Working with a Custom Invitation Designer:
Ordering your invitations can be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many elements to consider, important dates and deadlines, and even the verbiage and proper etiquette can be very specific! I decided to ask custom invitation designer Brooke Coxen of Paper & Home some questions about the entire process of ordering invitations.
What should a couple look for when selecting an invitation designer? It’s important that you feel comfortable with your designer, so ask questions and get to know them. If you connect on a personal level, you’ll trust them to bring out your personality in the design. The designer you work with should also be well versed in the current design software, various print methods, and paper options.
How can a couple decide on an invitation design? With custom designed invitations, we sit down with you to discuss your creative ideas, your inspiration, and your individual style. We present several different options based on this criteria, so you have the flexibility to mix and match design elements. Because you’re so involved in the process, it’s easy for you to decide on an invitation design that best reflects your personalities.
When should invitations be ordered? / How early should couples start the invitation process?/ How far in advance do couples need to send out invitations? We suggest you begin working with your invitation designer at least 4 months before the wedding, so that there’s plenty of time to relax and enjoy the process. The timeline will vary depending on the complexity of the designs and print method chosen. On average, the entire invitation design and printing process requires 4 to 6 weeks. We recommend that invitations be mailed 6 to 8 weeks prior to the wedding day. Mark your calendar!
What items need to be ordered (invitation, envelope, response card, thank you card, etc)? What is the absolute minimum that should be ordered for couples on a budget? The main components included with the invitation are a reply card and a pre-stamped reply envelope. If the ceremony and reception are at different locations, couples may choose to include a separate reception card. Additional insert cards that include directions, hotel accommodations, and wedding website information may be included. Often, couples will include a schedule of events card if there are activities surrounding the wedding, such as a welcome dinner or day-after brunch. A popular trend for couples on a budget is ordering the invitation card with a reply postcard—instead of reply card and reply envelope—to save on the envelope pricing and to reduce postage costs. We recommend that thank you notes are also ordered with your invitation set so that the look of your stationery suite is cohesive throughout.
How far in advance should Save the Dates be sent out? We recommend that Save the Dates be mailed 6 to 8 months prior to the wedding day. If planning a destination wedding, you may want to consider mailing them even a few weeks earlier so that guests have advance notice to prepare their travel arrangements.
Is a digital proof included in the costs? If not, what is the fee? / How many changes are typically allowed? Our custom design process always includes a first round of proofs along with up to four additional complimentary rounds of proofs. Should additional proofs be required thereafter, the fee will range from $20-$40 per proof, depending on the complexity of the changes.
How much should be budgeted for postage? Most invitation sets will require the standard first class 1 ounce stamp ($0.45) or 2 ounce stamp ($0.65). If the envelope is oversized, or if there are multiple cards that create bulk, more postage will be required. Postage for the reply envelope ($0.45) or reply postcard ($0.32) will also need to be accounted for.
What are some "hidden costs" or items that are easily forgotten when couples go to order invitations? If you make significant changes to your invitation set during the design process, it is possible that items may be upgraded. Always make sure your designer makes you aware of the costs of these upgrades and gets your approval before your project goes to print.
How long does it take to print invitations after the proof has been approved? Print time will vary depending on the chosen print method, and additional time may be required if there is any special die-cutting or assembly involved—such as pockets, belly bands, and envelope liners. On average, after the proof has been approved, digital printing will require about 2 weeks and letterpress printing will require 3-4 weeks.
What is the proper etiquette for mentioning that they would like an all adult event? The way you’ve addressed your envelopes is the number one signal to your guests about who is invited. If you have addressed the envelopes to only the parents, and have not included “and family,” then it is assumed that children are not invited. You may also consider writing, “adult only reception” on the invitation—however if you’re planning a traditional affair, this is not considered proper etiquette.
When should guests RSVP by? Generally, the reply-by date is 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding day. This really does depend on when your caterer will need you to provide your final head count and food selection. Based on this catering deadline, it’s best to cushion that by a few weeks, as you’ll most likely have a few late responses.
What is the proper etiquette in getting RSVPS from guests that haven't responded yet? If your catering deadline is approaching and it is past your reply-by date, it is appropriate to call those who have not yet responded and ask them if they have received your invitation in the mail.
Do's and Don'ts
DO understand the value of quality paper.
DON’T settle, get what you want!
DO set up a wedding website and include your registry information here.
DON’T include a registry card with your invitation.
DO send thank you notes within a few weeks of your wedding day. Although proper etiquette may recommend within a year, we strongly suggest sending your thank yous no later than 6-8 weeks after your wedding.
Brooke Coxen Paper and Home 702.776.8243