This is part 9 in our blog series “How much will your wedding cost?” and this part is about your wedding invitations and stationary. As with all the blogs in this series, I am using CostOfWedding.com as a resource for the facts and figures listed in this blog. As stated in part one of this series, the website listed the Toledo Brides and Grooms spent $262 to $436 for average wedding invitations and between $524 and $698+ for more elaborate ones. However, they have changed their format on me and now list the cost of Lucas County Ohio weddings and have lumped in the cities of Berkey, Harbor View, Holland, Maumee, Monclova, Neapolis, Oregon, Sylvania, Toledo, Waterville and Whitehouse. With this change, they have combined all of the survey responses for these cities and now say that Lucas County brides and grooms spend $503 on average for invitations. I am guessing that because not all brides and grooms shop in Toledo exclusively, this may be a little more accurate, but that’s just my opinion. In all of the past posts I only used the figures for Toledo proper. For the purposes of the remainder of this blog series, I will be only using the new figures for Lucas County and your actual costs may vary depending on where you shop. As also stated in previous posts, the website does not list how many brides and grooms responded to the survey.
Not all couples send out Engagement Announcements, but those that did in Lucas County in 2011 spent on average between $65 and $108 on regular announcements and spent between $129 and $172+ on custom made ones. Not all couples sent out Save the Date cards either. In 2011, Lucas county couples spent $71 and $118 on average Save the Date cards while spending between $141 and $188+ for custom made ones. Engagement Announcements can also be used as Save the Date cards or for invitations to an Engagement Party. If you are marrying during a high travel time like a holiday or in the summer, or have a lot of out of town guests, sending a Save the Date card will increase your chances of your guests being able to attend. They should be sent 6 months prior to your wedding. Just remember that if you are sending someone either the Engagement Announcement or a Save the Date card, that you must also invite them to the wedding as it is proper etiquette. You should also address the Save the Date Cards as you would your wedding invitations so your guests know who will be invited; i.e. Mr. Smith and Guest, or Mr. and Mrs. Jones and Family. Also, if you have a wedding website, it’s a good idea to include the URL on the Save the Date card so your guests can keep up to date on your plans.
In 2011, Lucas County brides and grooms spent between $155 and $258 for average wedding invitations and reply cards while spending between $309 and $412+ for designer or custom made ones. This is one area where Do It Yourself projects are becoming all the rage. Our friend Kelly Henry at UpperCase Designs offers this advice if you are planning on going that route:
”If the bride has the right software program, that is a start but they need to consider the printer they are using. How well will a thicker card stock run through the at home printer? Many don’t feed well with 100lb card stock. Now there are a few tips I can suggest to try and make your invitations not look homemade. To start with start working on designs 6 months from the wedding date; you need time to gather samples. Double up on the paper, do a backer color against a white or cream paper to create a thicker invitation. Have fun with the backer paper there are so many options out there. Get samples a head of time to find the best fit for your wedding. Invest in a good paper cutter. If you don’t, you will have jagged edges making your invites look homemade. Glue dots are the easiest way to assemble the two paper stocks together. The ribbon trend is beginning to fade but this is always an easy way to add a detail touch to the pieces.”
If you are going the DIY route, not only do you need to include all of the items needed for the invitations, but you also need to include the printer ink in your budget along with any other items needed such as the paper cutter, scissors, stamps or stickers or whatever you will need to create the invitations. After pricing all of this out, including your time to make the invitations and put them together, you may find it cheaper and less stressful to have a stationary expert do your invitations instead of you doing them yourself.
Kelly also offers this advice if you are going to order your invitations from a professional stationer:
“My number one suggestion is if you go cheap, they will look cheap. I have so many brides who come to me and this is the first thing out of their mouth: ‘I want these as cheap as possible’. Many brides believe they are going to throw them away anyway, but think about this… this is the first taste of your wedding day for most of your guests. Do you want them to think they are attending a casual affair or something they will remember the rest of the year? My guess would be the second one. Take a moment and find the right fit for your style. I am sure there are many local options out there. You just have to do some investigating. Keep in mind these ways to save money:
Do not use a square envelopes, postage is more on these.
Keep the weight down per envelope, adding ribbon details may increase postage cost.
Make the RSVP card a postcard, postage is cheaper for postcards.
Set up a website for RSVPs, this will save even more money.
Can details be combined on the pieces, such as the reception details on the invitation?
Use one envelope, no need for the traditional way of sending out invites (with an inner and outer envelope).
