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The Ins and Outs of Invitations & Wedding Stationery

Learn the basics of stationery for your wedding and how to find the best option for your timeline and budget.

The Ins and Outs of Invitations & Wedding Stationery

destination-beach-wedding-invitation-suite
Photo: Jana Williams Photography

Katrina Hodgson Tone It Up Wedding Invitation
You've found the perfect dress, reserved your dream venue, and hired the most amazing photographer. Now it's time to start searching for wedding invitations. With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming. Where do you start?

First, it helps to have an idea of how much you plan to invest; typically 2-5% of a couple’s overall wedding spending is set aside for stationery. Second, what does your time frame look like? Some processes take longer than others, so be sure to take that into consideration when weighing the possibilities. Once you’re aware of your price point and timeline, you can begin considering the ordering options that make the most sense for you.

ONLINE RETAILERS
Since online shopping is a mainstay of retail, many brides are turning to the web for invitations. Stationery websites offer pre-designed invitations that span a wide range of price points. Shopping online for your wedding invitations is a good option if:
- You have a tight turnaround time. If you need to have your invitations in less than a month, then online retailers are a great option. Some online retailers can have invitations ready to ship in a week!
- You have a modest spending limit for stationery. With so many online retailers available, you can find an array of invitation styles priced within your range.
- You are not interested in paper options or custom colors. Although online retailers typically offer hard-copy samples, what you see is what you get in terms of paper and color choices. 

STATIONERY STORES
Stationery stores are very much like online retailers in that they can accommodate a quick turnaround time, as well as a range of spending limits. When you visit a stationery store, you will most likely be choosing your invitation out of a book that contains pre-designed invitations. Be prepared to do a decent amount of browsing and consider taking your fiancé or a friend along to help you narrow your choices. A stationery store is also a good option for you if:
- You're a hands-on type of person. You'll have the ability to see the available designs, color choices, and printing options in person, as well as feel the different weights and textures of the papers.
- You like the look of custom invites. Some high-end design studios offer lines of ready-to-order stationery available through retail stores. These lines offer a bit of the couture look for less.
- You value personalized service. Stores have knowledgeable staff members available to walk you through the process, assist with wording, and provide a point of contact in case anything goes wrong. 

CUSTOM DESIGNERS
Working with a couture invitation designer allows for endless possibilities. It's an in-depth, collaborative process that results in a personal, one-of-a-kind work of art. There are many different types of custom invitation studios, each with different styles and pricing levels. Going the custom route is a good option if:
- You want something unique. If a distinctive design is of utmost importance, made-to-order invitations may be the best choice for you. A couture designer will draw from your wedding inspiration and personal style to create an invitation that pushes the envelope. Your wedding stationery will look like no other, and each and every custom component will help set the tone for your special day.
- You have time. Narrowing down a design from multiple options, working through rounds of revisions, and signing off on a proof are all necessary steps before your stationery can even go into production. The entire process can take anywhere from two to five months to complete. Occasionally, custom studios will be able to accommodate a quicker turnaround time if their schedule permits, so it's always a good idea to check with a preferred studio of interest even if you’re pressed for time.
- You can make the financial investment. Since custom work is time consuming, and invitations are often assembled by hand, the costs can add up quickly. You’ll want to inquire about a studio’s price minimum when researching possible designers with whom to work.

TIPS TO REMEMBER
Regardless of which route you ultimately take, there are some universal tips and tricks you should always keep in mind:
- Order extras. While 10-25 extra invitations may seem like a lot, set-up fees for reorders can be extremely costly. You could end up paying almost as much as your initial order!
- Give guests ample notice. Your invitations should be mailed out two to three months before your wedding date, with save-the-dates going out six to eight months before the big day.

Invitations are one of the first related items guests receive for your wedding, introducing them to the style and tone of your celebration. Have fun planning and creating your stationery suite, and grasp the opportunity to make memories on paper! 

Opening photograph by Jana Williams Photography

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