31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December: The Redux

November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hey all,

I’ve been neglecting The Invitation Blog since I got back – still recovering from my vacation! Ever feel like you need another vacation from the vacation you just took? I’m there my friends.

But today brings something I’ve been looking forward to with glee/fear/remorse/excitement/wtf-was-i-thinking-ness….

So, I let it slip a couple of weeks ago that this December we’ll be revisiting last Decembers blog-a-day post-a-palooza I lovingly refer to as “31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December”.

[You can click here to visit last years intro post with links to all of the posts from December 2010]

Yes, it’s true – 31 all-new blog posts (no re-posts allowed) to help couples navigate the sometimes confusing world of wedding invitations and stationery.

So what the heck could I be rambling on about for 31 days straight – trust me, I’ve asked myself the same question! I decided to concentrate on some of the things that I find most couples come to me not knowing a thing about (but not anymore!)…

First up is etiquette – yes, I’ve written quite a bit on etiquette in the past, but this will be a little different. We’re going to examine traditional etiquette, modern etiquette and what couples are doing right now – things like wording, inserts, addressing etc.

Then, I’ve decided to dedicate a week to printing methods (which we oh-so-briefly touched on in one post last December) – it is truly an important aspect of any invitation (both when it comes to design as well as budget considerations) and I think many couples come into this crazy wedding stationery world completely unaware of the types of printing available – how they work, what the limitations are and what you can expect to spend.

On to something that I know is a big deal these days – an entire week of posts demystifying the wedding stationery budget (small ones, big ones, non-existant ones and crazy sky-high ones). Each post will examine a specific price range and the types of invitations that you can expect to find that will fit that budget – while it won’t solve any champagne dreams on a beer budget, it will give couples some realistic information on what they should expect to be available in the price range they are comfortable with.

Finally, we’re bringing back our most popular series of last year -  a week of posts all about wedding invitation trends for 2012 (colours, patterns, materials, oh my!). Our posts on 2011 trends remain some of the most read on The Invitation Blog, which tells me that someone out there will probably interested in what’s hot for 2012.

One twist this year: on weekends I’ll be posting a look back at 10 of my favourite Hip Ink invites from the past year – some of which are brand new and have not been featured on the blog previously (I highly recommend checking out December 30th, for my absolute favourite!).

Of course we’ll wrap up with a look back at 2011 at Hip Ink, and a look forward 2012 and lots of the exciting changes ahead.

And it all starts tomorrow, December 1. Last year I started off with a little comedy, and tomorrow I’ve got a post that I guarantee will amuse some of you…just wait and see ;)

Grab your jingle bells and let’s get this!

Re-Post: Wedding Invitations Trends 2011 – Luxe Simplicity

November 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

Hey 2011/2012 brides! Yes, you…that’s right. Looking for info on the hottest wedding stationery trends for 2011? We’ve got ‘em right here this week on our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series.

Today, we’re going to talk about an overall trend in the wedding universe this coming year, and that’s going to be the idea of “luxe simplicity”. Yes, rustic and vintage are still going to be strong (we’ll talk about those later in the week as well), but for those brides who are looking for glamour and sophistication, the look is going to be simple and pared down with luxury touches, not over-the-top blinged-out extravaganzas. Think Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, not Zsa Zsa Gabor ;)

In invitations, this translates to a cleaner, more modern aesthetic, with an emphasis on high quality materials.

That means you’ll likely see the following:

  • Increased use of gorgeous heavy-weight cotton and bamboo papers versus traditional tree-based varieties (an eco-friendlier option as well!)
  • Even further emergence of letterpress and calligraphy as printing methods
  • Less use of items like pocket and jacket folders with trending towards things like silk boxes and folios
  • Less use of embellishments like ribbons and rhinestones on invitations themselves

A more simplistic approach allows for brides to stretch their invitation budget farther, by concentrating on quality versus quantity. For example, a $10 invitation suite could consist of a pocketfold with multiple backing layers and inserts, ribbon closure with a tag and lined envelopes; however, the same $10 could also be used for a single panel letterpressed invitation on rich cotton paper, addressed by hand with beautiful calligraphy.

