Friday, April 19, 2013

Introducing, the infamous, M.


Photo by Envelopments


Your wedding invitation ensemble sets the tone for your entire wedding {where have you heard that before?}. When your guests open it up, the colors, motifs, and style all influence their expectation of your special day. They should feel nothing but joy and excitement for you as they turn to the response card to inform you they will be sharing in your wedding day when… “M____________? What does that mean?”

On most traditional invitation response sets you will see, the ominous ~ “M_______________”.   We have been asked numerous {ok, really it’s countless} times what does that mean?  Why is that there?  Many individuals, maybe even you, do not know what it stands for or why it is used. So, we decided it’s time to let the cat out of the bag! 

Allow me to introduce the infamous, M.

The abbreviation RSVP is actually a French phrase, “r├ępondez vous sil vous pla├«t”. This translates to “reply if you please”. The use of the RSVP was a French tradition adopted throughout the years to become a standard invitation practice. It is polite and follows proper etiquette to inform the wedding couple, by their specified date, if you will be able to attend their big day or not {Please always send back your RSVP!}

The “M____________________” is used to dictate who is submitting the response. The letter “M” stands for “messeuir” or “madame” in French, which in English translates to “mister” or “misses”. 

More modern brides have opted to replace the “M” and just simply state “Name{s}”.  This takes all the guess work out and simply states what you are looking for. 

You may have even come across some RSVP cards that do not have a designated space to write your name.  It may look like a big blank space or empty area below the response deadline.  This is actually done intentionally for you to hand-write your response to the couple.  It’s creating a more personal interaction between the couple and the invitees.  Sometimes, especially if you cannot attend their event, you may want to write a little note showing your happiness for the couple and expressing your congratulations.  You can always do so on the back of the RSVP cards or inside if they are folded notes {Hint, that’s why some RSVP cards are folded notes vs. just single panel cards!}.

So the next time you see the “M________________” on a response card for any important event, most importantly for a wedding,  you can respond with confidence knowing you are completing it correctly by just signing your name on the line. 

Photo by Envelopments

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Mysterious Double Envelope... Where did it come from?


Photo by Envelopments

Love a good mystery?
Ever wonder the origin of the mysterious double envelope? Today, it is still standard practice for the use of double envelopes in almost any wedding invitation suite. The outer envelope is used for addressing and mailing of the invitation, while the inner envelope is used to specifically invite those individuals who you would like to attend the ceremony and reception. 

 In order to find the purpose of this old-time tradition, we must go back to some of the earliest examples of wedding invitations. In the Middle Ages, illiteracy was profound among the populations of the world. There were few social classes wealthy enough to afford reading and writing skills. Up until the middle of the 1700’s, most families would employ a town crier to announce the happy wedding day amongst the crowd in the town square. All who were in attendance for the announcement were invited; otherwise the news was merely spread through word of mouth. 

For some of the royal families, who could afford the luxurious matrimony practices, invitations were hand written using calligraphy from trained English monks. This practice was extremely expensive and therefore rarely done, especially considering not many of the population could read them. On many of these invitations the family crest would be present so that the many illiterate individuals would be able to identify who was getting married.
Back in those days, the postal service was still a new idea. Because of the available modes of transportation, items were either sent by horseback, horse and carriage, or even sometimes by foot. This was obviously not the cleanest, nor the most reliable delivery system. The mail would become covered by dirt, roughed up, and many times torn considerably throughout the process. Because of this, the double envelope was born! 

The use of the double envelope was employed to ensure the invitation, which was such a large expense, remained intact. The post would be delivered to the maids or servants of the household. They would then shed the dirty and torn outer envelope to leave the crisp and clean inner envelope, which was then handed to the specified invitees.
Nowadays, the postal service is extremely more reliable {and might I say, cleaner!}. However, this practice of the double envelopes is still used to present the formality of the occasion. Not only are you able to specify your guests on the inner envelope, but the number of envelopes used dictates the formality of your wedding and sets the tone for what the guests should expect. 

So now that you know the origin of the double envelope, you can appreciate the royal tradition, standard, {and cleanliness!} that it brings to your wedding invitation suite.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Why you should say "I Do!" to Save the Dates

Should I or Shouldn't I?
Save the Dates are, in this humble designer and stationer's opinion, a no-brainer!  What a simple and great way to announce your engagement, your wedding date AND give advance notice to your out of town guests.  These little cards {or magnets} are a wonderful idea and should be invested in whenever possible.  Are they a must have?  No, probably not.  So if you are being conscious of your budget this could be a saver.  However, for around $1 each, a Save the Date announcement can also give you and your guests the peace of mind knowing they have your date and important information to make travel arrangements and plans.

