Thinking of printing your own wedding invitations? Zola breaks down the pros and cons of being your own printer.
While printing wedding invitations yourself can be a budget-friendly route, there are a host of other considerations to account for before diving headfirst into the highly complex task of designing, printing, and coordinating your own wedding invitations with success—and style.
In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of taking on the task of crafting your own wedding invitations, so that you can decide whether the DIY route or the old-fashioned way is right for you.
The best way to stack up the advantages and disadvantages of printing your own wedding invitations is by looking at each pro and con side by side.
The most common reason why couples may choose to print their own invitations themselves is the cost.
Professionally printed wedding invitations can get expensive, sometimes shouldering up to four to six percent of a couple’s wedding budget. The bill for wedding stationery—from Save the Dates to wedding invitations to thank you cards—can quickly climb into the range of thousands of dollars.
If you and your partner know that wedding stationery is one of the last things that you want to shell out for your wedding, then printing your own invitations might be the right choice for you.
The fact is that even if you skip professional wedding invitations, you’ll still have to foot the bill for the expenses associated with doing it yourself.
Printer ink, for instance, is notoriously expensive—often more expensive than printers themselves. You should also expect to spend money on:
To save money on materials, it’s best to buy in bulk, but be sure to sample and run a print on your selected material before you buy in large quantities. Personal printers tend to be temperamental, and if you’re feeding it thicker cardstock in higher volumes, you’ll want to know that your printer can handle it before putting money down on the materials.
A selling point of print-your-own wedding invitations is the unmatched level of personalization that you and your fiancé can give to your cards. Maybe it’s been a challenge to communicate what you’re looking for to a designer, or perhaps you and your partner aren’t wowed by the invitation designs that you’ve browsed thus far.
If getting your invitations exactly as you envision them is important to you, and you want to minimize any outside interference in that vision, then forging ahead and printing your own invitations may be right for you.
Even so, it’s best to get an idea of what DIY designs are out there and to have some templates in the mix to brainstorm your own take. Here are a few tips for coming up with a plausible plan for your custom invitation design:
Do your research – Before diving into your DIY project headfirst, take some time to tool around the internet and get inspired by the wide variety of designs available online. To keep it organized, create a folder of invite inspo on Instagram, a Pinterest board with invitations, and/or a cloud-shared photo album so that you and your spouse can browse together.
Know what to look for – If you’ll be printing on your own, bear in mind that home printers are better suited to airy designs with a light color palette—not to mention the expense on ink you’d rack up if you opted for a dark color palette. If, in the course of your research, you find that the elegance of noir-ish wedding invitations appeals most to you, you may want to reconsider making your own and have your invitations printed by a pro.
Consider visiting your local print shop – Even if you’re designing solo, you may still want to consider taking your invitation to your local print shop to consult with an associate. They’ll inevitably have some valuable feedback on getting the best possible print, and you may even decide to save yourself the trouble of a possible printer jam at home and let them take your invitations from the computer to print.
Printing your wedding invitations yourself gives you full creative license to put pen to paper (or cursor to design software) and conjure your dream invitations. If getting crafty and being in full control of your vision sounds up your alley, printing your own invitations may actually be a welcome way to decompress from other wedding planning stresses and tap into your creative side.
You’ve done your research, you have a vision, and you’ve even rustled up some templates online to get started. Now, it’s time to execute.
To mock-up your wedding invitations, you’ll need, at minimum, a computer, a printer, and a good pair of scissors. However, unless you’re going for an ultra-deconstructed DIY wedding look, those three utilities probably won’t translate to a very handsome wedding invitation.
Couples who want to DIY their invitations with a polished result usually have the following at their disposal:
If you or your spouse-to-be is proficient in graphic design softwares such as Adobe InDesign or Photoshop, they can be excellent resources to use to design your invitations. These programs can be expensive, so there are also open-source programs available online for amateur designers that you can use to house your design.
What’s more, there is a whole bazaar of free wedding invitation templates to be found online, so there is no need to build your own invitation from scratch. Zola’s wedding stationery portal lets you browse hundreds of invitation designs, as well as options to upload a template with your own original design and customize the material, size, foil lining, and more.