At Hip Ink, we’ve seen the trend towards more simple invitation styles and designs starting already with our own clients, and it’s a refreshing change, and a challenge we’re looking forward to. Because, as with all simple things, there is a caveat – the details become extremely important. Design (layout and especially typography) become a huge part of the equation with this style – calling for more white space, impeccable font selection and a great eye for when it’s “just enough”.

This is where the DIY brides out there may want to consider professional help (um, the services of graphic designer I mean, not a psychiatrist). Consider taking your budget and putting it towards a simple but flawlessly executed design, rather than enduring the DIY process – for your own sanity, so you don’t have to consider professional help of a different variety!

Re-Post: Wedding Invitations Trends 2011 – Calligraphy

November 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

Yesterday we talked the very old (as in more than 500 years) yet new-again printing method of letterpress – super hot these days in the wedding stationery world.

Today in our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series, we look at a printing process that is even older, and dare I say will be even hotter for 2011: Calligraphy.

Calligraphy Letterpress by Bella Figura

Calligraphy (which literally means “beautiful writing”) is pretty much the oldest printing method out there, dating back to…well…a ridiculously long time ago. Calligraphy was the first printing method for wedding invitations as well, with most of those early printed invitations being illuminated script done by monks for wealthy families. Many people think of this medieval style of lettering when the hear the word calligraphy, but modern calligraphy is so much more!

Calligraphy is popping up everywhere these days – not just on guest addressing for envelopes, but wedding invitations as well as escort cards, menus, programs etc.

Envelope Calligraphy by Neither Snow and Artful Celebrations

Most people are probably familiar with calligraphy for invitation envelopes – it is a personal and beautiful touch which makes a huge first impression on your guests even before they open the envelope. There are a huge number of styles available – from very traditional and formal to modern and casual – and many calligrapher’s out there to choose from, all with different styles and specialties. If you are considering using calligraphy for your envelopes, make sure your guest list is finalized well in advance and you order extra envelopes – hand calligraphy takes time and mistakes will happen.

You can also choose to have your wedding invitation done completely (or just partly – eg. your names only) by a calligrapher. In most cases, the calligrapher will create your invitation by hand based on the wording you submit and the style you choose, and then that image can be digitized and reproduced via another printing method ie. offet, letterpress etc. Letterpress calligraphy is simply gorgeous and incredibly elegant – definitely my choice for super-formal and crazy-stylish invites (in fact, it was my choice for Kate and William’s royal wedding invites). You can, if you choose, have your calligrapher hand produce each invite; however, you may find that route cost prohibitive unless you only need a very small quantity of invitations.

Again, calligraphy can be pricey, and rightly so -  you are paying an artist to do work by hand, and you are paying for their skill, talent and personal style.

Looking for a similar look with a smaller price tag? Many stationery designers (including Hip Ink) offer “computer calligraphy” addressing for your invitations – addressing using calligraphy-inspired typefaces which give a similar look (although quite obviously not the same).

For you DIY gals out there, keep an eye out next week for our DIY-centric posts, as we’re going to show you a couple of ways to get the look of calligraphy for less, by matching computer calligraphy with your own hand. Intrigued?

Stay tuned!

Re-Post: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Rustic/Vintage

November 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

We’re rolling on in our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series and looking at another trend for 2011 with its roots in 2010…

Yes, all you lovers of yellow-tinged photos of brides in fields, mason jars filled with wildflowers and groomsmen in mis-matched bow ties – its the rustic/vintage juggernaut, and there seems to be no stopping it!

Anyone who has been sniffing around a wedding blog or two can tell you that this has been and will continue to be a huge trend in the wedding world, and its influence most definitely touches invitations as well.

While not exactly the same – rustic implies a sort of unfinished, down-home, even rural sort of charm, while vintage is based more around using old/found objects and themes – rustic and vintage do seem to go hand in hand, like PB & J.

When it comes to invitations, this year you will see rustic come to the fore, with a greater emphasis on tactile materials and mix-and-match invitation suites. You’ll see more invitations using kraft paper, twine, jute, burlap and other similar materials, an emphasis on simple but textural invitations, and printing of invitations on unusual materials (think invites printed on hankerchiefs or wood veneer – and yes, Hip Ink‘s got ‘em). The look is casual, laid-back, a sort of could-almost-be-DIY handmade quality (not to be confused with that “oh my, it’s DIY” homemade quality).