The Do's and Don'ts
When do I order, and send out, my Save the Dates?
Do prepare to send them out early.  Some wedding timelines only suggest 5-6 months before the wedding.  This is fine if the wedding is local with mostly local guests.  However, if you are having a destination wedding, the majority of your guests are out of town, your wedding falls on a holiday weekend or during a popular wedding month {October is giving June a run for it's money!}, you may want to send them out sooner.  We, at the Birds & the Bees, recommend ordering them 8-12 months before your big day. {Yes, I'm someone who likes to plan ahead - thanks Mom!}

Who do I send Save the Dates to?
It's a good idea to send them to all your guests.  If you choose to be more selective with your mailing, just be sure that whomever you send a Save the Date to should also receive an invitation. {Hint...this means you'll have your guest list and count done early and that helps in all the rest of your planning!}  Be sure when you address the envelopes, you only address it to those that are invited to the wedding.  This gives you another opportunity to politely imply "No children, please" from the beginning, if that is what you are planning.

What do I put on my Save the Date?
Save the Date information should be simple.  You want to make sure you have these key elements:  Your names, the wedding date, general location {city/state} and your wedding website if you have one.  {Hint...Wedding websites are GREAT!  They connect your guests with up-to-date information and are handy for directions, accommodations, etc. for planning ahead!  Weddingwire.com offers wonderful free websites for Brides and Grooms}  And that's it!  This isn't your invitation, and you don't need too much information, you just are giving your guests a heads up.

What should my Save the Dates look like?
There are two theories of thought on this.  This will be the first thing your guests see for your wedding so some stationers may suggest a more elegant or traditional Save the Date to set the tone for the big day.  A more common thought is to save that for your invitation ensemble and just have fun with your Save the Dates!  Be colorful, slap on a cute pic {Hint...great place to use those engagement photos!!} and show off your personalities through fun designs.  While your invitation should also be a reflection of you as a couple, it's usually a more formal appearance and shows what the wedding ceremony and day will be like.

Popular Save the Date styles include magnets.  Magnets are great because people put them on the fridge {Hint...they can be used to hold up your wedding invitation when receive it!}.  They are relatively inexpensive and easy to have photos added.  Be sure you also receive an envelope.  You don't want to order magnets from a company that does not also include the envelopes, because most of the time, it's hard to find a standard envelope to fit the magnet!

Save the Dates are a relatively new tradition.  They have become a "must have" for some brides.  The purpose of the Save the Date has stretched beyond just weddings as well, large corporations and organizations have seen the value in this simple little message for their events too.

So, are you planning on sending out Save the Dates?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day-Of Wedding Stationery & Accessories - The little details...

You put a lot of time and energy into creating your perfect wedding invitation, setting just the right tone for your event. A little advance planning is all it takes now to pull the details together beautifully and continue to wow your guests with your “day-of” stationery and accessories.
Here is a brief description of some of the most popular items:
Day-of Stationery
Wedding Programs
Help make your guests feel more included in your special day and provide a keepsake of the event. Traditionally, programs include two components: a description of the wedding ceremony and an introduction to the members of the wedding party.
The program will provide an outline of the ceremony and the order of events. This often includes things like processional music, greeting, readings, prayers, exchange of vows, ring ceremony, unity candle ceremony, pronouncement of marriage, and recessional music.  Or other traditions and religious rites performed during your ceremony.
Introducing your guests to your bridal party through your program helps identify and honor those special participants who are in the ceremony. Be sure to list not only the members of your wedding party, your officiant’s name, as well as the names of any musicians, soloists or readers.
Some programs also include a thank-you message to family and friends, as well as a reference to loved ones who are deceased or otherwise unable to attend the ceremony, explanations of special religious or ethnic wedding traditions, and/or special poems or readings.
You will want to order enough programs to equal at least 75% of your expected guests, since couples usually take just one program. Of course, if you do not have a program attendant and choose to place a program at each seat ahead of the ceremony, you will want to order one for every guest. Any extra programs can be placed at the reception near the guest book or gift table for guests who may have missed them at the ceremony.
Escort Cards
If your wedding reception includes a seated meal, you will want to consider escort cards to let guests know their assigned table. Typically escort cards are small tented cards that list the name of the guest {or couple} and the table number. However, the possibilities for getting creative with your escort cards are endless, incorporating the theme of your wedding in their display or even attaching the escort card to the guest's favor item.
Seating Chart
Seating charts have quickly become a fashionable and elegant alternative to escort cards to let guests know their assigned table. Generally, seating charts are placed in a decorative frame and/or on an easel at the entrance to the reception site {more specifically the dining area of your reception}. The possibilities for getting creative here are endless. When planning for a seating chart, be sure to list the guests alphabetically.  If you list them by table number, you may end up with guests lined up at the door waiting to see their seating assignment.