You may find that even if you have a crystal clear idea of what you want, translating that to paper can be unmanageable—which is why tools like Zola’s wedding paper portal are there to simplify the process of execution.
If you and your partner have creative spirits, there’s no doubt that making your invitations together can be loads of fun. So much of wedding planning can be stress-inducing or unnecessarily divisive, and having a way to get your hands dirty together can be a wonderful way of collaborating closely on a wedding project, rather than dividing and conquering.
Furthermore, spending time together investing your time, energy, and creativity into something that’s special to the both of you will always result in cherished memories. DIY-ing your wedding invitations may just be the date night you’ve been waiting for.
As a kid, you may have spent hours immersed in a crafty activity when suddenly your mother entered the room to tell you that it was dinner time. Sadly, it’s not always a cinch to enter that kind of flow state as an adult.
Whether or not you notice the time going by, know that making your own wedding invitations is very time-intensive. What’s more, if you’re prone to frustration or tend to stress about misusing time, getting embroiled in the project of designing, printing, and mailing your own invitations can be tedious work that could take much longer than you bargained for.
Before deciding to DIY, ask yourself which you’d rather: Is it more important to save time or money?
If the answer is the latter, be sure to manage your time strategically, according to the following recommended timeline:
When to order your materials – Place an order for your materials two weeks before you start the design process.
When to undertake the design process – To make room for any bumps in the process, try to begin designing four to six weeks before you send your invitations. Start by putting in a few hours of work each week on writing, designing, proofing, and printing your invitations.
When to send your invitations – Wedding invitations should be sent to guests six to eight weeks before the wedding date.
In general, the earlier you start, the more stress you’ll avoid later down the road.
No matter the enterprise, human error is always a factor in any creative endeavor.
In general, the more complex the details of your wedding, the more information will likely be on your invitation. For instance, couples who hold their ceremony and reception on different days, or in different locations, will have more invitation wording to print on their cards. Alternatively, you may like the idea of using multiple invitation designs or insert cards to convey the different tenors of wedding-related events.
In either case, the complexity of your wedding invitations or invitation suites will inevitably raise the likelihood that a printing error may ensue.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of reconciling someone else’s mistakes when it comes to wording, designs, printing styles, and special add-ons—as well as any extra expenses those mistakes might incur on your time and finances—you may simply feel more confident taking your invitations into your own hands.
Mistakes, technical difficulties, and unforeseen obstacles are just par for the course, and you’ll probably run into at least some of them when printing your own invitations.
Here are a few tips for avoiding some all-too-common pitfalls for printing solo:
Buy more than you need – To save yourself some trouble in advance, always be sure to buy extra materials to cushion for any hiccups along your journey of DIY wedding invitations. Depending on how many invitations you need to make and what design you have in mind, you may find in the end that it may actually be more cost-effective for you to have your paper printed professionally.
Find a reader – Before hitting “print,” always run your designs by your partner or a friend to check for typos, errors with dates, or any missing key information. After staring at the same design for too long, your eyes (and your brain) will inevitably become used to any inaccuracies. You’ll need another pair of (well-rested) eyes to ensure that any mistakes are caught.
Work in small batches – Printing in large volumes can lead to paper jams, which can lead to misused materials, which can lead to major delays and unnecessary expenses. Before sending all of your invitations to print, print a few blank copies, then a few test copies, and work in groups of 10-15 pages to give your printer a break between batches.
No matter what printing shenanigans may come up in the process, above all, remember to keep your perspective. You entered into this project for the fun and creativity of the process, so don’t let the technical snafus get you down.
There is a third option when it comes to deciding the mode and medium for your wedding invitations: going electronic.
Digital invitations may be better suited to you because of their:
If you’re planning a wedding on short notice, you may simply find e-invitations to be the quickest way to get the word out. Designing, printing, and sending paper invitations via snail mail may take too long for your purposes, in which case issuing your invites with a click or a tap may sound great to you.
For extremely casual affairs, the electronic invitation may convey to guests the tenor of your event; however, if formality, tradition, or the specialness of paper mementos are important to you, e-invites may be better left to a less momentous event.
If you’re still on the fence about whether to print invitations yourself or go with the pros, it’s critical to learn about the options available to you when it comes to soliciting the expertise of a stationer.
