It’s finally time to start thinking about your wedding invitations. Unless of course, you’re a paper nerd like myself, and you’ve thought about them more than you’ve thought about your dress.
There are so many options available, it’s almost impossible to know where to start, which can be overwhelming. We’re not here to tell you where to start, at least not in this post. For now, we’ll talk about what you need to know before you even start looking for them. That’s right, before you get serious about buying your invitations, you’ll need to make some decisions.
If you can answer these 6 questions, then you’re ready to go Invitation Shopping.
#1 – What’s your total budget for invitations and stationery?
With endless options available, pricing ranges from extremely inexpensive to decadent. Therefore, it’s smart to have an idea of what you want to spend. This allows you to look at invitations in your price range. Don’t fall in love with invitations that are above your budget.
Like all things in life, champagne tastes are unrealistic for those with beer budgets. You can do beautiful on a budget, no matter what your budget. For example, our clients order invitations that range from $5.00 per set to $40.00 per set. Don’t shop for pocket folds with lace and a brooch if you cannot afford it. A professional stationer will guide you to a great invitation that is within your budget.
Spend only what you can spend and only spend what you’re comfortable spending.
Wedding Budget worksheets will tell you to spend a certain percentage on each category. It’s your wedding, do what you want. If you have fallen in love with an invitation and it means less grandeur for your centerpiece, go ahead and do it.
Don’t forget to budget for Day-of Stationery and Thank You cards. Depending on your choices and quantities, these can become a not-so-small expense also. The four most popular Day-of Stationery items are programs, table numbers, escort cards and menu cards. Some of these are ordered per guest and others for every few guests or per table. On average, our clients spend about 50% of what they spent on invitations, for their day-of stationery. Thank You card pricing varies. For a custom Thank You card with return address printing, our clients spend $2.50 per set.
#2 – How many invitations?
Once you know the budget for everything, now you need to know the price per invitation. To do this, write out your guest list. Include every single guest that would possibly be attending. When writing them out, group them by household. You’ll send one invitation to a household, whether there are two people there or seven, depending on their ages. Using traditional etiquette guidelines, any person over the age of 18 living with other family members receives their own invitation. Thus, if there is a family of five and two of them are still living at home, past the age of 18, this household would receive three invitations. One for mom, dad and child under 18. One each for the other two who are over the age of 18.
For a quick estimate, use this simple formula:
(Total Guest List / 2) + 15%
Thus, for a 300 person wedding, the estimated total is 300 / 2 = 150 + 15% = about 175 invitations.
Once you have your final amount, don’t forget to add another five to ten extra sets for last-minute guests, invitations not being delivered, forgotten guests, keepsakes, etc.
Once you know the amount of invitations you need, you can easily figure out your per piece budget:
Budget of $1200
Number of Invitations: 175
Total per invitation: About $7.00
Does this include postage? If yes, then at least $1 of that will be postage. (.49 for mailing envelope and .49 for response envelope. If it is a layered or pocket invitation, expect more for postage)
#3 – What information do you need to give your guests?
The amount of information your guests need to attend your wedding will determine how many enclosure cards your invitations will need. All weddings include the Ceremony and Response Cards. Beyond that, you should choose an invitation based on your needs. Common info includes: ceremony, reception, response, accommodations, transportation, parking, weekend events, meal choices, etc.
Really think about what you would need to know if you went to your own wedding. Will there be a shuttle from the hotel to the ceremony or will you have to provide your own transportation? If driving yourself, is there a better route between the locations than the route your GPS will navigate? Will you need to spend the night? If so, where?
Much of this information can be communicated via a wedding website. Including the url on your enclosure card is a great way to do this, or use a QR code on a modern invite.
#4 – How much work do you want to do for your invitations?
Will you have a lot of free time two months before the wedding? If so, then DIY (Do-It-Yourself) is a great option for you. Most couples do not have ample free time this close to the wedding. As ambitious and rewarding as it may sound in theory, putting together your own invitations is a time consuming and often stressful process. When you recruit others to help, the stress gets to them also.
Be realistic about your time constraints and your desire to Do It Yourself. Saving money by doing it yourself is not worth the stress, supply shopping, and frustration from a lack of craftiness. A professional can assemble some or all of the pieces of your invitations. Remember, when purchasing online, almost all these invitations are unassembled and it is your responsibility to complete them.
Is saving $1.50 per invitation worth the hours it would take you to do the work a professional stationer has an efficient process for? Do you want to hand write all of your addresses? Or use a label that doesn’t match your stationery?
Our answer to all these are No, you don’t. Trust us. The process of assembly and addressing can be time consuming and have a learning curve.
#5 – Do you want to work with a professional?
Of course you do! As a custom stationer, it is my job to guide you through the process of choosing and ordering your invitations. Everything has its place at a wedding: flowers in your bouquet, linens on the tables, uplighting on the walls, the food, and so much more. As you trust a professional to arrange these details of your day, trust a professional stationer for your paper needs.
With our years of experience, we know what’s needed, what isn’t needed, all the formal etiquette, and how to politely let people know not to bring a guest. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Let a professional guide you. A responsible and trusty-worthy professional will show you pieces that are in your budget and work with you to ensure they are perfect.
#6 – What type of style / design would you like?
As with the types of invitations, there are unlimited possibilities for the style and design of your invitations. As you look through Pinterest, online and in magazines, start noticing what your eye is drawn to most. Popular styles include:
These are just some examples of things to look for and think about. Once you can answer these questions, you’re ready to shop for your invitations. Of course, we recommend hiring a professional stationer to guide you through the process and present you with the best options available within your budget. Many stationers work with local customers and online with those that are long-distance.
To sum it all up – click for larger image: