Continuing with my series on wedding planning on a budget, I’d like to take a look at stationary. Once you have a total budget for your wedding, you will probably want to look at venues and set s date. I will talk about cutting costs at venues in another post but with venues set and a date on the calendar, the next area you should look at is stationary. You would be surprised but these little bits of paper add up quick depending on what you want, how you want them to look and where you get them.
Stationary can be plain and simple or it can be elaborate, detailed and ornate. And stationary covers more than just the invitation. Here are some of the more common stationary items that people order:
- Invitations with envelopes
- Response Cards with envelopes
- Reception Cards
- Ceremony Cards
- Pew Cards
- Registration Cards
- Seating/Place Cards
- Table Cards
- Rain Cards
- Ceremony Programs
- Save the Date (if your wedding is over a year away)
- Engagement Announcements
- Wedding Announcements (for those not invited to the wedding but whom you still want informed)
- Thank You Notes
- Napkins/Matchbooks/Favor Items like ribbon or bags
You will also have the cost of stamps for anything you mail such as Save the Dates, wedding and engagement announcements, invitations and response cards as well as potentially if you feel it is needed, calligraphy.
Looking at this list there are three main ways to cut costs on stationary.
One: Cut It Out or Down
There are several items that may not be the most needed and can definitely be done with out or reduced in number to cut costs. The first in my opinion would be wedding and engagement announcements. With the advent of social media, there are very few people within our lives who are not somehow plugged in. Between Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and even what seems like antiquated email, almost everyone in our lives is easily informed through one of these sources. So unless you are throwing an engagement party, there is no real need for engagement announcements. Likewise for wedding announcements. If you do happen to have a few people that are not plugged in and connected to you electronically, then you can order a small number of announcements to cover them. And that being the case, I would also suggest doing only wedding announcements.
Another way to cut costs is to cut the calligraphy. Typically this has become reserved for the extremely ornate and formal weddings. So unless you are going formal, this is an easy way to cut costs.
Lose the pew cards too. You will most likely have assigned seating at your reception but leave it open for the wedding. You can easily coordinate with venue planners, groomsmen and family to mark off rows reserved for the bridal party and immediate family. There is no need for them to have a special card to hand to an usher before getting escorted. In my wedding, I marked reserved rows with bows in brown and teal. I also informed the groomsmen of who was to sit in these rows, which since they knew most of my husband’s family and mine was easy to spot and recognize (especially my uncle in his purple zuit suit), it was not a big deal.
Programs are another area you can cut costs by cutting from the list. The majority of people don’t take them or throw them away. So unless you have a unique ceremony that may be unfamiliar to your guests, have special features or like me you really wanted them, this is a fairly safe one to cut.
Menus are another area that you can cut down on the number. I do suggest having a menu posted somewhere so guests know what they are eating. You can do this by either having one standing menu at each table or you can do one large menu posted at the entrance to the dining area or if buffet, buffet line. One really cute way I have seen is to use a rustic chalkboard.
Registry information is another simple one to cute. First, its a little tacky and against protocol to include a registry card of some kind in the formal invitation but they are often included in bridal shower invitations. Many brides and grooms opt for wedding websites and this is a great place to put registry information. Lose the card…especially in the invitation.
Another item/items to lose are personalized matchbooks and napkins. Most end up in the trash or left behind so save the cash and use it else where. Little white cocktail napkins or napkins that coordinate with your color scheme work beautifully.
If Your Are Going To Print It, Make It Work Twice As Hard
If you are going to print something, try and make sure it does double duty for you. For example, instead of printing separate invitations, ceremony cards AND reception cards, if possible combine them. If you are inviting everyone to the ceremony but not necessarily the reception, include the ceremony information on the invitation itself and print separate reception cards in only the amount needed for those invited to the wedding. If everyone is invited to both, then list both sets of information on the invite such as:
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Jonathan Doe White
Saturday, the eleventh of October
Two o’clock in the afternoon
St. Dorothy’s Church
1234 ABC Street
Pasadena, CA 12345
Reception to follow immediately
The Awesome Banquet Hall
456 RST Avenue
Pasadena, CA 12345
Another way to get double duty is to combine the reception card with the directions or map card. One side can list the reception information such as address, special requests such as attire, etc. while the other side can either have a map or directions. Yet another way is to combine meal cards with response cards – are they attending on one side and what they would like to eat on the other.
Another pretty cool double duty is to allow your place card/name cards to serve not only as place cards but as a way to inform you serving staff who ordered what. At my wedding we did a gourmet meal of pan seared white fish with celery root mash and roasted sage or a salt and herb crusted beef tenderloin with creamy risotto and wilted baby pea shoots and guest had to choose between the meals before the wedding – in their response back. Neither my chef nor I wanted it to be a “garage” style questioning of each guest on what they ordered. So I took the opportunity to embellish my name cards with an easy way to identify who ordered what. A feather meant beef and stand alone jewels meant fish.
If you decide to have an engagement party, let your announcements also serve as invitations to the party. You don’t have to do two separate – announcement and invitation.
A true cost savings is if you are willing to do the work yourself. I did and my savings was huge and a fraction of what it would have cost me to have someone else do it. I would say from what I priced it done by someone else to what it actually cost me to do it, I save well over half if not 2/3 of the cost. And I had save the dates, menus for each person, name cards, embellished favors bags, programs, personalized wine labels, table seating cards, table number cards, beverage and candy bar items labels, personalized post cards, thank you cards, and invitations with reception/direction cards and response/meal cards. You can get simple kits from Michael’s that are easy to print. Doing this will cost with a coupon any where from $10 for a box of 100 plain white invitations to about $20 for a box of 40 more detailed and ornate cards. By adding simple embellishments, they can become completely custom and personal.
For my invitations, I took a simple kit produced by BRIDES and embellished it with my signature frog prince, a gun metal gray back mat and a sheer teal ribbon at the top. I used coordinating kits for the name cards and programs. For the programs, I personalized the front by adding in one of our engagement photos with Photoshop. I also used Photoshop to customize some plain white invitations for a Save the Date and later for my bridesmaid luncheon invitations. I also utilized Photoshop to make the printed cards for the Table Seating Cards (I also put a teal matt on the back and embellished with crystals and pearls), Table Numbers (also embellished with crystals and pearls) as well as beverage, candy bar and other station cards (also embellished).
I also used Photoshop and one of our engagement photos to create unique keepsake postcards for each guest using leftover response cards from an invitation kit I bought to make menus. I was not going to use the response cards so instead of throwing them away, I made a cute postcard and memory for our guests. I had found this invitation kit and thought it coordinated perfectly with my other stationary and would make great meal cards. Since our meal was a gourmet meal and was a huge important element to my husband and I combined with the fact that many of our guests suffer from food allergies, I wanted to make sure everyone had a menu. So to the invitation card, I added my signature frog prince, teal and brown matts, clear crystals and brown and white pearls. I also took to Photoshop to create custom toasting sparkling wine labels using our engagement photos as a resource et again.
The last thing I DIYed was my favor bags. For about $3 for a bag of 10 white candy bags and about $0.25 per embellishment, I customized my favor bag. I took an existing stamp that I had in my scrapbook supplies to create a monogram on the front of a square. I added pearls and crystals leftover from my other stationary and bits of white ostrich and peacock feathers to the top. The look super cute and several people have asked me where I had them made…if they only knew.
I will admit that these took me a fair amount of time to put them all together. BUT the savings was worth it. By doing it myself, it meant that I could use those funds elsewhere for other items I wanted but didn’t think my budget would allow like chiavari chairs and old fashioned card. To me that made it all worth while.