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calligraphy_lg With it being the wedding season, I always get questions regarding wedding invitation etiquette so I thought I would share what Martha Stewart sayings about the matter since she is the master at ettiquete. With its substantial weight, luxurious paper, and carefully lettered name and address, a wedding invitation distinguishes itself from all other envelopes in the mailbox right away. The obvious care with which this small package has been created promises something special inside — and a special event to come. Addressing, stuffing, and posting these important envelopes takes advance planning and attention to detail.

Get organized about a month before your desired send-out date. This should be six to eight weeks before the wedding, allowing your guests adequate time to respond and ensuring that you will get a reliable head count a week or two before the event. The address on a wedding invitation should be handwritten; printed labels are not appropriate (though calligraphy done by computer directly on the envelope is gaining popularity and acceptability).

Depending on your handwriting and the level of formality of your wedding, you may want to have your envelopes inscribed by a professional calligrapher. (To find one in your area, ask your stationer or wedding planner for recommendations.) You’ll have to get your envelopes to the calligrapher at least two to three weeks before you need them; some calligraphers require even more time. Also provide her with a neatly printed guest list, complete with full addresses and social and professional titles (Mr. or Doctor, for example). Compiling the list, as well as making phone calls to parents or friends to acquire or confirm addresses and spellings, can take some time, so don’t wait until the last minute to get started.

Though etiquette for addressing and assembling invitations has relaxed, there are still some requirements, outlined on the following pages (we’ve also included a few modern interpretations for more casual weddings). "The little things do matter," says Dorothea Johnson, etiquette expert and founder and director of the Protocol School of Washington, in Yarmouth, Maine. "When a couple uses the appropriate honorific and writes out an address in the correct way, it shows they’ve put thought into it." And when your guests receive your invitation, expertly assembled and addressed, there will be no doubt that you have done just that.

This post came directly from Martha Stewart Weddings, First Published: June 2003.