I do not begrudge the invitation its role in the wedding process. I am not in league with those who claim “It’s just going to get thrown away, so what’s the big deal?” Yes, it represents a bit of ephemera, but it’s one of the first things guests will see, setting the tone for your wedding. [Editor’s note: I know that roughly five of the people receiving it will actually care about that when they get it and approximately half that number will care at the event eight weeks later, but this is one of those things that brides convince themselves is important. I can’t let on that I’m not in line on this or they’ll realize my chip fell out.] As such, it is important to make sure the invitation is elegant.
What it is also important to remember is that it is illogical to pay $1,400 for 100 small pieces of paper. That’s what one major Georgetown stationer planned to charge me for custom letterpress invitations, featuring a vintage typewriter font for the text and my artist father’s pen-and-ink drawing of an antique typewriter for an embellishment on the top of the panel. “American dollars?” I thought when the estimate opened on my monitor and I squinted at the grand total box. That sent me to the Advil bottle and to Plan B, which meant the non-custom letterpress invites from the same retailer. Those would feature no typewriter illustration, but they had a cool font and looked and felt quite luxurious. Moving my finger over the row and down the appropriate pricing column it landed on $750. Close, but no cigar. Because that still didn’t take into account at least $300 for envelope calligraphy and $100 for postage.
To be clear: the retailer wasn’t on the fringe with its pricing structure. Bridal magazines typically feature invites that cost up to $3,500 for 100. And anyone in the publishing industry will tell you that the increases in ink and paper costs have been so severe in recent years that you’d think you’ve been getting a real deal at the gas pump by comparison. (Incidentally, that’s why newspapers are weighing in at about one-tenth of an ounce these days and they are staffed solely by three reporters in their 20s, an intern in his teens and a monkey in a diaper.) This just isn’t one of those areas that I want to authorize the spending of a lot of cash on because I believe there are perfectly viable alternatives.
Now, remember when I mentioned my artist father? That was what we in the business call foreshadowing. My father recently indicated that the printer who handles all of his art printing business also does invitations. This past weekend, he brought me two ginormous books of samples (when you know people you don’t have to shlep down to the shop like some sort of normie.) Tucked among the 4,278 pages of her samples was a perfectly lovely invitation. Clean, modern font. Light creme color. Heavyweight card stock. Thermography–not letterpress–but still quite elegant. All in all, perfect.
And the price? A lady doesn’t typically discuss matters of finance BUT THESE INVITATIONS ONLY COST 270 FREAKING CLAMS! It was unreal. On top of that, she gave my father a discount because of the business he’s given her over the years. Grand price: $220. The tax alone on the original set of custom invites would have been half that.
Lesson learned: look beyond the major retailers and see if the little guy can do it just as well for less money. Or, to summarize: I have just p’wned one corner of the wedding industry.