This is usually the first question I’m asked after a couple gets engaged. They’re eager to start wedding planning!
If you order too early, there’s a chance of things changing (like the ceremony time or guest list) but if you order too late, you might get hit with a rush charge. There are so many moving parts to planning a wedding and sometimes invitations become an afterthought. Because they’re sent 6-8 weeks before the big day, it’s important to start considering them about six months before your wedding.
After Finalizing Details
When a couple reaches out to me, I ask a few questions about their wedding – the date, the venue, and the overall theme. It’s important to have the big logistics and general vision nailed down before ordering wedding invitations.
Along with then when and where, knowing the who will help get the invitation process started. Having a rough estimate of your guest list is necessary to get your invitation quote. You don’t have to have every name and address when you reach out, but you should have a good idea of the total number. Remember to count one per household, not per guest – or you’ll end up with a lot of extras!
Save the Dates
Did you send save the date cards to your guests? The answer to this question can determine when you’ll order and mail your wedding invitations. My suggestion of mailing invitations 6-8 weeks before the wedding is if you did mail a save the date. If not, no biggie – just make sure to send the invitations earlier. Without save the dates, mailing wedding invitations about four months in advance should be a safe bet!
The below is a general guide to when you should order and mail wedding invitations if you’re working with me. Different designers and businesses have varied turnaround times. For example, if you’re working with an artist who is hand painting artwork and calligraphy for envelopes you might need to start the process about a year in advance.
After designing invitations for five years and working with hundreds of couples, I’ve found these timelines to be relatively appropriate!
Day of Stationery
After receiving your invitations from me and getting them mailed out, you can begin the process of ordering your day of stationery – think menus, programs, place cards, signage, etc! I can create any of these items to match and complement your invitation design.
Once you’ve received all RSVP cards back, you can finalize your quantities and send these to print! I recommend starting the process for any day of pieces 3-4 weeks before the wedding so that everything is approved to print no less than two weeks before the big day!
Browse Pinterest, Etsy, or Google for “wedding invitations” and you’ll be bombarded with MILLIONS of options. (Seriously, there are 337 million Google results for that search!) Just a little overwhelming, yes?
So how do you figure out what you want YOUR wedding invitations to look like? You have an entire Pinterest board of inspiration – but it’s all over the place. There are so many pretty options and narrowing it down to one can feel like you’re missing out on something else.
I work closely with couples at the beginning stage of choosing wedding invitations and the feeling of overwhelm is very common – you’re not alone! I help guide them to picking the perfect design and I’m happy to share that same advice with you.
First and foremost, consider your overall wedding theme – the venue, your color palette, and the wedding vibe you’re trying to accomplish. The invitations are the very first detail guests get and should set the tone for the entire event – even subconsciously telling them how to dress. (Yes, for real.)
All weddings are different. An invitation for a formal, black tie wedding at a hotel will likely not look the same as a laid back, local brewery wedding. You might fall in love with a design, but if it doesn’t fit your wedding theme, I caution you to choose it.
I don’t think you have to be literal in matching everything (like having the envelopes in the exact same color as the bridesmaids dresses), but I do recommend having it set the feel.
When picking a wedding invitation design, it’s important that it match your personal style. Not your mom’s or your wedding planner’s or your best friend’s, but YOURS (and your fiancé‘s of course).
If you prefer simple, go with it – you don’t have to choose an extravagant design. If you wouldn’t dream of putting a pink pillow in your home, don’t add that to your invitation palette. Ignore trends or what a wedding magazine says you should do. The invitation is a reflection of YOU.
Personalities of You as a Couple
What do you and your fiance love together as a couple? Maybe it’s cooking, travel, or a themed movie series. If it’s a big part of your life, consider incorporating it into your invitation in a small way!
The invitation design is a chance to show off who you are as people – whether that be funny, quirky, elegant, loud, whatever! If you’re not traditional, don’t feel like you have to pick something that’s by the etiquette book (and vice-versa!)
Your invitation should reflect YOU TWO – people will be surprised if they get something in the mail that “isn’t you” and it doesn’t set the same familiar tone as something that fits your personalities!