Place Cards
Some people choose to assign specific seats for their guests and some opt to simply assign people to
tables and let the guests select their seat at the table. If you choose to assign specific seats, you will
need place cards to let guests know their specific seat at the table. Having assigned seats helps to
relieve the pressure some of your guests may feel about where to sit, and shows that you put a great
deal of thought into ensuring that guests are well matched and likely to enjoy the conversation at their
table.
Table Cards
Table cards are used to designate the number or name for each table. Some people get very clever with
the names of the tables, which can signify places or things that are important to the couple. Table cards
should be fairly large so that they can be seen from across the room. They may be tented and placed on
the table, or set up higher in a stand or incorporated into the centerpiece.
Menu Cards
Menu cards are most often used for seated meals at wedding receptions. They are not necessary for a
buffet-style dinner, however, you may still want to list the buffet choices and beverages that are offered.
Printed menu cards can be a decorative element to the table and is another way to express your creativity.
Wedding Day Accessories
Napkins
Wedding napkins personalized with a design or monogram and the bride and groom’s names and
wedding date will create a wonderful accent for your wedding reception decor. You should plan to have
at least 2-3 beverage/cocktail napkins per person, more if you are planning to use these napkins at the
cake table as well.
Coasters
Personalized coasters, especially letterpressed coasters, have become very popular at weddings. These
can be personalized with motifs, monograms, the names of the bride and groom, and/or the wedding
date. The recommended quantity of coasters ordered is 1-2 per guest.
Favors
Favors can be any small token of your choosing. Traditional favors can range from the classic
sugared almonds or individual chocolates to candles and scented soaps. Modern gift trends include CDs
with the favorite music of the bride and groom, glassware, and picture frames. Candy bars {where the
guests fill their own goody bags} have become very popular. Favor boxes or bags, or the gifts
themselves, may be be personalized with the couple’s names, monogram or initials and wedding date.
A noble option that is gaining in popularity is for a donation to be made to charity in lieu of gifts.
Guest Book
The wedding guest book was once a necessity. Long ago, everyone who attended a wedding was
considered a witness and was required to sign the marriage document. Today, even though the legal
requirements for witnesses have changed, the concept of a guest book remains as a wonderful
remembrance for the wedding couple.
The options for guest books also vary widely, from traditional books with lines for guests to simply
sign their names, to pages that provide more space for guests to write longer messages and/or for
photos, to wildly creative ideas like giving each guest a puzzle piece to sign that will later be put together by the bride and groom and made into a memory to hang on their wall.
Signs
More and more, couples are getting creative in their use of signs at their wedding reception. Perhaps
you have concocted a signature cocktail for your wedding and would like to display a description or
recipe for the drink. Candy Shoppe Bars or other dessert bars can be dressed up with tented signs, especially designed to match your theme or colors. You may also wish to have welcome or directional signs at your reception.
Monogram letters cut out and hung by ribbon is a creative and unique idea for your entrance doors as well.  This piece can then be used to hang on the front door of your new home!  And, of course, there is the traditional “Just Married” sign.
Whatever little details you choose to incorporate into your wedding ceremony and reception, your day-of stationery
and accessories provide a perfect opportunity to infuse the decor with a bit of your {and your fiance’s}
personality and style in a way that pulls all of the pieces together beautifully.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Art of Writing Thank You Notes

In this day and age, where technology, email, Facebook and text messaging have taken over as our forms of communication, the thought of hand writing a note can be a daunting task, especially if you are a newlywed.  This essential correspondence of your gratitude can be much easier than you think.  All you need is a little bit of planning and organization!

