Picture this: your guest opens their mailbox to find a beautifully addressed envelope. They are immediately excited to open it up! They pull out a beautiful stack of cards and just say, “Wow! This is STUNNING!” They call to their partner, “Honey, come see what we got!” as they fill in the RSVP card.
Just think about giving that experience to each of your wedding guests. What does it tell them about your wedding? How does it make them feel?
Your wedding invitation sets the tone for your entire day. It tells your guests what they can expect and signals what kind of event they are about to attend. And it has the potential to make your guests feel valued and excited to celebrate with you.
But before you go any further, here are 10 things to consider before buying your wedding invitations:
You already know this from the last several paragraphs, but your invitation is really the first impression your guests have of your wedding. It signals what your wedding will be like, so you want to make sure it is a true reflection of your day.
Going for a casual barn party? You probably won’t want to send a luxury invitation. Planning a black-tie affair? Maybe don’t send an Evite.
If you want your guests to be excited and feel special to you, a thoughtful, carefully designed suite will be appreciated!
Your wedding vision
When you picture your wedding day, what does it look like? What kind of party are you having? What style or theme are you going for? An invitation is a complement to the rest of your wedding décor, so choosing a design that fits with the rest of your vision is key to a cohesive theme or style.
To help you work it out, speak with your planner about your vision for the day, if you haven’t already. No planner? No problem — start by writing down a few adjectives that describe your day.
Your guest experience
Your wedding is definitely about you and your partner and celebrating the love you share. But an event is nothing without the guests. In fact, what makes your event special and memorable is the experience you create for your guests, rather than the one you design for yourself.
So, if you want to give your guests a great experience, think about what you can do that will make them feel special — starting with your invitation.
Your personal tastes
Since it’s your wedding and an expression of you and your partner’s personal tastes, I think this is one of the most important things to consider before buying your wedding invitations. I mean, sometimes what you choose for your wedding invitation simply comes down to what you like.
Is there a style that truly speaks to you? When you browse wedding inspo, what are you most drawn to? Do you just love hand calligraphy? Or are you partial to a bold, fun font? Are you more of a minimal, understated kind of person or a bold, sparkly, glitter in your face kind of person? All of these are possible with wedding invitations, so it just depends on what you LIKE.
How many invitations you’ll need
In the early stages of planning, you might not have your guest list set. But you should know approximately how many people you’ll have. So, in your initial estimation, you’ll want to work with a number that’s about 60% of your guest list.
This is because each individual guest won’t get their own invitation. Couples and families and plus ones will mean you’ll only send out about half the number of invites as guests. Then the extra 10% will be for last minute additions, lost or returned mail, and of course keepsakes.
Once you have your guest list set, you’ll count up the households and finalize your invitation numbers.
Remember: it’s always cheaper (and more efficient) to order extras now than to have to place a second order if you run out!
Before committing to actually purchasing your invitations, it’s important to know exactly how much you can spend. This will help you determine what pricing category and printing type you can afford.
Typically, I recommend couples budget about 5% of their total wedding cost for invitations. However, if they are super important to you or you just have your heart set on a luxury printing method or beautiful custom art, you can always boost up to 10%. Or, if you’re not that concerned with your invitations, you can spend 2-3% instead.
Not all invitations are created equal. Some off-the-shelf options have a quick turnaround, especially if you’re opting for the standard digital printing. However, if you’re on board for a custom-designed suite and choosing a higher-end printing process like hot foil or letterpress, your invitations will likely take much longer. Even longer still will be options that are truly unique like printing on fabric or stamping on leather.
So, look at today’s date — are you less than 3 months out from your wedding? You’ll probably not have enough time for a custom design or you’ll be looking at high rush fees. If you have 6 months or more, you can probably manage just about any of the options above without any issue.
What you want to tell your guests
Getting down to the basics, your invitation exists to provide information to your guests. Aside from the obvious date, time and location of the event, couples often use their invitation to share information about supplemental events, accommodations, dress code, directions and maps, among other important details.
Before you start shopping around for your invitations, take a moment to think about what you might want to include. This will help determine how many and what size details cards you’ll include. These can be major pieces of the design and will impact your budget, so knowing ahead of time what you want or need will help keep everything moving smoothly.
Upgrades and embellishments
On top of additional informational pieces, there are often a few little embellishments or added elements you want to include in your suite. These can be things like envelope liners, wax seals, printed or hand-lettered addresses, and ribbons or bands to hold your suite together. Each of these upgrades will impact your design and budget, so it’s helpful to know which elements you want to include before finding a design or designer.
Custom or off-the-shelf?
Considering all of the above, is your dream invitation one that you can pick off the shelf or one that’s been specifically designed with all of your needs and wants? Does your budget allow for the higher cost of custom? Do you have time to make it happen? Or, would you prefer instead to know exactly what it will look like before you commit?
With all of these things to consider before buying your wedding invitations, you’re now ready to start your invitation search! I always recommend you start by browsing through Pinterest and Instagram. Look for styles you like, elements you can’t live without, and get an idea of the type of printing you’re looking for. From there, you’ll know which direction to start your search.
If you’re interested in working with me, head on over to the invitations page to learn more about hot foil stamping and the luxury invitations I offer.