Thursday Throwback: How to Save Money on Wedding Programs, Menus and Placecards (and more!)

May 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

In last weeks Thursday Throwback post on how to save money on custom invitations I promised this week I would repost the follow-up on how to save money on your day-of wedding ceremony and reception stationery (something that is discussed much less often).

So, without further ado…

Many couples are so focused on their wedding invitations, they forget that their stationery budget also must include any day-of stationery or accessories required – that could be (but not limited to) programs, menus, table signs, placecards, escort cards, seating chart, general signage etc. So, repeat after me, the first rule for getting the most value for your wedding day stationery is: don’t forget to budget for it.

Notice I said, the most value – while I enjoy the sensationalism of the words “save money” in the title of this post, what I really mean is how to get the most value. It’s not always about strictly saving money, but rather getting the most for the dollars you spend.

Again, the caveat here is that I am talking about working with a designer/stationer, although many of these tips can be applied to DIYers as well. Here’s a tip specifically for those of you who are planning on doing it yourself though…DON’T.

Yes, I hear you thinking it…”here she goes again”. In this case, it’s not about the quality of what you can produce, the material costs involved, matching your day-of stationery to your invites etc. It is strictly about the “cost” *to you* of trying to produce your own day-of stationery. Remember that in most cases the information you need (menu choices, seating plan, number of guests) is not set until 2-3 weeks before your wedding. Which means that all of these are basically being produced “last-minute”. Think you may have some other rather important things going on 2-3 weeks before your wedding? Absolutely.

I can’t tell you the number of stories I hear about brides staying up ’till all hours the night before their wedding working on their wedding programs or place cards etc. In fact, I was that crazy bride too…up till 4am tying beads on to the bottom of ribbon keeping our programs together. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if I had it to do over, I would NEVER attempt to do it myself. I spent way too much of my time (and still quite a bit of money as well) dealing with something that would have been better left to a pro.

But, I digress (as usual!). So, let’s get to the juicy bit, shall we? Here’s my tips on getting the most out of your day-of wedding stationery budget:

Hire a designer/stationer
Not only because of my DIY rant above, but because a good stationery designer can help you to figure out exactly what you need, what will work best for your event, and how to fit all of those items into your overall budget. A designer/stationer’s assistance with these items can actually mean the difference between staying within budget and blowing the budget completely.

Order everything at once
If you think you have a good idea of exactly what you’re going to need and how many, order your day-of stationery (and thank yous, don’t forget the thank yous!) with your invitations. Some stationers and designers may offer a discount for orders over a certain amount, or may be more willing to negotiate a discount if you can commit to ordering your additional stationery at the same time. A word of warning though – this does not apply to every stationer. There are many out there (including Hip Ink) that do not discount at all, so don’t *expect* to get a discount just because you are willing to order up-front (but it certainly never hurts to ask)!

Choose the right items
Make sure you are choosing the right items for your needs. For example, make sure you consider exactly how much information will be going into your ceremony program. If you have a small amount of information, a one-page program will be just fine; but, if you order a one-page program and expect to fit in a tome approximate in length to the Declaration of Independence, well…that’s gonna cost you. Having to upgrade later will likely incur greater costs than if you are realistic at the beginning of the process about exactly what you need. What about seating? If your guests will be seated at large tables and will be able to choose their own seat, you’ll need escort cards (which indicate a table number) rather than place cards (which are inscribed with the guests names and are placed at their specific seat). What’s the difference? Escort cards are per couple/family, which place cards are per guest, meaning you’ll need at least twice as many (and pay twice as much unnecessarily if you order incorrectly).

Don’t over do it
Along the same lines – not every ceremony or reception items needs to be ordered on a per-guest basis. Ceremony programs are almost always wasted when ordering one per guest. Why? Couples or families tend to share their programs as they sit and wait for the ceremony to begin. Having enough programs for each and every guest will almost always lead to a large number of leftovers – a huge waste (of paper *and* money). Menus are a similar situation – while many couples choose to have 1 or 2 menus on their tables, there is a growing trend towards menus at each place setting. While this can be lovely (especially if they are personalized), it can also be a bit over the top (even in appearance, depending on the tablescape). Consider doing one menu for every other place setting and you can cut your costs in half.

Do double-duty
Another way to get more value from your wedding day stationery is to have pieces that are multi-use. What about combining your menus and table numbers/signs on a tented or three-sided card? Or doing personalized menus or favours at each place setting (removing the need for placecards)? Being creative about pieces that can pull double-duty will allow you to stretch your day-of stationery budget, and possibly upgrade the quality of the fewer items you choose.

