So you're getting married, or maybe you're helping someone who is - either way, you have a LONG road of planning ahead of you, none of which can be done without some essentials. Namely - invitations. I mean after all, without the wedding stationery, you don't exactly have guests to attend the wedding! Wedding stationery can be confusing to say the least; when do you send it out? How do you have it designed? How does the design even get made or printed? How many people should get an invitation? Do you HAVE to invite that one person from work who you see at lunch everyday but aren't exactly friends with? How much of your budget should go towards wedding stationery? Can you send an email? It's A LOT, but that's what professionals are for, and brides - to save yourself time, money and your sanity - HIRE A PROFESSIONAL, don't try to DIY! Not for this.
First and foremost, RELAX. Because I GOT YOU. I've been hand painting, calligraphing and designing wedding stationery for almost 3 years now and have completed roughly 25-30 small and large scale weddings, not including styled shoots and intimate events. I've done everything from save the date's to main invitation suites to table stationery and signage, and even post-wedding stationery. I've painted on wood, glass, jewels, shells, sand dollars - you name it, I've made dreams come true - I'm not kidding! And I've been really lucky to work with some incredible brides who are super creative, and who were also willing to take a chance on my artistic skills - especially in the beginning when I still had a lot to learn. Needless to say, I have gained quite a bit of knowledge and expertise, and while I'm always honing my craft, I do consider myself an expert on the topic.
There are a lot of questions I get asked in the beginning of this process that most brides have when they go down the road of figuring out this whole stationery thing, here are 10 of my best tips of "need to knows" when hiring a wedding stationery designer and calligrapher that will hopefully help!
1. Websites like Minted are great for quick, and easy, mass produced invitations - but BEWARE, the paper quality is often flimsy and thin, and the printing quality isn't the greatest (which is how they are able to keep their prices low), there's also no one to personally help you - which freaks me out for something as important as your wedding day. Additionally, you won't have a unique invitation - anyone can order the exact same ones; this means you run the risk of sending out the exact same invitation as a friend. You may not care about that and if you're on a really tight budget, then this might be best option for you - just know that it isn't always the best quality.
I also firmly believe in supporting small businesses and local artists and artisans anytime I can - that goes for wedding stationery. Hand crafted items doesn't always mean *expensive,* so it's important to do your research - you don't know what you don't know; so reach out to people, ask for pricing sheets and compare it to the rest of your budget. Try to support small and local businesses who put the time, effort, thoughtfulness and hard work into things like this when you can.
2. NO you should NOT under ANY circumstance send out an "e-vite" or Facebook Event Invitation or an e-mail for your wedding. Aside from this being extremely tacky, (and yes that is my personal opinion, but I guarantee it will also be shared by many of your guests), it's not reliable. Many people don't check those modes of communication frequently enough, your older generations may not even have access to them, and they often end up in junk mail. If your guests are spending money to come from out of town, book a hotel for the weekend and buy you a thoughtful wedding gift - you can send them a proper invitation.
3. Typically budget allocation for wedding stationery is 4%-5% of your overall wedding budget, more if you have extra spending availability. My brides spend anywhere from $500-$3,000 on their wedding stationery. $3,000 being on the higher end of printing options and also accounting for EVERYTHING. Typically for a guest list of 100, the cost will be anywhere from $350-$500 with design fees and printing.
Remember that this is the FIRST THING your guests see before your wedding, and it's an incredibly special and important day. You want to make a grand gesture to make them feel excited to help you celebrate something intimate and personal. There are many details that can be left out in modern weddings, but well made wedding invitations definitely aren't one of them.
4. Do not ask a wedding stationery artist/designer to copy someone else's design. Aside from this being a copyright and plagiarism issue, every wedding stationer likely has their own style and take on how they create wedding designs - and that's WHY you should be hiring them - because you love and trust their style. It's ok to offer reference images of compositions you like, but expecting them to copy someone else's designs is insulting and a legal issue. Providing them with the actual details and photographic references for your big day are much more helpful. I give my brides a design sheet to help them brainstorm with me, that way I can take into account all of the atmospheric details of their day, combined with what's important to them to help design something they will absolutely love.
