Thursday Throwback: How to Save Money on Wedding Programs, Menus and Placecards (and more!)

May 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

In last weeks Thursday Throwback post on how to save money on custom invitations I promised this week I would repost the follow-up on how to save money on your day-of wedding ceremony and reception stationery (something that is discussed much less often).

So, without further ado…

Many couples are so focused on their wedding invitations, they forget that their stationery budget also must include any day-of stationery or accessories required – that could be (but not limited to) programs, menus, table signs, placecards, escort cards, seating chart, general signage etc. So, repeat after me, the first rule for getting the most value for your wedding day stationery is: don’t forget to budget for it.

Notice I said, the most value – while I enjoy the sensationalism of the words “save money” in the title of this post, what I really mean is how to get the most value. It’s not always about strictly saving money, but rather getting the most for the dollars you spend.

Again, the caveat here is that I am talking about working with a designer/stationer, although many of these tips can be applied to DIYers as well. Here’s a tip specifically for those of you who are planning on doing it yourself though…DON’T.

Yes, I hear you thinking it…”here she goes again”. In this case, it’s not about the quality of what you can produce, the material costs involved, matching your day-of stationery to your invites etc. It is strictly about the “cost” *to you* of trying to produce your own day-of stationery. Remember that in most cases the information you need (menu choices, seating plan, number of guests) is not set until 2-3 weeks before your wedding. Which means that all of these are basically being produced “last-minute”. Think you may have some other rather important things going on 2-3 weeks before your wedding? Absolutely.

I can’t tell you the number of stories I hear about brides staying up ’till all hours the night before their wedding working on their wedding programs or place cards etc. In fact, I was that crazy bride too…up till 4am tying beads on to the bottom of ribbon keeping our programs together. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if I had it to do over, I would NEVER attempt to do it myself. I spent way too much of my time (and still quite a bit of money as well) dealing with something that would have been better left to a pro.

But, I digress (as usual!). So, let’s get to the juicy bit, shall we? Here’s my tips on getting the most out of your day-of wedding stationery budget:

Hire a designer/stationer
Not only because of my DIY rant above, but because a good stationery designer can help you to figure out exactly what you need, what will work best for your event, and how to fit all of those items into your overall budget. A designer/stationer’s assistance with these items can actually mean the difference between staying within budget and blowing the budget completely.

Order everything at once
If you think you have a good idea of exactly what you’re going to need and how many, order your day-of stationery (and thank yous, don’t forget the thank yous!) with your invitations. Some stationers and designers may offer a discount for orders over a certain amount, or may be more willing to negotiate a discount if you can commit to ordering your additional stationery at the same time. A word of warning though – this does not apply to every stationer. There are many out there (including Hip Ink) that do not discount at all, so don’t *expect* to get a discount just because you are willing to order up-front (but it certainly never hurts to ask)!

Choose the right items
Make sure you are choosing the right items for your needs. For example, make sure you consider exactly how much information will be going into your ceremony program. If you have a small amount of information, a one-page program will be just fine; but, if you order a one-page program and expect to fit in a tome approximate in length to the Declaration of Independence, well…that’s gonna cost you. Having to upgrade later will likely incur greater costs than if you are realistic at the beginning of the process about exactly what you need. What about seating? If your guests will be seated at large tables and will be able to choose their own seat, you’ll need escort cards (which indicate a table number) rather than place cards (which are inscribed with the guests names and are placed at their specific seat). What’s the difference? Escort cards are per couple/family, which place cards are per guest, meaning you’ll need at least twice as many (and pay twice as much unnecessarily if you order incorrectly).

Don’t over do it
Along the same lines – not every ceremony or reception items needs to be ordered on a per-guest basis. Ceremony programs are almost always wasted when ordering one per guest. Why? Couples or families tend to share their programs as they sit and wait for the ceremony to begin. Having enough programs for each and every guest will almost always lead to a large number of leftovers – a huge waste (of paper *and* money). Menus are a similar situation – while many couples choose to have 1 or 2 menus on their tables, there is a growing trend towards menus at each place setting. While this can be lovely (especially if they are personalized), it can also be a bit over the top (even in appearance, depending on the tablescape). Consider doing one menu for every other place setting and you can cut your costs in half.

Do double-duty
Another way to get more value from your wedding day stationery is to have pieces that are multi-use. What about combining your menus and table numbers/signs on a tented or three-sided card? Or doing personalized menus or favours at each place setting (removing the need for placecards)? Being creative about pieces that can pull double-duty will allow you to stretch your day-of stationery budget, and possibly upgrade the quality of the fewer items you choose.

Keep it simple
Wedding invitations are a standalone, stand-out item that give your guests a glimpse into your big day – with big impact. Day-of stationery is just part of the overall look and feel of your wedding, so don’t feel that you need to have complicated, layered, embellished day-of stationery if it isn’t within your budget. There are many ways to creating striking and beautiful items that will fit in to your overall decor and theme, using a more design-based approach. Again, you’ll want to match your day-of stationery to the formality and tone of your event, but that doesn’t necessarily mean breaking out the ribbon, crystals etc. Well designed items on lovely, thick cardstock can go a long way (and stretch your budget a long way as well).

And now, as wedding season is now in full-swing, a big shout out to all of you getting married this summer and fall (especially our Hip Ink brides and grooms!). Congrats!

§ 2 Responses to Thursday Throwback: How to Save Money on Wedding Programs, Menus and Placecards (and more!)

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You are currently reading Thursday Throwback: How to Save Money on Wedding Programs, Menus and Placecards (and more!) at The Invitation Blog @ Hip Ink.

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