Planning for Your Social Event

Phone:  (703) 424-5796   Email:  info@action-invitations.com
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When planning a social event for which you need to order invitations, there many factors to consider. This section of the Action Invitations web site was created to help you plan appropriately.

Make a List, Check It Twice

The guest list is the key to a successful social event. At the beginning of your planning, you will struggle with deciding who to invite. (Sorry, we can't help with that!) Compile a list of all guests you intend to invite. The guest list will be updated as you finalize first your choices of invitees, and then again later, after you have sent invitations, as you whittle down the list of invited guests to finally determine which set of invited guests plan to attend.

This guest list will also be instrumental in helping you plan seating arrangements (for those occasions for which this is appropriate). As the guest list is updated, it will closely affect the seating chart.

When you get a final count, it will help you determine how many invitations you need to order for your social event.

Guest List Tips

  1. Number your guest list.

    We strongly recommend that you number your guest list. Each set of invited guests should receive a guest number (for example, from 1 to 100), and this number can be used to track responses.

  2. Number your response cards.

    Response cards are often ambiguous; some require the invitees to provide a number of guests who will attend, whereas others only request a yes or no. Some response cards be returned promptly, some more slowly, and (sorry to tell you) it is likely that one or more response cards may never be received. Those that are returned may be smudged or illegible.

    If you number the back of each response card inconspicuously, associating each response card to the guest number on your guest list, you won't have any trouble interpreting the cards you receive back in the mail, and it may be easier to determine which invitees you must contact to ensure an answer.

  3. Track quantities of guests separately.

    You may want to include a second column on your guest list, which includes the quantity of guests corresponding to each guest number. As the date of the event comes closer, the number in this column will undoubtedly change; it will be critical to carefully confirm which and how many of the guests you have invited have RSVP'd indicating that they will come.

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Getting a Final Count for Invitations

Prior to the event, you will be required to have a final number of guests (to supply to your caterers, to ensure room at the event and reception, to order party favors, and so on).

Please note that the number of guests invited will not match the number of invitations you need to order.

One one hand, rarely is a function planned where every invited guest attends.

On the other hand, sometimes several people receive a single invitation. (See the FAQ topic Who should receive an invitation? for specifics.) For example:

  • Married couples receive one invitation.
  • Guests with children (under 18) living with their parents all receive one invitation. (You may wish to provide separate invitations to the children if you wish to honor them accordingly.)
  • Unmarried invitees in a committed relationship but living separately should be sent separate invitations.
  • If dates are welcome or expected, single invitees may receive one invitation (Mr. John Smith and Guest).

Note that when inviting families, it is traditional to address the outer envelope to the couple only, and to include the names of minor children who are welcome to attend on the inner envelope. (See our FAQs for detailed information.)

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When Not to Count Correctly

When you come up with a final count of invitations required, be conservative and estimate upward. It is substantially less expensive to order a few extras in advance. This applies to each piece of the invitation ensemble; if you miscount and need to reorder, you will be billed at the original base price.

As an example, the difference between 50 and 60 printed outer envelopes is about $3 when submitting your order. But to order later, the same ten envelopes would cost a minimum of $30.

If ordering printed outer envelopes, or lined inner envelopes that you will hand-address, we recommend that you increase your envelope order by at least 10, to give you a margin of error to cover the following eventualities:

  • Addressing errors
  • Calligraphy disasters (ink spills, malformed letters)
  • Invitations lost in the mail
  • Invitations returned to you due to an old address
  • "Second Thoughts" invitees (For example, after an initial mailing of invitations, your mom tells you that you will be disowned if you neglect to invite her Great Aunt Bertha whom you never met)

It is also a great idea to order extra informal notes or thank-you cards (see next item).

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You Can Never Be Too Thankful

Informal notes or thank-you cards that match the invitations ensemble are traditionally ordered at the same time you order invitations. This ensures you keep your items in a consistent theme, with consistent colors. Rules of etiquette require a written note of thanks for each gift you receive.

When planning for a social event, it is a great idea (and fairly common) to order extra personalized cards. Typically, our customers order twice the quantity of informal notes, thank-you cards, or personalized thank-you stationery than the quantity of invitations. This is recommended for the following reasons:

  • The recently engaged typically wish to proudly reinforce in their social circles their status as a confirmed couple.
  • Thank-you cards are often the first personalized items newlywed couples have with both couples' names, which may have changed after the ceremony.
  • Young adults (the newly confirmed, or recent bar/bat mitzvahs) can use personalized notes not only for thank-you cards following the event, but for their first set of personalized stationery.

And, of course, it is substantially less expensive to order higher quanitites of a printed item than to have them printed up separately. There are many other reasons why having extra personalized stationery is a great idea, so consider it before you submit your invitations ensemble order.

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Mailing Your Invitations

You may wish to consider purchasing special decorative stamps offered by the post office to complete the elegant look of your invitation.

After assembling your invitations, we strongly suggest that you take a fully assembled invitation to the post office and have it weighed to be assured that you affix the correct postage on each set. With inserts (or considering the shape of the final outer envelope), an invitation may easily exceed standard US First-Class letter-rate postate of $0.41.

Size and Weight Requirements for First-Class US Mail

This information is valid as of January 27, 2013. Check with the U.S. Post Office to see if the following is outdated.

Letters are eligible for US First-Class mail if they weigh 3.5 ounces or less and meet the size requirements outlined below. The rate for one ounce is $0.46. Any fraction over an ounce is included in the next weight category. For example, a letter weighing 1.2 ounces is in the 1+ up to 2 ounce category.

US Mail Weights and Costs
Weight Cost
Up to 1 ounce $0.46
1+ up to 2 oz. $0.66
2+ up to 3 oz. $0.86
3 up to 3.5 oz. $1.06

The dimensions to qualify for a first-class letter are as follows:

US Mail Size Requirements
  Minimum Maximum
Length: 5 inches 11-1/2 inches
Height: 3-1/2 inches 6-1/8 inches
Thickness: 0.007-inch 1/4-inch thick

Letters that meet one or more of the nonmachinable characteristics below are subject to a $0.20 nonmachinable surcharge. A mailing item is nonmachinable if it:

  • Has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.
  • Is polybagged, polywrapped, enclosed in any plastic material, or has an exterior surface made of a material that is not paper. Windows in envelopes made of paper do not make mailpieces nonmachinable. Attachments allowable under applicable eligibility standards do not make mailpieces nonmachinable.
  • Has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices.
  • Contains items such as pens, pencils, keys, or coins that cause the thickness of the mailpiece to be uneven; or loose keys or coins or similar objects not affixed to the contents within the mailpiece. Loose items may cause a letter to be nonmailable when mailed in paper envelopes; (see USPS General Standards, 601.3.3, Odd-Shaped Items in Paper Envelopes).
  • Is too rigid (does not bend easily when subjected to a transport belt tension of 40 pounds around an 11-inch diameter turn).
  • For pieces more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long, the thickness is less than 0.009 inch.
  • Has a delivery address parallel to the shorter dimension of the mailpiece.
  • Is a self-mailer that is not prepared according to 201.3.14.
  • Is a booklet that is not prepared according to 201.3.15.

Items over 3.5 ounces are subject to USPS Large Envelope or Package rates.

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