5. Remember to gather your guest addresses early, and triple check that they are CORRECT. I can't tell you how many times I've had to re-do dozens of envelopes because an address was incorrect or a name was mis-spelt at the last minute. This is difficult for designers because we work on tight schedules and can't always fit things in at the last minute. While it might seem like it takes "just a second," it requires much more time and effort to hand calligraph your guest addresses than that. Your calligrapher, (sometimes this is the same person as your wedding stationery designer, like me), will not know if an address is missing something or if a name is misspelt - it helps cut down on time and efficiency if these things are done ahead of time. You also need these addresses multiple times - for save the dates, main invitations and thank you notes, so it's helpful to just get it done early and save it into a spreadsheet.
6. If you are a hiring a wedding stationery designer, get on their design calendar early! I recommend that brides contact me 8-10 months prior to their wedding date. A year is even better if it's possible! When something is being hand made, it takes a little longer and I can only book so many weddings each month to be able to keep up. Every wedding invitation suite is one-of-a-kind; that means I hand paint each individual bride's design, (not each invitation), and then send it off to a printer. This also allows for plenty of time if errors need to be corrected or if something needs to be re-sent to the printer. If you do get in late, don't be surprised if you are charged a rush fee - this is very typical because wedding stationery designers have to now put you ahead of other clients whose work should be their priority.
7. Don't try to DIY. I mentioned this above, but I'm really very serious. Pinterest is great, but it has created a fake world in which anyone thinks they can do anything because it looks easy. This is a lie, and you need to know it now. Even as an artist myself, I can't recreate "Pinterest worthy" images without many, MANY hours or days of preparation and styling. All that this mentality will do, is break you out into hives and make you reach for a couple bottles of wine. Weigh out the value here - if you are extremely busy and finding yourself stressed about the wedding planning process, then now is not the time to learn how to do hand lettering or about what kind of printer you need. I applaud anyone who wants to pick up a new skill, but leave this one to a professional for your wedding. It might save you a $100 or so, but what you end up spending in TIME, trial and error and money on supplies, you could've spent on hiring someone. Just do it, you'll thank me later.
8. YES, you need save the dates. Save the dates should go out 6-8 months prior to your wedding date, 8-10 months for a destination wedding. You need them because your guests are owed the courtesy of being able to properly budget for their travel expenses, find baby or pet sitters, book hotels and flights and take time off work if need be. If you wait too long, you run the risk of people who are important to you not being able to make it to your wedding.
9. Trust your wedding stationery designer. Hopefully the person you hire, was chosen because you love their style - so TRUST THEM with the design process, and trust them when they recommend or suggest changes. Try not to over do the Pinteresting, (see my warning on #7), too many visual references can cause confusion and visual overload for the artist. It's best to let them do what they do best, and dream up your design. They are the experts and will be able to tell you what looks best. Of course if you HATE something, or it isn't what you were envisioning, speak up! But try not to dictate the entire process otherwise it isn't worth hiring them. I've honestly never experienced this with my brides, and as I've mentioned above I've been very lucky to work with people who have trusted me - but I do know this happens and it's something to be weary of.
10. TRY NOT TO STRESS! This is a big one, because inevitably you WILL. But just know that things will NOT go as perfectly planned - because, well, LIFE. But hiring professionals will help ease the stress of wedding planning. Try to be present and mindful when going through the process, enjoy and soak it up because it's only, (hopefully), going to happen once! Remember that the people you hire want the very best for you, and they want you to LOVE what they create for you, they also want to be the best they can be at what they do - trust in that and you will be juuuuust fine.
As always, these are simply my suggestions - things I've gathered over the years. Every wedding stationery designer or artist is different. This also isn't EVERYTHING, there truly is a lot to know - but these are the items that I've found myself talking over with brides the most lately. If you have any questions on today's blog post, anything wedding stationery related or maybe are getting married yourself and want to learn more about what I can create for you - shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org !!