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Let's face it. Preparing the guest list and stuffing and addressing envelopes are not the most fun parts of the wedding preparations. Sometimes, knowing what to expect can help reduce stress levels. Hope this helps:

The way you address your invitations should make clear who is being invited. For example, if you are inviting a single friend, and prefer that he/she not bring someone else, you should write only your friend's name on the envelope. If your friend is in a relationship, and you want to include the partner, you should find out the proper spelling of the partner's name and include it on the envelope. This is more proper than saying "and guest."

If you are inviting young children along with their parents, their names should be included on the envelope rather than saying "and family." Children over 18 should receive their own invitations. Hopefully, parents realize that, if their children's names are not explicitly written on the envelope, they are not invited.

This being said, you should also know your guests. If you think some may not understand proper conventions, and may show up with an uninvited guest, it is helpful to add the words "Number attending ___" at the bottom of the response card so they can fill in the number. This helps you to be prepared and avoid potentially embarrassing surprises.

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Occasionally, a guest returns the response card without signing it. This results either in playing detective and doing handwriting analysis or making potentially embarrassing phone calls. There is a good trick that reveals the identity of the sender, even when the card is not signed. First, create a numbered list of all guests, something easy to do in this age of computers. When stuffing envelopes, write the corresponding number in light pencil on the back of each response card just before slipping it into the envelope. Even if all your guests seem trustworthy, this little task is well worth the time.

My clients tell me that approximately 10% of invitation recipients fail to return reply cards these days. This causes added stress as the moment approaches when the caterer needs to have a final number. It might make it easier if you know that you may have to make those last minute phone calls to ask if someone is coming to your event. Some clients have told me that they used to be among those who didn't bother to return response cards—until the shoe was on the other foot. "Now," one young woman said, "I understand how important it is that I return them, and I know to do it from now on."

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When you receive the printed invitations, put a set together. Stuff the outer envelope with the invitation, stamped response card and envelope, any enclosures such as invitations to a brunch, maps, accommodation information, etc. Then take it to the post office to be weighed and measured. In addition to weight, envelopes larger than a certain dimension can require more postage. While there, ask to view the stamps in the required denominations and select your preferences for the response card and outer envelope. In this way, you can be prepared with proper postage when you are ready to address and prepare the envelopes for mailing. Once ready, it pays to take your invitations to the post office and request hand cancelling. After going to the trouble of neatly writing all the addresses, it looks so much better than having bar codes and machine-mangled envelopes.

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Though a rare occurrence, even the best invitation companies occasionally distribute envelopes that have been constructed with glue that isn't sticking sufficiently on the sides,or that don't hold shut when the flap glue is moistened. If the envelope flap feels a little gritty, it means that some of the fine powder used in the thermography process wasn't blown off sufficiently. Though it's a pain, using a soft cloth to wipe the under side of the flap can help it stick better. When stuffing envelopes, if you find that some aren't quite holding together, call the person who ordered your envelopes immediately so new ones can be reprinted as quickly as possible. If the envelopes have already been addressed, and reprinting is too daunting an option, a quality glue stick to ensure adhesion is the next best option. Chances are, this will not be a problem.

I remember a great trick for getting envelopes to stay glued, taught by my mother when I was about 5 and put to work preparing mailings for my father. He was active in politics and, prior to elections, we would all sit around the table stuffing and sticking hundreds of envelopes. As she closed each envelope, my mother would stick the flap side under the side of her "tush," building up a little stack. By the time five to ten would accumulate, there was never a question about the glue being secure.

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