We all know there are a million kinds of invitations out there to chose from and these days just about anything goes! I think it's important to at least read up on wedding invitation etiquette before starting your invite shopping so that you can determine what traditions are right for you and the direction you'd like to go. (Check out these articles on The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, Real Simple Weddings.)
A couple of things that I suggest keeping in mind when designing your wedding invitations:
1) Pick a motif and carry it through. Find something that represents you and your wedding design and use it on your invitations and other stationary elements too. You'll be pleased when you see all of your stationary come together as a cohesive design.
2) Design your invitation to reflect your wedding. If your wedding is formal, you probably want to pick a more formal motif and include more traditional elements such as a reply card in an envelope rather than a postcard or RSVP online. But, if your wedding is more on the casual side, you can use more playful and whimsical designs and traditional elements can become optional.
3) Think about postage! The bigger you go and the more elements you include (bows, cards, envelopes, etc.), the more postage is going to cost. This adds up quickly! So be conscious of how much you want to spend on postage and include this number in your stationary budget in the beginning.
4) Don't keep people guessing. If your wedding will be a little out of the realm of what people are used to, you should find a nice way to let them know. For example if you plan to have adults only, dessert and champagne or cash only bar, these are the types of things that would be nice for your guests to know in advance so that there is no confusion. (The last thing you want are hungry guests with no money to buy a drink!)
For our invitations, we hand made each and every one of them which took some time! But, it gave me a good excuse to recruit my girlfriends and with their help, we got them all done! (Thanks ladies!!) Our design was simple, on one side there was the invitation and on the reverse was a pretty pocket which housed the information card and the stamped reply postcard.
I must admit, I loved our invites. They turned out so pretty and each one was filled with a lot of love!