Congrats, you’ve done it! You’re engaged! Chances are you already have a photographer in mind, maybe you’ve emailed your favorite venue to get it booked, and I’m sure you’re already contemplating who you want your bridesmaids to be as well. You want your wedding to be perfect, no doubt, and you are looking forward to pulling together all of the details.
But wait… even though you may have allocated a specific budget for your photographer, venue, caterer, and florist, have you considered how you will be getting your guests to your wedding? Yes, you go it, I’m talking about your wedding invitations! In order for your guests to be notified that you are getting married you need to make sure that you’re sending them a wedding invitation in the mail, and providing them a way to RSVP as well.
Over and over, I talk to brides who haven’t even thought about their wedding invitations, let alone set aside a budget for them! Most brides begin asking custom wedding stationery designers way too late about wedding invitations and have a small chance of finding something they are happy with because of this. I hear all the time that “It’s just paper,” or I get asked, “Do the invitations for my wedding really matter?” The answer is yes. Yes, your wedding invitations matter because they set the mood for the entire event. If your guests get invited via Facebook or Evite they probably aren’t going to take your wedding seriously, and that’s the last thing you want! Your wedding invitations are the first impression of your wedding, and you want them to amaze your guests and get them excited for your wedding day!
This blog post is dedicated to helping you plan accordingly for hiring a custom stationery designer and calligrapher for your wedding invitations. Below you’ll find some commonly asked questions, as well as some (hopefully) helpful answers. This blog does not outline the process for getting wedding invitations from a generic online source, but rather touches on expected budget and process for a custom wedding invitation suite from a professional stationer or designer.
1. What kind of budget do I need for custom wedding invitations?
If you are planning on hiring a wedding stationery designer or calligrapher to create your custom wedding invitations, you should allocate approximately 6% of your wedding budget to those paper goods alone. This includes a Save the Dave with envelopes, and entire invitation suite with envelopes, as well as calligraphy addressing if you’re lucky enough to have a wedding invitation designer who is also a calligrapher (I say this slyly because that just so happens to be me).
You may be wondering, what does 6% of my budget really equate to? Here’s some quick math: you may have heard through other wedding and bridal blogs that you only need $500 for your wedding invitations and paper goods. Go ahead and scratch that number (sorry). When I say 6% I’m leaning more towards your wedding invitations starting at a base price of $1,500 at a minimum. And that may not include certain add-ons such as wax seals, envelope liners, addressing, etc. Some brides pay as much as $6,000 or more for entirely custom wedding invitations, and most of those high-paying brides are paying for assembly as well.
It is extremely important to be mentally prepared for this, as well as have an appropriate budget set aside for it! Wedding stationers and designers, like any other wedding vendor, are making a living off their art as well as providing you amazing one-on-one customer service that you won’t receive from a generic online source.
2. When should I start designing my Save the Date and custom wedding invitations?
As a general rule of thumb, Save the Dates are sent approximately six to eight months before your wedding. If you factor in additional design time with a wedding designer or stationer (usually around 8 weeks at least) then you need to be starting to design your custom wedding invitation suite 10 months to, maybe, even a year in advance! I know that sounds crazy, but the last thing you want is to work with a wedding invitation designer on a rush schedule… things tend to get a little intense! So, plan ahead accordingly.
It’s also easiest to use the same designer for your Save the Dates as well as your wedding invitations because all of your paper goods will be very cohesive! However, if you DIY your Save the Dates and then decide to hire a designer for your wedding stationery, start looking to hire one about 6 months before the wedding.
3. Do all wedding custom invitation designers and stationers provide calligraphy?
The short answer is “No.” For the most part, a lot of calligraphers double as designers, but not all wedding invitation designers or stationers are calligraphers. If you’re lucky to have a hybrid calligrapher-designer (such as myself) then you may have envelope calligraphy included in your design package!
If your designer or stationer is not a calligrapher then you may have to send your wedding envelopes to a calligrapher after you receive your wedding invitation suite from your designer. Keep in mind, almost all calligraphers need at least 2 weeks to turn around an order of 150 calligraphed envelopes without charging you any sort of rush fee.
4. What should I expect to pay for calligraphy envelope addressing if it’s ‘a la carte’?
The majority of calligraphers who are professional will not be charging less than $3.00 per envelope. My calligraphy starts at $3.50 per envelope and fluctuates slightly depending on ink color, calligraphy style, addressing format, etc. It is extremely important to work with a calligrapher who knows what they are doing and provides you with a contract. You need to know exactly what their policy is if mistakes are made on their end because you do not want to be charged for errors and mistakes that are not your fault.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to be wary of calligraphers who are working without a contract or charging incredibly low for their addressing ($1.00 per envelope, for example). Either these people are just getting started, which means they don’t have proper policies in place, or they are just doing this as a hobby and not taking it seriously. Calligraphy takes an intense amount of time and dedication, and it’s worth it to have a professional who will take great care of your envelopes to add the perfect touch to your wedding invitation suite.
5. Is paying for custom wedding invitations worth it?
Like I said in the introduction of this article, I’ve heard multiple excuses before for why you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on wedding invitations (It’s just paper, or people will just throw it away, or people don’t care how they get invited) but from my experience, sending a beautiful custom wedding invitation suite is sure to get your guests excited about your wedding, as well as impress them!
Many of my past brides tell me that they are still complimented on their wedding invitations! Many of them had guests that sent selfies of themselves with their wedding invitation when it arrived at their house! Friends and family members would post their wedding invitation to their fridge, or pin it to a corkboard, where it would stay for months. Some people even have stories of friends who hoard all their wedding invitations in a box under their bed. Ha!
Trust me when I say it’s worth it. And I’m not just saying that because I want you to hire me. I’m saying that because I genuinely believe that it’s true, which is why I do this job! Your wedding invitations will personally touch each of your guests, and that’s a huge deal – especially because they are very likely to bless you in return.