A wedding invitation is a letter or card asking the recipient to attend a wedding. They are typically mailed out six to eight weeks before the wedding date. Wedding invitations can sometimes have calligraphy on them. Other types of printing include engraving, thermograph, letterpress printing and sometimes blind embossing. Most of time, they are mailed in double envelopes. The inner envelope can be lined in a matching color, is not gummed, and fits into the outer envelope. The outer envelope is gummed for sealing and addressing.
Along with the wedding invitation ensemble, other accessories may also include a response card or folder and envelope. The respond card or folder is traditionally used for gathering totals for the caterer and getting a general number of guests attending. The recipient is asked to mail back the respond card or folder roughly two weeks before the wedding or by the date indicated. The envelope is pre-addressed and pre-stamped by the wedding party for ease.
Other accessories often included in the ensemble are the reception card or folder, map or direction card, and accommodation information card. The reception card simply lists the addresses and times of any post-wedding events, such as a cocktail hour, dinner or dance. The Map or direction card provides details about the location of the wedding and reception. The accommodation information card gives helpful tips about airfare, transportation or hotel arrangements for out-of-town guests. Local attractions may be featured as well. Often times the accommodation information card is sent in advance with the save the date card.
A save the date card is similar to an invitation and is mailed up to one year before the wedding date. Save the dates card simply announces that the wedding date has been set and encourages recipients to plan for the event. It is not used as a substitute for the wedding invitation and typically mentions that an invitation will follow.
In countries that issue them, the envelope may be franked with love stamps. The United States postal service issues a love stamp each year specifically denominated to cover the double weight of the invitation and reply (a rate slightly less than the cost of two regular stamps).