Thursday Throwback: How to Save Money on Custom Wedding Invitations

April 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

You’ve probably all seen articles advising you on the ways to save money on your wedding invitations, and they are often along the lines of “send invitations by email, do-it-yourself or by print-your-own boxed invitations”. Yes, each of those is a valid way to save money on invitations, but what about those couples that are looking for more value rather than just less cost?

I’m pretty sure there are a number of people who think this blog exists solely to help part engaged couples with their wedding budget. The fact is that I wouldn’t be in this business doing what I do if I didn’t love high-quality, unique, beautiful, gorgeous, over-the-top wedding stationery – and yes, often it’s pricey too. But I certainly have lots of couples who come to us with very specific budgets, and whatever that budget may be, the are looking to maximize the value they are getting. So, the title of this post may be a bit misleading – some of these tips will help you save money, but some will help you get more value out our your wedding stationery dollars.

Today I’m going to share my tips for getting the most value when choosing custom invitations/working with an invitation designer:

Get a head start.
If you’ve chosen custom invitations, you’re already off to a good start. Believe or not, working with an invitation designer can actually help save you money in the long run – designers can be much more flexible than many of the invitation companies out there, and can and will often handle requests that larger companies will not even consider, or will charge a hefty premium for. With a custom invitation, you can control the budget very easily, and make changes on the fly to help ensure that your invitation suite stays within a price range you’re comfortable at. If you’re in love with a design that way over-budget, a designer can also often simplify the design, keeping the elements that you love, but cutting out the ones you don’t need – giving you a similar look, for a much lower cost.

Avoid making those common mistakes.
Oh yes, we’ve talked about them a lot, haven’t we? Pretty much every big mistake covered on our Top 5 list will end up costing you money – make sure you learn as much as you can about how to avoid those mistakes, and your budget will definitely thank you!

Less is definitely more.
While it’s lovely to have multiple paper layers, pockets, ribbons, crystals etc., all of those embellishments come with a fairly high price tag – both due to the cost of the actual item as well as the labour cost involved in assembly etc. The best way to get great “bang for your buck” is to hire a great designer who can work with you to create a gorgeous invitation that is big on design and small on fancy accoutrement (that’s French for bling). It can be challenging to find a designer who can pull of this look – your best bet is to look for someone that has a strong background in graphic design and ask to see their portfolio of work that is simple with no embellishment whatsoever. A great designer should able to produce a stunning flat panel invite, as well as more embellished looks.

Pay attention to printing.
Printing costs can make a huge impact on the bottom line. While you may love the look of an engraved or letterpress invite, it may be necessary to consider digital printing instead – no, it’s not quite the same, but you may not feel the additional costs is really worth it. If you do choose an option like letterpress, understand where the costs are – setup. If you have a small number of invitations (say 50), letterpress is not terribly cost-effective because of the high set-up costs. If you’ve got a large number of invites (say 200), the cost becomes much more reasonable on a per invite basis. And stick to one ink colour, rather than going for 2 or 3 colours – each additional colour requires it’s own plate and pass on the press, so it raises the costs substantially.

Choose “high-impact” upgrades.
If you’re looking for something more than a flat card, consider the impact vs cost of some common upgrades. As an example, you may find that an envelope liner may be the same cost as a crystal embellishment – while crystals are certainly pretty, the envelope liner will have far more impact on the overall design and feeling of your invitation, and allows for more opportunity to add some unique flair. If you’re working with a tight budget, ask your designer for their advice on what choices will offer the most bang for your buck!

Ditch the RSVP envelope.
Unless you are having a very formal wedding, it’s completely acceptable these days (and can even be a much nicer option in some cases) to include an RSVP postcard which can be dropped in the mail as is, rather than the traditional RSVP card with return envelope. RSVP postcards are definitely growing in popularity, and you’d be surprised how much those tiny envelopes can cost! And while we’re at it – if you were considering using both inner and outer envelopes, forget it. Outer envelopes are quite unnecessary these days, and are generally only found on the most formal of invites.

Ditto for the Reception card (and other inserts).
Again, only formal wedding invitations these days usually have separate reception cards. While it’s traditional to include the reception information on its own card, it really isn’t necessary. You can also eliminate the need for other insert cards like maps, directions and accommodation and guest information cards by setting up a wedding website. They are easy and quick to set up, available for free from a number of sources, and allow you to simply direct your guests to your wedding website for more information – rather than including everything in printed form.

