You’ve decided on a design and checked off all the items on your printing and paper wishlist. Now, you ask yourself, “how many invitations do we order?”
To an outsider, it might seem like a reasonably straightforward question with a simple answer. But for those of you knee (or waist) deep in the planning process, containing your ever-evolving guest list is like herding cats.
Our advice: jump in and tame that beast. Own it! Because the sooner you get a handle on that magic number, the easier your wedding planning will be, especially when it comes to ordering your invitations. It’s going to be ok! I promise. Especially because there are just a few simple steps to determining how many invitations you need to order, and I’ve got them for you right here.
First, breathe deeply.
Second, count your addresses! How many people are on your guest list? I am serious when I tell you, I ask this question many times a week, and more often than not, the answer I get is ….. (silence) or I am not sure??
Your guest addresses should be gathered far in advance of ordering your invitations. Advance, as in, like as soon as you get engaged. Put them in a spreadsheet that can be efficiently sorted. (Tip: Down the road, you can also use this same spreadsheet for seating your guests, so it’s truly time well spent.) Don’t know how to use Excel or Google Sheets? Now is an excellent time to learn! You’re getting married for goodness sakes; you’ll have to reach out to these people again–thank you notes, holiday greetings, birthday parties, anniversary parties, — I’ve been messaging my ‘guest list’ for the past 20 years! No kidding. Count those names (excel and sheets have this impressive feature called autofill, and it will even number your rows for you), and commit that number to memory.
Third, send a save the date, and do it early. Sure, it’s a helpful tool too, you know, announce your engagement, and share details about your location, travel, and accommodations. BUT, the value of a Save-the-Date extends well beyond that! Sending that SD with the pretty photo and wedding website enables you to make sure your guest list and corresponding addresses, are up to par. It gives you the opportunity to confirm the accuracy of your addresses, and also prompts your guests to inform you of an impending move, etc.
Once you send those save-the-dates, if you receive any returns by mail, update your list. And reach out to those for whom you need updated addresses from right away, so you’re not scrambling to do this later. (Tip: if you asked guests to reserve within a hotel block, give the hotel a call periodically to get an update on the numbers–this way when you’re ordering welcome bags/timelines, you’d have a realistic number pertaining to hotel guests, too)
Fourth, and last, if you’ve not already met with, and selected your stationery, do this very soon after sending those save the dates. Share with them the number of Save-the-Dates you sent, and discuss a recommended quantity for invitations. I always tell my clients these rules:
Count the entries on your list. Don’t guess.
Once you have the number, order at least 10% over to account for any guests who have moved, or any last minute additions. This will also give you a few for keepsakes.
If you’re thinking about having your addresses imprinted or hand-calligraphed, it’s likely you’ll need at least 15-20% envelope overs for that purpose, too. This doesn’t mean you need to order extra invitations, just envelopes.
P.S. Word to the wise: Don’t skip the overs. But it’s so much paper, you say? It really isn’t. In fact, 10% additional and extra envelopes for your calligrapher is such a negligible cost, compared to what it will cost to have to reorder if you don’t have enough. You lose the benefit of economies of scale with just 25 of something versus 150.