How to Afford Your Custom Wedding Invitations

Most couples expect they will only marry once. Accordingly, every aspect of their wedding is important. It is almost impossible to prioritize the importance of menu, venue, wedding dress, wedding cake, or wedding invitation. On a scale of 1 — 10, each item scores 10.

This means a very expensive wedding depending on size. But, you can manage each of these items, as well as every other item on a wedding planning list, to get the best value for your money. Let us use wedding invitations as an example.

Geeks will encourage you to use email. There are many nice, free downloadable invitations designed for email. However, non-geeks and the wedding couple usually prefer something they can hold in their hand and admire as it hangs on the refrigerator.

Practical people will advise that the party and ceremony are more important than the invitation. They like the idea of buying inexpensive boxed wedding invitations that you fill in from the local big box office supply store. Nothing says romance quite like Office Depot! If you desire a wedding that has class and panache, this is not for you.

However, you can afford gorgeous custom wedding invitations! However, there are some tricks to controlling cost. They are not secrets, just common sense ideas.

Start Early

Once you sign the contract for the venue, and the date is set in soft stone, it is time to begin working on your wedding invitations. The more lead-time you give yourself for planning your invitations, the more likely you are to get what you want.

Make a Budget

The key to making a budget that works is to include every expense in the budget category, using realistic numbers, and make sure you are creative. For custom wedding invitations, your budget should include:

  • Cost of a graphic designer
  • Printing Expense
  • Paper Expense
  • Postage

Graphic Designer

Someone has to design an invitation for you if it is to be custom. An artsy friend may sound like a good idea, but consider the following:

  • A professional graphic designer can make adjustments on the fly to stay within budget.
  • They understand that understatement (a single panel invitation) can be cost-effective and elegant.
  • They understand paper choices and weight, which are key to keeping postage costs under control.

Finding a designer is not as hard as you think. Contact a printing shop and ask if they can recommend a designer for you. Using a designer recommended by a printer is no guarantee that you will like their work, but you should ask to see their portfolio and ask for other recommendations from clients they have worked with. You can hire an excellent designer for between $250 and $500.

If that is too steep, contact your local graphic arts college program. They often have advanced students who have the knowledge you need and are willing to design for less. They also usually have a portfolio that you can view to get a feel for their work.

Printing Expense

Two things have the most influence over printing expense. They are design complexity and choice of paper. Elegant designs come from a graphic design on plane stock, single pane paper. Simple is better when cost is a concern.

Another design feature that influences cost is ink colors. Single color is the least expensive. As you add inks, you add costs. A single bold color choice is all you need to create an impressive wedding invitation.

Card stock is cheap, high linen content paper is not, but an excellent design can disguise a less expensive paper. In addition, suggestions from a graphic designer often include substitute papers that look much more elegant than their cost would have you believe.


Papers that weigh less save on postage. Postage rates can get very expensive quickly if you choose a non-standard size invitation requiring special handling. Remember, weight and shape influence postage costs.

Include an RSVP card. After all, tracking down who is coming and who is not can be a burden. You do not need to include a stamped return envelope for the RSVP card. That will add weight and that means added postage plus the cost of postage for the card. Suggest that your guests can mail the card, email you, or leave voice messages. Make sure your contact information is available.

Modern wedding invitations often include RSVP information on the invitation itself. This further saves on weight for postage and saves the cost of printing and paper for the RSVP card.


Everyone wants some personal touch to the invitations. Bling of some sort is a great surprise when an invited guest first opens the invitation. Getting the most value is something your graphic designer can help with. Certainly, lace or crystal bling is pretty, but a foil envelope liner can be just as lavish looking.

Another factor in adding that wow factor is the number of invitations. Small wedding parties have an advantage as the incremental costs of adding a crystal embellishment and an envelope liner may be less than an envelope liner for a large wedding party that has as many as three-hundred invitations going out.


This topic is currently very controversial. Wedding etiquette strongly suggests that invitations be hand addressed. The etiquette is hand addressed, not work of art. But, if you have a real sloppy handwriting, calligraphy is most likely advisable. According to Martha Stewart, wedding invitations should be hand written; printed labels are not acceptable. She does suggest that computer calligraphy that prints directly on the invitation envelope and not a label is becoming more popular and is appropriate. Using computer calligraphy can save large amounts of money!