Considering Wedding Stationery?

After our December 2011 engagement we decided to put off planning until the new year, but I insisted on at least one evening before then. So we got settled on the couch with our iPad and laptop.

As font-and-design-loving David sent link after link to gorgeous custom letterpress invites my way, I grew nervous that picking our wedding stationery was going to be a costly endeavour.

Many months later and now happily married, I'm pleased to say that we managed to stay under budget.

I came across the Confetti suite and Alaina from Cheer Up Press was more than happy to customize the look for us. Honestly, it became a huge inspiration for the theme of the whole wedding.

In case you're in the market, here are a few things to consider and options for cost-cutting:

Go Paperless
No, I'm definitely not suggesting that you create a free Facebook event to invite your guests. Your wedding deserves a little more formality than that, don't you think?

If a lot of your guests would be open to e-vites, there can be considerable cost savings. My fave site offering such a service is Paperless Post. You can personalize every aspect: envelopes, liners, insert cards, even the postage stamp on the animated envelope your guest will receive. Keep in mind, this service isn't free (unless you have a very small guest list). Invites cost a certain number of "coins" (you start out with about 20, complimentary, upon signing up) and subsequent customizations along with the number of invites you need to send will increase the number of coins needed. You can easily purchase more. Their site will also manage RSVPs for you. Even better: in case you still have some guests who would prefer to receive something in the mail, Paperless Post can print tangible paper versions.

Online invitations are also a great option for those of you planning a last minute or environmentally friendly wedding.

The Word Wide Web Is Your Oyster
Picking wedding invites used to mean heading to the local print shop and flipping through a huge binder of run-of-the mill options. Not any more. There's tons of awesome local designers, but with Pinterest, and blogs providing loads of inspirations, you have access to talented people all over the world.

So when you find the perfect invitation, consider going right to the source instead of asking a local company to use it for inspiration (or being really naughty and copying it yourself). When we first came across the Confetti suite on Etsy, David suggested having a graphic designer friend "recreate" them rather than ordering from all the way in Ohio. While that seemed like a quick fix, it wasn't fair to the designer. I reached out and am I ever glad that I did. Not only did Alaina make some great suggestions that I hadn't thought of myself, she also created coordinating hotel info and RSVP cards, hunted down a sleeve in just the right shade of pink, and sent us graphics files with the dot border that we used for our table numbers and menus. After all was said and done, even with shipping, we were still with-in budget.

Websites like Minted also offer unique work by independent designers (Alaina included), besides that, they have some really cool products beyond wedding, shower and bachelorette invitations. We ordered photo thank you cards from there and everybody raved about them. I also had my eye on wedding programs but opted to make those myself instead.

I've been on the receiving end of some great DIY invitations. That being said, before you fully commit to the do-it-yourself-route, consider the scope of the project you're taking on: the amount of time it will take, the cost of all the materials and equipment, not to mention the grey hair. Wouldn't you rather be out and about with your fiancée instead of holed up in your living room getting paper cuts?

Be brutally honest: are you really capable of creating a finished product that you will be 100% pleased with and proud of? Some things truly are better left to the professionals.

If you're still set on doing it yourself, give yourself lots and lots of time. You would be surprised how long it takes just to address and stuff envelopes, let alone assemble invitations from start to finish. Add something special with coordinating pocket-folds and envelopes, custom stamps or embellishments like bakers' twine, ribbon or lace.

If you're doubting your own artistic abilities, consider out-sourcing the design: order printable files from a designer and print them yourself or from a site like Jukebox Print for better quality. Again, embellishments will make your DIY invitations stand out.

Listen To The Pros
Just like you can quickly rack up the coins on previously mentioned Paperless Post, it can be very tempting to add-on this and that to your invites. ("Foil-edging, belly-bands, calligraphy, embossing. I want it all!")

Be truthful with yourself and your designer: about your budget, the number of invitations you'll really need (leave yourself a few extra for keepsakes, errors, etc), the level of formality of your wedding. Whether you need 40 or 200 invitations, it adds up. Your designer will be in a better position to make suggestions for materials, print methods and opportunities for savings if they know the real deal. Even something as simple as the shape and size of your invites can greatly increase the cost of postage to mail things. If your budget is tight, they might suggest foregoing pocket sleeves, custom embellishments, or fancy boxes to decrease the cost of materials or postage. Most wedding professionals are in the business because they enjoy what they do, being creative, and its fun to be a part of such an exciting day. Yes they're also hoping to make a living, but not milk you for every penny.

In case you're looking for invite inspiration, visit my Invites & Paper Goods pin board.