Day 6: Where Should I Buy My Wedding Invitations? Choosing a Stationer

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Hip Ink…what time you ask? Why, 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December time, of course!

Week 1 is upon us and we’re bringing you our Invitation Buying Guide. We’ve talked who (finding your personal style) and what (choosing the right type of invitation), so now we’re on to where.

Where, oh where, to find your perfect invitation?

First, you need to find the right person (or people) for the job. Determining what type of invitation you want makes finding an appropriate stationer that much easier. For example, if you are looking for a large selection of invitations that you can customize, going to a stationer who specializes only in custom invitations will be a waste of your time (and theirs). Of course, there are also stationers out there that specialize in more than one type of invitation , so if you’re unsure, it may be best to find someone who offers the types of invitations you are considering (eg. custom and DIY, like Hip Ink) and taking advantage of their expertise to help guide you in the right direction.

Not to ruffle any feathers, but…my recommendation will always be to deal with a local stationery vendor. Why local? Dealing with a local vendor means you are dealing with a stationer who understands the local customs, trends etc. when it comes to invitations (and believe me, there can be quite a variance in etiquette etc. depending on where you live), one that you can deal with face-to-face and create a relationship with, and one that will be easily accessible if you have any issues. Proximity becomes more important as you move from less vendor-involved methods (DIY) to more vendor-involved methods (Custom Design). It is much easier to justify purchasing papers and embellishments, or even “off the shelf” invitations, from an online stationer than it may be to purchase custom invitations from a stationer from across the country. That said, technology is a fantastic thing, and through email and services like Skype you can connect with online vendors in a way that just wasn’t possible even a few years ago!

Buying online definitely has its advantages too. The most important one: selection. Even the biggest stationery store in your area can’t hold a candle to the sheer variety available online from the many stationery retailers (both big and small) and artists that sell via the internet. If you are considering traditional or DIY invitations, there are enough options to make your head spin. Many online stationers are also using technology to make customizing your wedding stationery online easy, with interactive proofing that can show you your wording in various fonts and colours, exactly how it will look on your finished product. There are also some very successful custom designers who work with clients from across the country (and around the globe) that manage to still offer personalized service, even though it may not be face-to-face. Have I mentioned that Hip Ink has worked with clients from as far away as Italy? Just sayin’ ;)

My advice: shop online but buy local (if possible). Start your invitation search online and look at lots of different stationery companies, stationery stores etc. online, to get a good feeling for what’s out there that you like, that fits your needs and budget. If you find the invitation you love from an online-only vendor, should you pass? Of course not, that would just be silly, now wouldn’t it? There’s nothing to be scared of, go ahead and buy with confidence, but keep our tips below in mind. If the invitation you see is from an established stationery company, contact them and find out what stationers in your area carry their products, so you can see them in person. If you are thinking of custom-designed stationery, make appointments with local designers and see what they have to offer. Not what you’re looking for? Back online you go, and check out some of the multitude of fantastic designers out there creating gorgeous custom work.

So how do you choose a stationer? Whether you’re looking to purchase from a local stationer or online, there are two things that are very important to consider (above all else) when determining who should provide your wedding stationery. First is reputation – check out potential vendors on major wedding sites, or even better, on local sites (like yelp.com etc.). See what other brides are saying about their experience with the vendors you are considering. Ask your friends and family for ideas or if you’ve received an invitation you like, ask the sender where they got it. Don’t be shy – ask vendors you are thinking of working with for testimonials from previous clients! Second, and most importantly I believe, is attitude/chemistry – do you feel comfortable with your consultant/designer, do they seem knowledgeable, do they provide good service – does it feel “right”? If you’re buying online, check out their customer service policies, email the company any questions you may have, see how timely and thorough their response is. Do they seem like a company you want to do business with?

If you’ve chosen custom invitations, it is obviously very important that you find an invitation designer that “fits” you. We addressed that exact topic on the blog a few weeks ago (The Invitation Advisor: How do I choose a custom invitation designer?), so check it out if you feel you need some guidance. Much of the information can apply to choosing any type of vendor for your wedding as well.

Found a stationer that you are thrilled with? Great! Now, what?

Tune in tomorrow for the answer – same Hip time, same Hip channel ;)

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You are currently reading Day 6: Where Should I Buy My Wedding Invitations? Choosing a Stationer at The Invitation Blog @ Hip Ink.

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