand-cancel your wedding invitations. They’ll cancel the envelopes with a round stamp over the postage, and your precious parcels will go through one less machine. This is great for those thick invites that have the most potential to get damaged in the mailing process.

For everyone who has horror stories about post office wait times (i.e., your classic first-world problem), be smart (and kind to your fellow mailers) and come in to get your invitations hand-canceled when the post office is slow.

wedding invitation suite with dark purple envelopes and white invitations staged wit pink ribbon and yellow persimmons

Photo Credit || Jessie Wyman Photography

Don’t Be Daunted

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, check out the Guest List tool on Zola Wedding (or, if you’re old-school, get your Google docs on) to get organized. See if you can get your envelopes in hand before the rest of your invitation order so you can start on the addressing. And don’t freak out about addressing etiquette: our Guest List tool will formally lay out all of your envelope information per guest, which you can then export in the exact format you need. Then either hand that list over to your calligrapher, or set aside some time to do the task—put on an old favorite movie and get to work!

Featured Photo Credit || Sarah Bradshaw Photography

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