January 9, 2013

Save money on wedding invitations (getting married on a budget series)

Photo credit: Alante Photography

Welcome to the first article of our six week series on getting married on a budget! This series is written by Rebecca Grant owner of New Creations Wedding Design & Coordination, one of Seattle’s Premiere Wedding Coordinators. She’s filled with a wealth of information and she’s a good friend of mine – so I know you’re in good hands.  

This week we will be covering the fine art of wedding invitations . . .

Besides shopping for the wedding dress, deciding on your date, and nailing down your venue(s), invitations are one of the first things within the planning process that should be started. As a general rule of thumb, wedding invitations should be mailed out no later than three (3) months prior to the wedding date. This is especially true if you have many guests traveling in from out of town.

There are many options for invitations – ranging from $1.50 a piece to substantially more. Depending on the size of your guest list this can add up fast. But as with most elements for your wedding – you have choices!

Before you begin, determine your budget + needs
Before you even think about design, consider what you will need within your invitation. What’s important to you and what isn’t – things like directions to your venue(s), local hotels close to your venue, fun activities for your guests to do while they’re in town, your RSVP card, and so on. Keep in mind, the more you add to your invitation, the more it will weigh, therefore driving up the cost of postage. Have a budget in mind and try to make your invitation work within that.

The FREE option – Wedding Websites
A more modern alternative to the traditional wedding invitation (and growing in popularity) are wedding websites such as WeddingWire.com. It’s very user friendly and allows you to share a lot of information with your guests very quickly, and best of all, it’s FREE! You can also download photos of you and your fiancé, update guests on where you’re registered, spread the save-the-dates, even down to giving your guests a timeline of the wedding day, and keeping track of RSVPs.

Now if you’re like me and prefer the traditional mailed invitation (there’s just something about opening up a card in the mail), there are ways to cut costs here. There are great DIY wedding invitation websites and I have personally used Cardsandpockets.com for my own wedding invitations and loved them! They offer live online chat options and are available by phone. There are about seven people in the main office, so if you tend to call in a lot (yours truly), you will more than likely get to know them by name, and they offer amazing one-on-one service. There are countless other invitation sites out there, so just do a Google search, and find the site that fits you best.

Shop around online, watch for coupon codes, FREE shipping
Take some time to shop around – both online and locally. Not only will this give you good ideas for design but it will help you find the best deal. If you’re ordering online sign up for the website e-newsletters so you can watch for free shipping or coupon code offers. You can always call or use online chat to ask for a bigger discount – can’t hurt to ask!

Don’t discount a local company that will make your invitations and let you come pick them up. This will save shipping costs. Ask to see last years invitation designs which might be discounted or check online for clearanced designs.

Your design – keep it simple to save
Once you’ve found the site you’re comfortable working with, the next step is to work on design. Be sure you stay consistent with your overall wedding theme, color palette and style. Working through online invitation sites allows you to search through thousands of pre-set templates. This can often be a bit overwhelming. Narrow down your search by entering a few boundaries. You can often enter in a cap of the price you want to spend, the size/style you want, and narrow it down even more by choosing your colors. From there, search through the templates and more than likely, you will find one that fits your criteria.

  • Non-standard shapes such as a square will cost you more in postage than the traditional card size.
  • Special die-cuts (special shaped paper) will substantially increase the price.
  • Embellishments like bows, tissue, embossing and more will substantially increase in your price.
  • Stick to black text if you can – adding additional colors means extra costs. Black is easy to read and always classic.
  • Stick to an un-lined envelope, a standard shaped card, a set template, and minimal inserts for the best deal.

RSVP card – or not?
As far as invitation inserts are concerned, less is better. Often times you can get your RSVP cards included with your invitation order. A cost-cutting tip here is to order it in a postcard size. Put the recipients address, your return address and the postcard postage on one side, and the other have your wording for your RSVP. The cost difference between actually having your RSVP in an envelope versus just making it a postcard style is $0.29 cents versus your standard card cost of $0.44 cents – right there a savings of $0.15 cents per invitation!

If it were me, I would opt to communicate all my other information via my wedding website, except for directions to the venue. Often, out-of-towners will just bring the invitation with them while they are driving to your venue, and it it nice to have everything all in one place. This can be an at-home print project on regular paper, and either inserted, or glued to the back of your wedding invitation.

DIY invitations
Don’t discount making your own wedding invitations! These days there are so many different options – you can buy pre-made kits from Michaels or JoAnns (make sure and use your coupons!) – and you can dress them up with homemade embellishments. Or you can start from scratch and pick up supplies from a paper store like PaperZone (which by the way is going out of business and has some great discounts right now!).

Last minute checks:

  • Proofread – Save yourself the time and money by making sure to proofread, proofread, proofread. Have at least three people read it over to just make sure. You don’t want to order your invitations and then find a glaring typo that requires you to re-order them.
  • Confirm postage amount before mailing – Put an invitation together and bring it to the post office to confirm the necessary postage – before mailing them out – this keeps you from overpaying or ending up with them returned to sender.
  • Double-check addresses – Also double-check your guest addresses, invitations that are returned to sender cost extra postage – plus they ruin the outside envelope and require another one.

Whatever you choose to do for your invitations – remember it’s just a small part of your big day.

Check back next Wednesday for money saving tips on flowers!

How did you save on wedding invitations? Do you have questions or suggestions about invitations? You can leave a comment on this post or contact Rebecca through her New Creations Wedding Design & Coordination Facebook page.


About Rebecca
Rebecca Grant is owner of New Creations Wedding Design & Coordination. She has been in the wedding business over six years now, beginning her career in Honolulu, Hawaii, then moving back home to Seattle and launching my business here in November 2009. She’s now one of Seattle’s premiere wedding planners. Because of her experience in Hawaii, her specialty is working with Asia-Pacific Brides; specifically, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian and Samoan weddings, however, she also does work a good portion of the time with traditional Western couples.

Rebecca would love to help you with your invitations – whether it’s design, printing ideas or more. This past year she planned a wedding in 20 days only knowing the bride’s favorite colors were pink and green – and she designed the elegant invites pictured at the top of the page.



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  1. My husband and I actually designed and assembled our invitations ourselves! If you’re savvy with programs like Photoshop or Indesign it’s easy and a lot of fun to come up with something original, totally you, and matching (don’t forget thank you notes). You can find a paper wholesaler (we used Kelly Paper) and go to their warehouse to find the exact paper and envelopes you want. Stamps actually ended up costing more than the invites. 🙂

    • same here….I woke up the next morning and hubby to be had die cut and assembled every invite, made them extra special to me.

  2. Rebecca, thank you for this thoughtful and useful information. I already sent it to one of my brides who is in the planning stages of her summer wedding. Like many brides, she is on a budget and your tips on saving when it comes to invites will be appreciated. Can’t wait to see next week’s tip! Cheers!

    Elaine Way
    Seattle Wedding Officiants

  3. Check markdowns at Michaels and other stores. I found my perfect invitations marked down from $40 to $10 for 30 invitations containing everything I needed. I picked up 3 packs, $30 for 90 invitations that I can assemble myself. Now I have enough left in the budget to embellish them if I wish. The more time between the proposal and the actual wedding allows for you to get the best prices and best deals!

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