Invitations and Photographers
i took a look at buying invitations and it costs so much! did you make your own invitations? if so, how? i really love the raised print you had. this seems a little daunting to me. i read about it on weddingbee and i'm not sure if i have the time. paper..stamps..font..printing...images...cutting...what's the deal? did you do engagement photo session? the idea is kind of cheesy but i wonder if i can find the right photographer. how much did you pay for your photographer and the package? i was wondering how much it is on the east coast.
They are ridiculous to buy I think unless you're deadset on letterpress/real embossing. We made ours. We designed them with InDesign. We gocco-ed the main invite, used embossing powder, and a thermal embossing gun. We bought paper from Paper Source, though I think if you like the weight/color of watercolor paper, it's much cheaper to get watercolor paper than precut invitation paper. You can make your own envelopes with a stencil too.
Time could definitely be an issue, but if you're planning a long engagement, it may be something to do a little bit of during the weekends. I was unemployed when I created mine--I assembled them with the help of my sister and Lakshmi and my sister's bf. Jon helped me stamp and double-check them off the list.
I think our stationery budget was about $500 (including invitations for 375--envelope, main card, rsvp, rsvp envelope--and thank you notes for the shower--and thank you notes for the wedding). We went for the discount of saving some % if buying x-packages of paper and after making the main invites, used the leftover paper for thank you notes of varying sizes. We recycled our main invites that were leftover for programs and the reception card for the reception menu.
I threw escort cards and real calligraphy under the bus because no one appreciates that stuff unless they've had a wedding in the last 2 years I think, so it all gets thrown out. Also, we decided against having an inner envelope because of paper waste too.
STDs: We decided against them since everyone we really wanted to come knew the date and anyone else would find out word of mouth (parents), and personally, it's just something I file away in a miscellaneous folder. Judging by how many people asked me about when my wedding was after they sent in the RSVP, I think that sending an STD would have been a waste of time, money, and trees. However, Jon's parents swear that their friends didn't have enough notice for our wedding because we didn't send out STDs, which is annoying because it's something they should have discussed at least once or twice in life before our invitations went out. I'm not sure how many people you're inviting from out of town, but I guess it would depend on that. If a lot of people need to fly in--STDs would be a good idea so that travel arrangements and time off can be arranged.
Stamps: They can be pricey, but they're so freakin easy to choose and use--just keep in mind they go up every year around the end of May--so if you're expecting RSVPs back in June make sure to use the Forever stamp.
Images: They can be hard to decide on. Really, really hard. Which is why we didn't use any images on our invitations. We almost used a block printing effect (photoshop) of the google maps of the locations of our events for the ancillary cards, but it looked too cluttered for us.
Cutting: Try to stay standard with the paper unless kinkos can cut it for you. Rounding edges while it looks nice is never a good idea for more than 75-100 pieces of paper. You will get blisters! and probably bored after awhile...and then mad at yourself for going ahead with this and then mad at yourself again because you can't stop now or else be inconsistent.
Engagement photo session: Some photographers throw it in with the package. I'm really not sure what people use it for. Some I guess use it for invitations and other projects. I honestly think they're best for people who don't have a bunch of pictures of themselves that they're happy with (like, say, you met your fiance 2 months before proposing). I don't know if a kind of fashion shoot is for most people, but I knew that if I made Jon do this with me he'd not be very cooperative.
During your engagement you will see tons of engagement shoots, but the only reason for them on a practical wedding level is to test your photographer out. Still your photographer's portfolio should speak for itself. If you do get a photographer for a free session and you're feeling iffy, I'd ask him/her to shoot the rehearsal instead. It'll be a better record for yourself I think--of course, unless you want to test the photographer out before the wedding.
We used Henry Chan: henryshoots.com. He has a flat fee that is competitive in this area. For less, you get college-type students looking for a break. For more, it's about $10,000 for more. We liked his portfolio. We hired him for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. For the rehearsal dinner we paid a little extra. We got the photos, and I think some of them are great. I found him on weddingbee (he did snowpea I think) and theknot, and then went to his website, and got really excited about his flat fee and his low key personality.