What you will learn from this blog: Top tips from a professional stationer on what to ask yourself before you dive into ordering your wedding invitations. From styling to logistics to budget, feel more confident shopping for your dream suite!
You hear it over and over again, your wedding invitations are the first glimpse into your wedding day. There is a reason why this gets tossed around so much... it's so true!! Just think of any other vendors or items from your wedding, this is the one piece that guests receive PRE-wedding that sets the tone for your big day. Another beauty? It's one of the very few items of your wedding that can last AFTER your wedding too! The phrase of "oh, it just ends up in the trash" used to stab my heart (okay, maybe it still does a little) but you'd actually be surprised on how many people do keep their invitations. Plus, it's not about them in the end, it's about you and your forever keepsake you get to cherish forever after.
This may be extreme, but I want to prove a point. Take a look at the photos below.
You receive a wedding invitation looking like this: Excited? Can't wait to boogie?
Or, you receive an invitation like this?
I know, it's a dramatic difference but the point is still the same. You instantly create an idea in your mind about the event the moment you look at it. For the first invite, your mind probably thought you could show up in jeans and a t-shirt and throw back some canned beers. The second, didn't you think of soft romance and getting dressed up? Then get really excited since they will probably be serving awesome champagne? Cheers friend.
Okay, let's get into it!
Tip #1: Create a clear picture of what your style and vibe will be.
I couldn't hone on this more. Before you start to even think about shopping for invitations, you need to understand what you want your wedding vibe to be. Modern? Minimalistic? Beachy? Mountain escape? The possibilities are endless so don't feel confided into one "vibe" box, you can definitely mix them! Make it YOU and flow with what fits your personality and style. This will help determine your wedding color palette as well and set wheels in motion in your own mind of how you can reflect this style on paper.
Tip #2: Ask Yourself: Is there a specific element I want to showcase?
This ties very closely with your style and vibe, but digs deeper. This will force you to think more nitty-gritty such as wanting to use watercolor florals, or keep everything clean and use typography only. When thinking of holding your invitation in your hands, what do you notice first?
This also helps determine how you can use this design element on your day of details. It doesn't stop with your invitations! Especially when working with a custom invitation designer, they can use your design across the board for your wedding programs, menus, bar signs and more.
Another way to go about it is knowing what you truly dislike. If you know for a fact you don't want any floral elements or super fancy script font, this is great progress in narrowing down your perfect style!
Tip #3: Determine how busy you are and what your schedule looks like.
Think of your schedule and if you feel you have the time to DIY certain things yourself, or if you want to leave everything to a professional. A demanding job that makes you feel exhausted at the end of the day can put a damper on wedding planning in general. Using a wedding stationer not only can help you stay on track with a timeframe, but also help you tackle the little nuisances that can come with putting together your wedding suite. A lot of stationers also offer mailing services so you literally do not have to lift a finger and feel stressed out getting everything together and out in the mail to your guests.
Figure out what would work best for you. If you are thinking of going DIY or online option, know that a good chunk of time will need to be set aside for assembling and mailing and figuring out a few answers on your own. If that doesn't bother you, great! Otherwise, investing in a professional that can take care of odds and ends for you may be the better route. I may be skipping ahead to budget, but figuring out how much to spend on not only the actual invitation itself, but realizing the value of your time is a huge factor in this decision.
Tip #4: Know what type of printing method you'd like to use.
As you begin looking for invitations, you will run across terminology like:
• Digital Print
• Gold Foiling or Foil Stamping
• Thermography and Embossing
There are numerous printing methods out there so it's good to know the basics to understand what you are shopping for!
The very basic of printing is called "Digital Printing" and this will be the most budget friendly option. Adding in "Gold Foil" elements can hike up the price a good amount, depending on how much of your design will be foiled. A popular and well received option is "Letterpress," which is a gorgeous technique that is carefully crafted for each individual invitation.
Here are visuals to show the differences:
Digital is a style of printing where the ink lays on the paper and is completely flat.
Foiling is used quite a bit in highlighting the couples' names and wedding date. This adds a metallic shine and also divots into the paper, giving it depth. Foiling can be done in multiple colors but standard options are typically gold, silver and rose gold. You can get funky though and use purple, green or even black!
