Lately I have received more and more DIY invites to weddings. I think this can be a really wonderful way to save money and/or be more creative with your invites. There are some very beautiful, yet affordable, options out there if you shop around. Staples, Walmart and other office supply stores sell kits with invites, response cards, envelopes etc. Also sites like Etsy.com offer access to artists who can create silk screened invites or other hand made options. Or you can go serious DIY and buy paper, calligraphy pens, die cuts, paper cutter, ribbons and a unique hole puncher at craft stores like Michael's or Joanns. I say power to you if you start from scratch!
However, when you do it yourself there are some things to think about since you as a Bride are not a stationery professional and likely haven't done this before. Think of writing your invites like you did assignments in Elementary School-- Who, What, Where, When all need to be included. Also the How is achieved with guest information cards and perhaps a listing of your website, which would serve as a back up for all this information. It's my opinion that your website should not take the place of any event details though, unless your intention is to have a paper free wedding! (An undertaking I would love to see).
Usually a 5" x 7"ish card on heavy paper announcing your marriage. Information to be included: Parents hosting, bride and groom's names, ceremony day, date, year, time and ceremony venue including town and state. There are lots of phrasing resources on the net, so I won't duplicate those efforts here. ***Optional: You may put on the same sheet at the bottom "Reception immediately to follow" and the place of your reception, if you don't want to have a separate reception card.
Traditionally Reception info is usually listed on a smaller card, approximately 4" x 5," included with the invitation. This card might say "Reception immediately to Follow" or "Dinner and Dancing" with the location information. Contrary to popular belief this is not the same as a response card. Guests will keep this card for their information.
This is what guests return to you with their regrets or acceptance, and perhaps their food choice. Since they are sending this back to you, it should not be the only place pertinent information is listed on their invitation, such as the the location of your reception, website, or the hotel information. I suggest discreetly numbering these cards on the back in case you can't read someone's handwriting. This way if an illegible card is returned to you, you can check the code # against your master guest list to tell you to whom you mailed the invitation with the corresponding number.
Accommodation Information Card:
Most Hotels these days have a prepared card they will give you when you reserve a block of rooms. These fit conveniently in with the rest of the invitation package. Or you could make small sheets on your computer with a small map on one side and hotel information as well as directions on the other. This would be your resources piece of your invitation. This could also be a nice place to put your website.
All the items listed above go inside an inner envelope. Do not seal this envelope. On the outside, write the first names of the intended guest(s). This can be informal, for example your parents' could say "Mom and Dad" and your friend's could say "Liz and Guest." This is also where single unmarried guests will take their cue on whether or not you're inviting them with a date. So your single friend Liz's may just say "Liz" as well.
Some of the samples I found (like the one shown above) featured a folder instead of an inner envelope, you could write on the back of this as well.
Now you slide that envelope into this one. On the outside you'll need neatly printed mailing addresses with formal salutations. If you have lousy handwriting like me, I recommend computer printed stick-on labels, especially the clear ones which look less obvious. Don't forget your return address in the left corner or on the back on the envelope flap, and a cute love stamp too!
P.S. The USPS now offers custom stamps! You can upload a photo of you and your fiance, your dog with a red heart in its paws, or anything your heart desires to be made into your very own custom stamps!
Photo credits: blue and red invite, Etsy - Mwilson Shop; inkjet reception card, ehow.com; response card and accommodation card photographed by me and created by Bride Lissa Bee; and Best Occasions Invite Kit available at Walmart.