How to Build Your Wedding Invitation Budget
The Artisaire Way
You know that feeling when you walk out of Target after an unplanned shopping trip? That pit-in-your-stomach, how-did-I-fill-a-full-cart, can’t-look-at the-receipt kinda feeling?
This is exactly what a realistic wedding budget will help you avoid!
But where do you start? How do you build a wedding budget if you’ve never gotten married before?
This guide will teach you how!
In this post, you'll learn:
- The secret budget killer and how to prevent it!
- How to find the right invitations for your budget
- The must-have stationery that every couple needs for their wedding
- How much it will cost to mail your invitations
- The top budget-saving tips for beautiful stationery
The Secret Budget Killer
Pinning every piece of wedding inspo you can find, you’ve quickly built your dream wedding on Pinterest - complete with that Cinderella ball gown you fell in love with in the fourth grade, a grilled cheese bar (that’s enough to feed 150 people, right?), and one of those adorable doughnut seating charts (no explanation needed here).
And don’t forget about your invitations – you’ve got a board for those too!
Brimming to the surface with beautiful handmade paper, ribbon and wax seals, you’ve fallen in love with #allthethings and now it’s time to narrow it all down and pick your favorites!
This is where the tough love comes in:
Now, this might ruffle your feathers, but hear us out!
When searching for inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram (or any wedding blog), it’s SO easy to fall in love with the best stationery, gowns and flowers money can buy – we’re talking the crème de la crème, because that’s primarily what you’ll see as you scroll!
The problem is – they rarely show how much these pieces cost! Did you know that most invitations you see on wedding blogs and Instagram cost upwards of $8,000?
Now, don’t get us wrong, these are great tools for finding your wedding style (heck, we’ve even created our own to help you do just that) – but without context, these sources of inspiration can make it near possible to build a realistic budget!
We’re here to help take the guessing game out of your stationery and give you the tools need to create a stress-free stationery budget!
Are you ready to get started?
Why Should I Use A Budget?
If that wasn’t enough to convince you, a wedding budget really will save your sanity! Here’s a great example:
Sara is getting married 6 weeks from today and today is the last day she can send her invitations.
Halfway through addressing the last batch, she realizes she’s forgotten ALL about postage!
How the heck can she send them out without any stamps?
Rushing out the door, semi-assembled invitation in-hand, she spends the next two hours trying to figure out how much postage she needs, how many stamps that is, what hand-cancelling is - all before walking out the door having spent $500 on stamps - $250 of which she’ll never even need to use.
If Sara had used a wedding budget before starting her invitations – postage would’ve been one of the last things she accounted for on her list and would’ve saved all that money and all that stress!
So much more than just a financial tool – building a realistic wedding budget will help you:
- Prioritize what is most important and plan ahead;
- Make more effective decisions as a unit;
- Improve communication between you and your partner;
- Keep track of all the little details (like postage);
- Reduce stress of last-minute changes;
- Have a more enjoyable wedding!
When Should I Start Building My Wedding Budget?
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
It’s always most effective to plan your budget before you actually have to make any decisions – especially for special details like your invitations. This is why we recommend having “the talk” pretty much right after you say yes.
Why does it matter so much? Here are a few stats:
- In 2018, the average couple spent $33,931 on their wedding in the U.S.
- In 2018, the average home cost $219,300 in the U.S.
This means based on a 10% average down payment, the average couple spent $12,000 more on their wedding than they will on their first home!
So, whether you and your partner are paying for your wedding or are lucky enough to have help – your wedding is a serious investment that deserves to be planned out as such!
How can I build an invitation budget if I don’t know how much everything is going to cost?
To calculate how much your wedding invitations will cost, there are 6 decisions you’ll need to make:
- Are you making them yourself?
- Where are you buying them from?
- What pieces will you include?
- What printing and paper methods will you choose?
- What embellishments are you adding?
- How are you mailing them?
How you answer each question will affect your budget in a big way!
To help you answer them, we’re breaking each question down and sharing the tips and tricks you can use to build your own. Click here for our free budget builder that'll help you keep track of everything!
#1: Do It Yourself Vs. Hire A Designer?
How you answer this question will set the course for your entire invitation budget!
The quick and dirty of it? Making invitations yourself will (usually) save you money but working with a designer will save you SO much time!