Give it a Personal Touch
Thank you notes for wedding gifts should be hand-written on personalized stationery and signed by one person.  Traditional etiquette requires the note to be personalized with the name or monogram of the person signing the note. Current trends have made accommodations for the couple to have both of their names or monogram on the front of the note.  This lends itself to be more versatile and convenient for either person to use the card for wedding-related gifts.  It also shows a unity in the couple and their joint appreciation for the items received.

Keep in mind, that etiquette does still dictate that, before the wedding day, the bride use her maiden name or monogram.  Thus, bridal shower thank you notes should come from just the bride or just the groom.  Reserve your married name or monogram for all notes sent after the wedding.

Write Early & Write Often
You may begin to write your thank you notes as soon as the gifts begin to arrive.  You'll find it's much easier and not as burdensome.  You can create a goal for yourself, as soon as the gifts are showering in, choose to write three or four thank you notes a day.  This makes the task less of a chore and will help your true appreciation shine through your writing versus a flat, thank you template.  It will warm your gift givers heart that you took the time to be more thoughtful with your words and will capture the feeling of gratitude you felt when you opened the gift.  Envision the gift giver's reaction when opening the envelope and seeing your hand-written expression.

As a standard rule of thumb, thank you notes should be written within two weeks of any engagement parties, bridal showers or other pre-wedding events.  For wedding gifts, you should try to send them out as soon as possible, we typically recommend one to three months after the wedding.  {For any gifts received before the actual wedding day, the two week rule should apply so that the gift giver is not left wondering whether the gift actually reached you.}

Remember, each gift requires its own thank you note, even if you receive a shower gift and a wedding gift from the same person.  Similarly, each person who contributed to a group gift should receive their very own personal note.

Get Organized
When you order your wedding invitations, pre-order your thank you notes.  This assures you are prepared and ready to go when the gifts start arriving.  You may also want to purchase a exquisite pen.  This simple purchase will have you looking forward to the task much more when you are in love with the look and feel of the stationery and enjoy holding the pen in your hand and feel the way it writes.  

If you have a spreadsheet or wedding planning guide you are using to track your invitations and replies, add a column or two to track gifts received and when you have written and sent the thank you notes.

Share the Chore
Remember how the notes are supposed to be signed by one individual?  By splitting up the list of notes, you and your spouse can finish the task in half the time.  Divide your list of thanks to your respective family, friends and co-workers.  Don't fret if one or both of you have less than perfect penmanship, a thoughtful and heartfelt "Thank You" is worth more than any thoughts about bad handwriting.

Who made the Cut?
Be sure to show your appreciation to the following list of people:
* Wedding Guests who brought or sent gifts
* the Wedding Party {each bridesmaid and groomsman}
* People who helped during the ceremony {Officiant, readers, ushers, program helpers}
* People who helped in some other way {decorators, errand runners, caterers, photographers, all your vendors}
* Hosts of showers and luncheons 

Finding the Words
Write your notes in your own voice.  Pretend you are thanking the giver in person.  Your introduction does not have to be the classic "Thank you for {insert item here}."  This will also help create a more heart-felt note and less template feeling.

Be sure to keep the center of attention of the note on your guest.  If you receive a monetary gift, say something like "Your generous gift was so thoughtful".  You do not want to call out the amount or form of the gift.  Ignorance is bliss...and guests never need to know that you returned a gift, that you received several of the same item or that it arrived damaged.  Remember, they took the time to think of you, so honoring their feelings is important as well.

It's a nice touch if you can share with your giver when, where or how you plan on using their gift. {Your thoughtfulness will be remembered when we cook our first dinner as husband and wife.  The pots and pans are perfect!}   And don't be afraid to say "Thank You" more than once.  It is after all a thank you note, just don't get too over zealous, it should be sincere.

In Closing
When signing your note, be mindful or your relationship with the receiver.  "Love" is appropriate for family and close friends, whereas "Warmly" or "Fondly" can be used for distance relatives.  A better option when writing to your boss or other co-workers may be "Sincerely" or "With Gratitude".

The Heart Matters the Most
Above everything else, you want to be sure you are expressing your appreciation to everyone who went out of their way to do something special for you, send you a gift or spent time or money on your big day!  Keeping in mind the gratitude you feel for them and their generosity will help make this duty easier and much more meaningful.