Stunning black and white wedding invitation designs by wedding invitation designer Bliss & Bone
The Hunt

How to Find an Amazing Wedding Invitation Designer

A First Impression You Can Touch
Photo by Madison Hope Photography

Though judging a book by its cover is decidedly wrong, there’s no denying that the first impression that comes from such tactile design work—the typography, the colors, the feel of the paper itself—does a lot to clue you in as to what can be expected. And in the story of your nuptials, wedding invitation designs play the part of a cover. Save-the-date cards will likely be the very first time a guest glimpses the world you’ve been creating; the invitations themselves will give them a front-to-back preview of what’s to come. In short, the wedding suite an invitation designer crafts for you is one of the surest ways to convey your vision to friends and family. “Stationery can allow the couple to show off their personality and introduce their specific tastes to their guests,” New York City-based wedding planner and designer Leslie Mastin of Leslie Mastin Events tells us. “It’s a way to communicate and get guests excited about their special wedding day that is to come. Stationery can become keepsake items that you will cherish and remember for the rest of your life.” 

As such, the very first question to ask yourself is what is the stationery of your dreams. Before you even begin looking for a wedding invitation designer, consider the feeling you’re going for (a grand ballroom affair versus a more relaxed beachside setting). Costs can also vary widely when it comes to these types of paper goods. An invitation can be a multi-piece information extravaganza with hand-lettering, custom artwork and silk ribbons, or a single card tucked into a standard size envelope (and non-custom wedding invitation options abound). Neither is right nor wrong—or more appropriate in terms of wedding invitation etiquette. Rather, it ought to be whatever makes sense for the type and scale of ceremony and reception you’re planning.

Classic black and white wedding invitation designs by wedding invitation designer A Fabulous Fete
Wedding invitation designer: Trifold wedding invitation designs featuring a hand drawn map

1. Look For Wedding Invitation Examples You Love

From weddings you’ve attended to nuptials featured in glossy magazines, finding a wedding invitation designer you love is made easier by zeroing in on, and falling in love with, someone’s past work. If it was a friend’s event, ask for a connection; otherwise, pay close attention to the credits routinely listed alongside editorial invitation roundups. Our online wedding library also features hundreds of wedding invitation styles you can filter through and browse by theme before connecting with the wedding stationery designers responsible for your favorites. Husband-and-wife wedding planning team Aleah and Nick Valley of Valley & Company Events in Seattle urge brides to not forget about the power of the scroll, either: “Look to social media and designs you like from print magazines or books. Check out those wedding stationery designers and their work on their social channels—many will showcase their behind-the-scenes process of creating elaborate menus, boxed invitations, or peeks into their sketches or process.”

Crafting an inspiration book or secret Pinterest board of wedding invitations with additional elements can also come in handy when winnowing down your likes and communicating with your future wedding invitation designer. When compiling, don’t feel limited to just pinning bridal examples, either. Instead, set your search wide and look for fonts, colors, and printing details you like. “Visual inspiration is key,” says Diana Chouinard, the designer and planner behind Greenwich-based Jubilee Events. “Putting these images together can uncover more about your style, wedding day aesthetic, and elements of your paper suite that you would be keen on including, like letterpress, gold beveled edges, and more.”

Classic blue and white wedding invitation designs by wedding invitation designer Shasta Bell Calligraphy
Wedding invitation designer: White wedding invitation designs with red lettering, featuring a mountain illustration and wedding crest

2. Now, Book a Meeting with your Potential Wedding Invitation Designer

As with all of your vendors, there are major pros to working with someone who’s local to you. Nothing beats an in-person tête-à-tête when it comes to discussing color swatches, paper weights, and the other small finishes and flourishes that can define your wedding invitation designs. Plus, in the early stages of deciding whom to work with, the chance to step into a showroom, with tactile pieces to touch and physical examples of past work, can be invaluable.

Successful partnerships can still happen with geographical distance—you’ll just want to be even more buttoned up about the questions to ask and things to look for. Come prepped for an in-person or virtual meeting with a potential wedding invitation designer by knowing your color scheme, venue location, and guest list size. “We always start with an initial consultation before diving into a design meeting,” explains Charleston-based stationery designer and illustrator Julie King of Julie King Studio. “This gives us a chance to explain our process, answer and ask questions, and gather the information we need to see if we are a good fit! Typically I am guiding the conversation, but I will ask about household count, general vibes as far as style, and we will dip our toes into printing processes.”

Have a list of questions ready to ask them, too, starting off with inquiries as to their timeline and current client capacity. And don’t be shy about asking pointed questions about the way they work, either. Chouinard suggests being explicit when trying to unearth more about their process: “‘How do you create our save-the-date and invitation design? Are there existing suites or designs you have that we can customize to our own?’” (Modifying an existing template might mean a lower cost). 

And because wedding invitation designers are providers as well as artists, don’t forget to pepper in some questions about all the logistics that go along with your wedding suite. “It's important to ask potential stationers questions to get a sense of what services they provide versus what tasks may fall on you,” Virginia Frischkorn of Bluebird Productions in Aspen told us. “Will they proof your copy? Will they proof your guest list for accuracy? Do they assemble, stamp, and mail? Who manages RSVP lists?”