Vintage will stay strong as well – again, focusing on mis-matched invitation suites with that look of a bygone era (which era is up to you!). Whether it’s bohemian Paris chic, vintage carnival, Victorian glamour – the vintage look requires a strong emphasis on typography and graphics to tell the story, although here too alternate materials may be used (especially fabric and lace with old-fashioned details). Calligraphy, which we talked about yesterday, is definitely a big player in the vintage invitation trend as well!

Guess it’s true – everything old is new again ;)

Re-Post: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Personalization

November 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

It’s Christmas Eve, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring…except for me clickety clacking away bring you our last 2011 Wedding Invitation Trends post in our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series!

It’s fitting that I’ve saved what I think is the best for last – a trend that really speaks to the true meaning of the holiday season, personalization. What does personalizing your wedding invitations have in common with the holiday season? A lot actually…

The beautiful thing about weddings is celebration the love that two people have for each other, their commitment, the joining of their families. The most cherished thing you can take away from your big day is the memories you make, celebrating with your family and friends (a lot like Christmas, Hannukah, Kwaanza, Festivus et al). When it comes down to it, its not about what you wear, the food you eat, the presents you get (ok, its not *all* about that stuff!) – it’s about sharing your joy with the people you love.

My favourite trend for 2011 weddings is exactly that – sharing yourselves with your guests.

Anyone can go out and buy invitations off-the-shelf, and they most certainly do their duty – they invite your guests and give them the information they need. But, is that all we expect an invitation to do? What is the experience you want to provide to your guests? What are your invitations saying about *you*? I can fully admit that I am biased, but I think cookie-cutter invitations are a lot like pre-written Thank You cards – they say nothing special about you as a couple, and after all, that is what your wedding is all about.

Personalization is they key to making guests feel that they are involved in something that is uniquely YOU as a couple. Wine lovers? What about an invite inspired by the label of your fave vintage. Bibliophiles (that’s people who love books) – maybe an invitation hidden in an old thrift store book. World-travelers? Maybe a passport invitation or a real message in a bottle. The more your invitations speak to you as a couple – your personalities, interests, personal style – the greater the impression on your guests. Of course, your invitation should still reflect your event, but hopefully you’ve decided to personalize that too!

Like most of you, I’ve been to many weddings and I’ve seen about a zillion wedding photos on blogs. The ones that are most memorable are always those where the bride and groom’s personalities truly shine through. Your guests don’t want to feel like they are at a random wedding, no matter how beautiful it is. They want to feel and connect with *your* unique love story. Its the small personal touches that everyone will oooh and ahhh over and remember for years to come, and that starts with your invitations.

At least, in my not-always-so-humble opinion, it should.

Tomorrow, we kick off the final week of our 31 Days, a special series just for you DIY brides out there, packed with tips and tricks! To start things off, we’re re-posting one of our most popular posts on DIY ever…then on Sunday we’re back with brand new content daily ’till the end of the year.

In the meantime, have yourselves a very Merry Christmas, filled with all the wonderful things the holiday season brings :)

Re-Post: Edward & Bella’s Twilight (Breaking Dawn) Wedding Invitation – Hip Ink Style

November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Today, in honour of the release of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 tonight at midnight, it’s a re-post of our most read post (by far!) of the past three weeks

Okay, so today’s Workshop Wednesday is a little different…

A while back I joked about creating an invitation for Edward & Bella, the famous characters from Twilight (if you live under a rock, you may want to check out this link). I’m not a huge Twilight fan by any means, but I have a very good friend who is (Team Edward), so I have read the books and have seen the first three films.

A few months ago a still shot was released of Bella and Edward’s wedding invitation, as created for the movie. Ugh. There was definitely a bit of chatter in the invitation design world about how blah it was, and the number of errors in etiquette present etc. It’s like they just handed that job off to some Production Assistant who didn’t know the first thing about wedding invitations (which is probably exactly what they did).

Here is the design from the movie, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1:

Booooring…seriously. The only cool part is the wax seal with the Cullen family crest – and that’s really the only part that makes any sense. Why? The backstory is that since Edward was actually born in 1901, he’s very traditional and wants a traditional wedding – Bella on the other hand doesn’t want a wedding at all, so she wants the day to reflect Edward. Add to that the fact that the wedding planning is being done by Edward’s “sister” Alice, who is very much into fashion and design and has disposable income matching a small African nation, and you can see why I was puzzled by the choice of invitation.

