1. Make sure you have your guests’ proper names (no nicknames!) and the correct spellings of their streets and cities. Have several people proofread your list. You will be looking at it so much that you won’t notice errors, and a fresh pair of eyes (or two) is necessary.
2. Know your etiquette! Only MDs, vets, and dentists are accorded the honorific “Doctor”; PhDs are “Mr.,” “Ms.,” or “Miss.” Widows are addressed as “Mrs. John Smith,” while divorced women who have retained their husbands’ last names will be “Mrs. Jane Smith” and divorced women who have taken back their maiden names will be “Ms. Jane Jones.” For married couples where the woman has retained her name, address them as Ms. Mary Jones and Mr. John Smith. If a couple lives together but is not married, omit the “and.” If you have double envelopes, make sure that the inner envelopes are done properly: Mr. and Mrs. Smith; Mr. Smith and guest. First names do not appear on the inner envelopes, except for children, whose first names are written underneath their parents’.
3. Can’t stand your college roommate’s boyfriend? Good news! Unless they are engaged or married, you are under no obligation to invite them. But if they are engaged or married, you must invite him and hope he doesn’t attend.
4. This is crucial: When mailing your invitations, make sure you have the right postage (and have fun choosing your stamps online!) and that you hand them to a postal clerk for hand-canceling. You don’t want them going through a machine and getting stuck or torn…or being befouled with those awful bar-codes. If you run into any resistance from the clerk, take them to another post office. It is part of their job to hand-cancel invitations, and anyone who tells you differently is not someone you want handling your invitations.
5. If you are having a friend with nice handwriting address your envelopes, great! But do not allow her to attempt calligraphy or to use a calligraphy pen of any kind. Buy her a nice fountain or roller-ball gel pen and make sure she uses an envelope guide (with perfectly spaced lines) on each envelope (guides are usually included with your invitation order – but we found this one on line
Of course, the best way to ensure that your guests’ first impression of your big day is a good one is to hire a reputable calligrapher. Here are some tips on finding the right one:
Look at and compare their work. A good calligrapher should offer at least four lettering styles (which will NOT (and should not) be the same as the engraving font you have chosen for your invitation!). Read testimonials and ask for references if you like.
Remember that the definition of the word “calligraphy” is “beautiful handwriting.” Anything done on a machine is not calligraphy.
Expect to spend money on this part of your event. Good calligraphers who know what they are doing do not charge less than $3.00 per set of double envelopes.
Make sure that he/she is an etiquette expert and is not just going to address your envelopes as they may appear on your list. There are many people out there who will actually abbreviate words if they are not spelled out. You should not have to spell out every state; a good calligrapher makes certain that every I is dotted and every T crossed, in his or her lettering and also as far as proper etiquette goes. What you want in a calligrapher (besides the obvious) is someone who cares about your wedding as if it were his/her own.
When booking a calligrapher’s services, make sure everyone’s expectations are known. Communicate your thoughts and needs to him or her and be on the same page as far as deadlines (for both of you) are concerned. Never assume that you can change your mind about the way your table cards are done and just throw something new at your calligrapher in the eleventh hour; his/her her time is valuable and he/she has many other clients whose orders must be processed with the same care as yours. If you are clear about what you want from the start and keep the lines of communication open, you will have smooth sailing all the way through!