Consult a Professional
Although you might like a lot of invitation designs and feel torn, think about what will: make the best first impression, set the tone, and reflect the styles + personalities of you as a couple. Want some feedback on choosing the perfect wedding invitation design? I would be happy to help you with that!
With custom wedding invitations, a lot of couples opt to do a consultation. It’s a good way to talk through ideas, discuss options, see samples, and check out the quality up close (if meeting in person!)
Since you’ve likely never planned a wedding before, it can be hard to know exactly what to expect from a wedding invitation consultation. Whether we’re grabbing coffee to chat in person or hopping on a Skype call, there are a few ways you can prepare!
Know Your Numbers
When it comes to wedding planning, knowing your numbers is the starting point to every decision. Together, your budget and guest count determine a lot – so make sure you have a rough idea of both before your consultation.
I meet with so many couples who have no idea how much wedding invitations cost. When I ask their stationery budget, I often get responses in the form of a shoulder shrug. With custom invites, there are so many options – which means there are so many price points. If you have an idea of what you’re comfortable spending, that makes for a great starting point. Read my post here on how much wedding invitations cost.
Since the number of invitations you’ll order affects your budget, this detail is important to know from the beginning. A rough estimate is fine, but remember you only need one per household, not one per guest!
During a consultation, the last thing I want to do is overwhelm you. Because the options are truly endless, it’s helpful to know the overall theme you’re going for so I can point you in the right direction!
I typically ask couples before a consultation about their color palette and wedding vibe. I’ll prepare by pulling swatches and samples that match or complement this. Even if you’re doing a custom design, looking through existing samples can help formulate a starting point!
Usually if you’re reaching out to book an invitation meeting, you’re familiar with my work. If not, I kindly ask that you view my gallery and/or Instagram so you can get a feel for my style and aesthetic. As mentioned, if there’s an existing design to use as a starting point for your custom vision – that is super helpful!
If you have other inspiration, definitely bring it to your consultation! I don’t use other invitations or stationery as inspiration, but look to your wedding vibe, venue, personality, and personal style of you and your fiance for creating a custom design. Pinterest is a great way to gather your favorite images in one place – feel free to invite me to your Pinterest board!
When to Meet
I definitely recommend having the biggest parts of your wedding nailed down before scheduling your invitation consultation. Once you have picked a wedding date, found the perfect venue, and estimated your budget + guest count – let’s chat!
Since invitations are typically mailed 6-8 weeks before the wedding and I work with couples for 4-10 weeks (this varies greatly depending on needs!), you can set up your wedding consultation at least 4-5 months before the big day. If you have your details decided and/or you’re a super planner, I’m happy to get together sooner!
Need wedding invitations in San Diego? Contact me to schedule your in-person consultation! If you’re elsewhere, we can consult over Skype – thank goodness for technology. A consultation isn’t at all required to work together, but helpful if you have some ideas you want to talk through.
Well that’s a loaded question. Do you want to DIY, work with a designer to customize a design you found, or have someone creating something totally unique for you from scratch? Do you care about things like paper quality and printing method? Or is it about getting the best price?
These are all things to consider when setting a budget for wedding invitations. The cost can vary significantly depending on your preferences, as well as the quantity you’re ordering.
I felt compelled to write this post because I’ve seen a ton of misinformation online about how much wedding invitations cost – sometimes even on professional wedding blogs. This isn’t a number you can just throw out there, because it can vary greatly.
But what do these “averages” mean? There’s not a quantity listed with these numbers, which heavily influences the amount you’ll spend on wedding invitations. They also don’t list the paper type, printing method, if postage is included, etc – pretty important details when calculating a budget!
Some wedding websites get a little more specific with their figures:
The reason these numbers are all over the place is because (drumroll, please…) wedding invitations can cost as little or as much as you prefer to spend! It’s true. Just know that if you choose to spend little money, you’ll likely be spending more time or sacrificing some quality. And vice versa; if you choose to spend more money, you’ll likely be spending less time and receiving a quality product. How much to spend on wedding invitations, is up to you, your priorities, and your preferences!
