Grad Card Etiquette

Here in the South, specifically where my photography studio is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, you have a few different options for sending graduation announcements and ceremony invites.

In Charlotte, most high schools are contracted with big portrait studios. Usually in the summer of your junior year you go to your high school or to their studio and get a head shot type photograph in a tux/drape, and that image is used in the yearbook. I have experienced this with my son when he attended Marvin Ridge High School and my daughter at Ardrey Kell High School.

These yearbook style studio pictures are also what you can send with your formal graduation ceremony invites.

Your formal invites and image inserts, which are ordered through the school contracted studio, should be sent out 4-6 weeks prior to your graduation date. You’ll want to ensure plenty of time for your close family and friends who may need to book travel to attend.

You really can’t skip these portraits or else you won’t make it in the yearbook! I’ve actually had multiple kids come to me for yearbook pictures over the years because they missed their dates with the contracted studio and were unable to get a new appointment with them. To have a Natural Bloom Photography yearbook studio image submitted to your schools’ yearbook, you must get approval prior from your yearbook advisor.

You may also want to send a more casual graduation announcement and grad party/open house invite. For this, you would use 1-5 images from your personalized outdoor senior session with Natural Bloom Photography.

These announcements should be sent 2-4 weeks prior to your event. The sooner the better because lots of your friends are going to be having grad parties and you want to make sure people will be able to attend yours! For your casual invite you may be able to order these right from your photographer or you can sometimes create and order them on your own if you have the digital files from your child’s session. Natural Bloom Photography offers card design services along with digitals giving you the freedom to choose how to order.

Some things people like to include is the graduate’s name, high school and graduation year. That would be on the front with 1-4 images. On the back, you can add another 1-2 images. I prefer no more than 4 images total in most cases. The back of the invitation is also where you would put your party information, rsvp contact info, and date. Some people also like to add a note about what future plans the graduate has or what college they plan to attend. Sometimes one of the back pictures is of the graduate in the tee-shirt of the college they plan to attend.

Remember, that in order to get you pictures taken, edited, and returned it will still be about three weeks to get your cards in the mail. That includes the time it takes to design them, order them and wait for them to be shipped. You also have to account for the time it takes you to label and mail them to your guests. That means, if you didn’t complete your outdoor senior session in the spring or summer before your senior year, or maybe the fall of your senior year you are already behind! If you have procrastinated and want natural senior pictures you need to see if your photographer has any availability in the beginning of spring. There is already too much to do at the end of your senior year. My best advice is to book early!!

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