So, urged on by my friends who are big Twilight fans, I decided to create my own version of Bella & Edward’s invitation, just for fun!

I decided on a suite that would mix Edward and Bella’s tastes and experiences – lots of cream and white with simple typography to please Bella’s simple style, but pulling in aspects of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, along with a traditional design, to reflect the time that Edward grew up in – just like I would for any of my couples.

I used a mixture of an off-white textured felt stock, cream metallic envelopes and a translucent vellum, to give some textural interest to the invitation suite. It also features the Cullen crest printed on a vellum envelope liner.

While I chose a combination of purples for the invite (soft lavender and violet), I decided to bring in some other soft tones in the RSVP and Guest Information card, while repeating the use of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau inspired typography and design elements.

The main invitation text is directly from the movie invitation, but I could help but “fix it” (you’re welcome Summit Entertainment).

Above you can see the texture of the invitation stock and the vellum wrap (my favourite part). Overall, I wanted to design a suite that was a little bit traditional and a little bit modern, with a good bit of early 20th century flair as a nod to Edward’s early life (both as a human and as a vampire).

I actually had a blast putting this together, and as fate would have it, Summit Entertainment just released the first full trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (you can watch it here, if you are so inclined) yesterday. Interestingly enough, it contained a number of shots of Bella and Edward’s wedding, including the ones below:

Hmmm…cream, grey and shades of lavender and violet…check.

I don’t wanna say, but I’m just sayin’ – take that Twilight Production Assistant! ;)

Re-Post: Email and Digital Wedding Invitations? Fresh or faux pas?

November 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

Hey y’all, it’s Tuesday and it’s time to talk invitations and wedding stationery once again with The Invitation Advisor.

I wanted to address something that was brought up on twitter today (seem to be getting a lot of blog ideas from twitter lately – and [total plug] if you’d like to follow us, it’s @hip_ink) and it got me thinking. I’ve briefly addressed it in a couple of posts before, but I wanted to take a more in depth look at…

Email and digital wedding invitations – you’re probably hearing about them more and more, maybe you’ve even gotten one. So, are email invites a fresh new way to reach your guests or just a big wedding faux pas?

Oh yes, it’s time to get the soapbox out. I know not everyone will agree with me, and some of you may think I’m a stuck-up you-know-what, but since it’s my blog…you’re all entitled to my opinion. *Your* opinion is totally welcome in the comments section!

I’ll give you three guesses as to my opinion on the matter, and the first two don’t count. Yes, you’re right…my opinion is that email invitations are a big no. Like a “hellz no”. Yes, fine, you can call me a unabashed paper-lover, a cruel paper-nazi, heck, I may be the Godmother of the Paper Mafia; but, believe it or not, being a custom invitation designer is not the only reason I object to email invitations.

Your reaction may be, “Sure Sarah, we know, but why should we listen to someone who would send a paper invitation to her cat’s birthday party, pizza and movie night, or the grand opening of her can of Diet Coke”? Okay, busted. Still, I’m not here to tell you what to do, I’m here to make you think about the stationery choices you make and how they are going to impact your big day – especially your guests, who are, or should be, a very important part of your wedding.

So why do I feel email and digital invitations, in the majority of cases, are not appropriate for weddings? To be totally honest, it’s because your guests don’t want to receive an email invitation. Period. You may think your hip, cool friends would think it was awesome, but they probably won’t. Your middle-aged guests definitely won’t. And let’s not even get into how your older guests will feel. Yes, it’s your wedding, so you are allowed to do whatever you want. But like it or not, your guests will have opinions and those opinions and pre-conceived notions about your event will be directly impacted by what they see and hear about it beforehand.

So many blogs will tell you “it’s your wedding, do what YOU want, don’t worry about etiquette and tradition”. I’m here to tell you they are wrong. Do you really not care at all what your guests think? I doubt it. Does your entire wedding need to be centered around pleasing your guests? Of course not. But if you don’t really care about your guests’ experience (which includes the way you invite them), why bother having them there in the first place? Are you guests happy to share your big day with you? Yes. But do they expect things in return for sharing that big day with you? You bet they do.