If you’re a creative at heart, have always dreamed of making your own invitations, have extra time, and/or are trying to save money, DIY-ing could be a good route for you.
Time, along with knowledge, are super important if you choose to design and print your own invitations. You’ll have to understand some basic design principles (well I guess you don’t have to, but ya know!), access to a design program, the knowledge to use said design program, a source for paper, a vendor for envelopes, a printer that can handle your files, and a cutter.
Cheap Wedding Invitations
There is no shortage of online vendors promising “cheap” wedding invitations. From VistaPrint to Etsy,* it’s absolutely possible to find a website to order where the cost might be even less than the averages mentioned above.
I did a test print with VistaPrint recently because I wanted to see their quality in person. I was surprised at how low their prices were, but after receiving the product I understood why – the quality wasn’t even comparable. The printing was so-so, but the weirdest thing was that I ordered a 5×7 and received something different in size. They had formatted my design to fit their size, so everything looked a little “squished”.
They also have pretty limited paper options and thin, white envelopes. If you’re looking for something cheap and quick – you’ll get exactly that. There’s absolutely no shame if invitations aren’t an important detail for you, just set expectations accordingly. (Of course, it is my duty to remind you that the invitation not only sets the entire tone for your big day, but is also one of the few keepsakes to remember it for years to come. Consider it an investment in your wedding budget!)
Semi Custom Wedding Invitations
These are my speciality! For couples who like one of my existing designs, but want to make it their own – I offer semi custom designs. At no additional charge, you can change things like the wording, fonts, and envelope colors to fit your wedding theme.
Pricing can be highly varied depending on the designer, their business model, your quantity, and options added. You can find professionals for semi custom designs everywhere online, including Etsy*.
*Etsy has a wide range of wedding invitation options. From beginners offering digital files to professional designers who create custom suites, you’ll find a huge variety. Do your research when ordering from this platform – always purchase a sample to see the quality in person before committing to a full order. You can also read their reviews on Etsy and search on social media to get a better idea of the work a shop does! I started my wedding invitation business on Etsy and still keep my shop running today – check it out here!
You can expect to pay a premium design fee for anything custom and again, this can range greatly depending on what exactly the designer will provide for you. Some designers have a set design fee per project and some might charge an hourly rate. For my custom designs, I provide a quote with the cost based on how extensive the design will be.
Upgrades and Extras
When it comes to setting a budget for wedding invitations, you’ll want to consider what types of upgrades you would like to add. The options can be pretty extensive – upgraded paper and/or printing (including foil and letterpress), envelope addressing (digital or calligraphy), envelope liners, insert cards, was seals, vintage stamps.
When working with a designer, you’ll have a different experience from just ordering online. Rather than inputting your information into a form, you’ll get personal one-on-one service. I help my clients formulate their wording and advise them on proper etiquette for certain situations.
Overall, how much to spend is ultimately up to you. No blog, including this one, should make that decision for you.
Your invitation is an important detail to the wedding day and there are ways to make the most of your invitation budget. Working with a professional can help you prioritize your wants. I’m always willing to work with couples to make suggestions on getting creative with budget. I put together a list of nine ways to save on your wedding invitations!
Well, that was a lot of information! Take a breather – ‘cause I can be your invitation fairy godmother. If we work together, I’ll advise you on making the most of your budget, pairing colors and fonts, and help with wording + etiquette. Ready to get started? Let’s do it!
All images are of my designs. Styling and Photography credit: Heather K Cook Photography, Hannah Bryerton Photography, Avner Road Photography
Excited to have another wedding pro on the blog sharing all things wedding cake! My path has crossed with Natalie Bryn, owner of Cake Envy, multiple times through real weddings and styled shoots (like this lavender one and this tropical one!).
When wedding planning, it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to custom cake and Natalie is giving her best advice on making decisions, making the most of your budget, and her favorite wedding cake trends. This post is FULL of valuable information and Natalie’s passion and energy shows through – I know you’ll find it helpful!
