Inside the Wedding Invitation

Posted by Caitlin on Jan 29, 2015


Your wedding invitation acts as a first impression of the celebration to come, and a lot goes into putting together this perfectly pretty piece of snail mail. In our 2015 WinterBook, we break down the invitation suite and bring you everything you need to know, from major etiquette guidelines all the way down to the lovely little trimmings.

52 Invitation Designs We Love

Posted by Caitlin on Dec 03, 2013


Photo: Melissa McCrotty Photography

Get inspired from our invitation photo gallery full of all shapes, sizes, and designs! Remember, it’s your guests’ first peek at your wedding style, so to help you get started here’s a few tips to keep in mind: know your color scheme, choose your wording wisely, make the font legible, check the proof not once but two or three times, order extra envelopes, and do a weigh-in at the post office before you put a stamp on it.

A Real Wedding on a Budget: Tips From the Bride

Posted by csancho on Oct 28, 2013

When Bride Stephanie Fenn got engaged, the budget for the wedding immediately reared its ugly head as problematic. So, with careful planning and the cooperation of her family, she began to navigate ways in which to get the wedding of her dreams to cost under $5,000.

First stop: The Dress

I made a couple appointments with different dress shops, one being David’s Bridal, and the another was a shop called Ann’s Classic Affairs. We went to Ann’s Classic Affairs first because it came recommended from a friend, who said it had a large selection of affordable and modest gowns – having a sleeve and higher neckline was something I was specifically looking for.  I went in doubtful I was going to find anything in my price range, but when we told the owner what we were looking for and what we could afford she walked us over to her clearance dresses. At first I was like…’you could of just laughed and told us to leave,’  but then she went over their prices on alterations and how they could make our budget work (under $1000).  

I tried on four dresses and ended up back in the very first dress I tried on. It was a size 14 -and I was a 4- so to get me in they had to use the big clamps. They assured me that they could get it to my size and that it would be flawless. So we bought it, scheduled my fittings, and got a gorgeous ballroom gown with beaded and lace detail that made me feel like a princess It was truly perfect for my storybook theme and landed us well under our budget of $1000.  The dress itself was $500 and cost roughly $300 for all the alterations. This gave me room to purchase jewelry, a head piece, and two garters-one to throw and one to keep. I guess I can’t say I am a relatable example for the bride that tries on every gown in ten different dress shops, but I would just say that if you got a tight budget, don’t be afraid to dive into the clearance racks!

The moral: If you have a tight budget look into clearance dresses and try shopping in non-“name brand” stores. If you do pick out a dress that doesn’t quite fit without alterations, then you want to make sure to pay attention to the cost and reputation of the stores alterations. Another solution would be to try renting a dress. This, of course, is a solution that would only work for brides that don’t wish to keep their dress.

If there is a will, there is a way!

I thought about making my own wedding invitations – it was what both of my older sisters did for their weddings- and I knew that a DIY invitation with a wedding invitation kit could be just as beautiful as any printed from an invitation company, but I just didn’t want to. Perhaps it was a bridezilla moment, but I had an invitation in mind and I didn’t have a clue, or ,as a full time student, the time to make them. So, after finding the ONE on Invitations by Dawn, I approached my parents with the $500 cost. Their reaction was predictable-‘that’s fine, but remember that means we can’t buy….”. So, I came up a solution: A Wedding Garage Sale! I put out a post on Facebook requesting donations from family and friends and asked to take any clothes, books, technology, or furniture off their hands. About a month later on a Saturday we held our sale. Most items were under $5, some even under a $1, but it turns out that a sign saying ‘help us pay for our wedding’ and some cheerful negotiating inspired people to buy and then buy more. We made about $650 in one morning. This not only allowed me to get the invitations I wanted, but it added $150 to our budget. 

The moral: If you are on a low budget, get creative and generate extra funds! A garage sale, like Stephanie’s, could generate anywhere from $400-$800 if done right. It isn’t asking for handouts. You will be doing the work, and earning the right to be picky about the invitations you order. Other creative ways to earn extra wedding cash would be a bake sale or a car wash. Just try to figure out a service you can offer, and fill it!

Cutting Corners

One thing that really helped me save money was borrowing from brides that preceded me.

Pinterest Inspiration

I got all of my white round table clothes from a girl who had her wedding the weekend before mine and whose mother just so happened to be best friends with my new mother-in-law. The trade was that we would help them set up and take down their wedding reception decor. Then, because I didn’t want to have just plain white table clothes, I got inspired by a image I found on Pinterest that had two squares of colored cloth that formed the extra color and design I wanted. 

I wasn’t going to be able to afford buying square table cloths in the varied sizes, so I went with my parents to a material store and picked out cloth in my colors.  I gave the picture example, the dimensions of the table, the material, and thread to my dad and told him not to mess it up (he is the one that sows in my family). The tables turned out EXACTLY how I wanted and cost us about $80 for all 10 tables.  

The moral: Don’t forget to ask around. Brides should have each other’s backs, and if you know a bride that was married recently, don’t be afraid to ask where she got her materials for decor, and even, if you could use some of it. A wedding is one of those things that you don’t want to go trying to reinvent the wheel on. Get advice, ask around, and learn from other brides!

