Wedding invitations are totally out of control — here’s how to save money


Be careful how much you spend on your wedding invitations. It could set you up for a wedding that’s beyond your wildest dreams — and budget.

Some people say wedding invitations should come with an estimate of how much the wedding will cost for the guests. Even a moderately priced invitation can cost as much as $1,000 for a wedding with 150 guests. That’s about as much as the average guest actually spends attending the wedding.

The average American wedding costs more than $35,000, at least for those who use the wedding site The Knot, and is the culmination of countless decisions — each with its own price tag — over months of planning. There’s food, music, flowers, attire, favors for the guests, gifts for the bridal party, not to mention the venue and the dress.

And making those decisions can be difficult. Weddings tend to dredge up sensitive issues for couples and their families. “The entire wedding industrial complex is predicated on our emotions,” said Erin Lowry, author of “Broke Millennial” and a bride herself.

The average amount couples spent on wedding invitations in the U.S. last year was $408, according to The Knot, but for big budget weddings that cost up to twice the national average, couples spent $1,000 or more. The invitations set the tone for the wedding, said Lauren Kay, senior style editor of The Knot. “Invites are the first thing they’ll see about the wedding day so you want it to reflect your style,” she said.

Some argue invitations set the standard for how much both guests and the couple should spend. A gold-embossed invitation signals a lavish wedding and a gift to match, while a homemade invitation on recycled paper might suggest something more modest.

Put another way: Invitations are the classic “open your wallet” item for couples and their wedding guests — the psychological barrier that gets people spending money. In stores, this could be anything from a rubber spatula in a home store to those tiny candles sold near the entrance.

“They are horrifically expensive,” Lowry said. “Even if you try to do them for cheap, when you add in postage and you have a big guest list, that adds up very fast.”

Also see: 3 weddings and a tight budget

Some couples send out save-the-date announcements in addition to the invites, and also print RSVP cards, information cards about how to get there, and thank you cards after the event. Small touches like a lined envelope or a wax seal can cost an additional $50 and up. And don’t forget the price of postage.

There are many ways to get the word out about the big day without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Here are a few:


Many online vendors have made invitations less expensive, by allowing couples to pick a design or create their own and print mass quantities at a low price. Sites like Vistaprint, Zazzle and Minted offer brides and grooms various options, including one-page invitations or booklets that share all of the wedding details.

For a simply designed 5” x 7” invitation using a standard matte paper, the cost is less than $1 per invitation for 50 on Vistaprint. For linen paper, the price rises to about $1.20 per invitation. For a square floral invitation on Zazzle using a semi-gloss cardstock, each one is $1.58 for quantities of 50. “It is very easy to get overwhelmed by choice, so this narrows it down,” Kay said.

Jenni Park, a bride who works as a training and development specialist in Kansas City, Mo., chose to order invitations online and make her own RSVP cards. She and her fiancé went with a classic foiled invitation but then they noticed that adding the matching RSVP cards would cost up to $2,000 more, she said.

To avoid that extra expense, they ordered their invitations and envelopes from Minted but designed a postcard on Photoshop for the RSVPs that Park then had printed at Staples for $30. In total, the couple spent under $600 for a total of 140 invitations. They opted to pay an additional $87 to print return addresses on the back.

The do-it-yourself option takes time and is more a labor of love, Park said. “I wouldn’t say it was cheap by any means,” Park said. “Even if you do it yourself, you end up spending the same amount on printing to get a quality product.”

Of course, the wedding e-vite is one free and convenient option. Dustin Herlich, an IT specialist in Chicago who married in 2015, said he and his now-wife had considered e-vites so they could allocate more money to other parts of the wedding, but ended up choosing traditional invitations because of the older guests in their families. Lowry and her fiancé chose to send digital invitations — only printing a few paper copies for parents and siblings. Though untraditional, e-vites can also set the expectations for a wedding in a positive way, she said. “So much of our wedding is not traditional,” she said, adding that she didn’t wear an engagement ring and isn’t wearing a traditional gown.

Also see: These couples saved thousands on their weddings — here’s how

Another way to save money is to limit the amount of information on the invitations — fewer details means you can get away with a smaller card. Many couples create wedding websites (which you can do for free on wedding planning websites), to provide details about the events, couple, bridal party and registry. Park said she spent about a week building out her site and writing the stories and bios. “Putting the time and effort into it was a bigger deal for me because of details and a lot of information I didn’t want on the invite,” she said.

Moderately priced

Papyrus and Paper Source are two brick and mortar establishments where couples can customize their wedding invitations and feel the materials beforehand, but depending on where you live, there may also be local boutiques available nearby too.

After rejecting the e-vite option, Herlich and his wife compromised on a simple, but elegant, invitation they found at a shop in St. Louis, Mo. His in-laws paid for the wedding, including the invitations, and he estimates the total cost of invitations and save-the-dates was about $1,500. They also designed and printed their own save-the-dates from an online shop.

Don’t miss: 5 brides share their wedding regrets (hint: don’t skimp on the photographer)

Of course, the more elaborate the invitation design, the more couples will spend, even if they purchase those invitations online. Designs can be laser-cut, or open on all four sides. One set from online boutique Invitations by Dawn, which includes the invitation, ribbon and envelopes, costs more than $300 for 48, or $6.33 each. Matching response cards, information cards and thank you cards are available for an additional price.

On magnetStreet, a marble-designed set of invitations with pockets and matching envelopes costs about $350 for 50 (or nearly $5 for each invitation).


For those with an unlimited budget, invitations can include fridge magnets, pressed flowers or even tote bags, Kay said. Ordering 100 personalized wedding tote bags costs $300 from one Etsy vendor, and magnets can cost about $95 for 100.

Some couples even turn their invitations into a mini event by mailing them in boxes that guests open like a present.

Lovely by Lela, a luxury wedding invitation boutique, sells handmade boxes for $18 each. For 50 boxes, each of which comes with a ribbon and a holder for the invitation, the price is $1,000. The invitations are an additional $100 on top of that. The company says its other “couture designs” run up to $100 per box.

Etsy sellers are also creative with the wedding invitations, but they don’t come cheap. Bulgaria-based vendor VioletInvitations sells scrolled invitations in boxes. The paper is wrapped around cinnamon sticks with ribbon and a small flower tied around. It costs $431.91 for 50, or almost $9 a box.

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Source : MTV