Invitation Anatomy 101 - Optional Components - Part 2 of 3

Hopefully, you've read my prerequisite lesson "Invitation Anatomy 101 ? Typical Components". If not, I would highly recommend reviewing that article first. Now that you've been introduced to the main components of the most common invitation style/format, have a read of some of the Additional or Optional items you may want to add to your invitation.

Here's the breakdown of my Invitation Anatomy 101 into two lessons: Typical Components and Optional (or Additional Components). The latter I'll describe here (in no particular order):

Optional (or Additional Components):

1) Reception Card

  • Often for weddings or events where the ceremony/formal event and reception are not at the same place, an additional card may be required to inform guests of the name and address of the reception hall.
  • This card may include information on parking, written directions, smoking rules, and the time of the event(s) (ie. Cocktails, greeting lines, abridged agenda, seating times etc.)
  • Usually this card is the size of the RSVP card.

2) Directions Card

  • If your ceremony/formal event and reception are not well know to any or all of your guests, it is proper etiquette to provide detailed directions to and from the sites.
  • Directions cards may be as simple or as detailed as appropriate to the scale of the event celebration.
  • If you have out-of-town guests, you may wish to include hotel information/directions, suggestions on where to rent a car or call a taxi, maps or drawings in additional to written directions etc. This extra information often requires an addition card to the Directions card.
  • The information on this card is a service to your guests. Use your own common sense to determine what information should be included.
  • On a side note: I would say that about 98% of my invitation clients (regardless of the nature of the event) request a directions card. The current trend is to keep the format of the Directions card consistent with respect to typeface, style, etc. as the original invitation card.
    • TIP: For a more professional looking Directions card, ask you Invitation Designer for a quote on using the services of a professional cartographer. While much more expensive that an "in-house" map, cartographers can add features like a magnified sections of a map, landmark details, and customized routes.

3) Program
  • Programs are one of the fastest growing components to general event planning.
  • A program reflects the chronology of happenings which will occur during the day of your event. Regardless of what formal and informal elements may or may not be included in your particular event day plans, a program adds a nice touch and air of sophistication to your event and/or celebration.
  • Programs offer a high degree of creativity that can really stun and impress your guests. You may wish to match or coordinate your programs with your event invitation colours/styles. You can present them as a scroll or booklet on the day of your event.
  • Program information can include a chronology of happenings/events, speakers, locations, awards, recipient lists, donor lists, sponsors, greetings from company executives (if corporate) or family and/or bride and groom (if wedding). If there is special information, credits, or questionnaires, they can be easily incorporated into the program.

Announcement Card (& Engagement Cards)

  • Usually wedding-related, the purpose of these cards is to 'announce' the joyous event of your marriage to absentee guests. Usually, guests who live far away or could not attend due to other reasons are sent announcement cards immediately after the wedding.
  • Announcement cards sent BEFORE a wedding are referred to as "Engagement Cards" (usually sent to announce a couple's engagement). Engagements cards are a lot less common today.
  • Announcement cards are simple and elegant. They may consist of your names, the wedding date, the location, and a small quotation or greeting from you and your spouse.
  • Companies can also use Announcement cards to drum up excitement over the launch of a new product or significant milestone achievement. The rule of simplicity still applies in that very little except the basic information is placed on Announcement cards.


  • These ? almost exclusively wedding-related ? cards serve two purposes. The first is to announce your joint intent to marry and the second is to inform the guests to 'save the [wedding] date' on their calendars. In this way, Save-The-Date cards are similar to "Engagements Cards".
  • These cards are a more recent addition to invitation components as engagement times are lasting longer and longer with many modern couples. It is important that these cards usually contain the wedding date, location, and hotel/transportation information for guests.
  • We get the most requests for Save-The-Date cards when a couple or a company is planning a destination wedding or event. In the reverse of a destination wedding or event, if your wedding is close to home (and most of your guests), but some of your guests are coming from out of province, state, or overseas, it is a wise idea to send Save-The-Dates to these guests to give them more time to plan.
    • TIP: Remember you can save some money by NOT ordering Save-The-Date cards for ALL of your guests. If most guests live within reasonable driving distance to your wedding venue then order Save The Date's for the out-of-town guests only.

  • These cards are sent out well in advance to the invitations.
  • I've seen Save-The-Date cards used with companies wanting to inform key staff and strategic partners to keep a certain time-period free while securing reservations for a retreat-style focus group. In one case, specific details wouldn't be available for some time, but the booking was made at a popular resort at considerable expense. Save-The-Date cards allowed guests to keep the dates free from other scheduling conflicts (ensuring desired attendance targets would be reached) while the formal details and eventual invitations were being hammered out.

Way to go! Just one more lesson in "Invitation Anatomy 101-Optional Components"! Finish up with Optional Components - Part II.

Laura Paladino's work has been featured locally and nationally across print and television. Her public and commercial clients range from brides to wedding and event planners to celebrities in Canada and the United States. For additional articles and resources, information on Laura Paladino, her invitation design collections, or her select bridal boutique products and studio services, visit

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