Depending on what kind of look you’re after, here are the 3 different invitation types to choose from:
Option 1: Hire a professional to create custom invitations for you
- Totally gorgeous and designed from-scratch for you by an invitation designer, custom weddings invitations are the crème de la crème – with a price tag to match! Made from the finest paper and print, this is the easiest way to make wedding invitations – because your stationer will take care of everything! Oh, and did we mention they’re the most gorgeous pieces of paper you’ll ever see? Yeah… that doesn’t hurt either!
- Cost: Because these invites will be designed from scratch and made with the finest materials, custom invitations typically cost between $5,000 - +$10,000 depending on how many invites you need, what pieces you add and who you’re working with.
- Why choose this option? Your designer will take care of EVERYTHING which means you can check more things off your to-do list faster and enjoy more time with your fiancé!
Photo by: Papel & Co.
Artisaire Quick Tip: Ask your designer about save the dates and day-of stationery! Many designers will provide beautiful packages (and sometimes even a discount) when you order all the pieces together!
Option 2: Buy a semi-custom invitation suite from your favorite studio
- The perfect blend of designer and DIY, you’ll pick your favorite design elements from a set of curated looks that the stationer has created, then they’ll put them together and print them for you! This means you’ll have beautiful wedding invitations thoughtfully made by a small studio or designer at a more conservative price point than fully custom.
- Cost: Investment for semi-custom invitations is usually $1,000 - $3,000 depending on what pieces you choose, how many invites you need and what “extras” you include!
- Why choose this option? Semi-custom invitations are brilliant because you get beautiful invitations at a more conservative price point than fully custom ones. If you love adding your own personal flair and being more involved in the design process – this also gives you the chance to wear your artist hat, while still having the guidance and beautiful quality that comes when working with a professional studio.
Photo by: Plume Calligraphy
Artisaire Quick Tip: Many stationers have add-on assembly services for their semi-custom invitation suites which is a HUGE time (and stress) saver! If you avoid DIY projects like the plague – paying for assembly services is totally worth it!
Option 3: Buy pre-designed invitations from an online retailer
- Ready-to-print, pre-designed invitations are a great way if you want to order your invitations online, quickly and easily. Bought from online retailers like Minted or Envelopments, these set invitation templates can be fitted with your text and printed quickly – which is great if you’re on a tight budget or timeline!
- Cost: Pre-designed invitations are the best budget-conscious option as they typically start at $1.90-$3.00/invitation (plus shipping).
- Why choose this option? If you're on a tight budget or simply want to put more of your budget towards embellishments like ribbon or wax seals - predesigned invitations are a great option!
Photo by: Enveloments
Artisaire Quick Tip: Always double check what pieces are included in the cost of your invites when shopping online! Things like envelopes, guest addressing, and postage can add up quickly and aren’t usually included in the price of online invitations – so make sure to factor in the total cost per invite when building your budget!
What Pieces Do I Need for My Invitations?
The next important thing to factor into your invitation budget is how many pieces you’ll be including!
Traditional wedding invitations include:
- The wedding invitation itself
- An outer envelope
- An RSVP card
- A return envelope (pre-printed with your address on the front and postage)
Other pieces you can add include:
Save the Dates:
- A wedding must-have, save the dates should be sent out 6-8 months before your wedding and should be the first things you add to your stationery budget.
- How much do they cost: $1.90 - $10.00 (will vary by style and brand)
- Filled with details like directions, transportation and a link to your wedding website – this is a great way to share important info with your guests without overwhelming your main invitation.
- How much do they cost: $1.50 - $5.00 (will vary by size/style/brand)
- Have guests travelling from out of town? Hosting a destination wedding? Share travel details, dates, hotel block information on one accommodations card for easy access – your guests will thank you later!
- How much do they cost: $1.50 - $5.00 (will vary by size/style/brand)
Wedding Website Card:
- Keep your invites free of your wedding website by creating a wedding website card so you guests know where to go for more info on the big day!
- How much do they cost: $0.75 - $3.00 (will vary by size/style/brand)
- Creating a custom map for your guests is a beautiful (and functional) keepsake that will help your guests find their way – especially if your venue is hard to find or a major part of your theme! Make sure to ask your stationer if this is something they offer!
