When to Start Planning Your Wedding Stationery

Congratulations! You’re engaged! This season of your life is one of the most exciting and special to date and deserves to be celebrated. It also comes with a lot of decisions, details, and a whole multitude of things you never had thought about before.

Planning your dream wedding can be a lot of fun. There are some obvious details that maybe you’ve thought about—a large gathering or an intimate one; your dream location; your wedding party; the season. Ultimately, though, there will be smaller details that you hadn’t considered. How do I want my catering? What color napkins do you like for your table settings? How should I fold those napkins?

And, when should I start planning my wedding invitations?

Other areas of wedding planning are talked about in-depth. How much to budget for each aspect. What’s the best season to get married in. Pros and cons of a wedding planner. But planning for wedding invitations and other wedding stationery can sometimes feel daunting like a mystery.

I’m here to help break down some of the mystery of planning for your wedding invitations and wedding paper goods. From when to start planning, how much to budget, the differences in types of wedding invitation providers, and everything in between.

Keep reading for our first topic: When to Start Planning Your Wedding Stationery.

When to Start Planning Your Wedding Invitations

The short answer? As soon as possible.


Once you have a date and a venue selected, you should start thinking about how you’d like to approach your wedding invitations and paper goods, especially if you want to send out Save the Dates, or have a custom-designed wedding invitation suite.

If you plan on sending Save the Dates, there are different recommendations on when to get them in the mail. If you’re planning a long engagement, getting married during a “peak” time, or have a lot of out of town guests, plan on sending your Save the Dates anywhere from 10–12 months prior to your wedding. If your engagement is shorter, you’re planning an intimate wedding, or a lot of local invitees, my suggestion is 6+ months prior to your date.

See why it’s important to start your research early?

This will give you time to weigh all your options: pre-made websites like Minted or Shutterfly, a semi-custom design from an independent designer, or a fully custom design. It will also help to give you a huge amount of insight into how much you should budget for your wedding invitations and other paper goods.


If you opt to go the route of a pre-made template on a website, you don’t have to worry about a custom designer being booked and turnaround time is much less. Many pre-made template websites can get your Save the Dates or wedding invitations to you within 2–3 weeks.


While bespoke invitation designers aren’t present on your wedding day (unless they’re doing onsite sign lettering), it’s important to consider that our busy season may not be the same as the traditional wedding season. By booking as early as you can—even up to a year or more in advance—you’re ensuring that your save the dates, wedding invitations, and day-of items will be blocked out on our design calendar.

Standard turnaround time for custom stationery design is anywhere between 4–6 months before the wedding date for your invitations. This allows for design, proofing, and production as well as transit and response time to and from your guests. For day-of items, I recommend 6–12 weeks prior to the wedding. Now, I’m not saying that you need to have your guest list finalized twelve weeks before your wedding, but this gives your designer time to design your pieces.

Custom letterpress wedding invitation design from Leighwood Design Studio


If you choose a semi-customizable wedding invitation suite from a custom stationery designer, the turnaround time falls somewhere between custom invitation design and pre-made design options. Many independent designers are one-person design houses and do not have the same production capabilities as big websites. We also put a lot of craft and care into fostering relationships with our clients and want to ensure a personal touch to your designs.

Based on the amount of personalization your invitation designer allows in their semi-custom designs will determine the turnaround time on your invitation suite. The average turnaround time for my semi-custom design clients is 2.5–4 months before their wedding date. (If planning on mailing out 8–10 weeks before your date.) This allows for the personalization of their chosen design (colors, wording, addressing details, etc.), proofing, and production.

The Everett Suite from the Leighwood Collection

As you can see, it’s a wide range of timeframes depending on where and who you get your wedding invitations from and your budget. In future posts, we’ll chat more in-depth about the different types of wedding invitations, budgets, and much more.