Getting Your Wedding Invitations Made
When you first start looking for wedding paper, there are a few factors to consider. Chief among them: where you will order from. Options abound, from small boutique stationers who create custom invitations for each wedding to large-scale operations that offer many different stationery lines.
If you're looking for a high level of customization -- especially if you want a design created just for you -- a small, local stationery designer is the right option. Choosing a boutique stationer means you're generally working directly with the designer and, in some cases, directly with the printer, too. You'll have more stylistic leeway and choices when it comes to the design compared to mass retailers. If you are the type of couple who is going to want tons of tweaks with multiple proofs (a preview of your invitation), the flexibility and hands-on approach of a smaller vendor is probably best for you. You'll typically pay more for the higher level of customization and it may take longer for a smaller operation to fill your order.
If you want to see myriad options in many different (predesigned) styles, from a big range of designers, visit a stationery store. At these larger retailers, you'll browse through catalogs and samples by various designers. While you may not be able to go as crazy with customization, with so many options, you almost certainly will be able to find a style that suits your wedding to a T. Even though the options are large in scale, there will be someone on hand to help you with the wording and any customized elements like maps or monograms. You'll also find competitive pricing.
Stationers have gone paperless too, with online wedding invitation stores that let you play with styles, colors, layouts, and more so you can see your designs come to life virtually before your eyes. In some cases, you can enter all of your information and view a proof instantly online. Others will mail you a physical proof within twenty-four hours, and many companies will gladly send you samples of paper types and styles as well, usually for a nominal fee (often this cost is credited back toward your order), so there won't be any surprises when you get your actual invites. You'll get some of the most competitive prices online.
Hiring a Designer
A graphic designer will create a one-of-a-kind design for you based on your vision and wedding style and may hook you up with a trustworthy print shop. But the process can take a while, so start looking for a talented pro early (eight or more months in advance). And be aware that this option can be costly and time-consuming, as you'll have to source and pay two people -- the graphic artist and the printer -- which could wind up being more expensive than a one-stop shop.
Doing It Yourself
For those on a budget, most craft stores have do-it-yourself kits called "printables." The design is done, the paper is cut, and all you need to do is put in your details and print them out using a home computer. Some online stationers also allow you to purchase their templates to design and print from (prices can run from $20 to $100 for the template, but don't forget to factor high-quality paper and printer ink into the equation). The designer selection is much more limited than you'll see at a stationery store, and making two hundred invitations is far more time-consuming than making twenty birthday party invites.