Keep it simple
Wedding invitations are a standalone, stand-out item that give your guests a glimpse into your big day – with big impact. Day-of stationery is just part of the overall look and feel of your wedding, so don’t feel that you need to have complicated, layered, embellished day-of stationery if it isn’t within your budget. There are many ways to creating striking and beautiful items that will fit in to your overall decor and theme, using a more design-based approach. Again, you’ll want to match your day-of stationery to the formality and tone of your event, but that doesn’t necessarily mean breaking out the ribbon, crystals etc. Well designed items on lovely, thick cardstock can go a long way (and stretch your budget a long way as well).

And now, as wedding season is now in full-swing, a big shout out to all of you getting married this summer and fall (especially our Hip Ink brides and grooms!). Congrats!

Friday Rewind: What Are Your Invitations Saying About Your Wedding?

February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment


Happy Friday all – as a follow up to last week’s re-post of our video blog, I wanted to feature this post from last year, which addresses some of the same issues. Enjoy!

Before we begin – allow me to say the following, lest anyone misunderstand what I’m getting at here: There is no shame in having a modest budget for your wedding. None. This post isn’t about convincing you that you need to spend more – it is about convincing you that you need to allocate your budget to stationery accordingly, to avoid confusing your guests. I may be unpopular for putting this in print, but it doesn’t make it less true.

So, you’ve all probably heard it before…your invitation is the first impression your guests will have of your wedding. Stationers, designers, wedding planners – we throw that out there all the time, but what does it really mean?

Straight up? What it means is that your guests will make assumptions, come to conclusions, and judge your wedding based on the invitations you send out . It will affect the decisions they make – how to dress, what kind of gift to give, and sometimes whether or not to actually attend. I’d love to tell you that everyone is just so thrilled for you that your invitations don’t matter – but it just isn’t true.

Before everyone gets all defensive – be honest, and admit to yourself that you’ve been there. Everyone has done it, because it’s human nature – you receive an invitation and you automatically make assumptions about the kind of event it is going to be, about how much fun you think you are going to have, and sometimes about whether or not you really even want to go. If your invitation is inexpensive, the impression your guests will receive is that your wedding will be modest. Send out an expensive invitation and you set the expectation of an all-out event. If your invitation is casual, guests won’t be expecting a reception in a ballroom – and conversely, a formal invitation would be out-of-place for a barn reception. A fun, colourful invite suggests a party-type atmosphere, while a subdued monochromatic invite suggests a more serene and reserved affair. I could go on, but I won’t (for once).

First, the overall quality (which in most cases means price) of your invites – think about the message you are sending to your guests. I’ve said before that you should budget according to how important stationery is to you; however, the caveat is that if you are having a full-on formal wedding, but send out print-your-own invites from Big Box Craft-o-rama, it creates a disconnect between your guests expectations and your event. That’s just one example, but the lesson here is that you need to match the overall budget for your stationery to the overall budget of your wedding to some degree, or else risk your guests having lowered expectations about the type of event you are hosting, and having issues with everything from dress code to rsvps. The opposite is true – you may feel that stationery is a very important part of your wedding, but be having a more modest affair – make sure that your invitations don’t make promises that your event can’t live up to.

Next up, the tone or feeling of your invitations. Seems pretty straightforward: simple event=simple invitation, casual event=casual invitation, off-beat event=off-beat invitation, formal event=formal invitation etc. As obvious as it seems, I’ve definitely received invitations that, in hindsight, did not match the event itself. Remember that the invitation is sent out to your guests not only for you to request the pleasure of their company, but also to inform them – providing them with an invite that doesn’t match the style or tone of your event is just as bad as giving them the wrong address or the wrong date – it makes your guests uncomfortable on your wedding day. How would you feel if you received a very casual invitation to a wedding? You would likely assume it was a simple affair – you’d probably plan on wearing a less formal outfit. Would you feel really uncomfortable if you showed up in a sundress and everyone else was wearing a ballgown? It’s an extreme example, but it is the sort of thing that absolutely can happen.

Now, on to a very touchy subject…DIY. Yes, I know DIY is all the rage, and you know that I love my DIYers, but…what does a do-it-yourself invitation say about your wedding? If it’s well executed, it says that you care enough to do something personal to invite your guests, to share a part of you with them, to have a hand (literally) in creating their invitation. If it’s poorly executed…well…it says you’re cheap. I wish there was a kindler, gentler way to put it, but unfortunately, there really isn’t.

