It seems like the first wedding expense that every engaged couple gets sticker shock from is the cost of wedding invitations. Even when you're looking for ways to save money on wedding invitations by creating your own invites on sites like Wedding Paper Divas and Vista Print, it can still seem ridiculously expensive. Add in stamps, RSVP cards, more stamps, thank you cards for after the shower, more stamps, thank you cards for after the wedding, and, you guessed it, more stamps, and all of a sudden you're spending as much on wedding stationery as you are on your centerpieces.
If the cost of wedding invitations has you down, and you're desperately searching for ways to save money on your wedding, not to worry. There are some practical hacks you can do to start slashing the cost of your stationery. By following these tips, not only will you save yourselves some serious dough, you'll also avoid some common wedding invitation headaches.
First thing's first though — you want to get a full picture of just how much wedding stationery you're going to need. Here are some of the common items couples make or purchase: save-the-dates with envelopes, invitations with envelopes, information cards with hotel, accommodation, and transportation details, RSVP cards with envelopes, thank you cards for the shower with envelopes, wedding programs, escort and/or seating cards, menus, any miscellaneous signs for the ceremony or reception, and thank you cards for the wedding with envelopes.
Decide which items you want to have for your wedding, and then follow these wedding stationery budget stretchers below.
1. Plan ahead
Wedding stationery tends to be most expensive when it's a last-minute purchase. I suggest sitting down at the start of your planning process, and deciding what you want to use for stationery from the first save-the-date all the way to the last thank you card. This gives you plenty of time to research all the options, and compare costs. It also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of bulk printing discounts as well as reduced shipping costs. Also, online invitation sites such as Shutterfly will often send a coupon card with your first order that can be used within a month. If you know what's next on your list and exactly what you're ordering, then that coupon card definitely won't go to waste.
2. Buy a PDF
Where wedding invitations and stationery costs quickly add up is in the printing of them. If you buy a customized PDF of a wedding invitation on Etsy or a similar site, and then print it on your own at your local print shop, you'll see the savings quickly add up. Keep in mind though, this is best for stationery printed on card stock, because letterpress and other more complicated forms of printing are usually outside the printing capabilities of your local shop.
3. Use your wedding website smartly
Think well in advance of what information you will need to convey to your guests, and then put all you can on your wedding website. More and more couples are doing save-the-dates, RSVPs, and information cards through their wedding website or electronically. You can even come up with your own RSVP questions on most sites, which means you can still have a witty and funny RSVP online without all the printing and postage costs.
The key here is to know from the start what info will go on the website so that you can direct guests to the website when they ask questions, which — as you know — start the moment you're engaged. It's also important to make sure guests can't miss the website link by including it with the save-the-date and the invitation. You may even want to send it in an email with the website link as well so guests can simply click on the link to access it. (When the website link is just on printed materials, people are generally less likely to access it.)
4. Don't print one invitation per person
A common mistake that results in spending more money than you need to is ordering one invitation per person on your guest list. Keep in mind many of the people you invite to your wedding will be part of a couple or family, so go through your guest list and calculate how many households there are instead of how many guests. Then just order a handful extra to be on the safe side.
The same goes for save-the-dates, RSVP cards, information cards, and even wedding programs. At my wedding consulting business DIY Wedding Mentor, we generally recommend to our clients only printing enough programs for 50 to 65 percent of the guests attending, because couples and families will share them.
5. Make a sign whenever you can
When it comes to wedding stationery, you can easily reduce costs at the ceremony and reception by printing or making a large sign. For instance, instead of a printed menu for everyone or a printed program for everyone, make signs for each that people will see as they walk by. Making one large sign versus printing dozens is obviously a whole lot less expensive.
6. Proofread, proofread, proofread!
Another common bank-account-wrecking-ball of a mistake is to not proofread your invitations a trillion times. If you make an error and go to print before catching it, then the cost of reprinting is quickly going to double your costs. For that reason, have grammar-loving people proofread all your print materials, even if you are a grammar-loving person yourself. Ask a friend, a co-worker, a family member, and maybe even a stranger on the street to take a look through everything before you go to print. OK, maybe the stranger is a bit excessive, but you get the point. It truly takes a village to make sure your wedding stationery is error-free, and it's well worth it.