It may only be words on paper, but your wedding invitation is what sets the tone for your celebration. To get you started on putting together your stationery suite, we broke down the basics, from figuring out what you can spend to placing your order.
SET YOUR BUDGET
This initial step simply can’t be skipped: Knowing what you can spend will help keep you focused as you shop. While costs vary widely depending on the printing method, ink, number of enclosures, and quantity ordered, the good news is that stationery should eat up only 2 to 3 percent of your overall budget—a small price for one of the most impactful details of your day.
CHOOSE YOUR DESIGN
A few guests may skip the cake or miss the first dance, but every attendee will open an invitation. Because it’s so visible—and seen early in the wedding time line, your stationery should capture the spirit of the event. Let your venue and palette inform your choices: If you’re getting married on a Hawaiian beach or a waterfront in the Virgin Islands, opt for a colorful, modern suite with a seaside motif. A religious ceremony at a house of worship, on the other hand, calls for the traditional wording of a formal invitation.
PICK YOUR PRINTING PROCESS
The print method you select is integral to your suite design. These are the most common options:
Blocks of metal with raised type are inked and pressed onto paper, leaving deep impressions on the surface. Creative types love this pricey technique for its hand-done, one-of-a-kind effect.
A design is etched onto a copper plate and filled with ink. When a heavy weight pushes paper onto it, crisp, raised type is formed. One of the oldest methods (and often the most expensive), it’s still the gold standard for black-tie affairs.
Raised letters are created by applying ink to paper, dusting it with a resinous powder, then heating the mix. If you want a look similar to engraving at about half the cost, this simpler process is a good choice.
A catch-all term for offset and digital techniques, this inexpensive, informal, and very flexible method produces stationery that’s smooth to the touch, with no raised or recessed type.
Whether you’re working with a stationer to customize your suite or buying pre-designed invitations online, put in your order at least three months before your wedding. This should leave plenty of time for the invites to be printed, assembled, addressed, and slipped into the mail at least four weeks before the big day. Be sure to request physical proofs of your invitations before committing to a larger order. Once you’ve reviewed those and are completely satisfied, buy 10 percent more than you think you’ll need in case your list changes or you damage a few while handling. Any leftover pieces make touching keepsakes, too.