Don’t believe me? If you cooked your own wedding meal and it was terrible, would your guests think you were trying to personalize the experience for them, or just trying to save money on catering? If you decided to strictly play music from your 13-year-old cousin’s iPod at your reception and it was nothing but gangsta rap, would your guests think you were trying to be cutting edge, or you were trying to save money on a DJ? If you made your own wedding dress and it was falling apart as you walked down the aisle, would your guests think that you were trying to be unique, or that you were trying to save money on your attire? Exactly – so you see where I’m going here. DIY can be great – if you can make it look like you either know what you’re doing, or you didn’t do it yourself. Lookin’ handmade = personal, lookin’ homemade = cheap.

Here’s my best tip: When you are thinking about invitations – whether purchasing from a stationery store, a custom designer or creating your own, imagine what you want your guest to feel and think when they open that envelope. Write it down. Then put your invitation to the test – send it to yourself, put yourself in your guests’ shoes and write down your initial reactions, feelings, assumptions etc. Do they match what you originally wrote down? Then you’re golden. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your choice.

It’s not strictly about how much you spend – it’s about making sure you choose an invitation that is a true reflection of your big day. A well-chosen invitation is always bound to make the right impression.

Invitation Advisor: DIYP – Do It Yourself Plagiarsm

January 17, 2012 § 3 Comments

by FatesDarkHand via

Where do you draw the line between being inspired and flat-out stealing? Is there one when it comes to something that’s for “personal use”? What about when you publicize your derivative work and claim it as your own?

As an invitation designer, I’m constantly thinking in these terms when it comes to my industry, my colleagues etc. As the world gets smaller thanks to the internet etc., it gets more and more difficult to find unique inspiration, to come up with a design that hasn’t been done or seen a million times, and one that isn’t too derivative of someone else’s work (whether intentionally or not).

20 years ago, any designs I may have created as a custom designer would have probably seemed very unique to most couples who saw them (they would all be local of course, and all they would have for comparison would be the local stores carrying album invitations). These days, one of my potential clients can jump on the internet anytime and have access to literally thousands of designs from hundreds of designers all around the world. Yes, my job has gotten a lot tougher, even in the almost 6 years since I started Hip Ink.

I could probably write blog post after blog post about my views on where to draw the line when it comes to plagiarism in the design world (but to be honest, even I’m a bit of a fence sitter about exactly where that line is), but today I wanted to talk about something very specific that even I will admit is a grey area: DIY (Do It Yourself) couples and derivative invitation design.

Here’s what I am sure is a very common scenario:

Dick and Jane are looking for invitations, and come across a design they love. The only problem – it costs twice what they have budgeted. No worries, they think, we can do it ourselves for half the cost. And so they set about to copy the design they saw, so they can fit it into their budget. They buy similar papers, copy the design (but change the pertinent info, of course), put everything together and send them out to their guests (then wait for the compliments to roll in).

Is it plagiarism? Absolutely. But how bad is it, really?

The facts are pretty clear – designers are having DIY couples copying their work for their own use. It’s not really a question of whether it IS or ISN’T plagiarism (it totally is), but more a question of morality, of right and wrong. Is it right, is it okay for a couple to do this and feel that it’s “not hurting anyone” – after all, they weren’t going to buy the invitations anyway because they were out of budget? Is it okay for it to be similar, but not a copy? Is it okay for them to use the exact same wording, fonts, layouts, paper and material? Is it right for them to pay for a sample and then reverse-engineer it to be as close as possible to the original (happens all the time, believe it or not)?

It’s the moral line that’s tough to draw clearly. From a couple’s point of view, they are simply “borrowing” the design for personal use – they aren’t making money off it, they aren’t producing it in huge quantities, so it isn’t “costing” the designer anything. I really believe that most of the general public would feel this way about copying a design – probably wouldn’t think twice. After all, many of the current generation of couples getting married are the same ones who likely don’t feel that downloading music or moves illegally is a big deal either.

But from a designer’s point of view, there is so much that goes into an invitation design – hours of working with layouts, graphics, choosing the perfect fonts, sourcing exactly the right papers etc. To have someone profit off your hard work is upsetting, for sure – I’m sure no one would argue that. But as much as we’re told we should be “flattered” by someone imitating our designs for their own use, it’s very hard to feel that way when you see it as someone taking advantage of your hard work…especially in a case where they’ve done so because they can’t be bothered to pay you what it’s worth.

