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Working With a Wedding Stationer: 3 Things To Know

Whether it's a whimsical save-the-date card or a thoughtful thank-you note, a wedding creates a lovely paper trail that's a welcome tradition even in this digital age. The best way to get the write stuff? Enlist an expert stationer as your guide to create a personalized wedding invitation and accessories that not only convey all the necessary information, but also capture the look and feel of your wedding.

What to Look For
A stationer should be hired about eight months to a year in advance, depending on when you need to send save-the-date cards (six months is the norm) and how elaborate you'd like your wedding invitation to be. Look for a stationer who provides service: advice and guidance on invitation wording, items to be included in the invitation suite, quantities to be ordered, turnaround times, and reliability of manufacturers or printers. Your wedding invitation may inspire other details of your wedding decor, such as a motif or monogram used throughout, so you'll want to work with a professional who will keep the overall style and tone of your wedding in mind.

Meeting with the Stationer
Whether you're dealing with a stationery store or an individual designer, make an appointment to browse their collections. They can point you toward specific examples in the aesthetic you're looking for, and within your price range. Pick out any detail that catches your eye, whether it’d rounded corners or a font style, and build from there. It's also a good idea bring inspiration from fabric swatches, vintage illustrations, wallpaper samples, or photos of your wedding location.

If you'd like original artwork, many designers can create an illustration for you, whether it's a monogram or an icon. Some designers need up to three months to complete custom orders, so to be able to postmark invitations two to four months before your wedding, you'll need to start shopping at least seven months in advance.

Most stationers will request a deposit of at least 50 percent at the time of the order. Read the contract carefully before signing, and ask questions to prevent costly surprises later on. It may also be cost-effective to order your accessories -- such as programs, menu cards, seating cards, place cards, and thank-you notes -- at the same time you order the invitations.

Budgeting Tips
Stationers will work with any timeline, but to avoid rush fees, try to start the process as soon as you can. Custom designs are usually more expensive than standard ones. Each embellishment -- ribbons, crystals, bows, wax seals -- will add to the cost of your wedding invitation suite, so stay simple to keep costs down. Also, the type of printing process will greatly affect the cost -- ask your stationer if you can print your wedding invitations via thermography or digitally, which are both far less expensive than engraved or letterpress printing. If your heart is set on letterpress, use richly hued paper rather than colored ink, which gets pricey. Or consider foil stamping, where metallic foil is pressed down into the paper for a letterpress-like effect. Opt for a traditional rectangular card, which costs less than square, round or other custom shapes -- a square envelope will also cost more in postage.

Make sure you review your wedding invitation proof to ensure that there are no mistakes. If the proof is approved and a mistake is printed on your wedding invitations, you’ll have to pay for a second round of printing. And consider ordering an extra 25 invitations and 50 envelopes with your initial order.  If you have to order more later on, you may have to order a minimum of 100 invitation/envelope sets to meet the printer’s minimum. And consider assembling the wedding invitations yourselves. It's a great way to involve the wedding party or family members who want to help with the planning. When you're ready to send your wedding invitations, test mail one complete invitation suite before buying postage for all of your invitations. Rarely is a 44-cent stamp enough, and testing one will confirm that the rate you need is accurate.


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