At least one time every week, I receive an email from a bride and groom hoping to find a specific type of stationery for far less than I could ever offer. I reply with the facts and figures, and sometimes my response is met with a question: why is wedding stationery so expensive?
When you look at a save the date, wedding invitation, or wedding sign, you likely look at the piece and focus on the color palette, style, font, or paper. It’s just ink printed on paper, right? No. Just like so many other things, there is so much more about wedding stationery to understand than the paper piece meeting you on the surface. I thought it would be helpful to explore each of the five “T’s” below.
The saying “the joy is in the journey” definitely applies to wedding stationery because my ability to create these pieces, and create them well, did not happen overnight. While I may wish it did, there’s also something so rewarding about knowing how much time and hard work I have put into becoming a graphic designer.
I went to college for graphic design, and I have further honed by skills and graphic design eye by working in the field. I started creating wedding stationery over seven years ago because I wanted to take on a project outside of the more rigid work I did during the day, and I found I loved the creativity this role required (and still requires!) of me. My training came into play immediately, but learning as a graphic designer never truly ends.
In my opinion, the best wedding stationery is created by a trained designer. And, there has to be a price attached to our years of knowledge.
When you look at a wedding stationery piece, you likely see paper. And, 9/10 times, you’re correct! But, there is technology that was used to create that piece. There is a time for appreciating the technology you have (I’m not one to update my phone at the exact moment when a new one is released!), but there is also a time to ensure your technology is completely up to date.
I’m talking about Adobe.
When I’m designing a save the date (even one that appears simple to the eye), I’m flipping between several Adobe Creative Suite programs. I know Photoshop like the back of my hand, and I constantly have Illustrator and InDesign open and working too. These programs are lifesavers and a requirement for what I do, but they’re also expensive to upkeep with a monthly or yearly subscription.
A wedding stationery piece not only requires training and technology, but it also requires trying new techniques. That’s what helps your suite to stand out amongst all of the others! But, each new technique I offer to a client means I have already spent hours researching the possibilities and methods to produce a certain look.
I can’t simply offer to include a photo of your venue. Instead, I turn to custom venue sketches to ensure I’m presenting original work and something that feels and looks like a piece of art. Sometimes that sketch involves researching photos online, but it can also mean taking a trip to that specific location to make sure every inch of it is portrayed correctly in your piece. I also can’t offer to print an invitation on acrylic or wood. Instead, I have to make sure these different (and FUN!) mediums are tested well before you even ask for them.
In short, I’m always researching in order to stay ahead of trends while honoring what’s currently popular. I’m always trying to push the boundaries of stationery to offer something different to my couples. But these techniques take time and sometimes require upcharges to accommodate.
Wedding stationery is a product (absolutely!), but the design component is a service. And, that service, that expertise, involves time. Time must be compensated.
Whenever you contact a professional, part of their requirement to work with them is you must remit the cost of the actual goods. In this case, I have to charge you for the stationery piece. But, I also have to charge for the time it not only takes to design the piece, but also the time it takes to research for your design, create a proposal, chat through details on the phone or in person, make edits, print your suite, and package your suite. That’s the service part of stationery design. It’s not one I would trade for the world because I love knowing a single piece represents hours (upon hours!) of hard work and dedication to a couple, but it’s one I can’t ignore when creating a package or monetary proposal.
As we all know, time, simply put, is money.
Whether I’m designing a save the date, wedding invitation, or day of wedding stationery, I’m always your primary contact. I’m the one designing the piece after all! But, I have a team, if you will, supporting me on my design mission for you.
…Sometimes my team is a technology team as we ensure each and every program I use is working smoothly and efficiently.
…Sometimes my team is a printing team. Fun fact: I hand select the printer who will ultimately print your suite, and they are incredible.
…Sometimes my team is a shipping team. Yes, I too feel as though I’m on a first name basis with USPS, FedEx, and UPS!
There is a whole crew I rely upon behind the scenes, especially my printer, but they can’t work for free (nor would I ever expect it!). Ensuring my team (and yours!) is paid properly all must be factored into the cost of your stationery.
I don’t like to think of wedding stationery as an expense that simply has to be a part of your wedding. Instead, I like to think of wedding stationery as an investment in your wedding. You’re not only investing in paper (or wood or acrylic), you’re investing in training, technology, techniques, time, and a team – five factors that will make a world of difference when you see your wedding stationery in person. And, I cannot wait to work with you.