Admittedly, it’s not really a black and white issue, and for once (and maybe the only time on this blog!) I’m not even going to get up on my soapbox, because I realize that there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue, and even I’m not sure exactly where I stand. I know how I feel emotionally (it never feels good to feel like you’ve been taken advantage of), but logically, well, it’s a bit more difficult.

Here’s a new twist on this issue though, that hadn’t really even occurred to me until it happened to a colleague:

With the huge popularity of wedding blogs now, and the explosion of press of “real weddings” along with the trend towards DIY, there are many examples out there of DIY invitations – documented on blogs, in magazines etc. And the credit is always the same, “invitations and stationery by the bride” or “by the couple”, or sometimes attributed to a friend etc.

But what if that design is a complete copy of a design that’s already out there? That exact situation happened recently to a designer I know, and it was very difficult for her to see what was basically her hard work go not only uncredited (that’s a blog post for another time, believe me), but be attributed to the bride.

Yes, I get it – the bride *made* the invitations. But she didn’t design them, it wasn’t her concept, it was a paint-by-numbers replica of someone else’s work.

Is it cool to not only copy something, but then take credit for it publicly? No, in my world it definitely isn’t. In my opinion, that’s crossing the line.

The question is: whose job is it to ensure that it doesn’t happen? The bride (who doesn’t feel like she’s done anything wrong, I’m sure)? The blogger (who probably doesn’t need the extra workload, but at the same time should be responsible for making sure things are credited correctly)? The designer (who is now spending time looking for people ripping them off instead of working on exciting new designs)?

What’s the right thing to do? Credit the couple for their work in putting everything together, but credit where the inspiration came from as well? Is that even feasible? Does it create a slippery slope effect where suddenly everyone will be clamoring for credit on DIY weddings where their project/work/idea/design was the inspiration?

I know for a fact that in other disciplines in the wedding world – things like florals, cakes etc. – there is a much more lax sense of what is considered stealing someone else’s idea (ie. there is a lot of copying going on any many vendors don’t even see an issue with it).

This is one of those issues where I have a lot more questions than answers, so I’d love to hear your take – designers, wedding vendors, bloggers, brides and grooms – leave your opinions in the comments!



Day 16, 2011: Invitation Printing Methods – At-Home, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Printing

December 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Although we have been talking about invitation printing methods all week on The Invitation Blog, I have a sneaking suspicion that today’s post will get the most views. Why? Because we’re talking DIY (Do-It-Yourself) printing at home.

I know there are many DIY brides out there, and one of the number one topics that I get questions on, hear horror stories about or have just seen done poorly is printing. I frequently get phone calls and emails from brides asking if we offer printing services, as their attempted DIY isn’t going as planned when it comes to printing.

So, the format of today’s post will be a little different, as I really want to provide some good insight into why you may want to avoid PIY (Print-It-Yourself), and some tips on how to make it work if you do choose to take it on!

First up,

Why you should try to avoid printing at home entirely:

Yes, that’s what I’m recommending. Really. Will you all take my advice? Unlikely, but just remember I warned you *wags finger* ’cause it’s for your own good.

Why would I say such a thing…let me count the ways. But seriously, here’s the main reason: in most cases, your printer was not made to do what you are asking it to do. Consumer printers are made to do one of two things: print 8.5×11 sheets or print 4×6 photos. That’s what they are good at, because that is 99% of what they are used for. They are (generally) not good at printing small sizes – eg. the kind you get from those inexpensive invitation kits – or printing on heavy or coated papers, like cardstock and vellum. They will in many cases chew up that pretty paper and spit it out, totally unusable. Not fun. Or, you may end up with a paper jam that could completely ruin your printer (happened to me once), and I’m guessing a new printer wasn’t in your budget when you considered how inexpensive DIY would be. Or, you may have the wrong kind of printer for the kind of paper you’ve chosen (more on that later). And envelopes? Don’t even go there.

Yes, you will read about many brides who successfully print their own invitations and think it must be sooooo easy – my experience and the number of brides who call me for help tells me otherwise. You may have a fantastic experience. Then again, it may be a disaster that costs you time and money you don’t have.

But, if you insist, let me at least make it easier on you…

If you must print at home, consider this:

For the love of a unicorn’s sparkly rainbow flatulence, PLEASE make sure that you do lots of testing before you jump into printing everything on your own. I have to stress that this is the only thing that will save your sanity and help you avoid making a mistake that will ’cause unnecessary heart palpitations.

