How To Manage Your Wedding Invitations Like A Pro (Part 1)
I made a mistake — a costly, stressful, bitter mistake. I wish I managed my wedding invitations like a pro, but I didn’t. I, like many of you, imagined I would save time and money by printing my own wedding invitations, and so that’s what I did.
I got to the store and couldn’t find any boxed DIY invitation kits that really matched our wedding, so I settled for something that was close enough. They had four boxes left, but I got two because that was more than enough for what we needed.
I spent hours searching for examples of wording to put on the invitation, finally mixing a sentence from here and a sentence from there to come up with something we liked. I then got on the computer and typed it all out, spent about an hour figuring out what font to use, formatted it, printed samples to make sure it printed correctly and then held my breath as I hit “PRINT” to print the final invites.
Halfway through printing, I ran out of ink, so I had to run to the store to get more cartridges, then came home and resumed printing. I finally had my stack of beautifully printed invitations and was ready to stuff and assemble them.
We stuffed almost all of them before realizing the name of the church was spelled incorrectly! WHAT??? I was panicked!!! About two weeks had passed since I had originally purchased the invitations, so I immediately ran back to the store in hopes that the last two packages of invitations were there (which they were), and I had to start all over again. Only this time, I also bought another package of ink cartridges just in case I ran out.
The intention was good, but the reality was something different. I didn’t save time or money, and it certainly made the whole process more stressful than it needed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the final product but didn’t necessarily love it, and I wish I had just hired someone to do them for us, in a style we liked that perfectly set the tone for our wedding and showcased our personality.
To help you avoid what I went through, local wedding invitation experts are sharing their advice so you can handle your wedding invites like a pro, without the added stress that I put myself through. Here are seven steps that will help you manage this part of your planning. There’s a lot to cover so today is part 1, and tomorrow will be part 2
When do you order your invitations and send them out?
When sending out your wedding invitations, you need to work backward. First, you need to establish an RSVP date. Frankie D’Elia, owner and creative director at Fitting Image Graphics, Inc. in Carmel, says, “Establishing a set RSVP four to eight weeks before the wedding is suggested so that you’ll have an idea of how many of your guests will be attending.” We set our RSVP date a month before our wedding and sent the invites a month before that date.
Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, says, “They (couples) want to mail them (invitations) out anywhere between two to three months prior to the wedding.” Of course it all depends on when your wedding is and what’s going on. If you are getting married on a busy weekend in the Hudson Valley, say during college homecomings or graduations, you might want to give a little more time because it will allow your guests to book hotel rooms in time before they sell out from others who are in the area for other events. Stark says, “I don’t recommend sending them (invitations) out more than four months before (the wedding) because the RSVP just gets thrown on the counter, and nobody sends it back.”
Ordering too far in advance is not good for another reason. “I’ve had some couples order a year out, which makes me a little nervous,” says Stark, “because times could change, locations could change. If you spend $500 on invitations, and three months later you’re almost ready to send them out and the venue calls and says you have to change the time, you’re stuck. So I usually will say around the six- to eight-month mark.”
How much should you budget for invites?
The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is that the cost of your invitations DOES NOT include the cost of postage. That’s a separate cost altogether, as no one knows what that exact price will be when designing the invitation. We’ll talk about that next.
Another thing to remember is that you are not sending an invitation to every person, but rather to every household. Amy Eddy and Stephanie McHoul, owners of Graphic Nature, LLC, in Fishkill, say they see this mistake happen all the time when they ask couples how many invitations they’ll need. McHoul says, “’How many’ is not based on the guest list; it’s based on household address.” So, if you are inviting 300 people you’ll probably need about 150 (plus a few extra for keepsakes and photos) invites. It’s a common mistake because couples are always asked by everyone how many people they are inviting, so by the slip of the tongue, the number of guests comes out when asked how many invites they need.
That being said, there are many variables that determine the cost of the invitation. Paper, stamping, embellishments like foil or embossing, bellybands, pockets or shape of the invitation, laser cut paper, any inserts, etc. — it all adds up.
Kristal Walden, owner of Kristal Walden Graphic Design in Beacon, says there tends to be a misconception couples have when it comes to wedding invitations. “They definitely think that custom invites are going to be completely too expensive, when realistically, they’re not.” Walden says if the couple wants something very elaborate, they are going to pay more per invite, but she says, “Generally, couples usually spend $400-$500,” and if you ordered invitations online, it’s usually the same price, around $1-$1.25 per invitation (for a good base, knowing that you will add on to that).
D’Elia also says some couples want all their stationery to match. “There are a number of different wedding stationery necessities you will need,” she says, “from the engagement party, bridesmaids invites, save-the-dates, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, wedding program, menu, and extras, such as gift tags, thank-you cards, etc.” If that’s something you are considering, speak to your stationer to see if they can put together a package for you.
How much is postage?
NEVER mail out an invitation without weighing it first. Just take a finished sample, in the envelope, to the post office. Have them weigh the completed invitation, in the envelope, with RSVP card in it first, then take out the RSVP card and have them weigh that separately, too. You are going to need postage for both the invite and RSVP card. D’Elia says, “You don’t want to end up in a situation where you assume a standard postage stamp will suffice, and then your entire bundle of invites ends up back at your house all marked up with postal marks and stamps. The investment to ensure that your invitation has adequate postage will be worth it in the long run.”
Just as invitation costs fluctuate with embellishments, so does postage. If your invitation has a pocket, that adds weight. Bellybands, 3-D embellishments, etc. all add weight. If your invitation is square, that also costs more to send.
You also want to consider hand stamping your invitations. Hand stamping means that instead of your invitations going through a machine, a person goes through and manually does that. It’s great for delicate mailings like wedding invitations, but that also means more money. If your final envelope is lumpy or poofy in any way, if the envelope has a hard time sealing or has a wax seal, you want to consider hand stamping. Eddy says she always recommends hand stamping. “When an envelope goes through the machine,” she says, “it gets an ugly red barcode, and they get ripped sometimes before they even leave the post office.” Hand stamping ensures that your invitation arrives as unmarked and pristine as possible to your guests.”
Join us tomorrow, when we’ll not only discuss the next four steps to mastering your wedding invites like a pro, but also give you a very special gift from Stephanie and Amy over at Graphic Nature LLC. To help with all your wedding invitation needs.
Featured Photo Credit: Fitting Image Graphics