I’ll repeat my mantra for those who weren’t paying attention in class: your invitation sets the tone for your wedding.

What kind of tone does an email invitation set? Most likely, the wrong one.

I’ve heard a number of reasons behind why email invitations are a great idea, so let’s look at a few of them:

Eco-Friendly, Saves Trees
I hear this one all the time, and to be honest, I think it’s often just an excuse. There are a huge number of eco-friendly options out there – tree-free papers like 100% cotton and bamboo, plantable wildflower-seeded papers, wood invitations etc., not to mention eco-friendly vegetable-based inks etc. Why not choose one of those options instead? I think it’s easier to say that you’re trying to save the environment than to admit you’re trying to…

Saves Money
This is the big one, of course. Why pay the cost of buying wedding invitations and postage when you can send them online for free? Of course. Ever heard of the phrase, “you get what you pay for”. Remember it, because it’s true. There are a number of low-cost invitation options that can be had – yes, even the big-box craft store boxed invites (with 40% off coupon, ‘natch) are a better alternative than sending your invitations via email. Like it or not, most of your guests will assume you are sending an email invitation because you are trying to cut costs, and that probably isn’t the impression you want to leave them with.

Saves Time
I guess that depends on the type of email invite you send out, but unless you are literally sending a text-based invite, my bet is you could just as easily buy an invitation online or at a local stationery store in around the same time you could send out a nicely-done email invitation. And what about the time it will take you to compile everyone’s email addresses? And what about your guests that don’t have access to email? What will you do for them? Suddenly this “time-saver” doesn’t seem to be quite so great after all.

Receive RSVPs via email
You don’t need to send an email invitation to receive your RSVPs via email. You can certainly include an email address for those who would like to respond via email on your RSVP cards, and there are services out there that will track your RSVPs online, or even allow your guests to call a phone number to RSVP and collect your guests’ information for you.

Ability to include all the wedding details
This is exactly the reason why wedding websites were invented, and more and more couples are choosing to include their website information on their invitations. Do your guests really need direct links from the invitation? Probably not.

I heard a videographer say once, “What if I told you I could show you a video of your grandparents wedding? Would you be excited to watch it? What if I then told you that you couldn’t, because they didn’t think it was important enough to preserve the memories of their big day?”. I feel like invitations can be similar as well – there are so few tangible things that are mementos of your wedding. Wouldn’t you love to see your grandparents wedding invitation – feel the paper, see the printing, touch their history? Somehow, I don’t think an email invitation would give you the same feeling. What about your own grandparents? They’ve probably been waiting forever to hold your wedding invitation in their hands. An email invite probably won’t cut it for them either.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. Are there times when an email invite could be acceptable? Probably (just don’t say you heard it from me!)

If you are having an extremely small or very informal event, email invitations could can work – again, you need to match the formality of your invitation to the formality of your wedding. An email invitation will never be considered formal at all, so should only be used for a casual wedding event.

If you are a creative/web genius and can whip up an amazing video/flash/video/awesomesauce digital invite – sure, could be fun. I’ve seen some very creative multi-media invitations out there, but again, I think they are best used as part of an overall invitation package – not on their own.

If you do choose email invitations, do yourself a favour and get help – use an online company to help you create an invite to send to your guests, like Glo, which offers stylish digital invites you can customize. Or, check out Etsy for designers who will personlize a digital invite for you to send to your guests.

My final word(s): Inviting people to an event via email has it’s time in place, just as paper invitations have theirs. Would you find it odd to get a fancy paper invitation to a casual dinner at a friend’s place (okay, if your friend is not a stationer)? It’s just as odd to entertain the idea of inviting guests to an event as important as your wedding via email.

Or Facebook…please don’t get me started…

Re-Post: What Are Your Invitations Saying About Your Wedding?

November 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

Hold on ladies and gentleman, because Miss Sassy-Pants is back today, tellin’ it like it is.

Before we begin – allow me to say the following, lest anyone misunderstand what I’m getting at here: There is no shame in having a modest budget for your wedding. None. This post isn’t about convincing you that you need to spend more – it is about convincing you that you need to allocate your budget to stationery accordingly, to avoid confusing your guests. I may be unpopular for putting this in print, but it doesn’t make it less true.