Test, test, test again…and then test some more. Make sure you are 100% happy with the output you are getting before you start printing like mad (and that means print, cut, assemble and mail to yourself to make sure there are no issues). Make sure that your printer will accept the size of card that you are trying to print on (many, many printers will not print a pre-cut standard rsvp – 4bar – size), and is happy printing on the type of stock you’ve chosen – both in feeding the paper, as well as the quality of print (is it fuzzy, will it rub off or smear, etc.).

And before you begin, make sure that you have a plan – do you have extra ink/toner on hand, do you know how to clear a paper jam, will you need to feed each piece of paper by hand etc.

Laser vs inkjet printers:

First, it’s important to know what kind of printer you have. Unsure? Does it take small ink (liquid-based) cartridges or large toner (powder-based) cartridges? Small cartridges will be an inkjet printer, and large will be a laser printer, in most cases.

Why is it so important to know? The way the two types of printers work is totally different, and it can have a big affect on the quality of your finished output.

An inkjet printer works by spraying microscopic droplets of coloured ink on the paper (some photo inkjet printers may have up to 8-10 different ink cartridges), and those coloured dots can reporduce millions of colours (to the naked eye) to make up the final image. Inkjet printers are especially good if you are printing photos, or anything with a gradient where shading goes smoothly from one colour into the next.

Inkjet printers are great at printing on matte (uncoated) papers, as the paper absorbs the ink; however, unless sprayed with a fixative, the ink can run, and it’s definitely not recommended for printing envelopes that may be subjected to inclement weather. An inkjet printer would not be recommended for printing on metallic or coated papers, as the ink tends to sit on top of the metallic coating and the print will appear fuzzy or prone to smearing. There are some specialty metallic cardstock, vellums and acrylics that are made specific for inkjet printers, so you can also look for those when purchasing papers.

A laser printer works by adhering powdered toner to the paper and then fusing it with heat – colour reproduction is generally not as good as an inkjet printer, and not recommended for photos. However, laser printers do produce very sharp graphics and type, so most styles of invitations would print well on a laser printer.

Laser printers do well on both matte and metallic papers; however, textured papers (linen, felt etc.) can cause issues as the toner sits on the uppermost surface of the paper and does not get into the small spaces as ink would. Laser printers can, in many cases, be more flexible in the types of papers and materials that they will print, but it is still important to test the specific papers that you are looking to use. One downfall of laser printers, as they are primarily still considered office printers, is they often do not print well on smaller cut sheets. As well, be aware that some paper may curl significantly due to the heat required for laser printer function – be prepared with something heavy to weight it down and flatten it out.

More tips:

So, if you’re going to take the plunge, here are some tips.

Test, test, test
First, make sure you test, a lot (oh, did I already mention that?). It’s important to be sure of what you are going to get. Make sure you test not only one sheet at a time, but multiple sheets, to see if you have any feeding issues, alignment problems etc.

Read the manual
No really. You may find lots of good insight in there on how settings you didn’t know you had, to control paper size, colour, paper feed and any number of other interesting things. Also, it will probably tell you how to clear a paper jam – very useful information in this situation.

Make sure your file is the correct resolution
SO important. You need to know that screen resolution is different than print resolution – that’s why when you print something from the internet it looks fuzzy and pixelated. If your print is not clear, this may be the culprit, especially if you are trying to use graphics from the internet (that’s a no-no). As well, be prepared for the fact that the colours you see on screen will not necessarily be the same as what your printer actually outputs.

Print full sheets then cut down
I highly recommend printing everything on 8.5″x11″ stock (standard letter size in North America). Every printer is made to print this size, so you will have less issues with paper feeding and jaming. You can fit (as an example) two 5″x7″ invitations or four 3.5″x5″ rsvp cards on a standard sheet of paper, and then cut them down after printing. This is also important if you have a design with a “bleed”, meaning that it goes off the edge of the paper. Most printers will not print to the edge of a sheet, so it will be necessary to print on a larger sheet and then manually cut to size.

Print envelopes with flap open
If you decide to print envelopes (bless you for trying), always print them with the flap open – this will cause far fewer jamming issues and headaches.

