Sunday, January 19, 2014

FAQs: Can letterpress wedding invitations be affordable? Can I save money on letterpress stationery?

Hello letterpress lovers!

Today I am going to address two big questions I hear from many paper-loving brides and grooms:
  1. Can we afford letterpress stationery for our wedding?
  2. How do you save money on letterpress wedding invitations? (a.k.a. is it possible to get cheaper letterpress wedding invitations?)
So let's start at the beginning. Can you afford letterpress stationery for your wedding? Right off the bat I want to dispel a big myth about letterpress wedding stationery: letterpress is not always ridiculously expensive or totally beyond your budget. Yes, letterpress is synonymous with luxury and is definitely a higher-end product; but it isn't always out of reach. Because it's our business to know how our prices compare to pricing for alternative stationery options, I can tell you that some alternatives (including digitally printed wedding suite collections you find in wedding stationery albums in wedding boutiques) are just as expensive, and sometimes even more than what you could do with letterpress. It might take some creative thinking or some small changes to your specifications for your wedding stationery, but letterpress can still be an option for your big day!

This leads us to question #2 – how can we save money on letterpress wedding invitations? How can we keep our costs down and fit letterpress into our budget?  We've got ten tips to help:

1. Know what you want. This tip actually applies to the preparation you should do before working with any wedding vendor. As a designer, my work involves taking your style, preferences, aesthetic, tastes and overall vision for your wedding day, and then putting all these things to paper. The more details you provide me (or your floral designer, wedding photograher, wedding planner, chef, etc.) with, the better and easier it is for me to understand what you want for your wedding stationery. The clearer you can articulate your vision, the better it will be for your stationery designer.

A few years ago, there was no such thing as Pinterest,, or Clipboard, etc. Today there are many tools available to you for collecting your ideas for your big day, pinning colors, highlighting flowers and making design and mood boards. Luckily, anyone can easily and quickly make a design board to show their designer/wedding vendor and make sure he/she understands your vision. I even recommend that my brides and grooms make mood boards of stationery/designs they dislike – sometimes seeing what a person dislikes can be as useful as knowing what he/she likes.

Example Pinterest Beach Wedding Board via Rosslyn {SampleBoard} 

The more you can communicate about the kind of stationery you want, the easier and faster we can meet your stationery design needs, and the less time (and resources) will be required to do so.

2. Have good timing. I always recommend ordering your wedding stationery as far in advance of your wedding date as possible. One reason for this is etiquette (we recommend inviting guests at least 3 months in advance of your wedding date, and up to a year [or more in some cases] in advance of destination weddings), and the other reason is to make sure you have lots of time for the design and printing of your invitations. If you do not leave enough time for the design and printing of your letterpress wedding stationery (letterpress pieces take longer to print than digital or offset options), and you have say two weeks to get your stationery ready, this will unfortunately mean paying rush fees. No one wants to pay rush fees!

3. Watch for letterpress wedding invitation deals. Throughout the year we offer specials and booking bonuses (on this letterpress blog, at VanCity Blog and on our Facebook page and Instagram feed), so keep those eyes peeled!

4. Decide which letterpress wedding stationery pieces you can live without. How would you feel about having a reply postcard instead of a reply card and reply envelope? Could you live without a separate reply piece entirely? Are you open to having the reply information (i.e. via email or a website) on the invitation itself? We've had brides and grooms that have sent invitation postcards only, without envelopes or reply pieces whatsoever. Savings can be found if you are open to non-traditional wedding suites and can eliminate a piece or two from your wedding stationery order.

5. Consider alternative sizing for your letterpress invitation pieces. Most brides and grooms opt for a traditional 5" x 7" (A7) invitation + outer envelope, and a 5" x 3.5" (4-Bar) reply card + reply envelope for their letterpress invitation suites. However, no one ever said that smaller sizing is not allowed! For example, consider an A2 (4.25" x 5.5") invitation instead of an A7 invitation for savings on your paper costs.

6. Drop the extra ink colors and include color in your stationery in other ways. For each ink color on a letterpress stationery piece, the piece has to be run through the press one time x total number of copies. So for a 100 piece two-color letterpress wedding invitation, the invitations would be run through the press once for the first color and once for the second color (or 200 passes total). This also means two separate printing plates, two separate press set-ups, and two separate press clean-ups. So as you can guess, this means two times the labor costs and time, and two times the ink costs. If you stick with one ink color you can eliminate all the extra costs involved with extra inks.

If you want to use more than one color in your letterpress wedding stationery, there are alternative – and more cost-effective ways – ways to do this. One option is to print on colored paper instead of white paper. You can use two of your wedding colors this way without the added costs associated with an extra ink color. Another option is to include a colored belly band printed in your one ink color with your names or wedding date, or even a favorite quote. Yet another option is to add in color by using colored envelopes instead of white, or by adding in colored ribbon or other colored detail without it actually being an extra printed ink color.

7. Consider a less expensive paper. Our more expensive house stocks are Crane Lettra and other thick cotton artist papers, especially at the higher weights (i.e. 150-220 lb. and up). These thick papers are wonderful for taking a letterpress impression; however, there are many other papers that still take a nice impression even if they are not as thick or as textured. Paper itself rarely makes up a huge portion of letterpress printing costs, but a less expensive paper can mean a little bit of savings overall. We have many paper options for your letterpress order, so ask for samples to find what works for you.

8. Consider some partial DIY. You can save yourself some money here and there if you are able to take on some of the work for your letterpress wedding stationery. You can't really help with the printing, but if you want extra finishes like tying ribbon or folding or gluing belly bands yourself, then that is a cost that can be saved. If time is short however, or if you are not the crafty type, then this might not be a cost savings option to consider. Sometimes the frustration of DIY is just not worth it!

9. Trim the fat. This sounds really harsh! But if you really want letterpress and your budget is tight, consider ways to cut down your guest list. Can you invite multiple members of a family that live at the same address with one invitation instead of multiple invitations? Are there guests that are on your list that you really never wanted to invite in the first place – like your third cousin in Norway that you've never met but that Grandma insists has to be invited? This tip is really one you can apply to the entire planning of your wedding celebration if budget is of great concern. Be honest with yourself and your parents and anyone else who insists you should invite someone you don't want to invite – and trim the fat.

10. Consider look-alikes. If you are head-over-heels in love with the look of letterpress but just cannot make it work in your budget, all is not lost. We can always take a letterpress design and print it digitally for you. You might not have the textured impression of the letterpress print, but the design can be the same. We were designers long before we were letterpress printers and we want to work with you on your wedding invitations – letterpress or otherwise. We're happy to help find options that fit your budget and make a lasting impression!

I hope this information has been useful for you! If you have any questions or would like to discuss the design and printing of your letterpress wedding stationery and how to stay on budget, please contact us. We look forward to working with you!

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