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This list is meant to be as extensive as it is, as I have yet to find anywhere a comprehensive list of any printed items you may want to think about for your wedding.
BEFORE THE WEDDING
Engagement Party Invitations
You’ve just gotten engaged, and you want to celebrate! The best way to do that is to throw an engagement party. Not every couple will want to have printed invitations to send in the mail, but it is a classic and fun way to kick off the beginning of your engagement and wedding planning.
Engagement Party Thank You Cards
You’ve gone ahead and had your engagement party, and if you received any gifts from friends and family at the engagement party, it’s customary to send a thank you card to those that gave you gifts. If you didn’t get any gifts, thank you cards are not necessary.
Save the Dates
Obviously a big part of the planning process, most couples do send a save the date in the mail. Although they are not always necessary, it is a good idea to have some sort of save the date (digital or printed) if you have a lot of guests who will be coming from out of town and need the added time to plan their trip.
Bridal Party Gifts
By bridal party gifts, this early in the process I’m referring to the gifts to ask your bridal party to be a part of your big day. It’s very popular these days to create more custom gifts for your bridal party, and these can be as simple as special cards with each of their names, all the way to personalized drink glasses or other cool customizable gifts. The possibilities with this one are endless.
Without a doubt the biggest printed items of the whole wedding process, your wedding invitations are a more involved piece of the planning puzzle. Invitations typically consist of the main invitation, a details card, and an RSVP card. Invitations are easily the most expensive printed item, and they are the most detailed piece of paper you’ll have to plan.
Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
Depending on how the festivities of your wedding are commencing, you may need printed rehearsal dinner invitations to accompany your main wedding invitations. It can be simple, like an additional card in your invitation that explains that they are invited to your rehearsal dinner and when/where it is. You can also have two different sets of wedding invites as well, one for regular guests and one for those coming to your rehearsal dinner. This can consist of a different details card with the rehearsal dinner on it and a different RSVP card that gives an option to RSVP to the wedding and rehearsal dinner separately.
Bridal Shower Invitations
Bridal shower invitations are another mailed item that will need to be sent since most women do usually have a bridal shower of some sort. These are typically organized by the bridal party or moms of the bride/groom, with all the details being decided by the people planning the party. That being said, brides may want to have a say in how these look so they match the rest of the invites and hinge they are having.
Bridal Shower Activities
You know all those really cheesy and (sometimes) fun games you play at bridal showers? Well, those games also need to be printed out. It is usually a lot cheaper to both design your own and print them out or to find a pre-made design and print them out as well. Whichever way you do it, there are activities at pretty much every shower you go to, and most likely you’re going to need to print something out to go along with the games.
Bridal Shower Thank You Cards
If you do have a bridal shower, gifts are almost always a big part of the event. Therefore, thank you cards are a must after your bridal shower. These can be pretty generic, just basic cards you buy at Michael’s or Target, but they can be more custom if you want them that way. They could be printed with a photo of the soon-to-be-married couple or just basic stationery with “Future Mrs. —” on them.
Bachelor/Bachelorette Party Invitations
Although this is another invitation that is for an event planned by someone else, the bachelor/bachelorette party invitations are something that can stray from the planned theme of the wedding. These can obviously be a little more risqué because your grandma most likely is not on the list of people getting an invitation to this one.
Lingerie Party Invitations
This one is a little bit of a stretch, there are some people that either have both a Bachelorette party and a Lingerie party or just have a Lingerie party. Sometimes if you have both, the invitations could be combined into one, but for the brides that really want an additional invitation for their lingerie party, it is an option!
FOR THE WEDDING DAY
Bridal Party & Parent Gifts
On the flip side of the Bridal Party gifts I had mentioned above, there is another type of gift given typically on the day of the wedding. These gifts are usually items that are worn or used on the day of, like robes, jewelry, glasses, etc. Each item you give to your bridal party or the parents of the couple can be customized with vinyl stickers, paper backing to complement the jewelry, or cards to be given to thank them for all they’ve done throughout the process.
When you’re thinking about gifts and cards to be given on the day of the wedding, you can’t forget any gifts you plan to give each other on the big day. It could be as simple as a card to be given before your ceremony, or it could be more complex like jewelry or cufflinks to be accompanied by a customized backing.
Bridal Party Schedule
A schedule is a must in my opinion when it comes to having a smooth wedding day. It’s a good idea to send the schedule ahead of time to those participating in the wedding, but it’s important to have printouts of the schedule as well for your bridal party to hold on to during the day. It can be really simple, like a list you typed up on Word, or it can be a cute design, similar to your wedding program but with a more detailed schedule of where each person will need to be during the day.
In the wedding in the past, there used to be one way to do a program: a printed document you get as you walk into the ceremony. Nowadays couples are really getting creative with how they display the order of events their bridal party. The most popular way, that I’ve noticed, is to have a large sign somewhere everyone will see at one point that lists all the information that may be on a program. This can be painted directly on a sign or printed out on a large poster. But there still are a lot of people who choose to have their printed out the program as a part of their wedding day. Especially those with more complicated ceremonies, like more religious ones, sometimes it’s necessary to have something printed out. There is a lot of room for creative freedom with programs that many people want.