Q: What led you to baking, designing cakes, and starting your own business in the wedding industry?
I started out by baking birthday cakes for my kids when they were little. I was a single mama and couldn’t afford pretty cakes. I had always been somewhat artsy, so instead of pottery or painting, I took up cakes!
Q: What are the perks to hiring a professional to create a custom wedding cake?
I think getting years of knowledge is invaluable. When I started out, I was cheaper, but there were a lot of mistakes made and lessons learned.
When you hire an expert, you’re getting as close to a 100% guarantee that your cake will be produced professionally, structurally sound, decorated beautifully, transported safely, in one piece, on time, set up properly, not damaged, and so much more! This is WAY more than a cake – it’s the centerpiece of the whole reception! Make sure it’s perfect!
Q: At what point in the wedding planning process do you begin working with couples?
As soon as you have a date and a venue, I recommend getting your vendors nailed down! For many of us, we can only do so much, and when those dates are booked, they’re booked. I don’t have staff, so I can only do what I can do! The more popular I get, the further out I’m getting booked, so once you know, get that tasting booked and let’s do this thing!
Q: How can a couple prepare for an initial meeting (or phone call) with you and what does that meeting look like?
Have a realistic budget and a good idea of what you like! I don’t mean all the details need to be known, but find your inspiration! It makes the cake design session so much easier if I don’t have to run through everything that’s possible.
When we meet for the tasting and design session, we will taste about 8 flavors of cake and 4-5 fillings and frostings. You get to mix and match flavors to create your perfect combo! We also come up with (and draw out) a cake design so you know exactly what you’re getting and get to dream about the final product!
Q: Since most couples getting married haven’t done this before – tell us what they should know and expect!
I offer wedding cakes and grooms cakes and do a limited number of desserts. One of the important things to know when considering a dessert buffet (which is adorable), prepare to spend A LOT of money! More than a wedding cake even. I always sound like a used car salesman when I say this, but want to set the budget expectations for couple.
The reason dessert displays are more expensice is because if you give people 4-5 options, they are going to want to taste 4-5 items! They may not want to eat 4-5 desserts fully, but they do want to taste! Over and over again, when surveyed, people are most excited to eat the food offered at weddings! Think about it…. these are things that they can’t walk into the grocery store and buy. Guests are being offered custom, premium, high end desserts and they want to try them!
So if a wedding cake is $5/serving, and a dessert is $3.50/serving, then yes, serving to serving, the dessert option would seem lower. However once you order 3-4 per person, you’re spending upwards of $15/person for dessert! So think carefully about this. If you were thinking of 5 different desserts for your display, you need to assume that most everyone will have 3.
Q: Are there any misconceptions about your industry you’d like to make sure brides and grooms understand?
Other than the above about the dessert buffet, another suggestion I see thrown around is the idea of getting a styrofoam/faux cake to display and a sheet cake to feed people with. Let’s think about this for a minute. Someone wants a full on faux cake that looks like real cake, so it’s decorated like a real cake. Then, they want enough cake to feed everyone at the wedding.
So I’m still doing all the same decorating, all the same baking, and the same delivery. I’m not really sure where the savings is supposed to be in all that. What we hear when someone asks for a faux cake and a sheetcake is “I want your design.I want your skill. I want your cake. I want you to bake for all my guests. I just don’t really want to pay you.”
Q: Let’s talk about trends. Is there anything you’re loving right now or see being popular for 2019? Any trends that you don’t love or see fading out this year?
I absolutely love the intentionally “messy” and “imperfect” trend happening now. For my whole 20 years as a decorator, smooth edges and clean sides and perfect lines were what we were aspiring to perfect.
The rustic trend brought us unpretentious and intentionally textured frosting that looked like maybe grandma could have decorated the cake. Then came the naked cakes! For my entire career, you were supposed to cover up the cake.
