Is anyone else shocked by the audacity of the price people will charge for wedding paper goods? I mean, besides the fact that when you put “wedding” on a label it usually ups the cost 10% anyway, the invitation and save the date market seems to have taken this to a little extreme. Fortunately for all of us, unless you really have your heart set on that letterpress, calligraphy invitation with the four envelopes, wax seal and hand pressed flowers on front, you can find VERY good options for VERY affordable prices.
There are SO many affordable stationery places online, and from most of what I hear, they are well respected. Places like zazzle.com and vistaprint.com offer great prices on pre-designed paper goods. If you are not afraid to be a little unconventional, this could be quite the savings. For instance, I am thinking I may use business cards as registry and hotel info cards and Vistaprint will do 250 business cards for FREE + shipping. I can upload my own design and add my own text. score! Although the invitations options may not be engraved, they have a lot of great classic and fun options and font choices that will look just as elegant. Also check out pre-created and printable invitations available at places like Target, Walmart, Michael's, JoAnn Fabrics, etc. They have a lot of cute options that will can save you a lot of time and money. Although I would suggest, if you go this route, make a decision, commit to it and buy ALL you will need at one time. Nothing would me more irritating that needing 10 more invitations and spending your weekend going to every store in your area trying to find ONE more box of the elusive blue invitations you bought four months ago. Also, buy extra so you have some replacements should you run out of ink or mess up the formatting.
If your heart is set on those calligraphy or embossed invitations, consider using two invitations. Face it, probably 90% of the wedding invitations you send out are going to end up thrown out after your wedding. Consider buying the pricey invitations for the people who will save them (parents, grandparents, etc.) and have some less-expensive and less detailed invitations for the rest of your guests. More than likely, you can find coordinating invitations that will be much more budget friendly and still look great!
I hate to boast, but my own paper goods situation is probably the best. I have a degree in communications complete with graphic design training. Because of this, I was able to draw up pretty much what I wanted to have and write up the text of it without any issue myself. My BFF is a graphic designer and does a lot of freelance work while she is getting her PhD. Due to her student status and love for me, she is willing to design my Save the Dates and Invitations for a very cheap price (i.e. basically free, payment given in love, affection, compliments and homemade pies). The Save the dates are in and they look AMAZINNNNG. To go with our theme, I used a picture of an old betting slip as inspiration, wrote up some kitchsy text, and we got this:
You'll notice these are postcards, another saver because postcard stamps are cheaper than the typical letter stamps! Finishing this trifecta of luck, my company has its own print shop which contracts for outside work as an additional revenue booster. Printing your own invitations at a place like Kinko's or any other print shop is going to be fairly reasonable, and this is no exception. This also means that I save on time in picking up the boxes and such because I can just grab them over my lunch at work from the print shop. YES!
Another great save the date option is of course, using your local Walmart/CVS/Walgreens type store with the ability to print picture cards. Many people usually use this service for Christmas cards. But, Christmas is over and I'm willing to bet the slowdown in that business is going to be your gain! Take an engagement picture, or just a cute picture of yourselves, and slap it into one of those layouts with your wedding date information and you're good as gold.
One helpful hint if you are going the route of having invitations printed in any way, make sure the size you are getting fits into a standard envelope size. If not, you will spend all your savings from the printing option in procuring some sort of wacky sized envelope. Even colored and special occasion envelopes in standard sizes will be cheaper than the most utilitarian of odd-shaped ones.
I also have made the decision not to send Save the Dates to everyone. Many people want to send out their Save the Dates to everyone. But the bastion of wedding advice, Carly of the knot, is with me on this one. You're sending the save the dates out REALLY early (that's the whole point.) There is quite the possibility that situations and relationships will change in the time between sending save the dates and invitations. Not being a negative Nancy here, but it's always a possibility. In addition, you do not know what might happen with your invited number between this time. Yes, now you are planning on 200 people, but say you notice the cost and decide you'd like to cut it to 150. Too late, if you sent everyone a save the date. So, my save the dates are only going out to people who I know, no matter what, will still be of that status. These are close family and friends of the type that have attended every other milestone in my life like graduations and such. Again, I know many might think this is poor form. But, I feel pretty good about the decision knowing Carly agreed with me. Also, frankly, the area I grew up in, Save the Dates aren't that common and have only recently come in to popularity, no one will be shocked or mystified. Here's another option, skip save the dates altogether.
The big killer for paper goods is most likely postage. It seems like it wont be a big deal, only 44 cents a piece, but it adds up QUICKLY. At least now, the post office has been so smart to decide that ALL postage stamps will be forever stamps, so you can buy early and not worry about them changing the amount. Also, consider skipping the specialty stamps. They are really expensive and honestly, people probably don't even notice them. Consider finding an interesting stamp that is the standard stamp price instead that will go along with your invitations or wedding theme. Things like postcards can use cheaper stamps, but odd sized envelopes (like squares) often require more postage, so be aware when choosing. Always consider hand-delivery for any of those guests who you see on such a regular basis, and for some of those very important family that are nearby. I will be taking invitations directly to my grandmother who lives in the area, because it will be so much more fun to give it to her and see her open it, than to send it and wait for her to call me letting me know she got it…
(and saving the 44 cents isn't too bad either!)