Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ordering Your Wedding Invitations: What to Expect

Every newly engaged bride-to-be has seen “the timeline.” In wedding magazines, on wedding blogs, little check boxes precede the various tasks that take place during wedding planning and when each one should happen. Book a photographer: six to 11 months prior to the Big Day. Write your vows: six weeks. And invitations? Well, that’s a tricky one.

(View an enlarged version of our wedding timeline)
It’s pretty standard that invitations be mailed out about six weeks prior to the wedding. However, many brides don’t consider the amount of time it takes for the actual invitation ordering process and what is actually involved. Choices can be overwhelming (printing process, ink color and typestyle, just to name a few) and several appointments are usually needed before placing the final order. Finally, there’s the amount of time it takes to actually print the invitations, which depends on the complexity of the invitation.

In our Real Weddings series, we always ask our retailers for their expert advice on this subject. Here, we thought we’d share some of it:

What questions do you always ask at that first meeting with a bride?

Andrea Ranno, The Paper Trail
: I first take the bride over to my invitation wall (a magnetic wall that has every style of invite) and ask them to point out what jumps out at them. This is usually how I gauge how modern or traditional they are. From there, I ask if they have anything in particular in mind. I ask questions about how they met, where they got engaged, what the bridesmaids are wearing, what they’re eating at the wedding. I am a details person, and I want my clients to feel comfortable here. They are entrusting me with such an important task: making them look fabulous on paper for the biggest party they will ever throw!

Estelle Baker and Dorothy Bridger, The Fisherman’sWife:
We try to ask questions that help us get to know the bride and learn about her style—traditional, modern or in-between. We also find out the particulars of the wedding—location, time of day, colors, “general feel” of the day that our bride desires. 

What advice do you have for brides who are ready to make their first invitation appointment?

Paper Trail: Come prepared with your entrée selections (if need be), addresses for church and venue, hotel info, a general idea of headcount, ceremony and reception start times. Be open minded—just because I don’t have the exact invite that they saw on Etsy doesn’t mean I don’t have something for them. Have fun with the process. This isn’t spinal surgery, it’s wedding invites. It should be a blast!

Trish Martini, Soiree Andover: Start early! We recommend beginning the process at least four months prior to the wedding, but as in anything...the earlier, the better. There is so much involved in planning a wedding that it is better to cross things off the checklist so that the client gets a chance to enjoy the whole process.

Wendy, Partners in Paper: The more information about her wedding (logistics), the easier it is to pull together all the parts: Invite, response card/envelope, reception card. If there is anything that is important to her (for instance, costs? Timing?), express this early in the process so your retailer can help answer your concerns early on. 

A bride should come well ahead of production, understanding that the process takes time. For instance, usually I have my calendar and we discuss the timing so bride has plenty of time to send envelopes to calligrapher. I will tell a bride that she should have a sense of quantities and begin to refine the number so when time comes to decide on final quantities, she knows how many to order. I always explain the importance of this because if she has to come back and order an additional 25, it is super expensive. 

I work to make sure all is calm, fun and productive when a bride is at an appointment with me. All of the above helps this to happen. 

When it comes to choosing wedding invitations, how is today's bride different from those five years ago?
Paper Trail:
Just about every bride that comes in now has a digital album on their iPad of invites they saw online and loved. Pinterest has made my job much harder! Weddings seem to be more “themed” than they were five years ago. Brides come in with a “rustic barnyard chic” theme. It can be challenging at times. I am very traditional when it comes to paper, so I try to convince them to go with something simple and elegant… timeless. A Chanel suit is and always will be in style… even 50 years from now. Wedding stationery should be the same way!

Soiree: Today's bride has a lot more access to ideas with social media and websites dedicated to wedding design. They are able to create their wedding style using these images as inspiration. It's a great resource for us as well since the client can show us what she's envisioning.
Partners in Paper:
Most brides want the same things, five years ago or today: A wedding invite that reflects their style and the celebration being planned.

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