Zoe from The Golden Letter, an award-winning, London-based luxury stationery design studio, talks us through the ins and outs of wedding invitations.
This first glimpse into your big day sets the scene of what guests can expect from your special day. No matter your budget (there’s a stationer for budgets high and low), a great designer will help you create the perfect window into to your wedding day.
Do I have to send wedding invitations?
First things first: why are you spending money on stationery?
“An invitation is a super-important part of your wedding-planning process," says Jenna from Wonderland Invites. "It is the communicator; the way that all your guests learn about your wedding – not only the date, time and location, but it'll also give them a glimpse of the vibe of your day."
Stationer Phylecia Sutherland also makes a wonderful point:
“I have three special mementos from my wedding: my dress, my photographs and an invitation. Things you can touch are incredibly powerful in recalling memories from the past."
Tayjal from Mani’s Creative explains:
“In this day and age, with so much technology at our fingertips, the excitement of receiving post is so easily lost. I want to help couples bring that excitement back for their guests.”
How much of my budget should I allocate to wedding invitations?
The amount you should be spending on invitations is very dependent on your total wedding budget.
To give you an idea, though, the UK Wedding Stationery Collective (UKWSC) suggests you should be putting aside around at least 5% of your total budget on stationery – this includes your invitation suite and items for the actual day, such as place cards, menus and table plans.
How Much Does A Wedding Cost?
For example, for an ‘average’ £30,000-budget wedding, you could put £1,500 of it to one side for invites. If you love stationery, then I always suggest you steal some more of your budget from the things you don’t love so much. Loathe it? Do the reverse. There are no hard-and-fast rules.
What goes into the cost of invitations?
Like most things wedding, how much invitations cost is really a case of 'how long is a piece of string?' – or perhaps, in this case, ribbon! To give you a rough, ready and realistic idea, the UKWSC put together some guidelines based on an average 60 sets, which include invites and RSVPs.
If you're looking for no special finishes and an off-the-shelf design? Budget for around £250 or over.
Want off the shelf with hot foil, letterpress, calligraphy or any other special finishes? You'll need to allocate £500+.
Or, if you'd love something entirely bespoke with all the bells and whistles, you'll be looking at spending around £1000 and over.
As an example, Aimee Willow of Aimee Willow Designs says, “for a bespoke illustrated suite with hot foil, on average, my brides spend around £2,500 on all stationery and save the dates, as well as stationery on the day. This often works out as 7% of their total budget.”
Why so expensive? Those special finishes are labour-intensive to create and take a lot of expertise, materials and time.
Ofe at Ollies Studio explains it well:
"However, calligraphy can be back-breaking work, especially if you've spent hours on end churning out gorgeous lettering. The amount of work doesn't decrease like with printing, as each new piece must be put through its own individual set-up process. If a mistake is made, the process must be started again from scratch. Most calligraphers won't calligraph 100 copies of your invitation by hand for this reason and, if they do, expect to pay a lot!”
Be wary of what you see on Pinterest
Pinterest – the haven for all brides-to-be, but often a stationers worst enemy! Those beautiful Pinterest invitations have often been created exclusively for a photo shoot, using seriously advanced methods, which are unrealistic for most couples (in budget terms) to recreate for their wedding.
What this means is that, while we absolutely can replicate something for you, you probably aren’t going to like it when we quote you in the £1000’s for those hand-painted, foiled, letter-pressed, gold-leafed, all-bells-and-whistles invitations. A better alternative is to use those photos purely as inspiration, and the results can often be even more beautiful.
Where to splurge and where to save
I advise all my clients to focus on the invitation – the star of your paper show. This is especially important when it comes to spending on Save the Dates. It’s very tempting to spend big early on in your wedding planning, but wedding costs tend to pile up quickly. I have many a client blow the budget on a hot-foiled Save the Date and then have to reign it in later on with the invitation.
I also love to suggest you mix and match your finishes. If, for example, you love hot foil, use it on your invite and keep the rest of the suite simple. You most certainly do not need a hot-foiled RSVP (however beautiful) and it’s going to end up back on your doormat in no time.
Costs racking up and need to save somewhere? Wedding websites are becoming more popular and are an inexpensive way of giving your guests more information. Most stationers are more than happy to add your website to your invitation to direct your guests to RSVP.
Each wedding is as individual as the couple but, no matter what you do, an invitation with your wedding details is always essential.
Stationery for your wedding day
How about on the day itself? This depends on your set up, but if your guests have allocated seating then you’ll certainly need a table plan. This can be on a traditional board – or you can do something more inventive.
“One of the main reasons for starting our table plan flag line was so that couples had something that was more realistic as a keepsake," says Kelly, one half of White Cottage Weddings. "A1l table plan boards can look pretty, but once they’ve served their purpose, they might get shifted around the garage for a bit and then inevitably make their way to the bin. We’ve had customers repurpose their flags into smaller hangings that are perfect for display in the home. One couple even repurposed theirs into a cushion cover for their first child’s nursery. Wedding keepsake goals right there!”
With designated seating, don’t forget place cards (combining this with a favour is also a great option). Lauren at Oh Wonder Calligraphy advises “using something like agate for your place card. This is a great way to save some money and your guests get to keep a beautiful personalised keepsake from your wedding.”
Having a church wedding? An Order of Service is essential. The contents will often be dictated by your vicar, but the design is largely up to you.
So, stationery – love it or loathe it – is next on your planning list! Hopefully we’ve armed you with some insider knowledge on how to make stationery decisions all that much easier!