What You Can Expect To Spend On Your Invitations 

Everything You Need to Know to Get Started in Your Search.

This is the fifth part of a five part series. We want to help educate brides on the places you will search to find your perfect wedding invitation. Knowing where to start is a daunting task. Read Part 1 here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 here. Part 4 here.

I will preface this with the following: I am a custom and semi-custom wedding invitation designer, so I am biased. But, I want to help you make the right decisions for you, your wedding and your wedding budget. Sometimes custom invitation design is not the right fit for every bride, and I understand that. I am always here to help educate and guide, whether you are a client of mine or not.

This is real, unfiltered, un-sugar-coated advice.

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Part 5: Budgeting for Wedding Invitations

I’ve met with hundreds of brides and one of the first things we discuss, after the normal chit chat, is what they want to spend on their wedding invitations. Many times, their answer is, “I’m not sure. How much do they cost?” What a huge can of worms!

There are so many factors that can affect the cost of your wedding invitations. So, before you fall in love with something you can’t afford, keep this {all of the below} in mind:

The average wedding cost $26,989, according to Brides magazine (2012 numbers). If you Google wedding budget planner/breakdown/calculator/percentages, you’ll see outdated advice on the suggested percent breakdown to spend on your wedding invitations and paper goods. Suggestions range from 2-3%.

As I perused wedding message boards while researching this post, it seems that many brides are in complete shock when they price out invitations. I saw tons of posts with, “why are they so expensive!?!” and “I can’t believe someone would charge you that much for just some paper and some ink!

{Please stay tuned for another post regarding why wedding invitations are so expensive.}

I believe it is because the information on the web has led them astray as to what invitations really cost. 2-3% isn’t going to get you very far. Especially when Pinterest and style shoots on wedding blogs tempt you with expensive invitations.

I suggest that brides, who are a good fit with my services at least, spend 4-10% of their budget on wedding invitations and paper goods, which is a more realistic number.

Here’s a breakdown of what an average wedding budget and a percentage breakdown of what you can expect to spend on paper goods.

Where you fit depends on the priority you put on paper goods and how many invitations you need to order (your guest count / 2).

Below, I’ve broken down a low cost estimate of invitations and paper goods at an average quantity. Your over all percent-of-budget spent on wedding invitations and paper goods should include everything, including postage. And most wedding invitations, with 2 or more enclosures or double envelopes will need extra postage ($.65). We have an entire post about wedding invitation postagehere.

The average bride will need an invitation, save the date and wedding program. This invitation suite would include the invitation, a single envelope and an RSVP card with envelope. This pricing does not include envelope printing or calligraphy – that would be a DIY project or something you could pay for as an extra service by a calligrapher – as well as any embellishments like ribbon. This is a benchmark cost for an average invitation with average card stock, at a suitable weight, a simple save the date and program, all with digital printing and postage.

So, what can you expect to spend on different invitation styles?

  • $3-4: single layer invitation with 1 enclosure with digital printing, smooth, matte card stock
  • $4-5: single layer invitation with 1 or 2 enclosures with digital printing, linen, cotton or shimmery card stock
  • $5+: 2-layer or 3-layer invitation with 1 or 2 enclosures; printed envelopes will probably start at this level
  • $8+: Pocket invitations with enclosures
  • $10+: Pocket invitations with metallic papers, ribbons, rhinestones, lace or other embellishments.

So why all the ranges? It is impossible to give specific pricing because it all depends on your choices. I give these ranges out all the time during meetings, and brides smile and nod back at me like it’s totally fine. I go home to work 2 hours on a custom estimate only to send it to them with this response: “That is out of my budget.”

I’ll be extremely frank: you cannot get a pocket fold invitation with metallic paper and ribbon for $4 and invitation. It’s just not going to happen. A seller wouldn’t even begin to make a profit, let alone be paid for their time. And if you think DIY is the way to go, please read this post.

While I am being completely honest…if you purchased your wedding gown from a certain nationwide, chain, bridal gown store, who offers you 20% your invitation purchase when you buy your dress from them, you need to take them out of the box and look at them. They do not compare to an invitation you can get from a boutique invitation designer. And please don’t ask us to meet that price.

I see it everyday: a brides face, glowing from excitement, sitting across from me at an appointment, and they are quietly melting down because they can’t have it. It hurts for both of us, trust me. I want so badly to give you that invitation. But, I also have to put food on the table. It’s hard to talk people down off that ledge, so you have to be realistic.

I find that it helps for me to plug those ranges in with your quantity to see a true reaction.

Price of Invitation + Quantity = Total Cost

_______________ x __________ = ___________

 

{Another chart to help you visualize where you may fit, below.}

Brides, you have to speak up. It ends up being a waist of time for both you and the invitation designer. Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to sound like I only work with high budget brides. That is not the case. I just want to be able to give you what is in your budget. I don’t want to disappoint you.

Budgets shift throughout the wedding planning process. You may find a dress that is $4000, when your budget was $2000. If you have to have that wedding gown, that additional $2000 has to come from somewhere else in your total budget. And as much as you try, you will most likely go over your overall budget.

So, when you ask a custom wedding invitation designer, “how much do your invitations cost?”, we can’t necessarily tell you. We have to give you a range. But, if you know your wedding invitation budget (which you should have a good idea after reading all of this, we can help guide your choices to help stay within that budget range.

That is also why you shouldn’t start your search until you have a better idea of what your total budget will be for wedding invitations. Most likely, you’ll end up being disappointed because you picked out an invitation that you can’t afford. You’ll need to start over.

Be smart. Be realistic. And be happy with your choices. There is something for everyone.