Designing a bespoke wedding invitation suite: The 2 biggest mistakes you need to avoid to have a stress-free experience

It has always struck me as a bit odd that the lead up to the biggest and most wonderful day in a couple’s life is paved with so much overwhelm and stress.

Did you know that according to a 2017 survey conducted by the online wedding registry app Zola, 96% of the questioned couples rated their wedding planning as stressful? (What about the other 4%? Well, they’re clearly still too traumatised to tell the truth.)

And 40% specifically used the terms “very” and “extremely” to describe the stress of planning their wedding.

And there’s really no way to prepare for this. After all, your wedding is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime event. All of a sudden every little detail becomes meaningful and you’re faced with decisions from choosing the most delicious cake frosting, selecting the right colours for your napkins, all the way to finding the best seat for your great-aunt Ida (who doesn’t want to sit next to your second cousin Harry or your dog walker Ellie, but definitely somewhere close to the head table as long as it is not near the kitchen or a set of open doors - the draft, you know).

While I can’t help you with all of these big and small decisions, I can make sure that at least one part of the wedding planning process goes smoothly for you... your wedding invitations.

Designing a Bespoke Wedding invitation Suite: The 2 Biggest Mistakes You Need to Avoid to Have a Stress-Free Experience - Bespoke by Katha [www.kathazander.com/blog]


In my last post, I’ve shown you how easy and straightforward the process of designing a bespoke wedding invitation suite actually is. Today I want to expand the topic a bit and talk about the two biggest mistakes during the design process. Because the more you know about it, the less stressful and overwhelming it becomes. 

Sound good? Great. Let’s get started.


MISTAKE NO. 1: NOT ALLOWING ENOUGH TIME

Not having enough time can derail any project faster than I can run into the open arms of my future husband Sean Connery (also known as lightning speed). And it applies to all the different stages throughout the design process.
 

FINDING THE RIGHT DESIGNER

It all starts with finding the right designer for your bespoke wedding stationery and that takes time and research. Some of the most amazing talents I follow online are booked out up to six months in advance. If you have your heart set on a specific designer you should contact them as early as possible after your engagement to ensure a spot on their waiting list.

THE DESIGN PHASE

Once it’s your turn, you might expect your designer to start sketching away happily. That’s rarely the case though. A lot of care and consideration goes into creating a truly unique and one-of-a-kind invitation suite. And that takes, you guessed it, time. Most designers will want to have a chat with you and get to know you first before thinking about fonts and colours.

In addition, you need to plan for feedback and revisions for all of your stationery pieces. I also encourage my clients to allow enough time for a thorough spell check by a third person before the approved design goes to print.

THE PRODUCTION PHASE

Once approved, your invitation design needs to be sent to print. Depending on your chosen print technique, this can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Be aware that printers can get very busy in the run-up to major holidays, which can cause delays.

Also, allow time for other embellishments such as invitation calligraphy, envelope addressing or venue sketches.

Will you embellish your invitation suite with a wax seal or a ribbon? Will you curate a set of vintage stamps to complement your design?

A lot of little steps are involved in bringing your invitation suite to life and they all require thoughtful care and attention.

THE ASSEMBLY PHASE

This is a sneaky one and many couples are surprised to hear how long it can take to assemble a single invitation suite. Most designers offer to do this for you as part of the package so you don’t have to worry about finding the right glue or tying a perfect knot (no pun intended).

SHIPPING

The one thing people tend to forget about is shipping. Whether it’s the printer shipping your invitations or your designer ordering materials such as paper, ink or ribbons... it all takes time. 

I always try to source material as close to home as possible, but sometimes the best and highest quality materials are located overseas, which usually adds a few extra days to the timeline.

UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES

You should also allow yourself and your designer enough buffer time in case of unforeseen circumstances. Chances are that everything will go smoothly, but it can’t hurt to be prepared.

The post office can’t locate your parcel. A natural disaster strikes. You spill a bottle of celebratory red wine over your new pristine invitations.

If you think it’s all unlikely to actually happen, think again... After I received Michelle and Anthony’s invitations from the printer, I delivered everything to a local calligrapher. She lived in a beautiful house in the hills. Two weeks later a devastating forest fire hit the area and she and her family had to evacuate. 

