Invitation Advisor: The Top 5 Wedding Invitation Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
January 25, 2011 § 3 Comments
The Invitation Advisor is back this week for Tips and Tricks Tuesday!
(By the way, we’ll definitely be continuing our series from November on what to expect when working with a custom invitation designer, starting again next week with a post on the process behind designing a custom invitation suite.)
Today we’re talking about the most common mistakes that couples make when purchasing wedding invitations – whether from an online or local stationery store or a custom designer, these are universal issues that we’ve all seen happen too many times.
Without further ado,
Unfortunately, this is a big one. Many couples have no idea what the cost of wedding stationery is (and who could blame you, most people don’t buy stationery for hundreds every day), and most bridal magazines and websites aren’t terribly helpful in providing useful information. Those wedding budgeting tools out there will tell you 3-5% is an acceptable amount to spend on wedding stationery (and that’s not just invitations, but also programs, menus, placecards, and also postage etc.). So, if you have a $15000 budget with a guest list of 150, that’s about $450 – sounds reasonable right? Probably not – that $450 needs to cover about 100 invitations, plus the postage (for both the outer envelope as well as the RSVP), as well as the “day of” wedding stationery. Invariably, this leads to “sticker shock” when actually shopping for wedding invitations and stationery. Forget the budget calculator – do your research. Look at lots of invitations, retailers and designers – decide on the type and style of invitation you want, and then determine what you are willing to spend. A custom designer can come in handy here, to take the feeling/look of an expensive invitation and translate it into something to fit your budget. For a little deeper discussion, check out our post on why wedding invitations are so !@#$ expensive.
2. Not allowing enough time
Second biggest sin, and much too common. Stationery can sometimes be at the bottom of the list when it comes to wedding planning – couples are often concerned with the dress, the venue, the photography etc., and all of those things are important (of course!), but remember that your invitations need to be sent out at least 6-8 weeks *before* your wedding, so you CAN’T wait until a couple of months before your wedding to choose and order your stationery. I get too many phone calls from couples who are cutting it WAY too close (ie. I need 250 custom designed pocketfold invites by next week, can you do that? Um, you can probably guess the answer) and end up stuck with something they don’t like or that costs way too much. You should start thinking about invitations and wedding stationery NO LATER than 6 months before your wedding – which allows you 4 months to find a stationer, decide on your invite and have it designed/produced. We’ve got a quick reference for you here, and more in-depth info in our post on when to start thinking about wedding stationery.
3. Ordering too few (or too many) invitations
This happens much more often than it should – the couples that at the last minute need “just a few more” invitations. It may not sound like a big deal, but it is a huge amount of work to produce “just a few more”, both for custom stationers as well as more traditional big stationery companies. Make sure you go through your guest list thoroughly and add a minimum of 10-15% more invitations than you think you need – it is much better (and less expensive) to have a few extras, than to be forced to buy 25 extra or incur rush fees for “just a few more”. We’ve got info on calculating the number of invitations you need in our post, aptly titled, How Many Wedding Invitations Should I Order? What about ordering too many? If you are working with a good stationer, you should be able to avoid this issue, but if you are ordering online etc., make sure that you are not counting an invitation for every guest. Remember that most of your guests will be couples (of course you will have some families and singles as well), so you do not need 150 invitations for 150 guests. You will probably end up ordering a number equivalent to about 65-70% of your guest count.
4. Not proofreading carefully before approving your invitations
While this is number 4, in some ways it should be number 1 on this list. This is one of the MOST important aspects of the process of purchasing invitations. Nothing looks worse than an invitation sent out with the groom’s name misspelled, or one asking guests for “the honour of their presents”. Never good. Do not assume that your stationer will proofread for you – they can’t, they won’t, and if they offer to, politely refuse. Only YOU know if the information is correct or not. If there is a mistake present in your proof and you approve it, you will be responsible for the (usually substantial) cost of fixing it. So, make absolutely sure that you thoroughly proofread your invitations – it can be really exciting to see them in print, and you probably have a million other things to do, and it is so easy to just give it the once over and say “print it”, but trust me when I tell you that you will be saving yourself a lot of possible pain (and money) down the road by following our excellent proofreading tips. Another tip – make sure you show your invite to those close to you, especially your parents, and make sure they are okay with the wording – you don’t want your mother calling you in tears when she finds out her name isn’t on your invitation and she expected it would be.
5. Forgetting to budget for postage, additional stationery etc.
We touched on this already, but I wanted expand on it because it is a very common issue. Remember when setting your invitation budget that you need to not only consider the cost of your invitations, but the cost of postage as well as any additional stationery you may need for the day of your wedding etc. Using our example budget of $450 for 100 invitations, consider that you’ll need to budget at least $0.88 minimum (if you are in the US) for postage, since you need a stamp for both the outer envelope and the rsvp envelope. You may also need to include extra postage if you have an oddly shaped, sized or overweight invitation, which happens fairly frequently. Even using the minimum calculation, $88 of your $450 budget is already gone, just for postage. That leaves $362 for your invitations – or does it? You’ll definitely need Thank You cards, and probably programs, table numbers, menus, favour tags, escort cards….you get the idea. How is that $362 looking now? Probably not like its going to go very far. So, while originally you may have thought, “great, I can look at invitations that cost $4.50 each”, you are probably realistically looking at invitations that cost $2 each (and considering the cost of the average greeting card is $4, you can probably imagine what a $2 invitation will get you). Make sure you take all the wedding stationery you need into account, so you don’t blow the budget on invitations, only to realize you’ve forgotten about everything else!
Extra-special bonus tip for online shoppers:
If you are shopping online, remember to compare apples to apples. The way retailers and designers structure their prices varies greatly, so make sure you are looking at pricing that is specific to your requirements. If, for example, you need 80 invitations, make sure you check how the retailer sells their invites – can you order 80 invitations, or will you be stuck ordering 100 (since many retailers sell in quantities of 25 only). Does the pricing per invite include an rsvp card or any other inserts, or is it for the invitation card only? I’ve even seen pricing that doesn’t include envelopes, so make sure that you are pricing a full invitation suite with all the parts you need, and then comparing. If you can, order samples – quality of paper and printing can vary greatly as well, and the only way to know for sure is to order a sample. Lastly, if a price seems to good to be true, it probably is. You know it, and I know it, you always get what you pay for.
Hope we’ve helped you avoid some of those major invitation-buying pitfalls, and we’ll catch you tomorrow for our weekly peek inside the studio and what we’ve been working on!