Ok, take a deep breath... now exhale. No need to stress, you've got this!
There are many things you need to do in preparation for the big day including figuring out those invitations. Are you creative and crafty and you're going to attempt a do-it-yourself project? Are you certain you'll have the time for it?
Another option is to hire someone to do the work for you! Yes, it does cost money, but it will be worth every penny if it saves you from the stress of creating 100+ identical invitation suites and gluing your fingers together. Ink stamped fingerprints in the shape of a heart; cute. Burnt fingertips from the hot glue gun; not so cute.
So here's what you'll need to do when looking to hire a wedding invitation specialist.
1. Know your time frames.
Invitations should be sent out at a minimum of 2 months before the date of your wedding. Provided you've already sent out a save the date. (Which should be sent out at least 4-6 months prior to the wedding, and destination weddings should send save the dates out 6-8 months in advance.) If you haven't sent out save the dates or don't plan to, consider sending the invites out one to two more months in advance. (So 3-4 months before the wedding.)
This allows time for the guests to be able to plan ahead so they can book a hotel room, take off work if need be, or find a babysitter.
The RSVP should be dated to be returned at the very least 1 month before your date. That way you are able to figure out who is all attending and where they'll be sitting. This also gives the designer the opportunity to get all of the seating cards completed and ready to go! Plus, let's be real... You'll be calling a few people to find out if they're coming or not because they'll forget to send it back in time.
Give your designer appropriate time to work their magic! If you're looking for quality work that is crafted and planned well, don't ask someone to come up with an entire invitation suite 2-3 months before your wedding. Frankly, it's unfair. Unfair to you as the customer, unfair for your guests to get a last minute invitation, and unfair for the designer to jeopardize the quality of their work for a rushed job.
You should be in contact with a designer at least 4-6 months before your date. Or 6-8 months before if you plan to send out save the dates as well. Especially if you want more than just invites and RSVP's designed for your suite. That way you can plan for meetings, trial and errors, and test runs.
2. Figure out what your style is.
And stick to it!
The worst is having to change a clients entire design after it has already been done. It's not only frustrating for the designer but it will also cost you. Typically 2-3 minor changes are acceptable but when designs, embellishments, and papers are changed, that's when the price starts to increase.
That's why it's very important you know what you're looking for from the get go!
Elegant and traditional, simplistic and carefree, fun and quirky, you name it and Pinterest has it. Go take a look!
3. Copy cats never win.
Speaking of Pinterest. It's a wonderful place to find soooo much inspiration! And I love it when a client shows me multiple examples of invitation suites they find, but understand that as an artist and designer, it is very unethical to "steal" a design.
If you really love the look of a design you find on Pinterest, click the image. Nine times out of ten it will bring you to the artist who created it and you can place an order through them!
If you like the look of something you find and want something similar, that's a different story.
I, personally, specialize in illustrated invitation packages and love it when I get to create new drawings and artwork. It makes the whole process more personal and special because they're designed specifically for you! Take a look at some of my work by clicking here. You'll see some that have been designed very specifically for the client, and some that have been designed from something similar on Pinterest. Either way, I aim to please my clients by giving them unique and handcrafted works of art.
4. Be realistic.
And understand that sometimes you're not being realistic.
Designers and illustrators (including me) work very hard to please our clients by giving them what they desire, but if what you desire is not something that can be offered because of unrealistic expectations, then maybe a compromise is in order. If you're stuck on exactly what you want and there are no exceptions, you may have to search for someone who is able to give you what you're looking for.
But don't be afraid to ask! Don't just assume I'm am not able to achieve what you're looking for just because my portfolio shows certain looks. I'm usually pretty willing to attempt a new technique or design something out of my comfort zone if the client is understanding and patient.
5. Don't be a Fred Mertz.
You know, from I Love Lucy?
Cheap. Don't be cheap.
If you know what you want and that's how you want it, loosen the strings on your coin purse. It costs money to produce a product that is of good quality and will stand out from the rest. If you start haggling or try to squeeze in additional components of your invitation suites, it will only frustrate you and your designer.
Designers and illustrators bend over backwards, stay up til the wee hours of the night, and sacrifice their free time to make sure you love your products. With that said, we deserve to get paid an appropriate amount. After all, this is our career and not just a hobby.
So please, be mindful of this. You can absolutely ask questions about any concerns you might have. It's your right to know what your getting for the price you're paying, but don't ask things like, "Can we add itinerary cards for our guests when they check in to the hotel for the quote you've given me?"
Not only are you asking for a discount on handcrafted hard work, but you're now suggesting that for the same price you want an additional 100+ sheets of high quality linen card stock, design time, printing services, and manual labor for free.
Word of mouth is the best advertisement. Seriously. So if you love what your designer/illustrator has come up with for you, then shout it from the roof tops! People will ask, "Where did you get your invites done? They're beautiful!"
Let. Them. Know!
Small businesses need all the help they can get when it comes to client referrals! My business is just me, myself, and I doing all of the designing, the artwork, the printing, the cutting, the gluing, etc. etc. It's truly appreciated when a client tells their friends about a small business where they craft each invitation by hand with an enduring quality that makes a lasting impression!