- How much do they cost: As these are 100% custom pricing will vary widely based on brand and style. Starting investment: ~$3.50-$5.00/insert.
- Hosting activities several days leading up to, or on the big day? Share that info with your guests on an activities card so they can pick the events that interest them and plan ahead!
- How much do they cost: $1.50 - $5.00 (will vary by size/style/brand)
Artisaire Quick Tips:
- When shopping for invitations online, pay attention to what pieces are already included in your suite! Many studios will include envelopes with your invitations – so look for the term “X Piece Suite”, where “x” is the number of pieces included in that package price!
- If your guests are more likely to just send you a text with their RSVP for your wedding, even if you send them an RSVP card and return envelope – skip the return envelope and simply use your RSVP card with details on how to RSVP online! Just think of all the places you could reallocate the budget you would’ve spent on envelopes, addressing and postage!
- Mixing and matching different inserts together for your invites is a great way to add instant personality!
- Use a ribbon and wax seal (or belly band) to keep your suite stacked and organized! It’s beautiful and functional, plus your guests will feel like they’re opening a present – and who doesn’t love opening presents!?
What About Day-of Stationery?
There’s nothing worse than being a guest at someone’s wedding and not knowing what’s coming next or when (obsessive planners over here, remember?). Adding signage, programs, menus and other day-of stationery is a super helpful way to keep your guests at ease while you’re busy getting married! 😉
Building a budget for these pieces follows the same rules as your invitations: you can have them custom designed for you, you can order semi-custom day-of stationery from an independent studio or buy them pre-designed from big brands like Minted.
Things like programs, menus and escort cards will follow similar pricing to Save the Dates depending on where you buy them. Seating charts and signage can vary quite a bit more depending on how elaborate they are – so we recommend reaching out to specific vendors for pricing out these pieces!
Artisaire Quick Tip: If you’re working with a designer on custom pieces – make sure to let them know you’re interested in day-of stationery when you contact them so they can send pricing for what they offer!
How Will Different Paper and Printing Methods Affect My Budget?
If you’ve already gotten a quote back from your stationer (or have been looking at invitations online), you’ll likely have seen the million-and-one different print and paper options out there.
What on earth is the difference between handmade paper and cotton paper anyways, and why is letterpress so much more expensive than digital print?
Let’s go back to those handmade paper invitations you saw on Pinterest for a second – the ones with the ribbon and wax seals? If you counted the number of steps it took the stationer that created them to go from a blank sheet of paper to the invitation you fell in love with – it would blow your mind!
Invitations really are a labor of love – which is why knowing about paper and print will help you create the most realistic budget possible.
While we go into a ton more detail about paper and print types in this post, here are the most important things to know when building your budget:
- Digital Printing is the most economical option
- This style of printing is only available for certain paper (text and cardstock up to 110 lb. – 130 lb. cardstock)
- Printing methods like letterpress, foil, blind press require more steps, more equipment and specialized technique to create – so they will cost more.
- Choosing letterpress (with just one ink color) can increase the cost of your invitations by over 50% vs. standard digital printing.
- Standard cardstock (often called 110#) is the most common base paper option for wedding invitations.
- Double thick cardstock and handmade paper are premium products that require more robust printing methods – which means they will cost more!
Artisaire Quick Tip: As each brand will have their own pricing for paper and print, we recommend going directly to the company you will be buying your pieces from when building out this section of your budget!
Are you obsessed with embellishments? Same here!
Whether you want to add them all (three cheers for #allthethings) or plan to stick with one, embellishments can add up – so it’s important to add them into your budget!
If you’re ordering your own embellishments and assembling them at home, here’s what you can expect to spend:
- Wax Seals: $1.00-$1.50/invite (depending on size and whether you get them premade or not)
- Ribbon: $2.80/invite (for a full 18” ribbon wrap)
- Envelope Liner: $0.90/invite (click here to shop liners)
- Vintage Stamps: $0.30 - $4.00/invite (depending on rarity of stamp)
- Belly Band: $0.59 - $1.50/invite (depending on brand)
- Printed Overlay: ~$2.00 - $3.00/invite (depending on design + brand)
- Rubber Stamp: $15.00-$55.00 (depending on design + brand)
- Embossers: $25.00-$120.00 (depending on design + brand)
The best thing about these pieces is you can mix and match your favorites to create invitations that are all your own – making them perfect for adding your own flair to a pre-designed invitation suite!