Luckily no one got injured and the calligrapher was able to finish her work on the invitations within our estimated timeline.

Another designer I follow online wasn’t able to do any work for nearly a week at the end of last year when a hurricane struck her hometown and cut off everyone’s electricity.

It sounds strange thinking about what bad things could happen, all while planning the most wonderful day of your life. But if you’re prepared for all outcomes, you don’t ever have to stress in case things go a bit pear-shaped.

DAY OFF STATIONERY

Some stationery pieces won’t be fully decided until much closer to the wedding day, such as the menu, the seating chart, table names/numbers or place cards.

Their design will be heavily influenced by your invitations but you still need to allow time for not only finalising the design, but also production and shipping. Speak to your designer to establish a timeline that works for all parties involved. 

You want to try and avoid rush fees whenever possible. Those should only be a last resort as they tend to increase the cost unnecessarily. (Also, in my experience rush jobs almost always end up with typos, because you’re too stressed to check properly.


It’s a lot to take in, I know. If I can leave you with only one piece of advise, it’s to start looking for the right designer as soon as you have set the date and the venue.

You can find a lot of infographics on the perfect wedding planning timeline on Pinterest and the majority leave the invitations until three or four months before the wedding date. That’s fine if you opt for a template design, but a fully bespoke invitation suite needs more time.

 

MISTAKE NO. 2: NOT BUDGETING PROPERLY

Like timing, budgeting can cause you a lot of headaches if not done properly. To minimise nasty surprises, be fully aware of what you can and can't afford and decide accordingly.


HAVE AN OPEN AND HONEST CONVERSATION ABOUT YOUR BUDGET

The price per invitation can vary greatly. It can be as low as $2 and can go as high as... well, the sky is the limit. Letterpress and gold foil are very popular and beautiful printing techniques for wedding invitations, but they have a higher price tag attached than a digital print.

That price tag? Its size depends on a huge range of variables... the print technique and paper we'll choose, how many colours we'll use, how many stationery pieces we'll have, how many copies we'll need.

You see where I'm going with this? The options are endless.

Money talk doesn’t come easy to some people, but it is vital to chat about your budget with your designer. Don't be ashamed to admit if you have no clue about the costs involved. You've likely never worked on such a big and meaningful stationery project before, am I right? Don't just pick a random number and hope for the best. Your designer will be more than happy to help you out and make suggestions that'll fit right within your budget.

ORDER THE RIGHT AMOUNT

Always order more than you need. It will cost you more money if you end up having to print only a handful of invitations because you had a last minute change of mind. Or order only five more sheets of that handmade paper. Or only one more spool of that beautiful silk ribbon. I always advise my clients (ok, ok... I insist) to order 25% more than what they think they’ll need. 

Remember that calligraphers need a few test sheets to get to know the paper, and sometimes spelling mistakes happen and great-aunt Ida’s invitation requires another go.

Your designer will likely want to keep one or two invitations to photograph and show in their portfolio. And don’t forget about yourself. Surely, you like to hold onto one of your invitations as a keepsake too.

POSTAGE

The last thing you want is to have your precious invitations returned to you because you didn’t apply enough postage.

Take a printed and fully assembled invitation suite to the post office and weigh it. Have the correct postage for national and international delivery confirmed by a postal worker. And if you decide to add something else to the suite, weigh it again. A single sheet of paper can make a world of difference.

Since we’re already talking about postage, here’s a little money saving tip... square invitations always incur a slightly higher postage because they cannot be processed via a sorting machine.


And it’s a wrap. While time and budget are by no means the only two culprits that can derail the invitation design process, they are definitely the ones having the biggest immediate impact.

I will delve into some other issues regarding inspiration and mindset soon. You can follow me on Bloglovin for fast and easy access to that and all other all new blog posts.


Now I’d like to know... which of these mistakes surprised you? Which one would you have forgotten about? Let me know in the comments.


As always, I’d be forever grateful if you’d share this post with a friend who’ll find it as helpful as you did.


Thank you for reading.