Letterpress is created by pressure of a printing press that literally imprints the paper, then this process is repeated with a direct impression of an inked, raised surface against the sheet of paper. You typically do not want to use more than 2 colors for letterpress due to it getting a bit complicated. The cost of each color adds more to the price tag as well. This is because everything is hand done, but the outcome is oh-so-beautiful. You can do a "blind" letterpress, which you see on the backside of the above invitation. This means the letterpress plate is pressed into the paper, but no ink is used so you see the impression of the design within the paper only! *sigh* so pretty.
Tip #5: Know your budget.
To tie in with the printing methods, know what you can afford. Love the look of letterpress? Appreciate that is does have a bigger price tag compared to going digital. It's essential to know what your budget it for your wedding invitations before shopping. Realize your expectations of using gold foiling plus letterpress may cost you around $15 a suite compared to only doing gold foiling, which can bring it down to $8 a suite compared to digital only, which may be $4-$5 a suite (these numbers really vary, but can show the tiers).
Tip #6: Figure out your "must haves" for your suite.
One thing I love to ask my brides is "what are your must-haves for your invitation?" This not only refers to what cards are required within your suite, but also what embellishments. Some may say "I don't have any" but many others will jump in and yell "Oh, WAX SEALS!"
First, think of what cards you will need within your suite. Here are the most popular:
• Ceremony Card + RSVP Card (the standard)
• A Detail Card (extra card used to add hotel information, wedding website, brunch information, etc.)
• Accommodations Card (specifically for hotel information)
• Welcome Card (for a welcome reception)
• Directions Card (not as popular, but couples' love creating custom watercolor maps to show their favorite spots or where their venue is correlating to the hotel, etc.) If you love this idea, check out my girl Kristin at Lovely Arrow Designs! She makes gorgeous custom watercolor maps!
Second, what type of embellishments do you absolutely adore?
• Wax Seals (for outer envelope or to use within your main suite) = ~$1.25+ per suite
• Ribbon (velvet, silk, etc. to tie your pieces together) = ~$1.50+ per suite
• Vellum Jacket, Belly Band or Inner Envelope = ~ $1.00+ per suite
• Envelope Liner = ~$2+ per suite
• Pocket Folds = ~$2.50+ per suite
• Handwritten Calligraphy = ~$3 per envelope
Embellishments can hike up the price of your wedding suite, but at the same time, truly add that extra pizazz and elegance.
Tip #7: Know how many invitations you need.
This will be a big one to know whether working with a stationer or shopping online since most will have tiered pricing. The cost of 150 invitations will be lower compared to the cost of only 25. This is due to printing setup fees and not being able to do a "bulk" type of printing.
If you have roughly 150 guests, you will most likely only need about 75 invitations. Think of per household rather than per guest! It's also a good tip to have about 10% extra for the "just in case" guests, having a wrong address returned to you and for keepsakes!
Tip #8: Figure out how you want your invitations addressed.
Many brides would prefer not to hand write out their invitations. Other options to look into for pricing are: digitally printed, hand calligraphy or (which is not very popular BUT still an option) mailing labels. I feel when I ask about this, it is a little detail that some may not think of so it is great to know going in what you are wanting to pay for in regards to this particular piece of your suite.
Tip #9: You can never start too early!
Depending on where you shop for your wedding invitations, be sure to check out their production time. If you are ordering online, this may take only a couple weeks. If you are working with a wedding stationer, you will need to reach out to them around your 8 month mark for invitations (sooner if you want them to do your save the dates too!) Production time working with a custom designer will vary on how many pieces are in your suite, how many invitations you need as well as what your finishing embellishments are. Also, if you add foiling or letterpress, these printing methods add more time to production due to having to create a custom die plate.
When to send out invitations: 8-10 weeks prior to your wedding date.
Extra: You'll want to give yourself about a week for assembly & stamping if you are doing it yourself.
Figure out this date and work backwards to give yourself a respectable timeline!
Tip #10: Pull the trigger, don't overthink it and get shopping!
Interested in working together on your custom wedding invitation? Fill out my wedding invitation questionnaire to start the process and I cannot wait to connect with you!
Have a specific question that you don't see here? I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Instagram @ThePaperVow!