Avoid double-sided printing if possible
Double-sided printing can be tricky, especially on a laser printer. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out which way to feed the printed pieces in for the correct orientation, and both types of printers can cause issues: inkjet printers can, especially on thinner stock, have too much “show-through”, while the second pass through the laser printer can sometimes pull toner of the first side. Unless you have a printer that duplexes (prints both sides at once), try to avoid having anything that needs to be printed front and back.

Avoid anything that requires very precise alignment
Try to make sure that your design does not require precise alignment for any reason. Printers can often feed with varying alignment (ie. space around your image), and cardstock can exacerbate this issue as well. As an example, it’s possible that you may have to cut each sheet manually, rather than with a stack cutter, because the alignment may not be perfect. Avoid anything that is very close to the edge, especially borders, as it can be extremely difficult to have these look even.

Be patient
Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to printing invitations. It’s very likely that you will have to baby-sit your printer and check each sheet as it comes out, or feed each sheet manually etc. Be prepared for this – this is a time consuming process, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise 😉

Okay, you’ve convinced me. But where do I get my invites printed?

Ahhh…a very good question, grasshopper. There are a few things you can do, and yes, they will all involve an additional cost; however, think of what you’ll be saving in ink costs as well as your time!

First, check for a local print shop – best resource as they are used to printing all sorts of things, but be warned that if you are printing a small number, there is usually a minimum fee for set-up etc. Then, try some of the big chains that offer in-house printing – Kinkos, Staples, UPS Store etc. They can also be a great resource for printing simple invites.

A number of people choose to have them printed online, at places like Vista Print, Overnight Prints and the like. I don’t actually recommend this option unless you are tech savvy and understand issues with file types, colour shift etc. You may end up with something that is not at all like what you envisioned. Still, if you have a very tight budget, they often do have good sales etc.

And yes, if you are really stuck, you can always try calling your local invitation studio – while most don’t offer printing on it’s own, they may be able to point you in the right direction.

Hope you enjoyed that very long but hopefully useful diatribe on printing your invites at home. We’ll be back over the weekend with more of our Top 10 invites of 2011!

Invitation Advisor: The Truth About White/Metallic Printing On Wedding Invitations

October 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

Naughty, naughty Invitation Advisor… yes, I’ve been taking a break from blogging the last little while. Feeling a big of the blog burnout coming on – we’ve covered so many topics on The Invitation Blog already that it does get difficult to come up with a fresh topic or perspective sometimes.

I was also feeling a bit overwhelmed after I made the decision that…*drumroll please*…yes, 31 Days of Blogging Hath December will be returning this year.

You heard correctly – 31 days of new posts for the month of December, no repeats.

Am I crazy? Probably. Is it because I love you? Most definitely.

But today, a new post on something that confuses the heck outta my brides and grooms – printing white/light/metallic on a dark background (or just in general).

Want the abridged version of this post? Here’s the low-down – white/metallic printing will always be more expensive than standard printing, due to the fact that specialty printing processes are required.

No, your inkjet or laser printer at home will not print white, no matter how hard you try.


Without getting too technical, any process that doesn’t use opaque inks (inkjet printers use translucent inks and laser printers use toner, which is a powdered ink basically) cannot print white, as they use a mix of colours (usually Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, but some photo inkjet printers have up to 10 separate ink colours) to create the image. Since white is technically the absence of colour, the only way to get white is to print on white paper and leave “holes” essentially, where the white paper just shows through.

“A-ha” you’re thinking, “great, I can just print a dark background and make my text/image white by leaving that part blank and printing everything else”. In theory yes, in practice…ehhhh, not so much. You will see it done with some lower cost invites, but to be honest I’m not a fan. My eye can always see the banding or micro-patterns in something that has a full printed background. Would your guests notice? Maybe not, but it’s not something I recommend unless you absolutely MUST have white on dark and are not willing to pay more to do so.

So how else CAN you print in white? Any process that uses an opaque ink or medium – the best results would be from screen printing or foil stamping (and these are my preferred methods and the ones I recommend). Letterpress can sometimes be a possibility, but it isn’t recommended, as letterpress ink is still translucent (although to a lesser degree than standard printer ink) and will produce a sheer white.

Update: Also see Michelle from Artcraft‘s comment below regarding engraving – duh, can’t believe I forgot that one, but absolutely true – engraving is also a great choice!

Technically speaking, there is a high-end digital press that can print white ink (HP Indigo) but until those printers are in wide use, you will not see low-cost invites with true white printing.

In the above, “metallic” (ie. silver or gold etc.) can basically be substituted for “white”, although depending on exactly how “shiny” you need your metallic to be, there are some digital options out there, as well as metallic letterpress inks.

