Friday, January 11, 2008

Guide to Choosing Invitations- Part 1

Because invitations are our specialty, I thought it'd be a good idea to do a guide for choosing your invitations based on our experiences over the past three years.

Budget: Your first consideration should be budget. That probably seems obvious, but invitations can get expensive, particularly if you want extra goodies like boxes, pocketfolds, ribbons, nameplates or other specialty items. If you are considering a specialty invitation and are working on a budget, don't just go with it because it seems cool- make sure you really need it (but hey, if you've got the funds- go for it!!). If the only card going in the pocket is an RSVP, consider going with a more traditional set-up. A custom invitation can still be fabulous and full of personality without those pieces.

Custom-designed vs. standard invitations: Custom invitations is a phrase you'll see bandied around the internet quite a bit. And, we'll guarantee that it means something different to most people. But, in our research companies that claim to be offering custom invitations are really offering personalized or customized invitations. So what's the difference? First, those invitations are usually from companies like Carlson Craft, Birchcraft and the like. The designs are set in stone, though you can personlize the wording and occasionally you have a few color options available to you. These invitations are beautiful, but they aren't custom designed. So what's a custom-designed invitation? It's an invitation with no preconceived design or set-up. It might include custom created illustrations or exclusive designs that a particular company carries. It could be something no one has ever seen before. There are companies out there that carry what I would consider custom-designed invitations, but are set designs, available in a number of pre-chosen colors. But these are small companies that carry exclusive designs that you'll most likely only find with that one company, rather than on websites across the internet.

With your budget set and a decision made on which route to go (custom or other), now you're faced with the daunting decision of choosing just the right invitation. Custom-designed invitations (at least with ours) allow you to pretty much do whatever you want (provided it's in the realm of possibility). You'll have tons of color options, set ups, fonts and illustrations to choose from- so how do you narrow it down? Well, hopefully by this point, you're working with a theme or a color scheme. Or perhaps you really want to go eco-friendly. A good stationer will narrow down your choices for you and show you what's best for your situation, not push something on you that they want to sell. Your stationer can also help you stay within budget, which may mean making some tough choices (like forgoing the pocketfold when you don't really need it), but usually you can still get the look that you want that's still within your means.

Timeline: Custom invitations can take time- a good 4-6 weeks (sometimes even longer), so be sure that you are leaving enough time. Most companies recommend starting no later than 4 months, and prefer working about 6 months out. This gives you plenty of time to worry about proofs, printing, assembly and mailing without having to rush. If you are short on time,the big companies like Carlson Craft can usually send out your invitations in 48 hours, arriving within a week.

Remember, all companies are different. Some, like us, include assembly with your order. Others charge per assembled layer, and prices can vary. Higher-end invitation firms charge a premium for this, so be sure that all of your costs are spelled out when you receive your quote. You'll also want to check on their policies in case of mistakes, and how they'll rectify the situation.

If you have a question about choosing invitations- feel free to e-mail us and we'll post the answer here! (info @, just take out the spaces). Or your answer may end up in part 2.

Look for Part 2 to our Invitation guide- coming 1/16- in which we'll talk about print methods and other goodies!

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