If any of you have a really crappy printer that guzzles ink like it's the end of the world, I'm sure you can relate when I say that ink is insanely expensive and makes me want to rip out my hair. Busting out $30 for a cartridge when I could be spending it on food (or more food) really gets my teeth grinding, which is why I imagine that it's even less fun for couples looking to print their perfect stationery.
It sounds easy enough -- fill in the blank for whatever template you decide to follow, plop it on some snazzy design, and then send your paper and design off to the printers. But wait. What if I want a design with letterpress printing? I definitely want a fold-up perforated card... in the shape of a dragon breathing fire and flying over Westeros. Gold, lavender, gold, lavender, no, BOTH!
As someone absolutely infatuated with creative design, I can tell you that the possibilities are endless with your stationery... and that's what makes it so hard to play by the rules of your budget. I've heard stories of people who wanted to allot $100-$300 max but somehow got roped into paying more than a grand. I'm not here to tell you how much you should or shouldn't spend on printing and stationery, but I want to give a few tips as to how to prevent costs from catapulting all the way to Pluto.
Consult The Printer First
Chances are, you wouldn't take the plunge and buy your wedding dress without trying it on or checking the tag. Same with invitations. People can underestimate costs of paper because, well, it's paper. However, there are so many kinds of paper varying in color, size, and material that costs can add up pretty quickly depending on what you want printed on what type of paper you want.
Some types of paper can't even be printed at commercial printers if they're TOO delicate (I'm looking at you vellum). Or maybe you want some fancy calligraphic font with metallic foil. The costs for that sort of printing are going to be much higher than simple black ink in a simple sans-serif font. I always like to compare differences visually, so let's take a look at each of the following invitation sets:
Both of these invitations and their fellow components are absolutely gorgeous, but it's clear that the minimalist invitation suite is going to cost less per component than the invitations for Luke & Emily. You can probably come to the same conclusion just from a birds-eye view.
Photo by Anna Michelle Cards
However, there are differences in the type of material and printing if you look up close as well. Whereas the minimalist invitation suite is printed on a thick white cardstock with a grid-like texture and flat print, Luke & Emily's invitations are printed on thick cotton Crane Lettra paper with a brushed texture and gold-foil letterpress font and printed by hand. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the price of the design differed between the two in terms of complexity and difficulty.
This is why it's important to talk to printers about your vision for your invitations and expectations. Not only will the printer be able to give you a quote on roughly how much printing will cost (which can help you when comparing prices), but he/she might also be able to give you a few tips about paper and ink selection that will best fit your vision. Because there's almost no worse feeling than buying expensive limited edition pre-cut paper only to be turned away by the printer because he/she cannot print on it.
Leave Your Mark
Maybe you want to throw in a DIY element to your invites with low risk and high reward. If that's the case, consider using a rubber stamp instead of having your invitation suite printed. That way, you can create whatever design you would like, save on printing costs, and make stamping your invites fun fiancee-bonding time! You can find dozens of options for rubber stamps on places like Etsy, or you can consult a stamp business for a custom design.
You can check out the rest of this awesome DIY rubber stamp tutorial here! Proof that you can have stunningly beautiful invitations that look just as good as actual print.
*** Additionally, you can win a hand-carved couple portrait stamp by Stamps From Sachi here! ***
Double-double-check Your Stationery!
This sounds like common sense, but people make mistakes like typos ALL THE TIME. In fact, I would like to begin this with a small anecdote. When I was just a wee lass, I had to design a place mat for a movie-themed cooking competition. My group had decided to do "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and I turned in my design in a rush to get it laminated in time. The next day, when our dishes and place mats were being scored by the judges, imagine my mortification when I realized I mistakenly wrote "crotching" instead of "crouching". My group ended up winning the competition, and I became immortalized as the girl "from down under" for the rest of summer.
Photo by The System
SO, I heartily suggest that you take the time to develop the habit of proof-reading. If I make a typo on an essay, I can white out my mistake or run over to the library to print another copy for cheap. However, if you print all 100+ invitations before checking out everything, it can result in one ghastly and expensive mistake.
Read it over once. Have your fiancee read it. Then have as many people as you need read it to make sure that your wording, placement, and spelling is as flawless as your wedding day. However, checking over your invitations doesn't just apply to grammatical errors.
Make sure that the coloring of your invitation is accurate as well.Sometimes, colors appear differently on a normal computer screen compared to what it will look like on a retina display or in real life, since what we see on the computer is converted to RGB (Red-Green-Blue) values whereas what we see in real life is converted to CMYK (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black) values. Brick-and-mortar printshops will probably have a Pantone color-book (most likely in the Pantone Matching System) that you can consult for whatever color you want and try to convert the PMS value into a CMYK value on a graphics program.
Or if you want to skip all that and use Photoshop/Illustrator, figure out how to convert a Pantone color to a CMYK value just like that here! It might not be the super-exact perfect match, but I can assure you that it'll be pretty damn close.
In an age where tech reigns, it's easy to see the benefits of creating your own wedding website. You can be as creative as you want with it, it's eco-friendly, and is super valuable for consolidating all the information about your wedding in one place so it won't get lost! And trust me on this -- everyone who "misplaces" their mail will gratefully thank you for this.
Photo by Beverly Demafiles Photography
Plenty of companies provide services that allow you to create your own wedding website such as Wedding Wire (a lot of custom templates!), WordPress (you can customize your website if you have some front-end coding skills and they have really useful plug-ins), and mywedding.com (very straight-forward and easy to use). Not only do you cut down printing and paper costs for an information card (because GPS was invented, thank the LORD), but you also won't have to pay for a pre-paid envelope and response card if you choose to go the route of e-RSVP.
Understandably, there are people who like a more traditional and formal approach and might balk at not going with the whole invitation she-bang. Additionally, there might be guests who aren't too familiar working with tech. If that's the case, I'd just say assess who on your guest list is more likely to prefer a physical RSVP card and print a couple to send out to be safe.
A pretty big drain on your budget regarding stationery doesn't actually come from the actual invitations themselves, but from postage. A stamp for a 1 oz. First-Class Mail letter is 49 cents. If you're sending out 200 invitations, you can easily spend up to a $100 just mailing the invites. Depending on how elaborate and heavy your invitations are, costs could rise by 21 cents per ounce.
Photo by Dixie & Pixel
It seems like chump change, but when you realize you're now spending $140 on those 200 invites, you're going to start looking for ways to trim costs. If you can afford to be a little informal, consider making your stationery postcard style! Not only do you reduce paper intake, but postcards cost 34 cents.
Even though printing costs can be of astronomically proportions, remember not to skimp out too much and have fun picking out your invitations! If you want to go super crazy fancy and have that Game of Thrones-themed invitation you've always wanted, go for it! Once again, this guide is just to provide tips for how you would like to approach your printing budget-- everything else is completely up to you.