Wedding Stationery Breakdown: The Essential vs. Non-Essential Cards

Wedding Stationery Breakdown

The idea for the wedding stationery is a matching suite of cards related to the day that provide all the important information whilst still looking good stuck on peoples fridges.

This is probably the first time you’ve planned a wedding so it’s hard to know what you need and what you don’t with everything you’re doing. Every bride has faced the question: which wedding stationery cards do I actually need? Here we separate the essentials from the not so essential and consider the alternatives.

The Save the Date – Non-essential (conditional)

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sourced: Paperlust

We’ve talked a little bit about Save the Dates before, and the breakdown is that they’re non-essential unless you’re having a destination or overseas wedding. We’ll add one more condition to that: weddings that occur during high-season.

When the weather warms up, brides seem to prefer to come out. This might mean that your wedding is going to cross over with friends, or friends of friends. An early save the date means you’ll get in there first and give everyone plenty of warning about the date and venue in case they have to plan a driver to taxi them between events 27 Dresses Style.

The wedding invitation – Essential

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This one kind of speaks for itself… The wedding invitation online is THE reason you’ve been trawling through Pinterest and taking sneaky photos of stationery you like.

The sticky bit with the wedding invitation is the wording. Find yours the easy way, but maybe that doesn’t answer all your questions, so try here.

The key thing to remember is story telling basics: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and hopefully your guests will be able to get to the why of it by themselves.

By keeping it minimal, the wedding invitation becomes a beautiful object and you can decide whether you need to provide additional information through another card.

Affordable wedding invitations are fairly easy to find, it’s the extra cards and details like individual guests names, which start to rack up the costs.

If you are looking at what to write in your wedding card, click here.

The RSVP card – Essential (conditional)

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The RSVP is essential in so far as, you need to know which guests are going to attend. The card itself though is up for a debate. The suite of cards is as much tradition as anything. If you’re having a formal wedding, a RSVP card is part of the entire experience. If it’s a little bit more casual (and definitely if it’s not too big), consider a digital RSVP option. Rather than just an email address for your guests to send a yay or nay, a wedding website is a savvy way to use technology, save the environment and possibly automatically organise the information coming in.

The RSVP is used for more than just letting you know who’s attending though. Used well, you can double check food allergies or intolerances, get menu preferences and get some novel responses like song choices for the dance floor at the end of the big day. These are the kind of the things you don’t want to forgo so the RSVP is definitely essentially. What’s up to you, is how you choose to receive your guests responses.

The Information and Directions card – Non-essential (conditional)

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sourced: Paperlust

The information and directions card is non-essential because your wedding may be relatively straight forward: it’s just a gathering of you, your closest family and friends in your home town so no one is flying in or out, there are no big accommodation worries and transport isn’t going to be a big issue.

These cards are also non-essential if you have complete faith in your guests to search this information out for themselves. In reality though leaving this information out is likely to add to your workload later as friends and family contact you directly to establish this information. So while the information and directions card is courtesy on your part I’d like to argue it’s essential. You might find that these extra cards are pushing up expenses or you’re having qualms about the amount of important information you’re trusting to the postal services, but the option of a digital point of contact can resolve that..

The wishing well or registry card – (conditional)

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Wishing well or registry information has no place on the wedding invitation. It’s also a grey area when it comes to wedding etiquette: do we still expect people to be giving gifts in this day and age? Providing the information is really up to you. At the end of the day it’s probably going to save you a lot of calls from curious aunts and friends. Check out our perfect guide to the wishing well poem.

If the amount of cards is stacking up and you’re reluctant to try providing digitally, combine the information, directions and wishing well cards – it might not be pretty but public transport directions rarely are. If it’s all in one place, guests are less likely to lose track of it and they won’t have to be thumbing through multiple pieces of paper to get to the bottom of things.

The menu card – Non-essential

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There is debate amongst wedding planners, professional and amateur alike, as to whether guests need to know what free food and drink will be served at a wedding they’ve been invited to attend. We’ve decided its non-essential for three reasons,

  1. Your menu may not be decided by the time you’re planning to send out your invitation set, so rather than stress to get it organised, give guests a general choice of meat or vegetarian in their RSVP (white or red meat if you’ve thought that far ahead) and leave room to note other food requirements.
  2. Unless there is something particular in the menu that you’re hoping to excite in your friends, work on the rule of need to know: does everyone need to know the information months out from the wedding? Probably not.
  3. It’s a free meal.