If you’re working with a stationer to create custom or semi-custom invitations, make sure to let them know which pieces you’d like them to incorporate into your design during the consultation process!
Artisaire Quick Tip: Most stationers will offer embellishment and assembly services with their invitation packages which is a HUGE time saver – so be sure to ask about that!
Regardless of which ones you choose – make sure to pick these pieces before moving onto the next step, as embellishments will affect how much postage you need for your invites!
How Much Will It Cost to Mail My Invitations?
How much postage you need will depend on:
Most basic wedding invitations are sent out via First Class Mail which starts at $0.55/invite, but can range upwards of $1.00 for more elaborate ones (and several dollars for international mailing) – which is why it’s so important to add postage into your invitation budget!
To calculate how much postage you’ll need – it’s important to actually weigh and measure your materials to make sure you factor in an accurate amount per invite! The best way to do this is order samples of your invitation and all the embellishments you’ll be using to get as close of an estimate as possible.
For more information on general mailing invitations, click here for our Invitation Mailing Guide!
Artisaire Quick Tip: When calculating pricing, make sure you’re looking at the stamped price – not metered pricing (which is a different type of postage system)
As you can see, the cost of mailing your invitations can add up quickly, especially if you are working with multiple inserts (like a details card, RSVP card and custom map), extra thick cardstock, or embellishments like a wax seal – so don’t forget to add a line for postage into your budget!
In case you haven't downloaded our free budgeting tool yet, click the link below!
There’s nothing worse than having your invitations returned for of lack of postage – or worse yet, not being delivered at all so make sure to read our guide on How to Safely Mail Wedding Invitations!
There are too many details - isn't there an easier way?
You are totally capable of mastering this on your own, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, working with an invitation designer is the way to go!
Part of their job is to help guide you on things like design, budget and postage – many will even take care of buying the postage for you! These pros have years of experience safely mailing invitations – so don’t be afraid to hire a professional to take care of the details for you!
How Can I Save Money On My Wedding Invitations?
Your invitations are just one component of your big day – which means there’s always going to be give and take!
Here are some great tips for making the most of any stationery budget and creating the look you love:
1. Plan Ahead
- The farther in advance you can book your vendors – including those in charge of stationery – the better! Rush fees are one of the BIGGEST budget killers. Doing your research well in advance and building a solid timeline to work off of will save you from unexpected expenses later on!
2. Order Samples
- This simple step is a great way to save money when planning your wedding! When ordering anything for your wedding online, make sure to ask if your vendors have samples or product you can test to make sure it will work for you – this will save reorders, rush fees and wasting money on trial and error!
3. Choose a Leading Lady
- Your stationery doesn’t have to be 100% high-end paper and print! Choose one or two pieces - whether it’s the invitation itself, your seating chart, or even your save the date cards – and make those pieces totally unforgettable! Splurging on a few special elements and keeping the rest of your stationery clean and simple will still make a huge impact and look totally gorg!
4. Make the Most of Your Embellishments
- There are SO many creative ways to elevate your invitations with embellishments! Dressing up your invitations with a wax seal, envelope liner or silk ribbon can create fancy at any budget!
5. Think Outside the Box
- There are a million-and-one different ways you can create beautiful stationery! Feel free to get creative and create your own by using your favorite pieces like ribbon and wax seals in different ways! Love the look of silk ribbon but don’t have the budget for a full wrap? Use ribbon like you would a belly band, fastening it with a wax seal to create the effect, while using less yardage.
6. Always Expect the Unexpected
- Adding an extra 5% “rush” fund is a great way to account for any last minute expenses without breaking your budget!
Stationery by Little Carabao Studio
The Wrap Up
How does it feel to be one step closer to saying “I do”? Pretty good, right?
Now that you’ve built your invitation budget – it’s time to pick out all the pieces you’ll need for you big day!
Whether you plan on spending $100, $1,000 or $10,000 on your wedding invitations, be sure to read our Ultimate Stationery Guide where we’re sharing the must-have pieces you’ll need to turn your dream invitations into reality!
With that, let us sign off with one last reminder:
You’ve said yes to marrying the love of your life – have fun and enjoy this process! After all, it only comes around once in a lifetime! 😊
Happy budgeting friends,