Now with the popularity of the royal wedding cake, the unclean edges have become a major trend and I couldn’t love it more! I absolutely love taking the things that used to be perceived as flaws, like if your icing was scuffed or if the cake was showing through, and making them the focal point of the cake. There’s just something about taking the ugly and highlighting it that makes it beautiful! (There’s a metaphor for life in here somewhere!)
Q: What is your biggest tip when it comes to couples ordering a custom wedding cake?
First and foremost, have a reasonable budget. I always advise couples to go into their cake tasting and design session with a “no limits” attitude. Design exactly what you want with no thought of budget. You may be surprised at how affordable it can be!
And once we’re done, if it’s outside of a reasonable budget, I now know what you love and what’s important, we can make some adjustments to try to meet the budget. You may be surprised at what we CAN do within budget!
My second piece of piece of advice is to not let too many people have influence over your wedding. I know people don’t love burlap and mason jars anymore, but that’s because WE have seen it a lot. But YOU only get one wedding and if you love burlap and mason jars, then by golly…. you get them! This is YOUR dream wedding. Don’t let your best friend, Pinterest, blogs, influencers, or even your mama sway you from what you love. You do you girl, seriously.
I know it’s just November, but in wedding planning world – it’s all things Spring! As the holidays quickly approach and the year comes to a close, I start booking invitation clients for the season ahead. Since invitations are mailed 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding, couples getting married in March, April, and May will start ordering wedding invitations soon!
Originally created for a St. Patrick’s Day wedding, I think this design would work perfectly for any spring wedding! The floral envelope liner gives the perfect detail while the invitation is clean and modern. Colors can be customized to make this design your own!
I’ve always been enamored by letterpress wedding invitations, knowing that when I plan my own big day they’re a non negotiable detail. Of course, they’re beautiful, but I love the process that is used to “print”.
As I started my business over five years ago, I only offered digital printing – I wanted to feel fully confident in one production method before introducing something else. Since my business has grown, it’s only natural that I’d add letterpress as an option for my wedding invitation designs!
So if you’re wondering – what is letterpress and why is it so special? Let me tell you about it!
Letterpress wedding invitations have a handcrafted feel because well, they are handcrafted. The printing process dates back to the 15th century and has a full, rich history. Although things are handled a little differently today, the overall idea is still the same – a plate is made using the digital artwork which is then put through the press. The paper is hand fed through the press, one-by-one, where the die leaves an impression of the design.
Because of the production method, designs include just one or two ink colors. If you choose to have two colors letterpressed, that means the paper will be fed through the press twice. There’s always the option to add digital printing along with the letterpress design if you’re dreaming of an invitation with colorful artwork!
The final product is really something unique – letterpress wedding invitations are typically done using thick, textured paper. My standard letterpress suites include the invitation printed on 220# cotton cardstock – it is absolutely delicious! I use a thinner stock for the insert cards, although they’re still a great texture. This helps with not only the cost of postage to mail, but also the durability of the package. Sometimes having all pieces on thick cardstock means trouble with the postal sorting machines.
Cost of Letterpress
With all that being said, it makes sense that letterpress wedding invitations are more expensive than the standard digitally printed invitation suite. The cost is dependent on a few factors, especially the quantity ordered, but overall it’s about three times more than my standard suite. At the 100 quantity, a three piece set of digital invitations is $370, while the same printed in letterpress is $1,075. Keep in mind, the letterpress suites have the upgraded paper as mentioned above. (These prices are for customizing existing designs and effective as of October 2018) Interested in a personalized quote? Complete my questionnaire here!
You can expect turnaround time to be a bit longer for letterpress wedding invitations. Due to the customized method, I recommend not choosing this method if you’re in a rush as it adds about 2-3 weeks on to my typical production timeline.
You only get one wedding invitation. It’s the first impression of your entire wedding day – and one of the only things you get to keep after the big day is over. Not only does it tell guests when and where it’s all going down, but it conveys the wedding theme, even subconsciously telling them how to dress for the event! If your budget allows, I highly recommend considering letterpress. It makes for a beautiful impression (get it?!) and a gorgeous keepsake.
Wondering if letterpress wedding invitations are for you? Take my quick quiz to find out!