Consider postage carefully.
One way you can easily reduce your invitation costs is to make sure you consider the impact of your choices on the cost of postage. Your best best is to make sure that you choose a standard-sized invitation, and one that does not have lots of additional layers, pocketfolds etc. The heavier your invite is, the more you’ll pay in postage, and ditto for oddly-sized invites as well. Also, make sure that any embellishments that you’ve chosen don’t impact the post office’s ability to process your invitation normally, which will also result in additional non-machinable charges. Unsure? Make sure you take your hard copy sample to the post office so you are aware of any issues before your invites are produced.

Hope y’all found this week’s Thursday Throwback helpful – next week, I’ll be reposting on a similar subject you’ve probably NEVER seen mentioned: how to save money/get more value when it comes to your ceremony and reception stationery and accessories!

 

 

The Straight-Up Truth: 10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

April 25, 2012 § 3 Comments

So, we’re back…finally…

First, I think I owe everyone an explanation of why I disappeared for last 6 weeks or so (oh my gosh! how has it even been that long!?!).

Hip Ink is mostly a one-woman operation – while I have a few people who help out with assembly etc., I’m on the hook for everything else – and don’t get me wrong, generally I like it that way. And if you’re a frequent reader you know that I am fiercely committed to making this blog happen every week. But sometimes in chasing your dreams, you forget about the reality that comes along with them.

The reality is, that I have been nearly drowning in work – not necessarily something I should have the right to complain about, but nevertheless, it’s turned things a bit upside down lately. I’m thrilled to have so many couples wanting to work with us, and orders from our new collection, but it has been a juggling act to try to keep up the same standards when it comes to response time, delivering on schedule and most of all, quality.

As much as I love The Invitation Blog, I know that my commitment to my work and my clients has to always come first.

So…I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re still busy, but in a more manageable way now that the crazy rush for early summer weddings is over, and so it’s back to blogging for me!

Sort of.

Today I wanted to share with you guys something that is so well-written, so truthful, so brilliant (and something that I’m so jealous I didn’t write myself) that I actually bumped my very first Invitation Advisor post in weeks, just so I could post this instead.

It was written by the lovely and talented Melinda Morris, owner of the fabulous Lion In The Sun Paperie in Park Slope, Brooklyn and appeared in The Huffington Post Weddings section on April 20, 2012.

I think it’s important read for any couple embarking on the wedding stationery adventure, and I think it’s equally important to read the whole article in it’s native form, so rather than reproduce it here, I’m going to tease you with Melinda’s “10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer” and ask you to please, please follow the link below to read the full, amazing, article.

10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

1.  “They are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”

2. “It’s only paper, why is it so expensive?”

3. “I could do that myself on my home computer and print it on Day-Glo copy paper.”

4.  “Can you just make me one and I can just photocopy or email a scan of it to everyone?”

5. “I know I approved the proof, but we changed the time of the wedding.”

6. “But we only need eight more invitations.”

7. “I left the invitations in the trunk of my car and then went to the car wash” or “We were drinking red wine while assembling the invitations…”

8. “We’ve addressed all our envelopes already, but I mail-merged the guest list incorrectly and all the zip codes are incorrect, what do you mean you don’t check each of our guests’ zip codes for us?”

9. “I sealed the envelopes and I realized I forgot to stamp the reply cards” or “We just used regular postage and dropped them in the mailbox on the street.”

10.  “We would like to put ‘monetary gift only’ on the invitation.”

***READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE***

I’ve actually addressed many of these things on The Invitation Blog in the past, but it’s great to see them all in one place. At times it may sound like putting stuff like this together is just me (or whomever) preaching to couples out there to try to make my own life easier  - I can assure you that isn’t the case.

When my couples are happy, I’m happy. When a couple makes a mistake on their invite, when they need “just a few” more, when they use the incorrect postage etc., those things affect me as well. While there isn’t always anything I can do, and while often those issues aren’t my reponsibility, I still feel for couples who find themselves in those situations. So some of the above deserves to go in the “the more you know” category, because it will only help you to keep those things in mind when dealing with your wedding invitations.

The first four are more related to just being respectful of the stationer/designer you are meeting or working with. While I can understand why a couple might say some of those things, in reality it makes little sense to walk into a lovely stationery store or meeting with a stationery designer if you don’t understand or appreciate the value of what they do. If you feel that their invites are “too expensive”, if you think, “hey, they are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”, if you’re happy with printing your own invites on copy paper or photcopying or emailing your invites – to be perfectly honest, you’re in the wrong place.

