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Wedding Announcements: From DIYs to Designers

A little known fact: although I went to school for photography, I was actually in the design studies program at MacEwan. Because of this, I developed a strong interest in graphic design. Why does this matter, Amanda? What does this have to do with photography? Nothing, but it does have a lot to do with weddings. This week I want to talk to you all about wedding announcements and invitations. Let’s talk about the different options available to you as a couple, and which is the best fit for you.

The first thing you should decide is, will photos be included in your design? The reason I say you should decide this first is so you can decide if you need to book a photographer, as well as let your designer know (should you decide to go with a designer to create your announcement,) so that they can start their design with the photos in mind. Now, with the photos, you have a choice to make: use a photo you already have of you as a couple, or create new images. Using photos you already have can create a more personalized look and save you some money, however they do lose the clean look that professional images have. I personally recommend hiring a photographer and making a date of it. Getting a cute little session with your S.O. can help you get some fun, intimate, happy images of the two of you, without limiting yourself to a selfie stick or timer. You can also get creative with it. For example you can create a story collage like this couple that created a Zombie Picnic. You can also come up with themes that reflect who you are as a couple, like these nerdy couples (PS: I am a nerd, if anyone is looking for a photographer to do photos like this, please pick me! )

Now onto the designs. When designing your invitations you want them to match the general theme or look of the wedding. With your wedding, you want to create an experience for your guests. The first thing they see, in this experience, is the invitation. The invitation for your guests will set the tone for the wedding. It lets them know if this is going to be a fancy black tie affair, or something more relaxed and casual. Because of this, making your invite match the mood of your wedding is essential. In regards to making the announcement, I believe you have 3 options: DIY/handmade, premade online templates, or hire a designer. Let’s look at the pros and cons to each of these.

DIY/Hand Made: If you are going for a rustic look, something more homey, or even a DIY chic for your wedding I would say this is the way to go. It can be budget friendly (as long as you plan carefully,) it allows you to show off your artistic side, and adds a personal touch. They also tend to be more tactile, which lets the viewer experience a physical connection as well as an emotional and visual one. All of these elements can work together quite nicely to create something truly wonderful.

The Cons: Sometimes the DIY approach is done to save on money, but it doesn’t end up being that cheap. Let’s say, for example, you decide to wrap your 4”x6” invitation in lace paper and tie it off with a ribbon. This is a super simple and cute idea. HOWEVER let’s say you have 200 of these to do. You would need 12 inches of ribbon per invite (8 to wrap around, and 4ish to tie it.) Let’s say you buy a standard size 1.5” x 3 Yards roll of satin ribbon from Michaels for $4.99. That means you need 17 rolls for a total of $84.83 before taxes. That’s not even including the lace, the paper, or the ink you need to print the info with. The point I am making is that we often think we are saving money making things ourselves, but unless you are a really good bargain hunter, and an excellent planner you may end up completely missing the mark on your budget.

There is also the time consumption that comes from this approach. You will spend SOoooooOOOooo many hours making these things. You may get lucky and have a brilliant bridal party, or amazing friends, willing to help you out with this, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are drafting people to help, and consuming your time and your friends’ time.

Lastly, what if you just are not a creative person, what if your not crafty? Then this way just isn’t going to work for you.

Premade Online Template: The first website that comes to my mind for this is Vistaprint, so that is the website I will be talking about throughout this whole section, although I am sure there are other options out there.

For those of you who wish you could hire a graphic designer, but for reasons have decided not to go with that approach, I would recommend this website.

They have an assortment of styles available for invitations with a range from photographic collages to cute florals patterns. Another plus, you don’t have to worry about laying out your information. Simply type in your information inside the corresponding fields, and away you go. You can even change the font and type size. There are also 6 different paper options available to you, in the event you want to use something different from regular photo paper.

Lastly, they have something called a Wedding Sample Kit. It is free (although I don’t know if the shipping is free,) and provides you with samples of a Wedding invitation, RSVP card and envelope, save the date magnet & envelope, wedding program & menu, paper stocks (linen, pearl shimmer, ultra thick & recycled matte) and it gets you special savings on your next invitation order. You can use this to decide what you actually want to do, before you purchase your order. So overall it can be a really sweet deal. The Cons: I do find that although there are a variety of invitation styles, to me, there just isn’t anything I, myself, would order. Many of them are just variations of each other with different type formats or the layout has been rotated. It’s also to a point for me where I will receive an invite to a friends wedding, or go to a friends house and see an invite on their fridge and I know that they got their invitation from Vistaprint, because I have seen that exact invitation before. There’s just a lack of personal touch to it.

I also wish you had more control over specific parts of the content. For example, if you don’t like the spacing of the rows of font, you can’t change that. Or if you want to move a graphic to make space for your type, you can’t do that. There is just a lack of customizability. That being said, you can create your own layout at home and upload it for them to print. However if you’re not already a designer that may not be an option. They also overcharge if you use their “wedding” section, but in a sneaky way. Say you want a 5×7 invite on standard paper. If you order 50 in the wedding section it will cost you $41.50 before taxes. However, you if brought your own design in and went to the business section under postcard and picked the same paper type at the same size they offer packages of postcards starting at 50 sheets for $10.00. Sneaky, sneaky!

I personally have one more issue with companies like Vistaprint. I believe in supporting your local market and entrepreneurs.  I believe that, although they can help the wedding budget, Vistaprint steals jobs from your local designers, printers, and other local business owners in the industry. I personally would rather have my money go to supporting my local market, if I financially have that choice.  

Hiring a Designer:

Think of all the pros and cons I just listed above. Now think about all the work you are involved in, to make either of those options happen. Now think of how nice it would be, to just go up to someone and say “Here, do this for me,” and they do it, and they do it perfectly. This is why you hire a designer! Not only can hiring a designer relieve the stress of creating a design, they can also guide you through the creative process and work within your budget; or, say you don’t want to be guided through the process, maybe you just want to hand the whole thing over to someone and let them do their thing. A designer would definitely be the one to help you out with that. Designers also have access to resources you otherwise might not have any idea how to access. For example, say you want a gold embossed font. Well Staples doesn’t do that, Vistaprint doesn’t do that, but print shops do, and designers know exactly how to work with a print shop to make that happen. Hiring a designer opens up a whole new level of options for you, that just would not be available if you did them yourself.

There is also the quality of the designs to be discussed. For example, most of the cons I listed for Vistaprint in regards to the layout and format will not be an issue if you go through a designer. They will adapt things to suit your taste. They can also adapt to many different styles. This opens up so many options for you. They can see the whole picture and help you come up with an invitation that is beautiful, but will stand out from any other your friends and family have ever seen. They can create a DIY look while adding a sense of refinements. They can create something chic and posh. A designer’s job for a wedding is to help create project that will set the mood for your wedding. You tell them what exactly that mood is, and they will provide you with a product that reflects that mood.

To show these points I have asked my friend Katie, from Katie Dooley Design,to allow me to show some of her work on here. As you can see, she has done an amazing job of creating invitations that reflect the personality, nationality, and style of each couple. I have seen the final printed products of some of these as well, and her choice in stationary matches the designs perfectly and adds a tactile and unique touch to the invitations. I would highly recommend checking out her website and her other work.

Hopefully, you all found this little guide to the art of wedding announcements helpful in your planning. In summary, just remember the following: get photos done, make your invitations match your wedding theme, pick what is in your budget, and if you can hire a designer.

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