After spending months planning your wedding you want every little detail to come together seamlessly. Often times the wedding day papers become accidentally overlooked in the myriad of other details and ultimately end up being rushed, stressfully DIY-ed, or worse, haphazardly put together – not good. Your wedding day papers play an essential role in carrying a cohesive look from your guest's mailboxes to their table at the reception. This post will dive into the details of different wedding day papers, what is really needed, what is optional but great to have, and when you should order.
Types of Wedding Day Papers
Programs: While wedding programs are not required, they are great to have. They help your guests feel welcomed and included by introducing the most important people that are playing a part in your wedding day, they inform guests and help them understand what is taking place and when, and it lends a perfect opportunity for you to include a heartfelt thank you to your guests for being there.
Table Numbers: Table numbers are only necessary for receptions with assigned seating so guests know which table they are supposed to sit at.
Escort Cards (or seating chart) & Place Cards: The necessity of a seating plan at your wedding depends on a couple of factors: the size of your guest list and the style of catering. Smaller, more intimate weddings often do not require any type of seating plan. On the flip side, though, larger weddings, especially those with meal options, require a little bit more organization with assigned seating.
Escort Cards are displayed just outside the reception area to let guests know the table number assigned to them. Escort cards are typically per couple or per family. An alternative to escort cards is a large seating chart that lists each guest and their assigned table number or a unique display using one card per table that lists the table number with the assigned guests – this is where you can get really creative!
Place Cards are set at the seat assigned to the guest. They often indicate, in some way (either through words, icons, or colors,), the guest's meal selection so wait staff can easily serve your guests.
Menus: The only instance that a menu at the place setting is completely necessary is if your guests are selecting from various entree options at the reception as opposed to ahead of time on the RSVP card. Buffet style catering or if your guests are sending their meal selections back with their response cards do not require menus, but they are nice to have so your guests can know what is coming next and what is being served for dinner ahead of time.
Coasters: Coasters are 100% optional, but are also awesome! They can dress up the table and serve as another fun keepsake for your guests to take home.
His & Her Drink Signs: His & Her drink signs are also totally optional, but are super fun for both you and your guests!
Favor Tags: Favor tags are small tags that are hole punched and are tied to the favor bags or boxes given to your guests at the reception. The tags are often short and sweet with the bride and groom's names and wedding date and are designed to coordinate with the rest of the wedding stationery.
Welcome Bags: Welcome bags are optional, but they are a very thoughtful touch that your out-of-town guests will really appreciate. They do not have to be anything super extravagant. Many couples utilize welcome bags to introduce their out-of-town guests to local eateries, or places to shop and sight see. They'll often include an itinerary of wedding weekend events, places to eat, and things to do when the guests have free time between wedding activities.
Thank you Notes: Thank you notes are definitely a must have so that after you return from your amazing honeymoon you can send a hand-written thank you note to each guest that attended – thank them for celebrating with you and try to keep track of who gifts you with what, even if it's a card and money, so you can call that out and thank them specifically; the added personal touch will go a long way in making your guest feel appreciated.
Wedding Day Paper Timeline
2-3 months before your wedding Start thinking about what pieces you need and those you want for your ceremony and reception. Search the web for inspiration and start compiling a vision/direction for your day of papers to present to your designer.
2 months before your wedding Finalize the list of pieces you plan to include and book your designer.
6 weeks before your wedding As RSVPs start rolling in, you will want to start planning out your seating chart if you are going to do assigned seating. If you are having multiple entrees and your guests are sending back their meal selections with their RSVP's you will want to keep an organized list of the guests that will be in attendance and what their meal selections are. Often times your designer will have a template for you to fill in with this information. You will also want to finalize the wording for your programs, menus, signage, and any other stationery pieces that are being included.
4 weeks before your wedding Provide all finalized wording, details, and your full guest list for escort/place cards and seating chart to your designer.
2-3 weeks before your wedding Final approval of all pieces for production.