The final part in this Take Note series on Custom Wedding Invitation Design is to help couples come to the table with realistic expectations. I’ve covered what to know about a designers process and what you are actually paying for in custom work. Today, it’s all about the real-life (and slightly boring, but need to know) details.
1. Have a rough idea of a how much you want to spend.
But…be open to being educated on the actual costs associated with design and printing. While the wedding budget worksheets that so many magazines make available are helpful in getting started, they also do a disservice in the minuscule amount allotted for stationery. If your overall budget is $10,000, most budget worksheets allow 10% ($1,000) for invitations and day of paper items. In order to make this budget happen, you’d 1) have to have a very small guest list, 2) choose from a designers pre-designed invitations and 3) likely use digital flat printing with few, if any, fancy embellishments.
Along with knowing how much you want (or have) to spend it is important to let your stationer know how high on the scale of importance your invitations rank to you. For most designers, we are very passionate about the importance of your invitation. It is the very first impression your guests will have and it sets the tone for your entire celebration. Knowing how much – or how little – importance your invitations have to you will help your designer make printing and paper suggestions that fit you. It is possible to have a beautiful invitation suite that excites your guests even when the invitations only rank 4 out of 10 on your number scale.
2. Have a pretty good idea of how many suites you’ll be needing.
It’s very difficult to give an accurate cost estimate when a couple has no idea how many guests they will be inviting. It’s that simple.
3. Understand, or ask your designer to explain, the various print methods.
This is important because it has a tremendous affect on the end cost. (I’ll be writing about the various print methods and associated costs next week.) For example, cutting back on the number of invitations printed will not change the price much on letter pressed items, since the bulk of the cost is in setting up the plate, which is required even if you are printing only one item.
4. Have an idea of any extras you may want.
It’s important for both you and your designer to know what extras you would like in your suite. By extras I mean things like: pocket fold enclosures, belly bands, wax seals, envelope liners, envelope addressing, etc. There are so many options available when it comes to wedding invitations that it can be overwhelming for the couple. If you have done a little research and have some thoughts about what you might like, it helps the designer guide you to stick within your budget while still getting the most for your money.
(Sidenote: By giving your designer a budget and the extras you would like, they will be able to help the two things work together in your best interest. A good designer will not automatically hit your budget ceiling if the extras you are wanting don’t come to that much. You shouldn’t treat your budget as something that your designer will exhaust given the chance. It should be treated as a tool that helps guide the design process.)
5. Understand timelines, deposits and contracts. And PROOF READ!
It’s important to understand that a designer will not start custom work without a non-refundable deposit. Because of this, it’s necessary to explore the designers work and make sure you like their style. Once you’ve paid their deposit, your designer begins sketching and working on your suite. If you change your mind, decide to do your invitations yourself, or call off the wedding, your designer has still spent time working on your project and should be compensated for the time they have spent working for you. This is why the deposits are non-refundable.
Design takes time. It’s helpful for all parties if it’s understood that good design may not happen overnight. Sometimes it does, but more often it takes a good couple of weeks to work through sketches. Ask your designer what their preferred method of communication is. Everyone is different. If your designer prefers email and you prefer phone calls, make sure to clearly let them know so that you both have appropriate expectations.
Lastly, I cannot overstate the importance of proof reading! Every designer puts this responsibility on the shoulders of their clients. We do our best to go letter by letter and make sure each name, date and time is accurate. However, you are much more familiar with the names and details than we are so triple check every word before giving your final approval. It helps to have a couple of outsiders who haven’t seen the invitation to take a look at it, too. Often small typo’s are caught by an eye that hasn’t been looking at it for weeks. The brain will often self-correct, so even when a simple word is spelled wrong, the brain fixes it so the eye misses it.
I hope this series has been helpful to you as you delve into the world of custom invitation design. Let me know if I missed anything in the comments. A good discussion helps everyone out!