Traditional wedding invitations feature hand-engraving and fine calligraphy to create a rich, elegant look. All that elegance doesn't come cheap, however. Professionally printed invitations can cost thousands of dollars, and they're simply too expensive for many cash-strapped couples. Fortunately, you can create your own invitations at home for just a fraction of the cost and put your savings toward some of your other big wedding bills, like your designer dress or fabulous honeymoon.
While not every couple wants to use traditional wedding invitations, those who do can create them at home for less. Couples looking for something a little different will find limitless options that allow their personalities to shine through. Whatever type of invitation you choose, remember that it will help set the tone for your wedding.
Explore these 10 creative and affordable ideas to find the perfect DIY-design for your big day.
Many major retailers sell simple kits that allow you to print your own wedding invitations at home. You'll find plenty of different styles to suit any type of wedding, most for less than $100. If you can't find the right invitations in one of these kits, try a specialty paper retailer like Southworth or Paper Source. Both of these companies offer lots of products and ideas to help you customize your invitations with ribbons and other extras, either on their Web sites or at special in-store workshops.
You can also duplicate the rich texture of a traditional engraved invitation by purchasing a custom embosser. Use the embosser to press your initials, names or a beautiful design into the cards to give them the look of more expensive invitations for a fraction of the cost. Another option is to commission a custom stamp with all your basic wedding information. Instead of filling in each card on your home printer, use the stamp to add a touch of elegance. Print your favorite photo on vellum and include it along with the invitation. Don't forget to include a matching response card so your guests can RSVP with ease.
Play up the location of your wedding with a map-based invitation. Maps are the perfect option if you're planning a destination wedding or if you're expecting large numbers of out-of-town guests. Look for vintage maps of your wedding locale online, or buy a set of modern folding maps with attractive printing. Let the map serve as a background for the invitation by printing wedding details right on top. You can also use the map as a border to frame the written invitation details. Another option is to cut and paste appropriate map sections to accent a standard invitation, or to serve as the image on the front of a postcard.
Pick maps that complement the theme and mood of your wedding. A simple outline map of your state or city works well for almost all ceremonies, while faded vintage maps create a more classic style. Save the busy street views for big-city weddings and those with a decidedly modern flair.
Planning an intimate, casual wedding ceremony? Consider inviting guests by phone to keep your invitations simple and cut costs. Phone invitations are virtually free (except for any long-distance fees) and require much less effort than ordering and mailing invitations. A phone call also helps to give your invitation a personal touch, even for guests who live far away, while setting an informal tone for your wedding. This option may be impractical if you're planning an extensive guest list, but you can simplify things by recording your greeting first. If you decide to skip the recordings and make live phone calls, don't expect everyone to RSVP on the spot. Some guests may need some time to process your big news or to check their schedules. Keep it short and sweet, and direct guests to your wedding Web site for further information or to RSVP.
Invitations made from nontraditional materials can give your wedding a vintage twist. Instead of choosing between white and ivory cardstock, look for classic items you can transform into unique wedding invitations. Consider printing your wedding details on vintage scarves, handkerchiefs or scraps of fine silk. These items lend elegance to your wedding, and by reusing these items, you'll establish an eco-friendly vibe. An inkjet fabric printer allows you to print details on scarves or silk at home, which can save you big bucks.
Some other vintage options for printing include homemade paper, textured cardstock made from seeds and flower petals, or paper scraps from a local antique store. Check eBay for vintage seed packages of your state flower, then place them in a frame and print your wedding details on the back.
When you're using vintage invitations, not just any envelope will do. Use lace doilies or old photographs to line envelopes, and consider adding vintage stamps to complete the look.
Prepare your guests for a unique wedding experience with one-of-a-kind invitations. Unless you're planning a very formal ceremony, there's no need to stick with standard wedding invitations. Instead, focus on creative or whimsical invitations that let the fun start well before your wedding day.