As a stationer, I believe it’s every couples’ right to do whatever they want when it comes to their wedding invitations – whether or not I agree with it, like it, find it attractive or think it’s in good taste, the point is that it isn’t about me. It’s about you and your wedding and your guests. But when a couple comes in with an attitude that’s disrespectful towards how I make my living, towards my “art”, that makes me a little testy.

It’s a good lesson in general, to think about what you say to your vendors when meeting with them. By all means, ask questions – but make sure they understand that you are there because you respect what they do and their work, and you’ll find they’ll give you their best.

Thursday Throwback: No, Your Wedding Invitations Do Not Need To Match Your…

March 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

Today’s throwback post looks at something that I hope is slowly changing in the wedding industry – matching every dang thing to your bridesmaids’ gowns or flowers or [insert details here]. It’s just not necessary and sometimes it can actually be crazy-cheesy looking too. My advice – choose what you love, don’t be limited by “matching” every single thing. Your guests probably won’t notice anyway (truth).

We’re going to talk about a phenomenon in the wedding industry in general, and definitely in the stationery business…let’s call it, “Matchy-Matchy Syndrome”.

I will agree that they heyday of “Matchy-Matchy-ness” has passed (the ’80s anyone?); but, like the stink of an old piece of gorgonzola, it lingers long after it’s time has passed.

Need proof? I still have clients who come to me and insist that their invitations match their insert-wedding-detail-here exactly. Usually it’s bridesmaids dresses, sometimes flowers, sometimes linens, and yes, they bring swatches. Lots of swatches. And they insist that it NEEDS to match exactly. No amount of coercion on my part will convince them.

Yes, I expect that cut-rate big-box wedding dress retailer to sell invitations that match their bridesmaids dresses – not a big surprise. But, when I’m running a business called “Hip Ink” and have clients who come to me with their strict “Matchy-Pants” on, you’d best believe that it is still a rampant issue in the wedding world.

Who was it, I wonder, who determined that everything needed to match exactly? Because if I catch him, I’ll tell you right now, I can’t be held responsible for what I’ll do.

I’m gonna be straight about it ladies (and gentlemen):

Your wedding invitations do NOT need to match your bridesmaids dresses. Or anything else for that matter.

I don’t really have an issue with someone who *really* wants to incorporate the same colour into their invites; but, it seems to be the easy go-to thing to just say, “well, let’s make them match the whatever“.

Believe me when I tell you that no one is going to receive your invitation and say, “Oh wow, chartreuse, can’t wait to see the matching bridesmaids dresses”. No one is going to show up at your wedding with their invite, pick up the tablecloth and say, “Tsk tsk, this is clearly royal blue, not cerulean!”. No one is going to gasp, “Oh, the horrror”, when they realize that your ranunculus centerpieces aren’t the same shade of pink as your invitation envelopes. And if by chance they do, trust that therapy is in order.

Yes, your invite should evoke the same feeling as your event, the same general tones, but they don’t have to match in every aspect exactly. In fact, there is something to be said for the element of surprise – no need to give away your whole colour scheme with your invitations. Maybe you are having a bright yellow, fuchsia and deep purple colour scheme (yes!) – why not choose one of those colours to show off on your invites? Yellow and Grey anyone? Maybe sneek in one of those other colours in a small way – just a hint. Or maybe go for shades or tones of those colours – more or less intense than the colours you’ll be using in your decor etc.

No, you are certainly not breaking the cardinal rules of invitation design by wanting your invitations to match your ________, but consider the all the possibilities you are shutting out by not at least considering something just a bit different.

And hey, while you’re at it – consider the fact that the pieces of your invitation suite don’t need to match either. Yep, I said it…and lots of people are doing it these days. And if everyone else is doing it, then…wait, nevermind.

Keep watching this space and you’ll see some of own clients who have shed the mantle of “Matchy McMatcherson” and embraced being just a little bit different!

Invitation Advisor: Tips for Venue and Reception Wording on Your Wedding Invitations

March 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

from Martha Stewart Collection by Crane & Co.

Whew! Have to admit I played hooky the last couple days of last week – too much excitement from the Hitched by Hip Ink launch!

But, today we’re back with a continuation of our in-depth series on invitation wording (using the word in-depth is awesome and makes things sound very important, like we’re on 60 Minutes!) – looking at how to word your venue information, as well as wording for receptions.

I’m sure you can’t handle the excitement, so let’s get to it ;)

While I will admit that venue wording isn’t as tricky or dramatic as some of the other things we’ve talked about, I do think it’s important to know how things are done traditionally, as well as what’s currently in favour.

I’m actually going to talk about venue and reception wording together, as one often has an impact on the other.

