Stationery and Calligraphy on Your Wedding Day
Although invitations are arguably the most important paper goods you’ll order for your wedding, the need for stationery and calligraphy doesn’t stop there. Having written and displayed information present for guests on the day of will make a much smoother experience and help them navigate the ins and outs of the day. Even more, these items can (and should) continue themes from your invitations, creating a complete bridge from concept to reality.
Today I’m talking all about stationery and calligraphy on your wedding day—what to consider ordering, when to order it, and all the different ways you can go about it.
day-of pieces to consider
Not every couple will need or want every item, and that’s okay! Consider what’s right for you and your wedding. Keep in mind that day-of items are really flexible, and things can be fitted to your budget and your guests’ needs.
When we’re talking about helping guests navigate the day smoothly, programs are probably the number one way to do so. Programs can take many different forms—from large signs or fabric banners, to individual pieces printed for each guest. Whichever format you choose, they can include helpful information that guides guests throughout day.
As with all day-of pieces, use elements from your invitations to tie things together. This can be done through color palette, type choice, calligraphy style, custom artwork, and/or materials. Making everything feel cohesive with the invitation and event aesthetic will really elevate the tone of the day, because guests can see how much time and thought you’ve put into the details.
The content in the programs themselves can vary from couple to couple. Information that may be worth including can include: 1) an order of events, 2) names of the bridal party members, officiant, and parents of the couple, 3) readings or songs from the ceremony, 4) a “how we met” story, 5) a note about the feel of your wedding and why you chose it, and 6) a paragraph or two to thank those who’ve helped you plan and pull everything together along the way. Every couple’s priorities will be a little different, so consider what information is important to you, or what guests need to know, and decide from there.
escort cards and place cards
While they can be confused, escort cards and place cards are two different things. Escort cards lead guests to their table, and place cards tell them their specific seat. Some couples choose to use both cards for their wedding, others may opt to use just escort cards, or place cards with a seating chart instead. Whichever route you choose, these are a great way to experiment with material! Paper is the tip of the iceberg, and I’ve personally done some unique cards on things like acrylic, agate, fabric bags, seashells, tiles, wood, vellum, and even different fruits. The sky really is the limit!
As fun as they may be, seashells don’t exactly fit a cozy, fall wedding in the mountains, so it’s important to choose a material that feels right for your aesthetic. Between that, color, and calligraphy or type choice, these can be perfectly fitted to your stationery and the look of the day.
When escort cards or seating charts tell guests the name or number of their table, they need to know which one that is! Table numbers are a practical touch, but don’t need to feel out of place! When you use fitting and creative materials, they can be a decorative asset, becoming an extension of the centerpieces and decor.
No matter what method of serving you choose (plated, family, buffet, etc.) menus are so helpful! Those with dietary restrictions, picky eaters, and even the foodies who are bound to fall in love with at least one dish will be so grateful that they know what exactly they’re eating!
Menus can be written on a single sign, or individual pieces can be placed on each plate. There are pros and cons to each method, so consider what works best for your event. If you decide on individual menus, place cards can be incorporated right on the card if you wish.
Like all day-of goods, menus are a great way to explore material. Wood, acrylic, glass, old barn windows, fabric, handmade paper, colored papers, and chalkboards are all great options. Of course, material should be centered on functionality, budget, and the aesthetic of your day.
Alongside staples like programs, escort/place cards, table numbers, and menus, signage can play a key role in your guests’ experience. They can be used to welcome, direct to key areas like the ceremony, reception, and restrooms, tell guests which table they’re sitting at, or call out the fun and unique elements of your day.
The best way to determine what signage you need is to imagine walking through the event as a guest. What information will they need? Are there any moments where they may be confused? Also consider the venue and the level of decoration. Are key locations far away from each other or difficult to find? Are there any blank spots where a pop of color or texture could be used? Consider those questions and talk through the options with your partner, and planner if you have one.
Note that my signage services are limited based on size, material and location. (Basically, I can’t ship a 6-foot-long acrylic sign in a way that’s protective and cost-effective.) If you’re not local to me, we may have to consider different options in material and size.
When to order day-of materials
Day-of details require information you may not have until close to the wedding, which can be stressful! For example, final guest count is needed before you can perfect your seating chart, meaning you won’t know who to make place and escort cards for until your rsvp reply-by date. Oftentimes, day-of pieces require fast thinking and a quick turnaround time.
That being said, you can make plans ahead of time. I always ask my couples if they’re planning on ordering any day-of materials when we are working on their invitation suite. Even though we don’t know all the final details yet, I can start designing and sourcing materials. That way, when we do have the specifics, I everything is ready to go and I just need to make minute adjustments.
Always, always tell your stationer and/or calligrapher what your plans are well ahead of time. They can make suggestions, answer questions, and give you a timeline to follow so that everything will be finished and delivered with time to spare.
So many couples forget to have a copy of their save the date and invitation suite on hand on the day of the wedding! While it may not seem crucial, you’ll have spent some money on your suite, and it’s nice to have photos of it alongside other details. It is a part of your wedding, after all!
If you don’t want to have to worry about remembering to bring it on the day of, delegate this task off to a member of the bridal party, or arrange with your planner or photographer ahead of time. Alternatively, some stationers (like me!) get your planner and/or photographer’s contact info ahead of time, and send a special “photographer’s suite” to them for you! This suite includes all the details and embellishments, multiple copies for photos, and fake addresses, so you don’t need to worry about sharing guests’ (or your) addresses.
Incorporating stationery and calligraphy on the day of your wedding will create a more memorable and enjoyable experience for your guests, and help everything run smoothly. Details like this really set you apart from others, not only for practical elements, but because it’s obvious you’ve put serious thought and consideration into the look and feel of the day and your guests’ experience—all the way from the save the date to the final thank you note.