To hell with tradition! No more are we bound by the shackles of etiquette, you may now be as creative as we want with your invitations for the big i dos. This is great, I think. I think it's great because of pinterest - so many opportunities to be creative, to leach the design dreams off of another and make them your own. But of course I also think this is just another way to confuse the hell out of us.

Decisions, Decisions, DECISIONS!!

Lucky for you, and for me, we've got our graphic designer friend Tricia Aletta at our side. She is self-declared emphatically obsessed with all things stationery. And for that we are grateful. So sit back and check out this week's guest(ish) blog post ...

Invitation basics = invitation + envelope + a reply card with envelope (or postcard). Everything else is just icing on the cake, some people like a lot of icing and others, well, some cakes are better plain. So, when it comes to breaking down the cost of your invitations it's simple: the invitation and it's envelope, the reply card and it's envelope, postage, and any expense incurred for addresses such as calligraphy, labels, or variable data (like each guest's names) printing on the invitations.  Awesome. that just got not simple. The best way to keep your budget truly simple is to have less invitations to send, for real.

Share your day with your nearest and dearest. Because that’s what the day is really about: your love and commitment to each other…

Enough about the money, and enough from me, let's take a gander at Tricia's top 5 invitation sets.

The Need Set

Invite, envelope, reply, envelope

Pros: This is simple, classic and to the point, the 'all you need' stationery. Design-wise, the sky is the limit; print letterpress, foil stamp, and so much more, without breaking the bank too much, because we are printing 2-4 pieces vs. 3+ pieces. 

Cons: Your guests are left with just the invitation. After the reply is sent, they'll only know where and when to show up. Unless they call you. Lucky for us this is 2016 and we can add more cards with additional information such as hotel room blocks, airports to fly into, maps and direction cards. But of course that is outside of the minimal confines of the 'need' set.

The Send and Seal Set

Invite and reply card folded into a mailable size piece that is also the envelope

Pros: A fantastic way to cut costs. What can I say, it’s totally fun to tear off the reply card like a movie ticket. 

Cons: The invitation is the envelope. Should any damage happen in the mail, it could destroy the invitation and reply card. And in order to turn this into a self mailing piece, there will be a fold in the middle of your invitation. Durn.

The Wrap Set

Invite, envelope, reply card, reply card envelope, accommodations card, and/or directions card all wrapped with with a paper band or ribbon

Pros: It’s like receiving a super fun fantastically designed paper gift! Beautifully stacked cards all wrapped in a paper band or ribbon = wonderful presentation. 

Cons: Guests may or may not re-assemble it back to the way it was, after opening their bundle of beauty. Also cards can slip out and get misplaced if not kept in the envelope. This matters if the information on the cards is terribly important OR the guests that you invite aren't particularly responsible.

The U-Fold or Z-Fold

Invite, envelope, reply card, reply card envelope, accommodations info

Pros: Everything is stuck together. Except the reply card that guests send back. Guests have all of your wedding details in one place and nothing will get misplaced. Plus it looks good on a fridge.

Cons: Let’s hope they reply quick, as that card is on the loose! If budget allows, this is a really fun way to go. Another suggestion: pre-stamp reply cards, I think this is nice and a good incentive for guests to reply.

The Jacket, The Pochette, and the Enveloper 

Invite, envelope, reply card, reply card envelope, accommodations card, and/or directions card

Totally fun and unexpected ways to present your wedding invitations. I always ask my couples how much information they want to include with the invitation, from there I encourage a way to keep it all together so the guests can’t loose any important information about your big day. The jacket, you can slip all of the info right into the sleeve and there's only one way out. The pochette (french for wallet) and enveloper close up in such a fun way, but at the same time your guests may not put it together just right. Keep in mind, we can print on the inside of each panel and avoid extra information cards.

Pros: Unexpected surprise in the mail. Your guests will be left in a pile of excited anticipation to attend your wedding day. 

Cons: Because of the unique closure of the pochette and enveloper, guests may not close it up the way it arrived, and cards could slip out. Clearly, I am incredibly worried about guests losing your cards.

The Pocket Invitation Set

Invite, envelope, reply card, reply card envelope, accommodations card, and/or directions card

How we all love the look and options the pocket invitations provide! If your the kind of couple who wants your guests to have all of the info right at their finger tips, then this is for you. Embellish the outside of the pocket with a cohesive wedding design or your names and wedding date, or, really, the options are endless. Then present the invitation glued to the inside of the pocket fold, while the pocket holds everything the guests need to know about your big day. 

Pros: Oh my gosh, it’s gorgeous! It’s so fun, it’s unexpected and it has everything the guests needs to know. 

Cons: Holy paper, printing, and labor! I am totally aware that you can make your own pockets. If you have not done any paper crafting since elementary school, now is definitely not the time to take up a paper craft hobby. Save yourself the additional stress, and let me do it. I know how.

The way I see it, you can use the two options aforementioned: enveloped reply, postcard reply. OR you can ask your guests to RSVP online, send them to a site or ask for an email response (you can create your own separate wedding email). 

Enveloped Reply

PRO: A classic, timeless look when you include a reply envelope for your guests. It shows that you've paid attention to every last detail. Plus, no mail machinery markings on your reply card.

CON: The extra expense of the envelope, addressing and first class postage. For some couples they really prefer this look and the costs is included in their budget. 

Postcard Reply

PRO: Post cards are totally fun! And you can purchase post card rate postage stamps and save a few bucks. Make sure your post card is within postal post card size - otherwise you won't save any money on stamps (obviously). 

CON: The cost of double sided printed isn’t really a budget saver. Between the expense of printing and envelope, your really just splitting hairs. Go with what you love, your budget will understand. 

Online Reply

PRO: This option takes the cake when it comes to ways to save on your invitation. Plus if you having a plated dinner, it can really clear up who’s eating what, no need to read messy handwriting. 

CON: We are still in the transition era where not everyone of our family and friends has a computer at home. This is the time when you need to think of your guests and what they have available. We can easily print just a dozen or so reply cards, for those without internet, to mail back to you.

So, there it is. 5 Ways to Send Your Wedding Invites and 3 Ways to Get RSVPS by yours truly.