If you or your partner has a bit of artistic skill, consider creating an illustrated comic book that clues in guests on the tone of your wedding. Include your favorite inside jokes and funny stories about your relationship, along with all the wedding details. For a fun twist on the classic invitation, print your wedding information on lightweight paper, roll it up to form a scroll, tie it with a ribbon, and mail it in a sturdy cardboard poster tube. Some couples may wish to create cleverly folded invitations, or invitations with hidden pockets that resemble the classic secret spy message. You can also create an invitation with a custom crossword, word find or Mad Lib puzzle that your guests will have fun filling out. Remember, it's your wedding, so toss aside traditional and choose an invitation that fits your personality.
If you're more likely to use e-mail than you are to send letters through the mail, don't feel obligated to send paper invitations just because it's tradition. Web-based invitation services combine the beauty of fine stationery with the convenience of the Internet, all for less than the price of postage. Services like Paperless Post allow you to customize invitations with pictures, graphics and wedding details, and then automatically send invitations to everyone on your guest list. This gives busy couples a way to keep track of the guest list and RSVPs in one spot, without the need for endless paper lists and reply cards.
Web-based invitations also make it easy to alert guests of any changes or updates once invitations have been sent. If you plan to have a "green" wedding, go completely paper-free by combining Web-based invitations with a wedding Web site. The money you save on printing and postage will more than pay for professional Web design and the small cost of online invitations.
Impress your guests with an invitation via CD. Not only are CDs easy to make and affordable, but they also provide an interactive multimedia experience that goes well beyond a paper invitation. Create a playlist of your favorite songs, or choose music you plan to play at the wedding. Include slides with all the wedding details for your guests, and you can also add a slideshow of your favorite pictures to share your relationship journey with friends and family.
Choose simple label-making software to create custom labels for your CDs. Add your favorite picture or print wedding details right on the label. Don't forget to include a separate reply card, or direct guests to RSVP on your wedding Web site or via e-mail.
Want the polished look of professionally printed invitations without the high price tag? Stick to simple postcards, which are much more affordable than traditional cards and envelopes. You'll save money on printing costs and postage, and you won't have to stuff hundreds of envelopes.
Use your favorite picture of the two of you, or pick a simple wedding-related image for the front of the card. A sticker-making machine allows you to fasten pretty fabrics or vintage postcards to the invitation in lieu of an image. Print the basic details about your wedding on the card, and include a link to your Web site so guests can RSVP.
Skip the expensive engraving and calligraphy and give your wedding a casual, modern twist with a video invitation. Use a simple Webcam or camcorder to record a short greeting for guests, along with basic wedding info. Make your video as funny or formal as you want to help set the tone for your wedding. This option is not only free, but also great for green weddings as there's no paper waste associated with video. Best of all, it allows you to share your wedding excitement with your guests, which will help get them pumped up for the big day.
E-mail your video to everyone on your guest list, and request RSVPs via e-mail.
Nothing lets your guests know how much you want them at your wedding than a hand-delivered invitation. This option works for all types of weddings, from the simple backyard barbecue to the formal church ceremony. One of the best things about this method of delivery is that it gives even the most simple or affordable invitations a personalized touch. Hand-delivered invitations make the most sense if the majority of your guests live within an hour's drive, though a phone call to far-away guests can have a similar impact.
Use this opportunity to set the tone for your wedding. Dress up to let guests know to expect an elegant or formal affair, or stay casual if you're planning an informal wedding. Take flowers along for special guests like your mother or your maid of honor, and don't forget the tissues if you know your mom will need them -- especially if the engagement hasn't yet been formally announced. While it's fine to keep a simple tally of guests in your car or purse, leave the clipboard at home and focus on creating a memorable experience for you and your guests.
Some wedding traditions are lovely and others don't make much sense. Test your knowledge of wedding traditions with our HowStuffWorks quiz.
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "Destination Wedding Save-the-Dates." 2010. (May 28, 2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/photogallery/destination-save-the-dates?#slide_5
- Martha Stewart Weddings. "Special Touches for Wedding Invitations." 2010. (May 28, 2010).http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/photogallery/special-touches-invitations#slide_4
- Paper Source. "DIY Invitations--Wedding." (May 28, 2010).http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/howto/diy-invites.html
- Wedding Paper Divas. "5 Unique Wedding Invitations Ideas." (May 28, 2010).http://www.weddingpaperdivas.com/unique-wedding-invitation-ideas.htm