Good Sunday to you ESB,
I really enjoy the vendor-perspective articles (the DJs, the caterers, other sponsored posts) and I'd love to hear the definitive statements made for or against printed invitations and other wedding ephemera. "Do I need printed invites, why the f* do they cost so much?"etc. That would be cool.
I've looked through the blog, but maybe not hard enough...
I have not taken a stand on this. Though I did once go on a tear about save-the-date postcards.
Here's a little perspective from my friend Joanna, who worked for three years as the custom and production manager at Sugar Paper (and continues to do freelance lettering design for them, even as she embarks on a badass career as a costume designer):*
Why should we bother sending traditional paper invitations?
Let's start by considering the alternative, which is most likely sending an online invitation to your guests. It's pretty tragic for someone to spot your wedding invitation between an emailed ad from Target and a daily Garfield comic strip. We spend most of our time on the computer, working or communicating with our friends and family electronically, so it's important to separate the gesture of inviting a loved one to one of the most important events of your life from, say, TPS reports and cat videos. Also: "I didn't see your invitation because it went to my spam folder"? Lame, yet totally a possibility if you email a digital wedding invitation to everyone.
You have to remember that receiving a non-junk, non-bill item in the mail is a really lovely thing. When you're planning your wedding it's easy to justify axing paper invitations by saying "everyone is just going to throw our invitation in the trash anyway, so why waste the money?" First of all, no, not everyone is going to just throw your invitation in the trash - sentimental pack rats still exist, and I assure you there are some in your life. Second of all, while it's true that invitations are a limited-use item, so are a lot of things about your wedding, and you're probably not going to poll your guests about whether they think you should spend money on a dress you'll wear once or flowers that will be dead in 2 days. It's not really your problem whether or not your guests will cherish your invitations forever, nor is that the point of sending them out in the first place.
The bottom line: you are asking your friends and family to join you on an incredibly important day, and since they love you they will put in time and money to be there with you. Sending each of your loved ones a physical invitation for your wedding is a special gesture, especially when you consider the returned gesture of traveling thousands of miles to see you get married. Or, look at it this way: you're throwing a big party where you and your partner are the theme and a bunch of awesome people (who also think you're awesome) are joining you to celebrate. For once in your life let your communication wear an amazing outfit too, alright?
So…why is it that wedding invitations are so %$#*ing expensive?
It just depends on what you want. You can order invitations online for $1 or less, though you can expect the print and paper quality (as well as design limitations) to reflect that price. Options for invitations range from plain old digital printing to thermography to traditional letterpress with the price range to match. It may sound ridiculous to spend $15 per invitation, but once you consider what goes into your wedding paper it starts to make a lot of sense:
1. Whether you work with an invitation company or a single artisan, a lot of time is put into your invitations doing skilled work. From my experience working at an established letterpress studio, I can tell you that a handful of very talented people who are really good at specific parts of the process spend way more time than you would imagine producing your invitations. To you it seems like you simply send someone an email with wording, see a customized proof, and a few weeks later you've got your goods. In reality, there was typesetting, editing, plate-making, cutting, hand-feeding, measuring, inspecting, trimming, counting, lining, and packaging - and that's for each piece of the invitation suite.
2. There are super high quality materials available and good invitation companies use them on a regular basis. The options are limitless when it comes to paper - 100% cotton archival quality museum board, sheets with soft deckled edges made in Italy, even paper containing wool fibers for deep letterpress impressions - and the most luxurious kinds have much higher costs because of the craftsmanship and care that go into producing them.
3. Added details and assembly take time and skill. One of my first big projects at Sugar Paper was completing production on a 300-invitation wedding order that required carefully measured and stitched satin ribbon sleeves with an additional thick silk bow tied around the entire package. The assembly took me a week to complete, but taking the time to do precise and clean work meant the client received a beautiful product that I was very proud to have worked on. That is what you pay for when you hire someone to take care of the details for you - sharp eyes, careful fingers, and the treatment of your invitations as their own.
Do what you will, but just remember that your wedding is one of the best excuses you'll ever have to create fancy and custom paper goods for yourself.
Also: I hear the U.S. Postal Service could use the work.
Lettering by Joanna Reynolds
*This is NOT a sponsored post. It's just Joanna being rad.