When couples get to the invitation stage in the planning process for their wedding, it’s almost inevitable to become overwhelmed with various design options and their associated cost. You have the local designer who, upon a one-on-one meeting, can intricately capture the style of one’s love story and wedding. There are also a variety of online wedding invitation sites such as Wedding Paper Divas, Minted and Etsy where couples can select pre-made invitations with limited customization. In addition to the process of selecting the designer, there are a variety of print options to get acquainted with such as foil, laser cut, embossing and thermography; Oh My! As a whole, the design, color, texture and formatting of your invitation convey the tone of your Big Day to your guests. Well-crafted invitations set a distinct permanence to the occasion, consider it an analogy for your nuptials! Plus invites serve as a potential forever keepsake to remember your leap of faith and commitment.
Worried about sending out your save-the-dates and invites on time? Team MAE has you covered:
- Save-the-dates are typically sent out six to eight months before your I-Do’s. If you are having destination nuptials, allow for more time and send eight to 11 months in advance.
- Invitations are typically sent out six to eight weeks before your wedding (three to four months, if you are having a destination wedding).
- Remember to do yourself a favor and set RSVP due dates two to three weeks prior to your wedding day to account for entree selections, dietary restrictions and to track down those pesky delinquent guests!
- All other wedding paper needs (including menus, thank you cards, ceremony booklets, table numbers, etc.) should be ordered three to six weeks prior to avoid any rush fees.
- Your very last step will be to have your escort cards printed, and this typically occurs one to two weeks prior to your wedding or even earlier if you have all of your RSVPs and seating arrangements ready to go.
MAE's Tip: Start early! It never hurts to begin this paper pushing process ahead of time. We recommend including your wedding planner in your design meetings - this will be a huge bonus as they can help you bring your vision to fruition, they know the drill and tips for cost-savings. Go into your design meetings prepared with a few photos of what you love to facilitate the process. Be prepared to make decisions and go for it!
Meeting with a local stationer gives couples the ability to use their senses when creating invitations - think total customization. You can see the colors in person, feel the type of paper and maybe even go all the way as to add a nice scent to it.
Beginning with the first consultation, the designer will interview the couple to gain insight into their life, blend their symbols of love and can even help create a monogram to be potentially used beyond just your invites. From there, the designer will go through fitting design elements in order to compose the invitation. “I use a questionnaire to learn more about my couples,” says Chicago stationer Jacqueline Villalon. Many stationers like Jacqueline use questionnaires to help couples narrow down their idea of the perfect invite.
Brides who take a stroll down the online and Etsy avenue can curate their own invitations with a pre-designed look. This is great for couples who have a theme in mind and want to parlay the theme onto their invites. Some Etsy designs allow you to pay for the file to edit yourself and print at a local store. Couples should always request to receive a printed sample of their invitation before a full order is placed if you use an online vendor, or any vendor for that matter! Be patient - Double and even triple check the sample to make sure it is perfect. Pay close attention to color and text.
MAE's Tip: With no easy way for couples to window shop for wedding invitations, The Knot provides an excellent list of local designers for you to check out. The list includes featured designers near you as well as the online shops mentioned above. Team MAE always makes decisions using “The Law of At Least Three,” meaning three proposals from wedding professionals in each category, across your vendor team.
With hundreds of types of paper stock to choose from be sure to take notes and photos to keep your decision-making organized. Heavy card stock (80 to 110 pounds) is the traditional paper used because it resists bending and can hold ink well without bleeding. Cotton and linen invitations are popular choices in the market with their smooth texture and weave. Vellum and translucent vellum add a frosted touch and presentation to invitations. If you are looking for vellum but want something more rugged and bohemian, parchment is a great option. Using metallic paper for your invites certainly evokes a sense of personality and maybe even a glamorous occasion to come! We've even seen invitations etched into tree bark, cloth and glass from couples who like to push the envelope! One of our favorite local designers for limitless invitation ideas is Hannah Handmade.
