I, like most designers who have dipped their feet into working with brides to make their special day beautiful, get an intense, tap-your-feet-and-grin-like-an-idiot sense of excitement when I imagine someone’s upcoming wedding, and I am always so, so happy when brides reach out to me for custom work. And even when I don’t get the pleasure of working with someone, I’m just happy to help out with a good word of advice. Here’s some food for thought when you’re considering getting custom wedding stationary done for your special occasion.
Your wedding doesn’t begin on the day of the ceremony, it begins with the save-the-dates!
Planning a wedding, much like starting a company, requires that you decide on the tone of voice and the values you want to communicate to your guests. Will guests walk away with a sense of respect for tradition? Memories of an upbeat, spunky occasion? Thoughts of serenity and the beauty of nature? Renewed excitement for ’50s Rock and Roll? May your wedding sing and shout about all that is truly important to you and your loved ones!
When you choose to partner with a designer, you are making sure that all printed materials for their wedding are aligned with the story you are trying to tell. The story begins with save-the-dates and ends with thank you cards mailed after the big day, and can expand to cover a personalized website that takes guests on a journey through your relationship, stylized menu cards, and even customized notes that each guest will walk away with. To make sure you are getting the most out of your relationship with a designer, and to make communication more efficient, spend some time to answer the following questions about your ideal wedding stationary set:
- What is your budget? Decide on this before you talk to a designer so that they can tell you up front about what they can deliver for your price. Consult other brides whose weddings you loved to get an estimate for what a typical budget can cost–prices can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000.
- What sets do you need? Save the dates, invitations, thank you cards, menus, programs, favor cards, bachelor and bachelorette party invites? Some people get just one set, some get all of the above and more. Spend some time thinking about what keepsakes will be important for you to hold in your hands five years down the road–these should be your splurge if you are working with a limited budget.
- Would you like to have a custom illustration of some sort? Illustrations are fun, memorable, and personal, but very time-consuming for the designer, which can strain the budget sometimes. That said, I personally prefer working out some sort of illustration because nothing does a better job of communicating the voice of the occasion!
- Can you space out your order? A typical period for sending save-the-dates, for example, is six to twelve months before the event. Yet I’ve seen some people lose track of time and start thinking about them out only a few months before the actual invitations go out, which forces designers to charge a premium in rush fees. More time is always better for your vendors.
- Do you want to have a personalized website? Some designers work on web projects in addition to stationary, but many don’t, so be sure to find out if the designer you have your eye on is actually able to create a web presence for you.
- Do you already have an idea for what kind of “feel” you’d like your wedding to have? As you can probably guess, the more exploration and options there are on the table, the longer everything takes, and the higher the fee will be. Invest the time up front to explore your personal visual style preferences, and to browse through the designer’s previous work to see if it will be a good match.
- Do you mind working with an online printer? You can sometimes save some money by getting your stationary printed online, but this can be risky since you can’t see proofs and test the feel of the paper yourself. Let your designer know up front which type of printer you would be most comfortable working with.
Once your start thinking through those questions, a designer such as myself can make recommendations for how to fit a budget you have in place. When working out a budget, keep in mind that envelopes, paper, and stamps can get pretty pricy, and won’t be covered in a designer’s fee.
I’ve seen people set up a personalized site for invites, using mostly social media to keep everyone informed, and send out hand-written thank you cards for a few hundred dollars in all, and then other couples who commission fully customized printed stationary sets for several thousand dollars. There are so many different possibilities, and most vendors just want to create beautiful work and give you the best they can for your budget!
Best of luck planning your special day, and may your wedding details tell a wonderful story. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or to chat about working together.