Best advice – ask your stationer! They will be able to tell you whether white or metallic printing will be an option for your project, and at what cost.

Invitation Advisor: What’s The Average Cost of Programs, Place Cards, Table Numbers, Menus and More? The Answer May Surprise You.

September 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Yes, The Invitation Advisor has been slacking off recently – naughty Invitation Advisor.

So many invitations, so little time 😉

But today, we’re back talking about something that seems to be forgotten when reading those “how much should wedding invitations cost” articles – your wedding ceremony and reception stationery. Stuff like programs, place cards, table numbers, menus, favour tags, stickers, specialty signage – the list goes on.

If your read our post on the subject on the average cost of wedding invitations (if not, just click above), you’ll note that there was a very wide range of prices, and to be honest, the situation is even worse when it comes to your day-of stationery. Costs vary pretty wildly, depending on what you want, how you want it and who you are paying to do it.

That said, you need to be aware of how much these items will cost you, as I know I’ve had many clients who completely forget to add these costs in when budgeting for wedding stationery and are stuck scrambling a few weeks before their wedding to figure out what to do and how to pay for it. Not fun. Take my advice and give it some thought *now* so you don’t end up in a bind later.

Even those clients who do consider it often *drastically* under-budget – and by drastically I mean come to me with numbers that are less than 50% of the cost. Where are these numbers coming from? No idea. I recently had a client who had budgeted (and demanded to pay) less than $1.00 per item for custom place cards (with clients names and table numbers pre-printed), ceremony programs, menus, table numbers and favour tags. I’ll give you a hint – you won’t be getting these items for less than $1.00 each, unless you are creating them yourself or buying them from someone who is allergic to breaking even.

So…what are your options?

Basically, the same options you have for invites – DIY (Do-It-Yourself), retail or custom.

I have to be honest and say that I DO recommend you stick to the same place you got your invitations – I do think it’s important for things to look cohesive in overall style and quality.

If you are choosing to DIY, make sure you are realistic about the amount of time you have. While DIY can be very inexpensive, it also can be very stressful, as you generally won’t be able to start on these items until a few weeks before your wedding when your guest count/seating etc. is finalized. That can create some big-time stress that may not be worth the cost-savings.

If you are choosing the retail or custom option, you’ll also need to figure out exactly what you want ie. do you want your escort cards personalized with name and table number or are you willing to write it in yourself? How much information do you want in your ceremony program – will one single sheet do or do you need a folded or booklet style? How many menus do you need – 1 per table, one per guest, something else entirely?

There are definitely a number of factors that will affect what you’ll pay for ceremony and reception stationery – so many in fact that I realized as I was putting this together there is no way that I can give a credible price range for these items when there are literally so many choice and options out there.

So, if you came looking for a nice round number to stick in your spreadsheet, I apologize – you’re not gonna find it here.

But, let me give you my personal advice, based on experience, and hope that it makes up for the lack of cold hard numbers:

DIY – $
Yes, doing it yourself will be the least expensive option. How inexpensive – who knows? But I would say the answer could be “very”. Remember though, that monetary cost (ie. how much cash you spend) is not the only cost here – your time is the biggie, so make sure you have the skill, the time, the assistance, or preferably all three, to pull it off – without staying up till 4am the morning of your wedding putting together programs (yep, guilty as charged).

Retail – $$
Many retail invite companies (think Crane, Carlson Craft, Wedding Paper Divas etc.) do offer matching ceremony and reception items, but the pricing does vary quite a bit. I did a little experiment with WPD and chose and invite at random at a qty of 100 (an invite, rsvp card and one additional insert card) which worked out to about $442. Then I added up the cost of matching escort cards (75 – write-in style), menus (15) and programs (75 – folded) considering a guest count of 150 people. The total – $367.40. Which is 83% of the invitation cost! I’m guessing that is probably a surprise to many of you.

Custom – $$$
Yes, custom is generally going to be the most expensive option out there, and for good reason. Ceremony and reception stationery is actually very labour-intensive, and believe it or not, most custom designers don’t make a whole lot of money on these items – it’s done more as a service for their clients. If you have a number of specialty items you need, or want to have something more than the “average”, custom will likely be the way to go. In looking back over some of my past orders, I can say that in most cases my clients spent somewhere between 35% and 75% of their total invitation costs on day of stationery. So a client with an invitation order of $2500 may easily spend $1000 or more on day of items, depending on exactly what they need. In fact, those that spend less total on invitations often will spend more (percentage-wise) on their wedding day items, just based on minimum costs etc. My advice – budget for at least 50% and ask for a quote from your designer ASAP once you’ve nailed down what you want and the approximate number you’ll need.

