When it comes to choosing wedding invitations, the options are seemingly endless. As couples choose paper, colors, printing methods, and accents, the price can start to really add up. Unless you regularly interact with your local stationery store and printing press, it can be confusing to understand all of the options and how they'll affect your wedding invitation budget, so we tapped experts Kristen Bozzone Armstrong and Katherine Robbins Hollensteiner to break it down.
Meet the Expert
- Kristen Bozzone Armstrong is the COO of Cheree Berry Paper, an award-winning graphic design firm.
- Katherine Robbins Hollensteiner is a senior project manager at Cheree Berry Paper.
Couples should set aside four to six percent of their overall budget for wedding invitations. "The biggest factor that goes into the wedding invitation prices is the way the invitation is printed," says Armstrong. "The cost of the paper itself—while there is going to be some variance—isn't going to make a huge difference when you're talking about 100 to 200 invitations."
What's Included in an Invitation Suite
A wedding invitation suite is the complete set of invitations and information that you are sending to each of your invited guests. Typically, all of these items are designed with matching colors, fonts, and paper selections. Here is a breakdown of the elements that will compose your invitation suite.
Your wedding invitation is typically in the front of your invitation suite. It will note all essential elements of your wedding, including the date, time, and location.
A belly band is a thick strip of fabric or paper that you can use to keep your invitation and all of your enclosures together inside your envelope. Belly bands can be customized with your names or a monogram.
Your invitation suite can contain several enclosures, depending on the size and type of wedding you're having. Cards inside can be used to note the location of the wedding, information about the wedding reception, transportation options, attire, accommodations, or the itinerary.
One of the purposes of your invitation is to find out who will be attending. Traditionally, guests are sent a response or RSVP card that they can mark (accept or decline) to let you know if they will be coming to your wedding. You can also ask invitees whether they're bringing a guest and what their entree choice will be for dinner. Some couples opt for a digital RSVP, so you may want to think about whether you want to manage a digital guest list or if you prefer getting lots of cards in the mail.
You will need postage to mail your invitations. The Postal Service offers a variety of designs that can complement the color and aesthetic of your invitations. If you include a return envelope for RSVPs, you will also need postage for that.
Wedding Invitation Printing Methods
Here are the four ways wedding invitations are printed and how they affect the price.
1. Digital Printing
An invitation suite with all four cards, digitally printed, will probably run you anywhere from $700 to $1,200 for a set of 100. "The most budget-friendly option is digital printing," says Armstrong. "This involves setting up a file on the computer and hitting print. Because everything is done digitally without the need to manually mix ink, it's a good choice for anyone who is printing invitations where there are many colors."
2. Offset Printing and Thermography
"A suite of 100 invitations created using offset printing or thermography usually starts at $1,200," says Armstrong. "Offset (flat) printing has a similar feel to digital printing, but the inks are mixed and then the design is transferred to your invitation through a press," she explains. "You get a higher quality print and can get very specific with the exact shade of color." Thermography is similar to flat printing except that powder is added to the ink so you get a raised texture on the paper.
3. Letterpress Printing
Expect to spend about $1,600 on the low end for 100 letter-pressed invitation suites, advises Armstrong. "The higher cost is due to the amount of supplies and manual labor to create custom presses for each design and color," she says. "On top of the base price, each additional color will add an additional 25 percent to your costs."
Engraving "is a very labor-intensive process and the same suite of 100 invitations will start at around $2,200 if you choose engraving," says Armstrong. "The most extravagant form of printing is engraving, which gives a formal, embossed look."
Wedding Invitation Accents
On top of printing, accents factor into the average cost of wedding invitations. Here are some popular wedding invitation add-ons and how much they'll run.
1. Foil Stamping
For a full foil stamp on a set of 100 invitations, anticipate an additional cost of $1,800 for a set of 100. If you choose just to do gold foil accents, the cost would be closer to $400 per 100 invitations." It's common for wedding invitations to come with foil accents. For example, the couple's names might appear in copper, gold, rose-gold, or silver-foil stamping. "Usually foil stamping is done as an embellishment," says Armstrong. "The couple might want their names in gold foil, for example. Recently, however, couples have been wanting full foil stamp sets. It's definitely a trend we've seen grow recently. As a full set, it does get pretty expensive because a plate has to be created.
2. Blind Debossing and Embossing
Blind debossing and embossing accents will cost $300 to $400 per 100 wedding invitations. These are done using the same process as letterpress but without ink. When you blind deboss, you create a depression in the paper, and with embossing, you create a raised text. Monograms, family crests, or other small accents are often debossed or embossed.
Edging costs $150 per 100 wedding invitations. The edge of the invitation can actually be painted onto paper in a thick stock. "As the guest pulls it out of the envelope, they will notice that subtle detail," says Hollensteiner.
4. Bevel Cut
For 100 wedding invitations, this will cost around $400. A bevel cut is when the edge of the wedding invitation is cut at a 45-degree angle and then painted, making the edge more visible from the front than an invitation that is only edged. This is usually just done on the main wedding invitation.
5. Wax Seals
Adding wax seals will cost $200 to $300 extra per 100 wedding invitations. The traditional way to create wax seals is to pour liquid wax on the envelope and stamp it to create a design. Now, however, you can use raised stickers with permanent adhesives that look really authentic and save a lot of time.
6. Insert Cards
A set of 100 insert cards can range between $150 and $500 depending on the printing method. The most common wedding invitation insert is a reception card, which is often used when the reception is at a different location than the wedding. A welcome party or brunch preceding the wedding also commonly goes on an insert card. "We suggest that insert cards are printed in the same way the invitations were," says Hollensteiner.
7. Envelope Liners
The price per 100 wedding invitations is around $250 to $400 for envelope liners, with solid colors on the lower end of the range and patterns on the higher end. "Nine out of 10 of our invitations include a paper envelope liner, whether it's a solid color or a pattern," says Hollensteiner.