MAE's Tip: Not sure where to begin with paper types? Wedding Paper Divas provides couples with a free sample invitation kit. This kit comes packed with samples, colors and paper swatches. Also note that your local printing shop will be armed with tons of samples for you to take home and ponder. You may even save a pretty penny by going directly through your local printer, but buyer beware this may eliminate a dedicated designer involved in directly assisting you throughout the process.
Digital Printing: This is the most budget-friendly option for brides who want to save and splurge on something else. Couples are able to select from a wide variety of styles, from Malibu chic to rustic Nashville. For our tech-savvy couples, digital printing is an excellent avenue to walk down to create your one-of-a-kind invite. A digital invitation suite can range from $500 - $1000 for a set of 100.
Offset Printing and Thermography: Offset, or flat printing, is similar to digital printing, but the design is put through a press. This is an amazing choice for brides who have a very specific color scheme in mind. Thermography is a less expensive option for couples who want the formal look that engraving style printing provides. A suite of 100 invitations in this category starts at approximately $1,000.
Foil: Foil adds a metallic sheet that creates a pop of shine to an invitation. Most designers can add gold, rose gold or silver foil to your invitation. Follow the gold foil road to a top, trend-setting invitation design of the past few years. The average cost for foil invitations can hit you a bit heavier into the $1,000's.
Laser Cut: For a sophisticated and intricate design that your guests will marvel at for many moons, laser cutting is the way to go. There’s no need to worry about burn marks or inconsistencies. A cost of 100 invitations can start at approximately $1,500.
Letterpress: This design is one of the most sought after styles for invitations. Letterpress is the perfect option for the classic couple who wants an elegant and clean look for their invites. Letterpress starts at approximately $1,600 for the amount of supplies and labor to create 100 suite packs.
Engraving: Dating back to the 17th century, engraving is a process that etches the invitation design from a copper plate. Engraving is the quintessential route for the ultra-formal couple. Since the process is very laborious, the starting cost of engraved invitations is approximately $2,000.
MAE’s Tip: Talk to your invitation designer about pricing out a few different printing styles. This will allow you to stay within a realistic budget and be smart about which elements are absolutely necessary to achieve your desired invitation aesthetic.
Thanks to our friends at Wedding Stats, we found out that the most budget-friendly invitations during 2015 were roughly $381-$441. The Bridal Association of America quoted the cost of wedding invitations to be around $659. However, in the case of luxury invitations, the sky is the limit in terms of cost. We are currently obsessing over Ceci New York featured above! Difference in price undoubtedly comes from incorporating quality features, the number of inserts per invitation along with total count in your bulk invitation mailing. Allocating three to six percent of your budget toward wedding invitations is the norm.
“It comes down to value,” explains Chicago stationer Emily Rose Asher, owner of Emily Rose Ink. “Some couples are more excited about stationary than others.” Custom stationery is only right for some couples willing to invest the time and also hold the notion that printed materials hold a certain importance that is relevant to their wedding day. The good news is that there are a plethora of ways to save! For example, pointing invitation recipients to electronic save-the-dates are perfect for couples who have a tighter budget but are passionate about having the perfect stationery. This decision is clearly one of give and take! Here are a few additional pointers on invitation etiquette from Emily that we love!
MAE’s Tip: We encourage couples to do their due diligence when researching costs of wedding invitations. Setting aside a realistic budget early on in your wedding planning is essential. Also be smart about how you send and how you invite: Is one invitation per guest/couple appropriate? Is one invite per household sufficient in the case of many family members? Always err on the side of efficiency in terms of count so you can allocate more of your hard earned "paper" towards beautiful design and other wedding needs!
No matter which design route you take for your wedding invitation suite, be sure you follow a realistic timeline, budget accordingly, do your due diligence in design styles and stationers, seek out the advice of your planner or a fitting friend and always ENJOY THE PROCESS :)
Click on the images below for a few more of our favorite invitation designers!
To learn more about how the team at Marquette Avenue Events can make your dream wedding come to light and get your invitations just right, please visit us at www.marquetteavenueevents.com and call us at 312-585-7265 to schedule an appointment.