With so many beautiful designs available from companies like Minted or marketplaces like Etsy, it’s natural to question if custom wedding invitations are worth it. Well as a stationery designer I’m here to tell you when it is worth splurging on a custom wedding suite and when you’re better off saving a few dollars.
Custom wedding invitations are worth it if you want a unique way to introduce your guests to your wedding or if you love the idea of having a frame-worthy keepsake of your wedding day. If you are on a tight budget, quick timeline, or are not a fan of traditional printing methods and materials, it’s not worth the investment to have custom invitations designed for your wedding.
Let’s tackle the basics first.
Wedding invitations come in three different types – do it yourself, semi-custom and custom.
Do it yourself invitations are typically pre-made templates that you fill out yourself. You can design them from scratch of course. But it is more common for couples to purchase a template online or already printed and fill it in.
Semi-custom invitations are also based on a template but you’re paying for a designer to fill it in for you and make small tweaks to customize the design. For example, you might be able to choose from a limited number of fonts or colors to customize the template. Then the designer makes any necessary adjustments and sends you the final design.
Custom wedding invitations are completely unique to each couple. Your stationery designer might have a standard style but everything is customizable from the artwork to the fonts, colors, materials and accessories. Custom stationery is also often full service meaning the designer will design, print, assemble and ship the invitations. In many cases this includes addressing, sourcing the postage and mailing them out for you.
Custom wedding invitations are different from other types of invites because they are one of a kind. Your design won’t be found elsewhere, making your stationery completely unique. And they often include a lot of services that take away the time and inconvenience of assembly, addressing, applying postage, and mailing the invitations.
Plus they’re gorgeous. That’s the obvious benefit right?
There are a number of additional benefits to custom stationery that you might not have considered.
You’ve put a lot of thought and attention to detail in every area of your wedding. Your wedding stationery is one area that can be uniquely yours. Venues, DJs, Live Bands, your dress and even your flower choices will be in someone else’s wedding next weekend. But your invitations, if you go the custom route, are completely tailored to your taste and never replicated. They can include artwork and details that are true to your wedding and no one else’s.
As a result of working on hundreds of invitations a year, I know a thing or two about wedding etiquette and invitation wording. If you’re concerned about how to address invitations, when to send out save the dates, how to follow up with RSVP stragglers – your stationery designer can help answer your questions and guide you to creating the perfect invitations.
Beyond the stationery, designers also know a lot about wedding etiquette in general and can guide you on how to handle everything from who to invite to your wedding, to how to handle a list of secondary invitations.
Especially if you’re having a large wedding, working with a professional can save you from having to assemble, address, even lick and stamp your invitations. This is something that can take hours if you have over 100 invitations. They can even save you a trip to the post office.
One of the frequent concerns couples have when creating invitations is that they’ll be thrown out right away. You can’t control what your guests treasure or trash. But creating something beautiful has utility long after your wedding is over.
I have created suites that highlight custom artwork or poetry for example that are meant to be framed afterwords. Even if your guests choose not to keep theirs, any extras you keep can be displayed prominently in your home as a reminder of your special day.
Setting the tone for the event is the ultimate goal of any wedding invitation. If it’s a formal, black-tie affair, then calligraphy, heavy card stock, and traditional wording will show that to your guests immediately. Similarly, if it’s a more casual, garden-party-style event. Then bright florals, whimsical fonts, and handmade paper will communicate that to your guests before they even read the invite.
There’s no better way for your guests to know that you’ve put a lot of consideration into the details of your wedding from the very beginning then sending them some carefully crafted stationery.
Something that a template is going to have a hard time with is communicating details. If you’re having a destination wedding, a multi-day event with multiple locations, or want to share more information about your unique love story or wedding day, a custom invitation is the best way to get all of the details in there.
And your stationery designer can help organize everything in a way that’s easy for guests to follow. And gives them clear directions on next steps to RSVP to various parts of your wedding.
Portraits of your pets? The story of how you fell in love? A flower from your garden? A recipe from grandma? All things that can be woven into your invitation suite by a skilled stationery designer and you working together.
Working with a real person in this increasingly digital age has a lot of value. I already mentioned how knowledgable they are about wedding etiquette and invitation wording. It’s also nice to have someone in your corner for last minute needs. Need an extra table number or place cards? Need a wedding sign to let people know where to find the bathrooms? Want to highlight a signature drink or honor a beloved’s passing? Your stationery design can help create something custom that matches the rest of your wedding look. No mis-matched fonts and no frantically searching around on Etsy for someone in your country that can ship on time.
There are some reasons why custom invitations may not be for you and your wedding.
Wedding stationery can get expensive. Especially if you’re after something really special and factoring in additional postage. There are ways to still work with a designer if you’re on a budget. You can get a design template from someone who’s work you admire for a fraction of the cost and print it yourself. Or you can have a pre-made design printed on fancier paper or with specialized techniques. You can also save some money by assembling the invitations and adding any embellishments yourself.
The clients I work with typically spend $1000-2000 including printing and other services like envelope addressing for their invitations. But I work with clients with a budget as low as $400 for design services only. Contact me for more information on creating a perfect suite for you.
If you have a design in mind that’s available on Minted, Zazzle, Etsy or another company, it’s best to just work with that company directly. You can certainly share inspiration with a designer as a reference. But you should never ask a professional stationer to copy somebody else’s work directly.
Custom invitations can take more time than ordering something off of a website with pre-designed templates. You should plan on at least four to six weeks before you want to send out your invitations (which is an additional six to eight weeks before your actual wedding date) if you’d like a custom design and printing.
If after reading through this list, you think custom invitations are the way to go for your wedding, let’s get time on the books! You can schedule a consultation with me here or get a free wedding invitation sample as a newsletter subscriber.
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Bread and Jaim is a stationery company located in Westchester, NY that specializes in watercolor wedding invitations and other premium illustrated stationery. Contact us for your custom stationery needs or visit the shop for semi-custom and ready-to-ship items.
designed by Gillian Sarah