So, you’ve all probably heard it before…your invitation is the first impression your guests will have of your wedding. Stationers, designers, wedding planners – we throw that out there all the time, but what does it really mean?

Straight up? What it means is that your guests will make assumptions, come to conclusions, and judge your wedding based on the invitations you send out . It will affect the decisions they make – how to dress, what kind of gift to give, and sometimes whether or not to actually attend. I’d love to tell you that everyone is just so thrilled for you that your invitations don’t matter – but it just isn’t true.

Before everyone gets all defensive – be honest, and admit to yourself that you’ve been there. Everyone has done it, because it’s human nature – you receive an invitation and you automatically make assumptions about the kind of event it is going to be, about how much fun you think you are going to have, and sometimes about whether or not you really even want to go. If your invitation is inexpensive, the impression your guests will receive is that your wedding will be modest. Send out an expensive invitation and you set the expectation of an all-out event. If your invitation is casual, guests won’t be expecting a reception in a ballroom – and conversely, a formal invitation would be out-of-place for a barn reception. A fun, colourful invite suggests a party-type atmosphere, while a subdued monochromatic invite suggests a more serene and reserved affair. I could go on, but I won’t (for once).

First, the overall quality (which in most cases means price) of your invites – think about the message you are sending to your guests. I’ve said before that you should budget according to how important stationery is to you; however, the caveat is that if you are having a full-on formal wedding, but send out print-your-own invites from Big Box Craft-o-rama, it creates a disconnect between your guests expectations and your event. That’s just one example, but the lesson here is that you need to match the overall budget for your stationery to the overall budget of your wedding to some degree, or else risk your guests having lowered expectations about the type of event you are hosting, and having issues with everything from dress code to rsvps. The opposite is true – you may feel that stationery is a very important part of your wedding, but be having a more modest affair – make sure that your invitations don’t make promises that your event can’t live up to.

Next up, the tone or feeling of your invitations. Seems pretty straightforward: simple event=simple invitation, casual event=casual invitation, off-beat event=off-beat invitation, formal event=formal invitation etc. As obvious as it seems, I’ve definitely received invitations that, in hindsight, did not match the event itself. Remember that the invitation is sent out to your guests not only for you to request the pleasure of their company, but also to inform them – providing them with an invite that doesn’t match the style or tone of your event is just as bad as giving them the wrong address or the wrong date – it makes your guests uncomfortable on your wedding day. How would you feel if you received a very casual invitation to a wedding? You would likely assume it was a simple affair – you’d probably plan on wearing a less formal outfit. Would you feel really uncomfortable if you showed up in a sundress and everyone else was wearing a ballgown? It’s an extreme example, but it is the sort of thing that absolutely can happen.

Now, on to a very touchy subject…DIY. Yes, I know DIY is all the rage, and you know that I love my DIYers, but…what does a do-it-yourself invitation say about your wedding? If it’s well executed, it says that you care enough to do something personal to invite your guests, to share a part of you with them, to have a hand (literally) in creating their invitation. If it’s poorly executed…well…it says you’re cheap. I wish there was a kindler, gentler way to put it, but unfortunately, there really isn’t.

Don’t believe me? If you cooked your own wedding meal and it was terrible, would your guests think you were trying to personalize the experience for them, or just trying to save money on catering? If you decided to strictly play music from your 13-year-old cousin’s iPod at your reception and it was nothing but gangsta rap, would your guests think you were trying to be cutting edge, or you were trying to save money on a DJ? If you made your own wedding dress and it was falling apart as you walked down the aisle, would your guests think that you were trying to be unique, or that you were trying to save money on your attire? Exactly – so you see where I’m going here. DIY can be great – if you can make it look like you either know what you’re doing, or you didn’t do it yourself. Lookin’ handmade=personal, lookin’ homemade=cheap.

Here’s my best tip: When you are thinking about invitations – whether purchasing from a stationery store, a custom designer or creating your own, imagine what you want your guest to feel and think when they open that envelope. Write it down. Then put your invitation to the test – send it to yourself, put yourself in your guests’ shoes and write down your initial reactions, feelings, assumptions etc. Do they match what you originally wrote down? Then you’re golden. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your choice.