Top 3 Wedding Invitation Don’ts

Posted by csancho on Oct 21, 2013

Brides with low budgets or with a shorter timelines between the engagement and the big happy day may choose to forgo sending out wedding announcements or save-the-dates. This may indeed be the best choice, but what it does is it puts the wedding invitation into a limbo of save-the-date invitation hodgepodge So in order to help navigate this limbo, let’s highlight the number one things a wedding invitation is most definitely not.

Number one: A wedding invitation is not a yearbook.

I can't say that these pictures are not adorable, but would this be one to many or do you think it works?

While your guests may love you dearly, they don’t need an entire photo collage to see how lovey-dovey cute you are. There isn’t a problem with having photos on your invitation (especially for our DIY brides), but how about we avoid a collage kin to the one dedicated prom in your high school yearbook? Try, instead, to limit yourself to three photos. Two for the ones you can’t decide between and one for your groom to pick.

Number two: A wedding invitation is not a Bride’s modeling portfolio.

Sometimes when selecting a photo to go with your invitation, there is a tendency to focus only on the bride. Sure, it may be true that the bride is often the one who cares the most about how they look, not groom is going to appreciate it if he looks like a goof in a photo that will be distributed to everyone he cares for most. So when selecting a photo choose it based on what photo is best of both of you and shows how beautiful you are as a couple

Number three: A wedding invitation is not a college party flyer.

Do you think this wedding invitation is sassy and classy? Or does it fall short?

Unless your wedding theme specifically calls for it, thought bubbles, underlined texts, arrows, squiggly fonts, and abbreviated text, just do not belong on a wedding invitation. A wedding is not the kind of event that you want to tag B.Y.O.B at the bottom of your invite. Also, and possibly more importantly, a wedding invitation cannot survive on regular printer paper. It doesn’t matter how colorful it is, unless it is card-stock or something nicer, your wedding invitation will fall in league with advertisements for costumes at the temporary Halloween shop or discounts on car insurance.

I am sure there are some cases where these no-no’s may work, but they are a definite danger zone.

Before you bolt out the door, there are just a few caveats on how to shop like a pro. Read on and find out the 3w’s of wedding invitation ordering: who, when, and where. Also get  a handy guide on Who’s, Who including who you should not miss, as well as which vendors said adios.

How to shop like a pro.

Be prepared. First, go on Excel and make a master list of your guests. How many guests translates (count couples and solo folks) into how many total invitations?

Please order  10% extra. This is a general rule of thumb. You do not want to go back and order a minimum. Generally, the price will be higher per piece.

Who’s the best?

The best wedding invitation album vendors of 2013?  These rank top because of consistent quality of product, exemplary service, on time delivery and they are an established brand with a presence in the marketplace.

You do not want to miss: Crane & Co., William Arthur, Checkerboard, Kleinfeld Paper, Smock and Vera Wang in the Haute Couture, higher-end price group. You can lower the price of the invitation with help from a knowledgable sales person at a stationery store by eliminating hand work, and selecting thermography versus engraving.

If your wedding ceremony and reception are at the same place, then you do not need both pieces. On the wedding invitation print,”Afterwards at the reception”.

Timeless luminaries in the mid-range? Carlston Craft, and Embossed Graphics. This budget range is really the mid-range. There is no cheap wedding invitation out there.  If it is really cheap, ask yourself, “What did they cut back on to lower the price?” Can you live with that?

Where and When? (see below video of The Lettermen for musical accompaniment)

The best time to order is as soon as you have your guest list.

I would try to order the save-the-dates at the same time as your wedding invitation. You have so many must-do’s for the wedding that you want to check these two off as soon as possible. Also, pencil in the wedding program to start at least 6 weeks before the wedding.

When to send the Invitations?

Save-the-dates goes in the mail soon after your engagement, even if it is a year in advance.

Your wedding invitations should be sent 4 weeks in advance.

To send out the invitations six weeks in advance presents problems: invitations get misplaced, memories fade, calendars do not get a glance and guest just plum forget about the event.

Ten years ago, brides sent out invitations six weeks in advance, if their wedding was on a major holiday, so their guests could make travel and accommodation reservations in advance. Ten years ago, there were no save-the-date cards. Gasp!

Where to order?

Since your friends are getting married, you probably already know about the best place in town to order your wedding invitations.

An established stationery store, who carries Crane, Checkerboard and Carlston Craft albums have the experienced staff to assist you with your order. You will sit down with a professional, who will give you advice on what items you need; the design, paper, color; correct wording, proper etiquette, scheduling, proofing and addressing. Chances are they could become your new best friend.

Who’s Gone?

Several of the top wedding invitation companies are no longer in business. With consolidations, owners retiring and the economy, we saw beloved firms such as Encore Studios wave goodbye.

This summer, Lallie, who commanded the attention of billionaires as well as the girl next door in their thirty-eight years, closed its doors. It was the top-of-the-top custom designer and had a signature look all its own.

They both will be missed for their unique contributions; however, we have a myriad of firms that are sure to make a bride smile with pride as she sends the wedding invitations in the mail.