Friday, January 23, 2009

our planning :: 12 :: the invitation

I was so excited to work on the invitations because I started out doing custom invitations, so working on ours was something I anticipated. The most asked Q is, "how much do I budget for invitations?" Over the years, I've read in magazines to factor in programs, favors, name tags, and all the other paper goods into one amount. I'm finding that that breakdown is changing and a separate budget is created for a number of reasons. 1) First impression: more couples are prioritizing the ability to make a great 1st impression by means of the invitation. Couples are seeing that the invitation is much more than a piece of white paper; they're realizing that the colors, monogram, paper type, ribbon, typography, and enclosures all reflect what a guest imagines about a couple's big day. 2) Couples are more involved: No longer are the bride's parents picking the invitation and sending them out, it's the couple who takes on this task, being more particular of the style of the invitation they are buying. 3) Cohesive event design: More couples are interested in planning a cohesively designed event, making sure everything from the invitation, to the bridesmaid dresses and centerpieces, match. 4) Originality: Many couples want to be original, and customizing the invite is a great place to start. Originality definitely adds value.

Our 2-color, letterpress invites w/ die cut, lined inner envelope, custom logo; save the date; & program

In royal times, the invitations were delivered by horse back. They came as a scroll on hand made paper, imprinted by a calligrapher with fine ink and tools, and were enclosed in an expensive, usually lavish casing, marked appropriately by a wax-seal portraying the family crest. While now, we depend on the post office to send out our invitations, the tradition of how a custom invitation is put together remains. The beauty of the invitation lies in the materials and printing, and they also determine the cost. Specialty paper, lace vs. poly-satin ribbon, engraving vs. letterpress printing, calligraphy vs. computer fonts, and custom monogram vs. simple text, are all facets of the delicate process and pricing.

Abram and I designed our own wedding invitations. We chose to have them letterpressed, 2-color, with a very non-traditional style. We knew the invite would play an important role in our wedding because it had a purpose for us -- to give the impression that we were producing an event/party vs a traditional reception. This goes back to what we envisioned and planned. As a result, and with the addition of a red carpet and lounge music to welcome guests, the invite did its job. We ensured design consistency by matching our modern vision, venue ambiance, and theme by incorporating a simple layout with lots of white space and use of modern, sans serif fonts. We also loved the fact that our logo (7.7.07 @ [seven-degrees]) acted more as an event logo and encompassed our theme. In regards to mailing, we sent them out 7 weeks prior to the big day.


  • Ideal mailing for an invitation calling for a destination wedding is about 7-8 weeks. For a local wedding, 5-6 weeks is typical, though it's still ok to send them out 4 weeks prior.
  • Be aware of the types and weights of materials you are using. Adding multiple inserts and folds, including the use of thick stock can not only add to postage, but potentially get crumpled at the post office.
  • Weigh a complete ensemble at the post office before mailing them all out. Get accurate postage and buy enough. Last thing you want is for all your invites to get sent back for insufficient postage.
  • Square invitations cost more to mail out due to being outside of standard dimensions.
  • Indicate a "respond by" date on the response card reflecting enough time for you to organize your accepts and declines. Responses are typically due 30 days before the big day.
  • Custom invitations can vary in production time. Allow at least 3-5 months prior to the mailing date for custom invitations to be designed, proofed, printed and delivered.
Take your guests through a process, from start to finish. Start with invitations that truly reflect what you are planning, hinting colors and elements of what's to come. It's the 1st statement you'll make and definitely have a ball with it!

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