Vintage Wedding Invitations

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Wedding Invites 101

Congratulations! You’ve said yes and now the planning begins. Wedding invitations help you put your event into words and set the tone for the entire day. The feel of the paper and the font’s appearance reveal even more than the invite’s content – it introduces you to your guests. Through the invitation people get to know you both as a couple and understand clearly what your special day is all about. When you are preparing for a vintage wedding there are some fun, additional details to consider. Join us as we walk you through each component, step by step. We will include all the available invitation and announcement options, but as with all things vintage you can choose to work with the pieces that speak most to your specific ceremony.

Vintage wedding invitations 101

Engagement party

Traditionally, once you are engaged it is your parents’ duty to make a formal announcement celebrating the beginning of your new journey. This news can be delivered via a newspaper listing or with personalized notes. Taking the extra step to send individualized notations will save your parents a mountain of phone calls. Ensuring that everyone knows about the excitement lets you concentrate on the upcoming tasks at hand.

Once the news is publicly released, an engagement party quickly follows. This get together is often hosted at the bride’s parents’ home, but the prospective groom’s family, or a family friend, can entertain the group as well. Keep the invitation wording simple. If you are choosing to announce your engagement at the party then don’t include your names on the invites – keep it a pleasant surprise.

Bridal shower

This tradition dates from society’s dowry days and now is hosted by the bride’s dear friends. Most showers will have a theme, which you can mention in the lower right hand corner of the invitation. Some common themes may revolve around a certain kind of gift the bride desires (like kitchen) or a decorative motif she admires (like Art Deco). Keep in mind it’s better manners to keep the shower hostesses limited to friends, if family is involved it implies the bride’s family is seeking gifts on her behalf.

Image from John Oxley Library

Late 1800s tea party

Another fun get-together option is the bridal tea. This is a more intimate gathering reserved for the bride’s close friends. Use this time as an excuse to brainstorm wedding plans or just enjoy some gal pal bonding. The bridal tea slows down the hectic pace and helps you keep sanity during this time.

Rehearsal dinner

The rehearsal dinner will take place the night before the wedding. Hosted by the groom’s family, the invitations for this event should fit in with the theme of the wedding invites themselves. Historically this is reserved just for the wedding party, but it can be expanded if the happy couple wants a bit more time with cherished friends and family. The invites for the rehearsal dinner should be sent two weeks before the wedding.

Save the date cards

This note is perhaps one of the most important in the bunch. It will let people know to mark their calendar and prepare for the happy day. These invites should be sent at least three months before the wedding. It’s a nice touch to speak with friends and family about the date ahead of time to make sure they can plan around things on their calendar. The invites should be small in size and match the wedding invitations in their appearance. At the bottom of the card be sure to write “invitation to follow.” Send these notes out to all of your guests, the out of town guests will need it for planning purposes and the nearby guests will feel included. It’s often very easy to overlook the people who live down the street, but it’s important to make sure no one feels left out. This equity will ensure the wedding day is filled with happy energy.

Vintage wedding invitations 101

Wedding invitations

As we mentioned above, the wedding invites create the first impression. As you are planning your invite style, consider the level of your wedding’s formality. Whichever you choose, the “go to” vintage combination is black ink on an ivory card. Getting your invitation engraved adds a nice touch for a more formal ceremony. (You can tell if it is engraved by feeling for indentations on the back side of the paper.) Mail the wedding invitations four to six weeks before the wedding, but if you are hosting a summer event it is nice to allow a couple more weeks so people can rearrange their travel schedule.

wedding invites

Thanking guests at Princess Désirée’s wedding 1964

There are many extra touches you can add to give invitations a special vintage flair. Including the family coat of arms is one such cool way to stand out. Remember the coat includes the crest, helmet, shield, and motto. Because it’s such a bold feature, don’t overuse the graphic. The crest will be found only on the invitation. Use the coat of arms of the family that is issuing the invites (typically this will be the bride’s family).

If you are hosting the wedding outside, include a small card that shows the alternate location. Use this wording for a template, “In case of inclement weather the wedding will be held at…” When a reception is hosted at a location different from the wedding, add a separate card that will alert guests. Make a special note if you are providing transportation from the ceremony to the reception. Please request that the guests respond to your invitation request two weeks prior to the wedding date. Include any directions, maps, or information about accommodations so that guests have all the details. This level of thoroughness will prevent a lot of phone calls and confusion as the big day approaches.

When it comes to seating arrangements at the church or wedding venue, certain family members or friends may have reserved seats. If pews or seats are separated with ribbons, include a small card that says simply “within the ribbon.” Guests with this card will pass it to the usher so they are seated in the correct spot. Additionally, a pew card can be included. Like the “within-the-ribbon” card, this tiny invite notes the pew location or row. All of these formalities minimize confusion on the day of the wedding, ensuring that all the guests are quickly accommodated.

How to pick the perfect fonts for your vintage wedding invitations

When you research fonts, remember that the styling of text mirrored the times. So a wedding with an Art Nouveau theme will naturally want a feminine and luxurious-looking font. Starting with the jazz age, we’ll walk through each vintage decade. The sumptuous lines of the 1920s is seen in font favorite, Cooper Black by Oswald Cooper.

The Faulkner Portable Typewriter

Gary Bridgman,

The following decade was all about modernism and clean lines. Consider AM Cassandre’s Peignot font as well as the iconic Times New Roman or Albertus. War time fonts often give off a strong impression. Fonts like Bodoni or Garamond are great examples. Post WWII weddings relay optimism and a great font selection for invitations is Palatino. The eclectic vibe of the 1960s is beautifully reflected in wood type fonts or in the Cooper Black type. By the disco age, the graceful lines of Art Nouveau were seeing a revival. It is appropriate to use a font such as Souvenir.

At-home cards

These cards let people know when the bride and groom can entertain visitors, while also informing them of their post-wedding address. These notes will be styled to match the original wedding invites. Typically they are 3.25″ wide by 2.5″ tall. These can be sent with the thank you cards or the wedding invitations. On the notice, let people know what day or time you’re prepared to greet company.

Thank you notes

These notes express your thanks for gifts and also let the senders know they were not lost in transit. These should be sent in a timely manner, as your words will lack sincerity if the notes are received long after the wedding. This may initially seem like an overwhelming task, but stay calm. Limit stress and simply set aside some time to get them done. The wording just needs to be short and sweet: mention the item they gave you, what you may use it for, and relay your appreciation. If you are concerned about getting thank you notes ready in time, you can send out gift acknowledgment cards. These are to be sent out right after the wedding and simply states that the bride and groom thanks them for the kind gift and will send a note of appreciation later.

Cause A Frockus would like to thank their tremendous resources: “New Vintage Type: Classic fonts for the digital age” by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson, “Just my type: A book about fonts” by Simon Garfield, “Crane’s Wedding Blue Book: The Styles and Etiquette of Announcements, Invitations, and Other Correspondences” by Steven L. Feinberg, and the people who post their images without restriction.

For our readers: Tell us, what font are you choosing for your invites? What’s your favorite vintage font? Are you going to use an at-home card?

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