Your Questions, Answered: Save the Dates vs. Invitations

Long before your wedding date, guests will get their first impression of the event through your paper goods, so you want to be sure that your save the dates and invitations are right in line with your vision. Still, with so many creative, out-of-the-box ideas highlighted on Pinterest and wedding blogs, trying to find your original style for paper goods can feel intimidating — especially when you're trying to stick to a budget. Read on for answers to the most common questions related to paper goods, plus expert tips on style, trends, and logistics.

How do I make my paper goods stand out?

As Barbara Callow of Barbara Callow Calligraphy says, everyone wants to be unique, but that doesn't mean all the pieces in your suite need to be wildly different. Instead, she suggests that you focus your creativity on the save the date, which can be a more contemporary, colorful piece, then stick to more traditional invitations.

When it comes to fresh save the date designs, the sky's the limit. Barbara says she's written calligraphy on everything from pumpkins to fans to wine corks, so don't be afraid to bring innovative ideas to your paper vendor. Hoping to add an original touch but stick with a more classic style? Design a custom stamp to personalize your paper goods.

Which trends are popular this year?

Although modern, distinctive save the dates are still par for the course, this year, invitations have been getting a makeunder. Jacques Oskanian of Hyegraph Invitations & Calligraphy points out that "classic always comes back," and couples are now opting for clean, elegant invitations. He says there's been a shift toward traditional letterpress on high-quality paper as couples look for a more minimalist style. "The invitation is the event before it happens," he says, "so it's important to represent yourself well."

How should I assign my budget?

To minimize the number of pieces in your invitation suite, Oskanian says to include a small card with your wedding website URL in your save the date envelope. That way, you can provide all the information about directions, accommodations, and rehearsal dinner plans online and avoid buying any additional cards.

You can also save both time and money by not including a table number on your escort cards. With misplaced and changing RSVPs, seating arrangements are bound to change at the last minute, so you can avoid buying additional cards — or having to cross out table numbers — by grouping name-only escort cards next to table-number signs or writing the full seating chart on a mirror chalkboard that can be easily altered.