It’s not strictly about how much you spend – it’s about making sure you choose an invitation that is a true reflection of your big day. A well-chosen invitation is always bound to make the right impression.

Re-Post: What Is The Cost Of The Average Wedding Invitation?

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

So, you just got engaged and you are struggling to put together your all-important wedding budget. When you get to invitations and stationery, what do you budget?

If you’re like most Hip Ink clients, you don’t, because most couples have no idea what an appropriate amount is to budget for their wedding invitations and day-of stationery. Don’t fret, it’s not your fault…it’s complicated, and those “X% of your budget” figures don’t really help either.

So what is the average cost of wedding invitations these days? Here’s the really short answer (for Americans anyway):

The Bridal Association of America estimates that couples on average spend $659 on wedding invitations and reply cards.

Note that figure does not include postage or day-of stationery – strictly invitations. So now you know the “average”…but *you* aren’t average, right? So what should *you* budget?

So just for you, I’ve put together a quick reference of price ranges for common invitation styles, from high to low:

Important: Invitation pricing will vary based on where you are located (ie. prices will be higher in large metro areas) and who you are ordering from (a pocketfold from an Etsy seller will likely cost less than one from a high-end invitation designer). Also, a number of factors affect invitation pricing (paper choices, printing method, embellishments etc.) – the pricing below reflects a standard invitation of the type listed. This isn’t meant to be some kind of invitation pricing bible, just enough of a idea to get you in the right ballpark!

invitation from Greenvelope.com

Online/E-mail Invitations – <$1+
Yes, they exist, and you may have already read my opinion on electronic invitations – nonetheless, it is an option that some couples with very limited budgets may want to consider. Online options are usually priced as a flat rate (ie. $79, $99 etc.), so the price per invite will depend on the number of invites you are sending out.

invitation from Michaels.com

Print Your Own Invitations – <$1+
Print Your Own in this instance would refer to the boxed invitations you can find at your local big box store – the kind that come with all of the pieces and you are responsible for designing and printing the invite yourself. These invites range in price, but can often be purchased for less than $1 each (sometimes much less if you have a good coupon).

invitation posted on weddingbee.com

DIY Invitations – $2+
Do-It-Yourself is tough to provide an average for, as there are so many options that fall under the DIY category (online printables, DIY kits, designing your invite from scratch) – that said, you can bet you’ll be spending a minimum of $2 for your supplies, tools etc. and possibly much more, depending on the complexity of your project.

invitation from weddingpaperdivas.com

Standard, Single-Panel Invitation – $2-5
This would be your standard invitation package consisting of a single panel invitation with rsvp card and matching envelopes – the pricing would cover a range of album, online and even some custom options. Again, the simplicity of the design and the quality of the materials is what will dictate pricing in this category.

High Quality, Panel Invitation – $4-8
Here you would be looking at a panel invitation (possibly with backers) made from higher quality papers, possibly featuring embellishments (ribbons, crystals etc.) and again this would include mid-range album invitations, online options as well as custom design options.

Pocketfold Invitation – $5-9
Pricing on pocketfold-style invitation can vary greatly, based on the quality of the pocketfold and the type of invitation design – more inserts, embellishments etc. equals higher costs.

Standard Boxed Invitation – $8-12
Boxed invitations can also range greatly, based on exactly what’s inside the box and what it’s made of – this would reflect pricing for a standard type of invite in a cardstock-based box.

Luxury Invitations - $15+++
When it comes to luxury invitations the sky is truly the limit – but don’t expect to pay anything less than around $15 per set. This category would include things like large crystal embellishments, engraving, silk boxes or folios or uncommon materials (acrylic, metal etc.).

The important thing to understand is that invitations work exactly like pretty much everything else when it comes to weddings – you get what you pay for. What’s important in the above information is really the minimum costs – if someone is out there selling $3 pocketfolds, you can bet that you’ll probably be unhappy with the quality, design etc.

There *is* an option out there to suit every couple, every style and every wedding budget.

Now you just have to go out and find the one *you* love!

Re-Post: The Top 5 Wedding Invitation Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

November 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ‘em. Enjoy!

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,

1. Working with an unrealistic budget/expectations

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!


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