Ideally, wedding invitations should be mailed out 6-8 weeks before the big day to give guests time to make arrangements to attend and RSVP back to you.
The first step is to get organized. This is where a large tabbed file folder comes in especially handy! Begin by making a list of the people you just can’t stand to get married without them there. This will probably be mostly relatives and close friends. Ask your parents and the groom’s parents to provide you with a list of who they would like to invite. Make sure you have accurate addresses for all your invited guests.
One caution here: don’t think you HAVE to invite everyone you know. If you haven’t talked to your high school tennis partner since graduation, he or she probably doesn’t need to be invited. And don’t get all caught up in possibly offending someone by not inviting them to your wedding.
Often, people get sick of attending weddings for people they barely know or don’t keep in touch with. Unless you talk to them every week at least, chances are pretty good that they won’t give it a second thought when your invitation doesn’t arrive. Remember, you’re trying to save some money on your big day. Extra people means extra expense – cut corners here.
Once you have your guest list, you’ll have an idea of how many invitations you’ll need. Next, you’ll need to pick a design.
Wedding invitations shouldn’t be a big expense for you. Yes, when it’s delivered all pretty in its customized envelope and small tissue square inside, it can make an impression – for about a minute! Most people read it once, note the date, take out the RSVP card and throw the invite away. So why spend a lot on them? Remember, we’re trying to save money here!
The obvious thing to do with your invites is to create them yourself on your personal computer using FREE or inexpensive digital stationery. You can use Microsoft Word, OpenOffice or just about any desk top publisher (DTP) to create beautiful custom invitations that are ALL about you!
There are also inexpensive programs and websites out there specifically made for creating stationery, invitations and greeting cards. The best part about buying programs like this is being able to use it again after the wedding is over! These types of programs and websites have saved me time and again when I need to print out a special occasion letter or card (Birthday, Anniversary, Graduation) at the last minute when I’ve lost track of the month or date!
Just do a search on the web for “free-stationery.com” or “free-photo-greeting-cards” and you’ll find an assortment of sites and software.
When creating your own invitations and stationery, you can easily buy heavy card stock at most any office supply or discount store. I would also propose that you consider some pre-designed FREE stationery which is also available all over the Internet.
I don’t recommend pre-printed stationery if you are really trying to save money. You know, the kind you see in the stores in packs of 50 or 100 pages. There just aren’t as many stationery designs to choose from and most of the really nice ones are almost as expensive as those you would have custom printed for your wedding. The digital stationery has taken over and have 1000s more designs to choose from for a real-you kind of feeling.
Most inkjet printers today, especially the best ones with individual color ink tanks, can print on heavy card stock or card template paper at less than 5 cents a page.
Don’t have a good printer or just not really hyped up on using up all your printer’s ink on your wedding invitations? Not a problem… Take your invitations or stationery to a specialized copy shop or office supply store. They can usually copy onto whatever paper you want (heavy card stock, pre-printed, etc.) and in color if you choose and your budget allows.
It’s still a lot less expensive than having custom wedding invitations made.
If you are really on a budget and one of the crafty and artistic types, you could also print out simple text of your invitation then use rubber stamps or embossing powder to decorate them. Keep in mind, though, the number of invitations you’ll need to embellish. If you’re looking at a few hundred, you could be up late nights just decorating all of them!
The traditional practice for wedding invitations is to put the invitation inside an envelope and then place that envelope inside another envelope. The budget conscious say: Why bother? One envelope is plenty and you’ll only need one stamp to mail if you use just the one.
If you’re doing your own invitations, check with some small local print or card shops for leftover envelopes they might have. You can buy these at hugely discounted prices. You may even get them free just to get them out of their store room. Don’t get freaked out if you have several different sizes or styles. How many people are going to compare wedding invitation envelope sizes before, during or even after the wedding? It will be our little secret 😉
If you need to have RSVP’s, consider putting it on a small postal size card. That way you eliminate an envelope and it adds to the convenience for your guests. All they have to do is fill it out and drop it in the mailbox. Of course, you’ll have to provide the stamp for this card.
Consider also printing reception information directly on the invitation itself. For an RSVP, provide a phone number and/or e-mail address for guests to respond to. Not only will this save you on postage, you’ll have all the information right there for your guests to refer to before the big day instead of them having to save a separate reception card.
You can use labels to print out addresses on your computer. We would suggest getting the clear labels as it just looks better. The most prominent label maker is Avery. Their website offers free templates to print out your labels, so you may want to check that out before struggling with a software program.
OpenOffice Suite (free from OpenOffice.org) and MS Word both come with most standard Avery templates built in. Just use the envelope page menus and you are all set.
If you don’t like the impersonal nature of address labels, by all means, address the envelopes personally by hand. You can get information about calligraphy online or just use your best handwriting!
Just remember, computers don’t have to be impersonal either. There are hundreds of calligraphy and hand writing fonts out there. A little searching on the web and you can even have your own handwriting made into a custom font.
Some brides don’t want the hassle of do-it-yourself invitations. We happened to have a friend who sold wedding invitations as a side business at an incredible cheap rate and she offered up a discounted rate as a wedding gift. We ended up with 300 invitations for just $60. Not everyone can be that lucky, however. Search for “home business online greeting cards” for the most savings and best service.
Finally, when it comes to wedding invitations, one of your largest expenses is going to be the postage. You really have no control over that unless you’re the Postmaster General and even then, I doubt it helps! You may want to hand deliver some invitations to save on postage. Especially to those that you see every day at work and in your neighborhood. I know I would prefer to have the bride or groom personally hand me their invitation. It tells me I’m special to them and I know it’s saving them the cost of a stamp!