Seating charts are so different at every wedding, and only some of them are printed. Those that choose to print their seating chart usually either choose a big poster board type size or do each table on a different small piece of paper and find a creative way to display them. It is very popular in modern-day weddings to have a seating chart display rather than each individual person’s name on a place cards with their table number on that, though people still like doing both!
An alternative to the seating chart is the more classic way of assigning names and table numbers, which is by place cards. The place cards can be just half-fold ones so they sit directly on the table. Other options are just a simple business card side paper along with something special to hold each card at their place on the table, like a little clip or slot holder. If you’re having a plated dinner that the guest chose a specific option on their RSVP, a place card may be necessary because they can have a few variations so the waiters know what dish you chose. (Just something to consider!)
Just like the rest of the decorations at a wedding, every wedding is completely different. Guest books are no exception and are arguably getting more and more creative every time I see one done at a wedding. There are so many non-printed versions of guest books, but printed ones can be just as creative. Some examples of printed guest books are custom scrapbooks, big poster or banner, or customized notes to the bride and groom.
Menus are a classy addition to any place setting. Many weddings don’t need menus, but sometimes they can be nice if you either have a complicated, multi-course dinner or have a buffet. For the multi-course dinner, guests probably would want to know what food is going to come out to them during each course. For buffets, if you want a menu, you can either choose to have one menu per table or one menu per person with a simple list and description of all the buffet foods that will be available. This might speed up the process of getting food because your guests will already have an idea of what they want when they get up there.
By table numbers, I mean the ones that literally sit in the middle of each table. There are a lot of options when it comes to printed table numbers. They could be just the numbers, written out in calligraphy or the actual numbers, stuck in some sort of holder that matches your theme. A popular one I’ve seen is a printed out a display of a specific thing at each table, like photos of the bride and groom at different ages or something that goes along with your wedding theme. There are endless options as to what you can do for printed table numbers.
At a larger even like a wedding, it is common that there will be signs around explaining what’s going on, where you are, any instructions for the day, etc. Of course, it depends on how your wedding is set up, whether you’re getting married in the same place you’re having your reception and you need signage to guide your guests to the right place, or if you just want something extra and fun as decorations. Some popular signage (either printed, framed or not, or on wood/chalkboards) includes the couple’s name and a welcome to the wedding, signs with your wedding hashtag, big signs with the schedule of events for the night, or a sign that explains what side to sit at during the ceremony.
Signs for Food/Treats
This one is up to what type of food and dessert you choose to have at your wedding. If you have a buffet, you might want to have cute cards describing the food. If you are having a candy bar at your wedding, signs on the candy bar can bring the whole look together. Basically, if you’re doing any food self-serve during your reception, it’s probably a good idea to have signage on the table with the foods you’re serving or other fun descriptor signs.
Just like the food and drink, the type of bar signs you have is dependent on how you’re serving alcohol at your party. I’m personally a fan of signature cocktails during the cocktail hour, and a cute sign to go with them is really aesthetically pleasing. Otherwise, you may want to have a sign with the types of beer or wine you have, a price list if you are doing a cash bar, or a sign just to remind people to tip their bartender!
Napkins & Coasters
These are obviously not necessary, but I wanted to include them solely for the purpose of trying to push the sale of these to future clients. I have a vendor that has given a great price on custom napkins and coasters, even with foil or color printing without it being an additional charge. Something custom like that is a nice addition to any event, but can be especially cute if you have the name of the couple on as many branded items as possible!
Most people choose to have at least one favor that their guests will be able to take home at the end of the night. What type of item depends on their budget and how flashy of an item they want their guests to bring home as a keepsake of their big day. Some printed items that could either be the main favor or accompany a favor include (but are not limited to): glasses with custom vinyl stickers, matchboxes, can koozies, personalized bags for candy or popcorn, and so many more that I can’t possibly list here.
Some couples choose to have printed out activity sheets around their wedding venue and in the guest tables. These can be for guests to write down things like advice, date ideas, etc. Other printed activities to think about are games for kids. If you’re inviting kids to your wedding, it might be a good idea to have additional games or coloring pages to keep them busy as their parents socialize. This can save you a lot of headache later.
AFTER THE WEDDING
Guest Thank You Cards
Obviously, each guest (or group of guests, like families or couples) that came to your wedding, whether or not they gave a big gift, should be sent a thank you card for just attending. Just like the thank you cards for the bridal shower, you can choose to just use non-specific or plain cards from the craft or party store. If you want something more custom, one of my favorite types of post-wedding thank you’s are ones that include a photo of the wedding. Just a tip, if you’re planning on printing custom thank you are with your wedding photo, it can be really easy to just print a generalized message on the back. If you do this, don’t forget to hand write some sort of personalized message, because it just does not look as professional or polite if you give everyone a general message.
Vendor Thank You Cards
This one is often forgotten, but it’s always a good idea to send (or give) a thank you card to the vendors that worked so hard to make your day the best it could be. Although it’s not necessary, one that is necessary is a personalized letter or even a gift for your wedding planner or day of coordinator if you have one. If you choose not to send any thank you’s to vendors, at the very least spend a good amount of time to write them a thoughtful review for other brides to see!