The wedding invitation is the first teaser you give your guests and how the day will unfold. It's the very first hint of your wedding's style, theme, ambience. Grandma will cherish it in photo albums for years to come and it'll be pinned on fridges and noticeboards for around six weeks.
Traditional invitations dictates embossed cards, folded or otherwise often in shades of white and ivory with cursive writing in black or metallic print, and will follow a whole new set of rules that you will read more about in this article.
Modern wedding invitations give a nod to offbeat colour combinations, patterns and the inclusion of articles, maps or mementos which tie into the broader wedding theme.
So, do you plan to excite....or be polite?
1. Pattern, texture & colour
Heavy card or quality paper is the only way to go for traditional wedding invitations and the colour should be off or pure white - no exceptions. The card may be folded and you can opt for bevelled edges using silver or gold foil.
If you're going traditional, then go all the way with print engraved in black ink which gives a raised imprint on the finished product - but don't forget to handwrite your guests' names if your writing is neat and pretty - otherwise spend the extra to hire a professional calligrapher for a truly stunning result.
While font names vary between printers, Antique Roman, Copper Plate and Monotype Corsiva are probably the three preferred fonts for elegant, traditional invitations.
Mixing multiple patterns is uber cool right now, with oriental prints sitting happily alongside stripes and polka dots, leopard and jungle prints adjacent to vintage florals - basically, anything goes if you've got the flair and courage to pull it off.
Bright screams fresh and modern, and depending on the season key colours include all shades of aqua, blue and pink, metallics for formal do's and pretty pastels for outdoor.
This wedding season expect to see bold colour mixes such as colour blocked brights; turquoise or peach decorated with metallics. Rose and mint greens for outdoor garden weddings or smart black and whites for more formal weddings.
Texture is a simple but extremely effective way to inject personality into your invitations, whether through your choice of paper, folding and shape or by adding real elements that tie into your wedding theme such as dried flowers, shells or happy snaps from your personal album.
Brides seeking a luxe or more glamorous look are picking crystals, beads, charms and colourful rhinestones to adorn their invitations.
While couples looking to create a more traditional impression will opt for longstanding favourite rice paper or heavy thick high-quality card that just feels expensive.
2. It's a wrap
The impression created when your invitation arrives in the mail starts before your guests lay eyes on the invite itself. The way it's packaged is becoming just as important - if not more so - than the invitation inside and competition for the most darling packaging is fierce.
For an old school approach, mail your invitation within two envelopes in the same white as the invitation. The wedding invitation should sit inside an unglued inner envelope which is placed within an addressed and sealed outer envelope - and remember to make sure the invitation faces the right way so that it doesn't need to be turned over upon opening with h guest able to read the print as soon as they open the envelope.
As for addressing your envelopes, use abbreviations Mr, Mrs and Ms but spell out titles such as Doctor or Professor, as well as words such as Street, Road, and the name of the state in full. Married couples should be addressed as "Mr and Mrs Capulet" while unmarried couples should have each name on a separate line.
The inner envelope is the place to include children's names if they are invited, or to write "and Guest" for single friends - never on the outer envelope.
From fabric bags to decorative boxes, clear sleeves to wrap-around pockets the list of options is growing and a little online research will return dozens of ideas - from the refined to the ridiculous.
More formal wedding invitations will come from both sets of parents and use phrases such as "we request the pleasure of your company to celebrate the occasion of the marriage of Juliet and Romeo". Find out more about what to write on your wedding invitation.
There are so many in's and out's when it comes to the wording on your wedding invitation - particularly if you're going formal - that we've devoted an entire article to it, complete with examples.
4. Made from scratch
Not one for the traditional bride, handmade cards are giving those with an eye for the quirky an outlet to use caricature, snapshots and more to truly express your personality , give you the opportunity to include something meaningful for each guest and cut costs - although the time expenditure shouldn't be underestimated. This one's only for the devoted and creative bride.
5. Going green
Green weddings are certainly enjoying their moment in the sun and handmade and recycled paper invitations are gaining popularity with brides across the board. Natural elements such as dried flowers, sticks, pinecones and the like all come into their own here - and you can even include any info about your environmentally friendly wedding plans - if you've got space!
6. Paperless invitations
Surely an emailed invitation is the ultimate in going green and your imagination really is the limit.
Set it to your favourite song, video yourselves verbally inviting people or include footage of the venue to whet the appetite.
For a truly laidback vibe, use social networks such as facebook to invite guests and have them RSVP online instantly. Why not create your very own wedding website which is the hub for all wedding communications - from invitations and RSVPs to updates and post-wedding snaps.
7. Destination weddings
If yours is a destination wedding, you might want to incorporate elements from your location into your invitation - tropical treasures, country sticks and berries - you get the idea.
It's really worth sending ‘save the date' cards to give guests a heads-up and time to plan time off work, airfares, accommodation and the like.
But remember - this means you need to get your wedding and invitation theme together from the outset so that you carry the look through from the first titbit you send guests through the big day and finishing with coordinating thank you cards.
8. Surprise Me
The more creative and quirky the wedding invitation, the better. You are in charge of what to say and how to say it with no chance of falling victim to critical etiquette mavens.
Although you should stick to the traditional rules of what to include on the invitation. This will make managing the guest list easier. Such as including an RSVP with a date, the dress-code and to write the names of the guests you are inviting rather than leaving it open for interpretation. You get the drift...