There are basically two options here: ceremony and reception at the same location, or ceremony and reception at different location. Yes, technically you could have a ceremony or reception-only invite, but for today’s purposes, we’ll just pretend that doesn’t exist to save me from getting carpal tunnel and you from eye strain. If you’re in the situation where you need to do a ceremony or reception-only invite, just as Uncle Google – he always knows how to help.

Ceremony and reception at the same location:

Traditionally speaking, you would usually see the following:

“Saturday, the ninth of June, two thousand twelve
at six o’clock in the evening

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Toronto, Ontario” 

Notice you don’t use the word “at”. You don’t need to say “at” Chuck E. Cheese on an invitation, just name the venue, and people will get the idea. Second, notice that the street address is missing. Traditionally, and formally, an invitation does not include a street address – simply the city and state/province. Back in the day the reason was that most people knew exactly where the venue was, because there weren’t many choices and most of them would be local anyway. These days, well – times have changed. There are tons of traditional and non-traditional wedding venues, and many, many guests are travelling and unfamiliar with the city where the venue may be located.

It is acceptable these days to put the venue’s address on your wedding invitation. I just think it’s unattractive and unnecessary – strictly personal opinion. I feel that the address doesn’t belong on your invite – that’s what a direction/guest info card or wedding website or GPS or the internet or whatever is for. I may be in the minority on this one, but I don’t think THAT much hand-holding is necessary for guests. I’m not saying that the address shouldn’t be somewhere in your invitation package (one reason I’m a fan of the catch-all Guest Information card), just that it doesn’t necessarily belong directly on your wedding invitation. That said, it’s not “wrong” to include the address at all.

As for the actual venue information, how should you word it? I have to say that because of my stance on not including the address, I think very specific and detailed wording is necessary for the name of your venue. I like to include exactly what the venue is, ie. St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Four Seasons Hotel, Carmen’s Banquet Centre, Spencer’s on the Waterfront Restaurant. If it’s a hotel or banquet hall that has multiple rooms, it’s also acceptable to include the specific room (ie. Main Ballroom, Vancouver Room etc.) – although that information can also appear elsewhere.

What if it’s not a place with a name? What if it’s your backyard or a public space or something similar? In that scenario, I do think you can include the address if you’d like, although again, it’s not 100% necessary on the invite if you’ve got it elsewhere as well.

And what about the reception?

If the reception is at the same venue/location, you can include reception wording directly on the invite (either as part of the main wording or as “corner copy”, meaning in smaller text in the lower right-hand corner of the invite).

You can use all sort sorts of wording, like:

“Reception immediately to follow”

“Dinner and dancing to follow at 6 o’clock”

“Join us for revelry and merriment after the ceremony”

…whatever “fits” with the tone of your celebration. Just remember that if the reception does not immediately follow the ceremony, that should be made clear by giving a start time for the reception itself – guests are much happier and more comfortable when they know what to expect. Also, I think it’s important to specify what type of reception guest should expect – ie. cocktails and hors d’oeuvre, dinner, light refreshments, whatever. If what you are doing is non-traditional in any way, give your guests a heads up to make sure your celebration runs smoothly.

Ceremony and reception at the same location:

Traditionally in this case you would use a separate Reception card, inviting guest to the reception. Again, the wording is fairly flexible – you might say something like the following:

“Please join us at a reception in honour of the new
Mr. and Mrs. Jingleheimer Shmidt  

at six o’clock in the evening
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Grand Ballroom
181 Wellington Street West, Toronto, Ontario”

You can pretty much word it in any way that communicates the information and fits with your invitation wording.

These days, it’s becoming more rare to see reception cards, and I frequently have couples who ask for all of the wording to be on the main invitation. Again, I would say it’s totally acceptable to do so at this point, although I do think a reception card is still de rigueur for very formal events.

As for the rest, much of the above still applies; however, it’s important in this case that it’s completely clear that the ceremony and reception are at two different locales and the exact time that each starts. In many cases guests may have to amuse themselves in the break between the ceremony and reception, so make sure they know exactly how much time they will have to kill.

So, what’s left? Well, we do have a few odds and ends to talk about next week when we wrap up this series on invitation wording, and we may even have some juicy controversy, so do come back ;)

Big News: Hitched by Hip Ink Has Arrived…Sort Of!

March 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Have you ever had one of those days? When it seems that technology has forsaken you? Yep…that’s today (and yesterday, and most of the day before), which so happens to coincide with the launch of our brand new Hitched by Hip Ink invitation collection.