A formal dinner that is celebrating the wonder that can be food, is another thing entirely: a large part of the wedding stationery is being consistent not just thematically between the cards, but in the tone that you’re trying to establish for the big day.

The menu – Essential

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Note the distinction between the menu card and a menu: the menu card is a card sent out with the invitation, RSVP and other information that provides the food and drinks details before the date; a menu is details of food and drink provided on the day.

The menu in this case can be provided per seat to each individual or as a shared slip of paper. There are also alternatives to printed menus, which we discussed in our Menu Wording but the general verdict is that a menu should be provided in some form on the day so that people know what they’re getting.

The menu is also a good place to provide ingredients or warnings in case anyone has slipped through the radar when it comes to dietary requirements.

It’s not just the food though: make sure it’s clear what beverages will be available, preferably in the form of a big sign by the bar that’s visible from across the room.

The order of ceremony or the wedding service card – Non-essential (but probably a good idea)

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Wedding Stationery BreakdownShare on Pinterest


This is the detail for the day that guests can pick up before the ceremony and follow through the course of events until the end of the night. It is not absolutely necessary. Your loud brother can probably do the same thing as MC. The reason it’s a good idea is to make guests feel like they know what’s going on and they can make sure they’re participating in everything they possibly can (by which I mean well timed toilet breaks rather than plans to duck out as soon as the cake is cut).

The wedding service card is important to consider if you’re having a traditional church wedding or asking guests to join in responses or songs. Given that not everyone will be familiar with every part of the wedding ceremony, it lets them get involved.

Table place cards or seating chart or both– Essential (conditional)

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Wedding Stationery BreakdownShare on Pinterest


If you’ve made seating arrangements then you need to let your guests know where you’d like them to be seated. There are two options: table place cards or a wedding seating chart displayed on a board for guests to play their own game of Where’s Wally.

Alternatively, there is always the safe bet of choosing to use both.

Table place cards can be fun, although decorative details can start to add up. The expense of place cards lies in the varied printing of individual guest names. If you’re worried, think of alternatives to just simple place cards or ways you combine multiple things into one so that it’s novel and interesting for each guest.

Other: The Wedding Website and couples email– Non-essential (but pretty handy)

(Note: this is not the tacky email invite to your wedding although there are increasingly good online wedding invitations in Australia that can be customised in the same way as your printed cards).

So the wedding website is a relatively new trend (by which I mean, not everyone’s cup of tea), which has been adopted by savvy couples to provide guests with a definitive place to go to for information about the wedding, to keep in contact and come back to afterwards for photos from the day. If it’s left up long after the wedding and continues to be updated, think of it as shared, couples Facebook page or a Facebook event page.

The wedding website means that a lot of other cards in the wedding stationery set are non-essential. The trick is to maintain the chic sophistication you want to carry over from your save the date or wedding invitation. This can be hard if you’re doing it yourself so it might help to find someone who’s technologically adept enough to fulfil your needs (there are definitely agencies out there willing to help) but this is likely to set you back when it comes to the budget.

The other problem with a digital addition to your wedding stationery set is whether everyone you have invited has access to the internet and the skills to navigate the information you’re providing. Weigh in the balance how many people you’d need to contact individually to give them information and get their responses: maybe it’s just a few and it still makes sense to try something digital for the majority of your other guests.

At this point in time maybe the wedding website isn’t the single solution, just a good way to complement your printed cards.

In accompaniment to the website is a personal email account as a couple to be used for everything related to the wedding. Even if you’re not considering a personal website, it may be a good idea for the general wedding planning process. That way, you’re not clogging up your everyday address or confusing anything with work information and you know exactly where to find everything.

Once you’ve decided what cards you need, you then need to consider the quantity, the theme or colours, the type of print you like and the written copy that belongs to each card.

We’ve dug out help for all of this before with inspiration for colour and themes like the Gatsby Effect, and lists of the “best ofs” like Our Top 5 Letter Press Invitation Designs of 2015, and help for Save the Date Wording. Then it’s a matter of choosing whether you’re going to choose a custom design service or find something that suits you in existing cards or even try a DIY wedding invitation (and this is just planning for the wedding stationery?!).

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