If I had a dime for every time a client apologized for being unfamiliar with the invitation ordering process, I'd have a month's supply of grande coffees at Starbucks. The process can be overwhelming, having to choose from print methods you know nothing about, papers, ink colors, and knowing when you're supposed to do what. You're not expected to know everything, or even a lot about the process- that's your stationer's job. However, it helps to have a little know-how, so here are a few tips to get you started:
- When should you order your invitations? Standard mailing time is eight weeks ahead of your wedding date, and you should give your guests four weeks to respond. Start the process about four months before your wedding; this allows 4-6 weeks to produce the invitations, plus 2-3 weeks for calligraphy. Custom orders may require a little more time; it's wise to start that process 5-6 months in advance of your wedding date. Sometimes time slips through your fingers, so if you are running behind this schedule, it's worth asking if there's enough time to get your invitations produced. Miracles have happened here!
- What is the difference in printing methods? Little Miss Press primarily employs letterpress printing, which results in the text and images being pressed into thick cotton paper (l.o.v.e.). For some projects, or parts of letterpress projects (ie, belly bands), offset printing may be used. This is a flat printing method, and prints one color at a time. Like letterpress, the more colors you have, the higher the cost. Digital printing is inexpensive and also flat, and prints all colors at once, but is not as high quality of a print. This method is useful when printing a multi-color envelope liner or a post-card save-the-date. Foil stamping is great when you want to have a shiny, reflective silver or gold effect, which is not achievable with any other method (metallics, printed via letterpress, are dull). If you want a beautiful raised effect, try engraving. Both foil stamping and engraving are higher on the cost scale, but well worth it. They also allow for light colored inks on dark paper. Talk to your stationer to determine which printing method is best for your budget and design.
- Where to splurge and where to hold back? You can opt for a one color invitation to save money (vs. two or more colors) and have it look magnificent; sometimes the design, if simple, will even look better with just one color. If you want a two color invitation and aren't sure which pieces should have two colors over one color, look to the RSVP card last; it comes right back to you anyway! Try not to skimp on your envelopes though; they are a crucial part to the presentation of your beautiful invitation. I always recommend an envelope liner, but if your budget doesn't allow for it, consider a colored envelope to beef things up. Or, ask if you can buy the liners and adhere them yourself. And by all means, do not use address labels; if a calligrapher is out of your budget, talk to your stationer about other options. Little Miss Press, in addition to calligraphy, offers digital printing of envelopes. If your handwriting is good, find yourself a nice pen and give yourself a few days to address them.
- How many invitations should you order? You'll probably need to order invitations in increments of 25. Order at least ten extra; you may decide to add to your guest list, and sometimes invitations get lost in the mail and you'll need to resend one or two. Don't forget that you'll want to keep one for yourself!
- Should you order extra envelopes? Yes! Double check with your calligrapher on how many extra to order for him or her, but a general rule is to order 15% extra. He or she will make errors, and so will you when providing your guest addresses. Changes are almost inevitable and ordering more after your initial order will cost you a pretty penny. You will NOT need to order additional envelopes with Little Miss Press, as they will automatically be included.
- Not sure what the proper wording is for your invitations? Talk to your stationer instead of tormenting yourself on nailing down the etiquette- this will save you loads of time. Little Miss Press can develop the wording for you based on your event details and family situation (ie, separated parents) at no extra charge.
- How should you address your envelopes? Attention to detail here will mean a lot to your guests; it can appear thoughtless if the invitation arrives with the guest names incorrectly addressed. This is an excellent resource from Crane: http://www.crane.com/etiquette/wedding/
This is the tip of the invitation-advice iceberg, but it's a good start. Again, your stationer should have the right answers to your questions and be willing to provide them; if it doesn't or isn't, continue on with your search for a stationer.
Feel free to leave a comment below with any additional questions; The Little Miss is here to help!