Four key factors will determine the cost of having wedding invitations professionally printed:
Furthermore, most wedding invitations are actually the centerpiece of a wedding invitation suite—a mailed parcel featuring the wedding invitation, supplemented by any (or all) of the following inserts:
A popular way of avoiding the added costs of these inclusions is for you and your partner to create a wedding website. Wedding websites are a convenient way of notifying guests about any information that typically supplements a formal invitation, and for making updates as plans evolve. Zola offers hundreds of easy-to-use and free wedding website templates where you can publish event details, receive RSVPs from your guests, and even house your wedding registry—at no extra cost.
An explanation of the four main types of professional printing methods can give us an idea of why this element of your wedding can be so hard on the wallet.
Digital printing – The advent of digital printing, while still costly, is the most budget-friendly option for couples who are looking to save, while enjoying the expertise of the professionals. Cards and inserts are designed on digital software and printed with printer ink. Digital printing typically begins at a minimum of $700 for 100 invitations.
Thermography and offset printing – Rather than using standard printer ink, offset printing uses manually mixed ink to get the exact color that you want on your invitations. When thermography is used, a fine powder is transferred to the ink which gives a textured feel to the print of your invitation. This kind of printing costs a minimum of $1,200.
Letterpress – Letterpress takes a high degree of physical labor to produce: Printers manually arrange your wording on the chosen stock to create a custom pressed invitation. The end result yields a subtly unique invitation for each guest, the same way looking closely at a snowflake will reveal distinctions between structures. In letterpress, a set of 100 cards typically costs $1,600.
Engraving – Without question, engraving is the most formal (and pricey) way to have your wedding invitations made. The wording of your invitation is embossed into a copper plate, which is then inked and applied to the card stock (or other material). The effect is undeniably elegant, giving a raised effect to the lettering, and typically starts around $2,200 for 100 cards.
Aside from actual printing costs, most wedding invitations or invitation suites are gussied up with other trimmings. A few popular add-ons are:
Of course, the flip side of the scaled expense of professionally printed invitations is their impeccable craftsmanship and look. If you really want to honor the specialness of the occasion, and give your guests something to hold onto as a keepsake, it may be best to skip the DIY project.
Whether you’ve elected to work with a printer or have successfully made your wedding invitations solo (if so, way to go!), you’ll want to make sure that all the work and heart you’ve poured into them doesn’t go to waste.
Here are few tips for sending your creations through the post successfully:
Plan ahead – Because wedding invitation suites are heavier, it’s always a good idea to take a sample suite to the post office to weigh it before applying postage to the envelope. If you’re concerned about cost, it’s always advisable to add as much information as you can to your wedding website, rather than overstuffing your paper enclosures.
Make things easier for your guests – If you can afford the extra postage, it’s always good etiquette to provide postage for your guests’ RSVP cards. Not only will it save them a stamp, it can also make the response time quicker, which keeps RSVP tracking more organized.
Consider hand-processing – At the post office, mail can be handled in one of two ways: by man or by machine. To ensure your invitations are treated delicately, you may want to request that the postmaster sorts them by hand. This will cost extra, but it can mean the difference between your invitation arriving in one piece, or a bit worse for wear.
If you have any concerns about your invitations making it to your guests, your best bet is to use a guest list manager to keep a record of your recipients, track their responses, and follow up with any guests who haven’t gotten back to you yet.
Zola’s Wedding Guest List Manager can give you the reinforcement you need if any issues arise with the post office, plus double as a portal for RSVPs, menu selections, and interface for sending wedding updates to guests.
To DIY or not? If you’re still weighing your options on that particular question, know that there’s a way to strike a pitch-perfect balance between shaping your wedding invitation designs to your liking, and achieving a professional-quality end result.
Zola has a diverse range of wedding papers, including:
If you have your heart set on a DIY design, you and your partner can easily upload, fill out the details, and send it off to the Zola printers for the same professional look at a fairer price.
What’s more, with free envelopes and free guest addressing services, there’s no need to worry about your budget taking a hit. For more on beautiful, affordable options for executing your wedding plans with sophistication, visit Zola’s website and discover all the tools that you’ll need to plan your celebration.
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