Colorful illustrative wedding invitation designs by wedding invitation designer Li Ward
Wedding invitation designer: Bright and colorful hand drawn wedding invitation designs
Wedding invitation designer: Vibrant weddings invitation designs with hand drawn envelope interior

3. Familiarize Yourself with How Much You Can Expect Wedding Invitations to Cost

As with all things bridal, costs can vary widely. The average cost of wedding invitations in the United States is around $550, though a more helpful equation might be looking at the average cost of a high-end wedding suite (featuring elements like handmade paper, engraving or letterpress, and clocking in at about $8 per person) and multiplying that by your guest count. Still, in terms of your overall budget, invitations make up a relatively small piece of the pie. As of 2021, the average wedding cost in the U.S. was $20,300, with invitations claiming less than 3 percent of the total.

Far from being only your true-blue invitations, though, the figures assigned to the category cover all the paper elements that make up your wedding suite: save-the-dates, reception cards, dinner menus, place cards, thank-you notes, and welcome-bag inserts, plus a pre-stamped, pre-addressed RSVP card. (Traditional wedding etiquette dictates the invitation itself is for the ceremony with a small note saying, “Reception to follow at X location”; you can include an additional card with further details if desired). With so many various pieces included, there are plenty of spots to save a little bit—or seriously splash out. 

Your final wedding invitation design costs will be affected by paper stock and quality, printing method, and custom art (like a map of the area or a crest). Quantity, both the final number of suites being printed as well as the number of items per suite (additional information cards or an itinerary for the weekend) will also add to the overall cost. To be on the safe side, experts like Chouinard also advise ordering more than you need: “When working with your stationer to determine how many invitation suites to have printed, remember to order about 15 percent extra to accommodate any non-deliverables or sudden guest relocations.”

As a final note about cost and inspiration-seeking, keep in mind that some of the more absolutely jaw-dropping invitation examples you’ve seen likely feature expensive little touches like ribbons, painted edges, hot foil stamping, and bespoke watercolors. Each of these special elements combine to create a true work of art—though one that won’t come cheap.

Vibrant classic wedding invitation designs by wedding invitation designer Robinson Press
Clear lucite wedding invitation design with gold lettering, featuring a white pressed flower by wedding invitation designer Bunny & Peony Events
Blue and white floral hand drawn wedding invitation by wedding invitation designer Julie King Studio

4. Know Which Parts of the Wedding Invitation Suite are Optional

Many of today’s most memorable weddings are spread out over multiple days, built as events within events—and sometimes requiring more information. A weekend itinerary is a thoughtful inclusion that specifically outlines what guests can expect, allowing them to make travel and accommodation arrangements accordingly. Similarly, a custom map is a romantic way to let friends and family familiarize themselves with the area (and will make a beautiful keepsake to frame). 

Cards with details about a rehearsal dinner or welcome party can also be added into the overall bundle if desired. As one of the less formal elements of your wedding suite, this type of information can alternatively be sent separately (particularly if it is technically being hosted by a different family member or friend). 

A quick note on envelopes-within-an-envelope: The extra envelope also serves as protective padding that collects all the various pieces of your wedding suite, creating a gorgeous package to be opened. If you are inviting guests with a “plus one,” wedding invitation etiquette dictates that the exterior or main envelope be addressed solely to the friend or family member; the interior envelope is the spot to say: “John Smith and Guest.” 

The bottom line is to check yourself to ensure all the absolutely pertinent, vital-to-the-day information is included. Anything else can be skipped or included elsewhere. “Wedding websites are a great accessory to add to your save-the-dates and wedding suite, but anything your guests need to know is what should be included,” Chouinard explains. Your URL, for instance, is the spot to include registry information, after-party location, and other fun, if less formal, tidbits.

Orange and navy modern wedding invitation design by wedding invitation designer Bliss & Bone
Leather bound textured vow book by wedding invitation designer Bliss & Bone
Modern black, white, and gray wedding invitation design by wedding invitation designer Bliss & Bone

5. Keep an Eye on the Calendar!

After you’ve found the right wedding invitation designer and work has begun, you’ll want to keep your eye on a few key dates (the stationer should help you track to a timeline, but they’ll be working with other clients, too, and the potential for confusion always exists). Save-the-dates traditionally go out three to six months before the wedding, while invitations are sent six to eight weeks before the ceremony

Give your guests time to RSVP, too. Wedding etiquette says they have until one month before the date to let you know their intentions—you can be clear about your RSVP deadline on the response card. The traditional verbiage? “The favor of your reply is requested by November 1.”

When plotting out your timeline, don’t forget to figure out whether you’ll want your wedding stationery designer to be assembling and sending your invitations or if it’s important for it to be postmarked from your zip code. If the latter, allow for the extra time it will take for all the elements to reach you. Paper shortages have also affected the industry as of late and printer delays are always possible. Avoid running into headaches from either by trying to work further out. Now, go forth, mail and be married!