The MoBster Diaries

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Postman Must Be Paid

Just when you think you've balanced out the number of invitations with the per/person cost of your reception, you're faced with not only the high cost of invitations, but the cost of all those stamps, as well. Sigh. Does the ring of the wedding cash register never end?

Prepare yourself for stamp-sticker-shock.

Things got complicated a few years ago when the US Postal Service changed its rates from weight-based only to a size+weight-based system. It wasn't so long ago that a piece of mail 1oz or under - whether the envelope was rectangular, square, round, or weirdly shaped - was covered by an average first class stamp. Not anymore.

If the envelope is something other than standard rectangle, you have to pay more for postage. It has to do with the width/length ratio as it feeds into the postal machines. A square or almost square envelope? The machine can't tell which way to feed it into the machine, so add $0.20 to the standard $0.44 rate.

Of course, weight has to be considered. If your invitations are jam-packed with reception information, RSVP cards, table assignments and - yes - the actually invitation, you'll need to weigh it to ensure you have enough postage to get them to your guests. And don't forget: if you include an RSVP card, you'll need a stamp for that, as well. Yes, gone are the days that guests paid postage to let the bride know whether or not they were attending the joyful event.

My advice? Once you get your invitations, assemble one (include all the various cards, envelopes, tissue paper, etc.), take it to the post office, and weigh it to make sure you buy adequate postage for both response card enclosures and the whole shebang.

The USPS has a page on its website specifically for wedding mail. It worth reviewing so that you don't get any nasty surprises. The page also includes information about custom stamps from Zazzle, if you have something other than standard stamps or the rings/flower stamp for your invitations. Yes, custom stamps cost a little more, but Elegant Scribbles can highly recommend Zazzle, since Kate used them for her wedding invites. (And the stamps were gorgeous!)

Whether you use standard or custom stamps, do take the time to figure out how much to budget for postage, not only for the big invitation, but for save-the-dates and thank you notes. The postman must be paid!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Organizing Your Guest List

Thank goodness we live in the age of computers that lets us organize and format lists in a variety of ways. We don't have to rely on a trusty hand-written address book or a page full of white-outs on a typed page.

But as you pull together your guest list (the hardest part of planning a wedding, remember), you'll need to figure out which format and organization style works best for you. Many wedding sites like WeddingWire and The Knot offer a place to build your list into a database. Or you may opt to format your list in a spreadsheet program like Excel, or type it out in document form.

It doesn't matter how you organize it - alphabetically, by family, number of guests, geographical location, or eye color - but it must make sense to you and to whoever will be addressing your invitations. As a hand-addressing service that wrestles with wedding guest lists all the time, we Elegant Scribblers have a few guidelines to offer that will make your list's organization obvious to any and all.

1.  Many spreadsheet and databases let you add all sorts of information columns to your list - table numbers, gifts received, etc. - but please stick to these categories for the list you plan to use for addressing your invitations to avoid confusion:
  • Salutation (Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, the Reverend, the Honorable, etc.)
  • First name(s)/Last name(s): Make sure that the list is clear regarding married couples with one last name (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith), couples/partners with two last names (Mr. Robert Smith and Ms. Lois Jones, Mr. Robert Smith and Mr. Louis Jones, etc.), and families (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith and Miss Caroline Smith, or The Smith Family). If children are to be listed on the envelope, include their first and last names (Miss Caroline Smith and Mr Samuel Smith). Whatever the family make-up, make sure your list is very clear about how the guests are to be addressed on both outer and inner envelopes.
  • Street Address, including apartment number, directional (NW, E), and building name if applicable.
  • City, state (or country, if outside the U.S.), and zip or postal code. If you have guests from states in the northeast with zip codes that begin with 0 (like New Jersey), please double-check your list to make sure that the 0 is showing up at the front of the zip, since some spreadsheets ignore a 0 at the beginning of a number.
  • Response card number, if you're numbering the response cards to correspond to the guests on your list. 
2.  Use 11pt or 12pt font size. We sometimes receive spreadsheets with 8pt, 9pt, or 10pt font size, making the list hard to read, so we take the time to reformat to larger fonts. Whether you're using your mom, your best friend, a calligrapher, or Elegant Scribbles to address your invitations, be kind to your invitation addresser's eyes, and use a larger font.

3.  Add grid lines to spreadsheets to separate the individual guests and addresses. This ensures that whatever format you're using, the names line up with the correct addresses.

4.  Print the list to double-check that categories aren't misaligned or have merged incorrectly during printing. Most of the lists Elegant Scribbles receives come via email attachment, but we always work from a printed list. Sometimes the list looks fine on the computer, but once it's printed the names and addresses don't line up, or odd character fonts show up. Printing is a good way to make sure your names and addresses are in order.

By all means utilize all the category options available to you as you organize your wedding guest list. But when it comes time to address the invitations, whittle those options down to the essentials to ensure that everything is perfectly clear to whoever's addressing your envelopes. After all, the goal is to get your invitations to your guests with correct names and addresses.

Questions or ideas? Elegant Scribbles is here to help!

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Save-the-date and Invitation Timelines

Tick-tock-tick-tock. You've nailed your wedding date and booked your venues, caterers, and florists. And how's that guest list coming along, hm? Well, whether or not you've made a final decision about adding your mother's best friend's brother and wife to the list, it's not too soon to get to work on the paperwork.

A couple of events to super-Sharpie onto your wedding timeline are mailing dates for your save-the-dates and invitations. Let's start with what has to come first: the notification that you are getting married and the date of the wedding.

Save-the-dates are a relatively new idea for most weddings. Seems to me they've shown up within the past ten years. Now they're seen as indispensable, especially if most of your guests will be coming from out-of-town and/or you're having a destination wedding. Folks' calendars get filled up pretty quickly these days for all sorts of reasons, so a formal heads-up is a great idea.

So. Look at your wedding calendar. Count back 6-8 months from your wedding date. Yep. That's when your save-the-dates should be in the mail. Don't have 6-8 months? I'd recommending sending out save-the-dates as late as 4 months out. Any notice will be appreciated by your guests. Just don't send the save-the-dates out the week before your invitations. Yeah, that's cutting it a bit fine, plus why spend the cash at that point?

Now. Wedding invitations. Rule of thumb is 6-8 weeks before the wedding. Mailing them too soon might cause them to be filed away and forgotten; mailing them too late - especially if you haven't sent a save-the-date - might result in too many RSVP "regrets."

Remember that for both save-the-dates and wedding invitations, you'll have to factor in the printing and shipping time of your invitations from your favorite stationery source. Sometimes it can take up to two months for all that engraving and fancy scroll work, so be prepared.

Of course you already know that wedding invitations should be hand-addressed, whether you choose a friend, a calligrapher, or a hand-addressing service like Elegant Scribbles. The addressing, assembling, sealing, and stamping time must be considered as well.

Bottom line: don't leave the save-the-dates and invitations until a couple of months out from your wedding date. Once you have a date and venue, go ahead and get your wedding stationery (save-the-dates, invitations, place cards/escort cards) ordered. Finalize the list, buy the stamps (for both response cards and complete invitation), and feel free to turn the addressing over to someone else.

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posted by MaryB at | 1 Comments