The moral of the story? Do your research! Figure out what you want and how much it is going to cost – don’t budget a random number and hope it’ll fly. You’ll most likely be surprised how the cost of wedding day stationery adds up, so make sure it’s not surprise that happens weeks before your wedding.



Invitation Advisor: What To Do If You’ve Made A Mistake On Your Wedding Invitations

September 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

You’ve made a misteak on your wedding invitations. You did’t originally catch it, but there it is. What can you about it?

Did you catch the mistakes above? They were pretty obvious, but I’m guessing you missed at least one – it’s a trick of the mind, where we fill in things that aren’t really there, and it’s one reason why mistakes happen, even on something as important as your wedding invitatons…er…invitations!

Now, this post is working on the assumption that *you* missed something when proofreading that has resulted in an error on your invites and how to deal with that situation. It won’t address situations where your stationer/designer etc. has made an error, as policies vary in those situations, and I wouldn’t want to speak on behalf of other stationers when it comes to that sort of thing. What I *can* say is that they should make it right, in whatever way possible.

Aside: Please remember, that proofreading is YOUR responsibility – not your stationer or designer. The harsh reality is that you aren’t their only client (they are likely staring at various customer proofs all day), and even more importantly, they don’t know your wedding details as well as you do. I’ve mentioned before that as a designer I really don’t pay attention to the literal names, dates and times when designing, they just become visual elements. I spend so long looking at them that they basically become gibberish. Be realistic – own up to your mistakes. I know you may be angry and upset, but that is not an excuse to place blame where it does not belong – ultimately, if you approve a proof with a mistake on it, you are responsible. Need help with proofreading – check this out.

So, what kind of mistakes are we talking about? There are basically three main issues that come up:

* Spelling mistakes – Okay, yes, spelling accommodations can be tricky…or hors d’oeuvres…or your financé’s name. Seriously, I’ve seen it.

* Incorrect information – Asking people to show up at your ceremony at 2:00pm, instead of 3:00pm – or on completely the wrong date – bad form.

* Missing information – Forgetting to include an address, forgiveable – forgetting the date, time or location…not so much.

How do you avoid making these errors? Read this and do it. Triple-check and then triple-check again. It can be an exciting time and a busy time, and you may feel like since you’ve started at it 100 times you know everything is correct, but don’t be fooled.

What can you do if you’ve already committed these errors? Read on…

Spelling errors are a tough one – they are certainly the most common, but they often are not glaring enough to consider paying to have your invitations reprinted (unless it is a mistake in one of your names, which is kinda important, right?). Unfortunately, they are also tough to really correct any other way than by reprinting the entire invitation, which depending on the type of invite you’ve chosen could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The best advice I can give you here is just make sure they don’t happen in the first place, because your choices once that mistake has been made is either to live with it, or pay up (and we’re not talkin’ chump change). No, liquid paper is not an option.

Incorrect/missing information is actually a bit easier to handle. Depending on exactly what information has been left out and when you catch it, it may be a fairly simple fix. For example, for a small piece of information (a time, an address etc.), you could consider placing a sticker on the outside of the envelope with the details (and some tongue-in-cheek wording), or even on the invitation itself depending on the style and layout. If you have a small guest list, you could consider calling or emailing your guests (no, no facebook or twitter please and thank you) and letting them know the correct information. Or, you could send out a separate small card with the correction (which is what you’ll need to do if the mistake isn’t caught until *after* the invitations have gone out) – yes, you’ll be stuck with the additional postage costs etc., but at least your guests will actually show up!

That said, the most important thing to consider is the formality of your event and the size of your guest list. If you are having a formal royal-themed fairytale wedding for 600, I wouldn’t suggest slapping a sticker on your invites or sending your guests an email. The appropriate thing to do is to send a small matching “correction notice” card letting your guests know the proper information. If you are having a smaller, more casual wedding, then a cheeky sticker on your envelope or a funny email may just be the ticket.

Ultimately, I probably don’t need to trot out “the best offence is a good defence”, “look before you leap”, “a stich in time saves nine” and a host of other idioms and proverbs to make it clear that your best bet is to just avoid having to deal with this issue altogether.

Now class, everyone pick up your chalk and write with me…

“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread….



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