Things your Stationer wishes you knew

We are almost at the end of the series – just two left.  Today I give you things your Stationer wishes you knew:

*Please don’t hire someone who claims to create ‘custom stationary.’  When referring to paper goods, stationery is spelled with an ‘e’ not an ‘a.’  Your stationer is going to be dealing with a ton of details – if they can’t even get the most basic information regarding their own company correct…can you really trust them with your details?

*Custom invitation design is a very detailed and unique process and often I feel clients do not understand why the cost is more significant than ordering from an album.  It always surprises me when people who are willing to spend $4.25 on a generic greeting card from Hallmark balk at the price of a 4 piece wedding invitation set that has been custom designed exclusively for them.  After all, which is more important – the card you sent to your brother for his birthday or your wedding invitation?!

*Regarding those giant albums that many brides order from – those manufacturers are literally printing thousands of invitations at once, which is why they can offer lower prices.  I am only creating and printing the amount you have requested.  That is actually a huge benefit to working with a custom designer – we generally don’t make you order in multiples of 25 – need 57 invitations?  You can order 57 invitations.  Not so with the big guys.  You also won’t have to worry that your guests just got exactly the same invitation from another bride the month before – that is what custom is all about.

*As with virtually every other vendor you will be working with, I will need to know up front how much you have to spend. Please be honest with me so I can be honest with you.  I will do all in my power to create exactly what you want. If, however, your dream is to have your invitations letter pressed into two-by-four in multiple colors, please be prepared to spend some bucks. I often compare it to building a custom home — of course we can import the rare marble floors from the quarry in the Italian countryside, but are you prepared to pay for it? Just because it can be done doesn’t mean that it will fit in your budget.

*While I can give you a general idea or range of how much my work will run, I cannot spit out figures immediately.  Please don’t get frustrated with me when I can’t tell you what invitations or a program or escort cards will cost off the top of my head – I don’t know if you want a single panel card or a 12 page booklet, if you want it on a specialty paper or embellished in some way.  The options are literally limitless.   Once I have an idea of what you would like to see, I can give you an idea of how much it will cost.

*Please use words other than “nice and elegant” to describe the type of design you are looking for.  If you can’t think of any other words, try describing specific elements from home decor, fashion, jewelry and other things that you like.  Those will give us an idea of your style which we will translate into your invitation.  Also, please bring along any color swatches, any styles or ideas you have seen that you love along with the quantity needed and your budget.  All those things will make the meeting so much easier and get you to an invitation you love that much more directly.

*Please do not wait until two months before your wedding to order custom invitations and then expect to have your order rushed at no extra cost.  If you want to have custom invitations created, please research and book your designer at least 5-6 months before your wedding.  It will cut down on an incredible amount of stress for you and ensure that you get exactly what you want.

*Designers are not perfect and clients need to understand how important it is to proofread every single detail of their wedding invitation before they officially sign off to go to press.  The stationer will not be held responsible if you have not taken the time to double check all the details for errors and have given them written consent to move forward with printing.  It can cost the client a significant amount money to have them reprinted.  Make sure to have at least two other people proofread for you – more is better than less.

*I always recommend ordering anywhere from 10-20 extra invitations to account for last minute additions in your guest list. Many brides will claim this won’t happen, but I swear that roughly 99% run into this problem. It’s ridiculously expensive to have the printer print out the 5 extras you need after the fact, so please listen to your designer. Extras are a necessity – order them up front or pay upwards of double or triple for them later.

*Along this same line, understand that printing is a front-end loaded cost. You are paying for the set-up, plates, inks and/or dies created for your project. Paper is cheap comparatively speaking. Which again is why printing those 5 extras can be so pricey.

*As a designer, there are so many things that go on behind the scenes to create your stationery. You’re not just paying for paper and printing. Here is a rundown of what I typically go through with each client:
-Initial meetings typically run 1.5 to 2 hours.
-Once I have an idea of what you’re looking for, I will spend anywhere from 2 to 5 hours researching. I have dozens of vendors for paper, printing, ribbon, envelopes, etc. Who makes this envelope in this specific color? Where can I get the perfect satin ribbon to match your bridesmaids dress? All of this goes into the initial research phase.
-Once I have the materials selected, I will draw up an estimate which can take several more hours depending on the amount of items we’ll be creating.
-In addition to the researching (which mainly entails web searches and phone calls) I may also create a mock up to determine the perfect size and shape. Bam, a few more hours. And that’s just the beginning. Don’t forget the late night emails I field when you’ve decided to switch the color palate or have a minor freak out about how we should describe the condiments you’ll be listing on the menu. (This has really happened, folks!)
-I will also likely meet with you several more times to go over the design, layout, etc. Throw in an occasional trip to the printer to ensure the ink colors are matching my spec sheet and to make sure the invites are printed and cut straight. Finally, I still have to assemble and deliver the final product to you.

Now hopefully you can begin to understand why I charge more than the giant album companies.  There is true value in what we as custom stationers/designers do and the value in what you’re paying for.

Thank you to all my stationer friends who contributed!  Much appreciated!  Tomorrow we are going to wrap up this series with the one closest to my heart: Things your Planner wishes you knew!  I have gotten input on this from planners literally around the country – cannot wait to share with you what we wish you knew!!!

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