So you're engaged, and you've begun to look for save the dates or wedding invitations. Perhaps you're shocked that invitations cost more than you though they would. Wedding invitations, like all your other wedding vendors and supplies, aren't cheap. Hopefully you feel good knowing that you're supporting a woman-owned small business, but that doesn't necessarily help your wallet. One thing to keep in mind while looking at invitations, is that you can expect to be spending a little under 10% of your wedding budget on your stationery pieces (save the dates, invitations, and day-of items like programs, menus, & place cards).
To help you understand a little bit behind the price tag of those pretty invitations you've got your eye on, here's a bit of an inside look. You're hiring a stationery designer because they know a thing or two about paper. Good, thick paper isn't cheap, especially not that luxe cotton paper you've been dreaming of. Stationery designers also have overhead expenses they need to account for, like their printer, inks, shipping fees from vendors and to their clients, and monthly software fees that let them design your pretty paper goods and run their business smoothly. Lastly, designers need to make sure they're being paid for their time. Think about all the back and forth communication, time putting together your files, time spent working with suppliers, time checking over all the printed pieces, assembly time, and packing time. While there's nothing that you as the client can do about this, there are a few things you can do or ask about in order to cut costs.
Assemble Your Invitations by Hand
Stationers often offer assembly and mailing services for busy couples that don't have the time or patience to stuff, address, seal, and stamp 100+ envelopes. If you do have time and energy to do this on your own, that's a good way to cut costs, and usually your invitation designer won't mind giving you assembly tips if you're a little lost. I always recommend using an envelope sealer or a damp, clean sponge when you're hand assembling your suites because envelope glue tastes bad, dries out your mouth, and it takes forever to lick them all!
Order Your Stamps Online
Forever stamps now cost $0.58 each, which can add up, especially if you forgot to include them in your budgeting. You'll be needing stamps for your save the dates, invitations, thank you cards, and potentially your rsvp envelopes if you want to ensure you'll get them back on time. I'm not a big fan buying stamps from the Post Office because they only have a small collection of current stamps, and they don't offer any sort of bulk pricing. It's so random, but if an American flag fits into your wedding theme, you can buy Forever stamps with American flags on Ebay for about 20% less than face value! They only come in sets of 100, but between your save the dates, invitations, and thank you cards, you might be needing a few hundred stamps! Another option to consider is vintage stamps. Ebay and Etsy both have vintage stamps, and while vintage postage typically costs more than face value, you may be able to find some that are below face value. Just make sure you include the correct amount of postage! I personally love the look of having several themed stamps on an envelope.
Think About Using White Envelopes
Believe it or not, colored envelopes typically cost a lot more than plain white envelopes. If you're okay with having a white envelope, ask your stationery designer if you can get a discount for using white! This doesn't have to mean you'll have a boring invitation suite! If you've been thinking about using a ribbon on your invitations but didn't think you'd have room in your budget, think about using white envelopes so you can upgrade to ribbon wraps!
Have Guests RSVP Online
Not only is this option more environmentally friendly, but it cuts costs for a couple reasons. First off, you're not having to use a stamp on your RSVP envelope, and you're not having to pay for an RSVP envelope! You can still have your RSVP card separate, or you can put the RSVP info on the bottom of your details card. Another option to consider is having a RSVP postcard. You won't need an envelope for it, and postcard stamps are about $0.20 cents cheaper!
Make Sure You're Ordering The Correct Amount
Countless times I've seen brides freak out because "I have 200 guests, so that means 200 save the dates, 200 invitations, and 200 programs! I have to find the cheapest thing possible!" Often times they forget that invitations are mailed by household/couple, so depending on your guest list, 200 guests probably means about 100-140 invitations. This can be higher or lower depending on if you're inviting a bunch of singles or families with children. I recommend organizing your guest list on an Excel spreadsheet (or Google Sheets) with each household as a line (this also makes it easier to address your envelopes when the time comes). You can put a number at the beginning of the line to show how many people are being invited in the party, followed by the official names that will go on the envelope, and then their address. You can also write out any notes to the side such as their kids' names or if their address will change soon. I always ask for your guest count and your invitation/household count, that way you don't accidentally order double!
The bottom line is that if you receive a proposal that's out of your budget, don't be afraid to ask if there's any changes you can make to reach a lower price point. And as always, please don't ghost your vendors! We won't be offended if you've chosen someone else or if we're out of budget. If someone has taken the time to put together a proposal to send you, the polite thing to do is tell them if you're no longer considering them. Happy wedding planning!!