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What's your wedding's story? David Tutera's expert advice for wedding invitations and etiquette

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Updated: 3/31 2:40 pm

(BPT) - The bended knee, the little velvet box, the moment you exclaimed 'yes!' - getting engaged is such a magical time. With 39 percent of marriage proposals occurring between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, you and a lot of your friends may be newly engaged. Now comes the fun part - planning your dream wedding.

'Every wedding should tell a story: your story,' says David Tutera, a wedding and entertaining expert and star of hit WE tv show 'David Tutera: Unveiled.' 'For your guests, this starts the moment they receive your save-the-date in the mail, and it should continue through your printed materials until the end: your thank you notes.'

To ensure there's a common thread throughout the event, Tutera recommends designing all printed materials at once during the initial planning phases of your wedding.

'They don't necessarily have to be matchy-matchy, but they should evoke a coordinated feeling. This is how your story will best be told through printed materials,' says Tutera, who recently partnered with Invitations by Dawn to launch The David Tutera Invitation Collection.

'Invitations are a great way to really set the mood for your event from the start. Guests will get a feel for your wedding's style as soon as it arrives in the mail. This is your first opportunity to introduce them to your overall theme,' he adds.

In creating The David Tutera Invitation Collection, Tutera wanted to develop a variety of options to fit different couples' style preferences. He found inspiration in numerous design themes, including vintage Art Deco, rustic elegance, classic romance and destination chic.

While the design of printed materials is very important, couples shouldn't overlook the significance of style, color and fonts. 'They should feel cohesive so that everything ties together,' says Tutera. 'Invitations should be representative of your style and personalities as a couple, and appropriate for the formality of your wedding, such that you don't even need to include a dress code for your guests to know what to wear.'

In addition to the basic who, what, when and where, Tutera recommends including the following when designing wedding invitations:

* A link to your wedding website on your save-the-date.
* An artistically drawn map stuck in with your invitation.
* A custom hashtag for your friends to link to at the bottom of your program.

* Appropriate wording for the invitation based on who will be hosting the wedding (you, your parents or both).

* Properly addressed outer envelopes (write married couples as Mr. & Mrs. husband's full name, married couples with different last names in alphabetical order, and unmarried couples on separate lines)

* RSVP cards with return address and stamp.

Keep in mind what should be left out is just as important as what should be included.

'Never include your registry information on any of your printed materials,' says Tutera. 'Guests can find this on your wedding website, the shower invitation that your mom sends out, or through word of mouth. And, please, no e-vites for your wedding! There are so many other money-saving options, and e-vites make your day seem less important and special than it is.'

The good news is designs in The David Tutera Invitation Collection are available in three invitation formats to fit virtually any budget:

1. Seal and send - The most affordable option features a clever design that has a respond postcard attached to it. No envelopes are necessary; simply fold, seal and send.

2. Double-sided - This is a traditional invitation format for the classic couple, yet includes stylish modern updates like new shapes and edges.

3. Pockets - Bundle everything together with pocket invitations that have coordinating enclosure cards that fit perfectly inside, creating a striking presentation.

'If you're working with a tight budget for your event, pick and choose the types of printed materials that are most important,' stresses Tutera. 'Invitations, escort cards and thank you notes are the most important, and each is an absolute must. Beyond that, decide which pieces are most important to you and where you want to spend your money. Whatever options you decide to go with, make sure it makes sense for your wedding.'

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