Sort of…I say sort of because our new Etsy store that was supposed to be ready to show off all our fab new designs is not quite ready for it’s big debut – that will be early next week though, I promise!

But, I won’t let some pesky tech issues keep me from showing off our twenty new Hitched designs…nuh uh. In fact, I am going to post them right here, right now over four posts – so get ready y’all ;)

First up, some of my favourites:

LOVE

Click on the photo above to enlarge

STRIPE

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AMPERSAND

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BANNER

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MOROCCO

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Woo – 5 down and 15 go. Watch this space over the next hour for 3 more posts full of Hitched eye-candy just for you!

Workshop Wednesday: Sneak Peek At Our Brand New Hitched by Hip Ink Collection

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ok, so the Invitation Advisor took a break from doling out pithy commentary on invitations and etiquette this week to get our brand new invitation collection, Hitched by Hip Ink, ready for launch on Friday!

And so normally what you’d find on Workshop Wednesday is some photos of one of our custom invitation project – today what you’re going to get is a sneak peek at one of our new Hitched by Hip Ink designs…

I am really excited to finally be able to share this collection – it has been months in the making, through many trials and tribulations, re-designs, throwing out ideas, bringing them back, wanting to give up, feeling elated – what a roller-coaster ride it has been.

But, I’ve kept on because I think there is room out there for some hip, funky modern invitation designs that fit today’s wedding – the kind where anything goes. Casual, backyard affairs to ballroom extravaganzas and everything in between!

On Friday, we’ll have a full launch post, with many more details on the line and a link to our brand new Etsy shop where you can purchase Hitched by Hip Ink.

‘Till then…here’s a look at one of our new designs, Hexagon:

Click on the image for a larger version

Click on the image for a larger version

Click on the image for a larger version

Each invitation design includes a matching RSVP and additional insert card design, and most designs can also be used for other wedding-related paper needs including showers, engagement parties, save the date cards etc. and will be customizable in a wide range of colours to suit your event.

We’ll be adding to the collection over the next few months as well – exciting times ahead!

In order to give each of the new designs a little time in the spotlight, we’ll be upping blog posts to 4x weekly (yes, 4 times!) and shuffling things a bit.

We’ll keep Tips n’ Tricks Tuesday (home of The Invitation Advisor) exactly where it is, as well as Workshop Wednesdays (showcasing recent custom work from the studio), but we’re moving our encore posts to Throwback Thursdays and introducing Feature Fridays, when we’ll be featuring one of our Hitched collection designs weekly.

Really excited to share all this new stuff with you…soon. The countdown is on!

From The Studio: Purple and Yellow New York Wedding Invitations

February 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Happy Workshop Wednesday y’all!

I’ve got lots of eye candy coming up over the next few weeks, but I realized the other day that I hadn’t featured an invite on the blog yet that I just loved working on!

Kathy (also a graphic designer!) emailed me from Miami to let me know she was having a New York themed wedding and searching for the perfect invite for their celebration. She found my original blog post on Kristy & James’ New York invitations (pictured below) and the rest is history. We had such a fun time working out the details of their suite, taking their NYC transportation theme and all-purple colour scheme to the next level!

While generally speaking our custom work is “from scratch”, we do from time to time have couples that fall in love with a certain suite and want to use that as inspiration for their own. In this case we re-used some of the elements from Kristy & James’ invite, as well as the general layout of the main invitation, and combined that with Carlos and Kathy’s more specific theme.

Here’s a reminder of what Kristy & James’ New York themed invites looked like:

Kathy loved the look of the middle invite panel, and wanted a very similar look for her invite as well (and although they loved the tri-fold idea, they were looking for a slightly more traditional panel invitation). Kathy and Carlos’ colours were strictly shades of purple and grey, so the original design called for those colours only.

But, after looking at the finished suite, there was that little *something* missing. While I love the look of modern and monochromatic, it needed a little…BAM! Enter the perfect complement to a beautiful regal purple – a hit of bright sunny yellow. So, we took the colour of the NYC cab (which was used on the back of the RSVP, not pictured) and brought a little bit of that signature pop of yellow into every element in the suite, to bring it all together.

Speaking of bringing it all together, we also added a belly band and address label with a checkboard pattern to complete the look!

One of my favourite parts of the suite was the custom map/timeline I created to continue the subway theme – with subway-sign style markers for the ceremony and reception, and a subway-stop timeline to let guests know about the evening’s activities.

While it certainly wasn’t the most original invite I worked on last year, it was one of my favourites – I just loved the colours, the theme and most of all the couple!

Congratulations Kathy and Carlos!

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