When planning your wedding or any other event for that matter your invitations are important. Invitations set the tone and feel for the whole event; whether it is going to be a super formal black tie affair or an utlra casual backyard barbecue. The invitation you send tells your guest what they can expect from your event. There are a lot of options for invitations out there, you could send an evite, or a paperless post invitation. You could order invites from numerous websites or you can have your invitations custom designed and printed.
When going with custom invitations there is a lot to consider such as, print style, paper thickness, layout and design. So I asked Kari Coker graphic/web designer and owner of Kari Coker Design + Studio to answer some of the most common questions regarding custom invitations and design. Hopefully these questions and answers will help you navigate the world of invitation/stationary design with a little more ease.
1.How far in advance should I order/design my custom invitation/stationary? Your timeline is really dictated by the paper, techniques, and production. Two months should be enough to design, pick paper, and produce the invitations and envelopes. Then you should also think about postage, handwriting the addresses, and any other “final touches” that you want to make.
2. Should I work with a graphic designer to design my wedding stationary? Of course! Everyone should have a graphic designer at his or her disposal! But if you don’t there are a lot of free templates online that you can purchase very cheaply and then customize with your name, date, venue, etc. If you wanted something absolutely unique, using a graphic designer would be ideal. They would be able to capture the couple’s style, theme, and all around vibe and express that in a tasteful fun way. I have also helped with large seating charts, table cards, and other printed items used for the wedding itself, integrating the same elements into those as well. It’s very convenient to have a graphic designer that can help with all of your print needs!
3. Should all my stationary follow the same look and feel as my invitations? i.e. Save the dates, programs, place cards Using similar elements like fonts and colors, or some design element that flows from one piece to the other is a great idea. Save the dates can be more casual and fun or very formal depending on how the couple wants to express themselves. If it’s more casual they may have an entirely different design of the save the date from the invitation. It really is a matter of taste and expression of the couple.
4. What’s the difference in the various printing styles? example letterpress, engraving, thermography and embossing? Expense and time! These techniques have been used for many years and you can’t just go to the local printer to get them done. That’s what makes them expensive and more time consuming to produce. Let’s start with the most simple printing techniques and the most common: digital and offset. Digital press is what you have in your office – either in inkjet or laserjet. Most print companies own a very high level digital printer and can produce a lot of beautiful printed pieces. Colors will vary depending on the printer as well as quality. Offset is plate printing which costs more but is more accurate. If you have an exact color that you want to have on your invitations, they can match it perfectly. They create plates for each color (up to six, but people usually go with 1-4), and then run each sheet through the press. Offset printing is the most accurate type of printing.
- Letterpressing presses the letters/design into thick cardstock and inks it at the same time. Normally one to two ink colors is used. It’s not ideal for big areas of color and double-sided cards increase the thickness of the cardstock.
- Engraving raises the design/letters and inks it at the same time. Usually one-sided and one color on top of a printed color or paper.
- Thermography is cheaper than engraving and goes through a different printing process, but attempts to look the same. It doesn’t look as nice as engraving, but it’s cheaper and doesn’t take as long.
- Embossing raises a design or text off of the paper. While letterpress presses into, embossing presses out of.
All of these techniques can use various colors including metallics. Just remember that the more colors you use the higher the cost. Two colors is the norm, while one color can look amazing as well.
5. What is the best use of my budget when ordering custom stationary? spend more on the paper/materials or on the print style? That’s a hard question to answer. I have designed invitations that have been on basic paper, but the layout and design was so unique that it didn’t matter. In fact, having a thicker stock or envelope liners would have detracted from the invitation. If you have a very simple layout then spending money on the paper and materials would be a better choice. In this case using a patterned envelope liner with a simple design enhances the invitation.
6. What are some inexpensive options for custom invitation? What are some elements I could use on my invitation to give it custom feel? Some inexpensive options would be to download a template off of Graphic River or Etsy, print them yourself, and then spend a little money on the envelopes. You could purchase a custom stamp with the couple’s initials in a cute heart or star, or maybe a few different stamps from Michael’s that go with the design and incorporate that on the envelopes. Layering vellum, adding dried flowers, metallic pens, neon stamp ink, watercoloring designs, there really is no limit to how you can customize your invitations while saving money.
7. Why should I invest incustom invitations? It’s really an investment in memories. Expressing yourself as a couple in print is a beautiful and meaningful way to introduce your event to your friends and family. Even if you don’t spend a lot of money, it’s something that the couple will have forever and can look back on fondly.
I’d like to thank Kari for sharing her expert knowledge on printing and design with my readers. Kari works and lives in San Diego with her two kids, soulmate, and a variety of rescued animals. Check her out online at www.karicokerdesign.com.