Make sure envelopes are hand cancelled (hand stamped) to eliminate on wear and tear.
Proof read the final copies. Many people over look the tiny details and miss something they typed incorrectly. Have multiple people proof them.
Order extras! This may sound crazy but if you have 145 invites to send out and only order 150 you may find yourself needing 160. It will cost a lot more to reorder and possibly endure more shipping costs.”
You will also need thank you cards for after your wedding and should include this in your budget. According to the Cost of Wedding website, in 2011 Lucas County brides and grooms spend between $56 and $94 for average thank you cards and between $113 and $150+ for custom designed ones. You might want to make sure you have extras of these as well just in case you get gifts from people that did not get invited to your wedding and/or your wedding professionals.
Postage is probably one thing many brides and grooms forget to include in their budget when planning their wedding and this could be a costly mistake. According to CostOfWedding.com, Lucas county brides and grooms spend between $67 and $111 on average for postage. However, it also lists that they could spend between $134 and $178+ if they use custom or designer stationary. What you need to spend on postage depends on what you send out. For instance, if you are sending out Save the Date Cards or Engagement Announcements, this can double your amount needed for postage, along with having the added expense of the cards themselves. You will also need to add postage to your RSVP postcards or envelopes for the response cards. Plus, you will need postage for the invitations and thank you cards. How much postage you will need for the invitations will depend on the dimensions and thickness of each invitation. Remember that the more you add to the invitation, the more it will cost. For instance, if you are going with the traditional formal folded invitation with the inner and outer envelopes, the tissue paper insert, adding a map for your guests, the RSVP card with envelope, and added embellishments to your invitations such as ribbons, your postage will probably be higher than an invitation that uses a post card for the RSVP and has no added embellishments and only the outer envelope. The post office determines the postage by size and weight, so keep this in mind when designing your invitation. Another thing to consider is that the more invitations that are sent, the more you will need for postage.
Ceremony programs are another added expense you need to include in your budget. According to the report, Lucas County brides and grooms spend between $66 and $110 for average programs and between $132 and $176+ for custom ones for this item.
Lucas county brides and grooms also spend between $70 and $116 for average Reception Menus and $140 to $186+ for designer menus. Table names and escort/place cards are another expense for the bride and groom to figure into their budget. The website says that Lucas County brides and grooms spend between $47 and $79 for average items and between $95 and $126+ for custom made items. The reception menus, table names and escort/place cards are not always necessary and you may not need them for your wedding. However, if you do chose to include these items, be sure to include them in your budget. There are also a lot of alternative examples, such as seating charts, that can be found on wedding websites like TheKnot.com and also on Pinterest.com.
The last thing in this section of your budget that you need to consider is your guest book. The Cost of Wedding website states that Lucas County brides and grooms spend between $37 and $61 for a traditional guest book while spending between $74 and $98 for a custom designed one. The new trend is having a guest book made using photographs from your engagement session, which makes for a truly unique and personal guest book. Of course, if you go with this option, you will have to either order the guest book from your photographer or buy the disk of images that includes a print copyright release so you can make it yourself. If you do chose to make it yourself, make sure that you have the rights (from the photographer) and software needed to edit the images (crop and downsize) and layout the album to fit your needs. Most photographers’ print release forms do not include cropping or altering images in any way, so make sure you know this about the images you purchase. Because you will need to pay your photographer for the disk of images and may need to purchase software to size the images you use (because they usually give them to you at full resolution which is about 48”x72”), you may find it cheaper and less stressful to just have the photographer make the guest book for you. You will also need to consider the time involved in doing this project on your own. If you are not familiar with the software needed for laying out an album, it could take you several days or weeks to make the album the way you want it to look. Plus, a professional photographer uses professional print labs that you can’t access and the quality of the guest book will more likely be better than what you could get online or at a big box store.
As you can see, the overall numbers do not match the specific numbers given in the report for actual items when it comes to your wedding invitations and stationary. This is why it is so important for you to do your own research for your wedding budget. Hopefully, I was able to break down a little bit of the details and help you with your planning. This is the ninth part in a series of several blog posts regarding the cost of a Toledo wedding (now Lucas County Weddings). Look for the next blog post about gifts and party favors coming soon. Feel free to post any comment or question you may have to let me know if this is helpful to you for planning your wedding.
For more information on Kurt Nielsen Wedding Photography including pricing, please visit my website at: www.kurtnphoto.com. You can contact me at:
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