Wedding Invitation Budget

When I was planning my own wedding, I budgeted $1,000 for handkerchief invitations and reply cards and envelopes from The Polka Dotted Bee.

I moved from Cortez to Boulder, Colorado, while I was planning. So I had to print new, re-addressed reply cards from The Envelope Please in Boulder.

I included a map insert, which I drew and printed myself on a new inkjet printer.

The printer and all of the above was included in the $1,000 budget. But I ended up having to buy thank you’s separately, after the wedding–not something I recommend.

All in all, the budget for my invitations was small considering the three-day affair totaled about $33,000. My mom, aunt and mother-in-law were exceptionally generous with us and paid for everything except about 1 percent of it.

If you’re gasping at the cost, let me tell you: CNN Money said the average wedding in 2012 was $29,334, with Manhattan weddings at $76,687 and Alaskans spending about $15,000. USA Today quoted a slightly lower number from Brides magazine: $26,989.

The Invitation Blog says people spend about $659 on invitations. Statistics Brain says they cost about $350, including postage. But it’s hard to pin down a number, especially if you’re looking for exceptional design and a variety of media, like maps, menus, escort cards/place cards/seating chart, programs, favors and thank you’s.

Ideally, your budget for an entire suite with all the trappings that I just mentioned should total about 10 percent of the total cost of your wedding.

Papery Jargon

I’ll start this blog with a quick lesson in wedding invitation suites:

I call them suites because the media and designs for a wedding can include a variety of elements, like programs, menus, thank you’s, save the dates, gift tags–the list goes on.

Classic invitations were usually engraved, but modern engraving can be expensive. (I’d consider anything above $2,000 for 100 invitations expensive, and anything under $500 is ¬†inexpensive.)

Engravings leave a raised impression, or embossed letters, from a printing press. Letterpress and silk screened invitations offer a unique and hand-printed quality. Letterpress machines leave debossed letters, or pressed impressions from the plates. Letterpress and silk screenings can also be costly because of the handmade, time-consuming process.

Embossing and debossing both require thicker papers because of the impressions the printing presses leave.

Designing invitations and printing them yourself would also offer guests a unique, handmade quality, but be careful. Unless you, or a friend, has an aptitude for design, the invitations might come out looking less than pretty.

Other types of printing are thermography, which mimics the raised letters that engraved invitations offer for less money. Offset and laser printings are also more economical options. Offset printing is a good option if you’ll need to print 1,000 or more of a certain product. Offset printing also offers exact Pantone matching (colors!), embossments, and foil-stamping (here comes the gold leaf!).

Incorporating textiles into invitations is a new trend that I adore. I think it offers a homespun and unique quality. The appearance of textiles might not be unique within a few years but I still think they’ll be loved, since textiles, embroideries and any kind of sewing make them more bespoke, or more likely to be saved. And you’ll still get that wow factor with people who don’t follow the industry’s trends.

Envelopments, or pocket invitations, are also popular because they’re like little packages of papers. These are clever to use when you have a lot of paper inserts to include. Inserts can be RSVP cards and envelopes, maps, directions, suggestions for area visitors–you name it.

I find Ladyfingers Letterpress, BirdandBanner, Martha Stewart, and OhSoBeautifulPaper inspirational and full of beautiful examples for wedding invitation designs. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do!

I’d like to offer quality designs to my clients, like the previous websites offer, but without the high cost. I respect other artists’ designs and copyrights, so mine will be entirely unique. But Bird and Banner suites usually start at $3,000. I’m hoping I can get my clients’ creative juices flowing so we can come up with something just as beautiful for far less money.

Since I’m just starting out, I’m offering all wedding suites at cost. That means I won’t be charging for my time and designs–just the supplies and printing costs I have to incur. These likely would amount to no more than $500.