Where do I start? How do I choose?
Looking online or at huge binders of sample invitations can get really overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you focus and enjoy the process:
- Go somewhere comfortable. Choose a quiet store where you’re welcome to sit on a couch and look at invitations for six hours in a row if you want to. Don’t try to do it in an uncomfortable chair or somewhere that has inadequate lighting.
- Take your time and break it up into more than one visit. Most brides we’ve seen like to look at nearly ALL the samples, and since that’s hundreds of pages, it takes lots of time. Try to give yourself plenty of time. Many brides like to choose a couple of favorites, then go home and sleep on it and come back the next day to order. A few spend three or more sessions looking at samples. Don’t go to a store where the salesperson rushes you.
- Feel free to bring someone(s) to look with you. Take your mom or bridesmaids or sisters or girlfriends along if they have similar taste to you or if you like to get their advice, but if you know they’re going to stress you out leave them home. Do you bring your fiance along? For your first visit, I’d say leave him home unless he expresses a desire to come. Most men like vetos, not choices. That means he wants to be there to help choose from the top five, but not from the top 500. If he squirms at all at the idea of looking at hundreds of invitations, don’t pressure him to come or he will be miserable the whole time, which will just make you miserable. Ask if he has any preferences or requests, then keep them (if any) in mind as you narrow the list to a man-manageable size. Set a second appointment and bring your fiance along to finish narrowing down to “the one” and complete the order.
- Bring a piece of paper and pen and write down your “Top 10″ list. Actually, it can be more or less than your top ten, but people usually end up choosing close to that many favorites to narrow down from. Write down the binder name, color (they’re usually easily identified by color), page number, item number, and a short description of what you think is noticable about the invitation (i.e. “green stripes” or “celtic knot corners” or “big calla lillies”). You may also want to include the price per invitation on the list (see below).
- When you look at samples, know that they are showing you what your PAPER will look like. Try not to pay attention to ink color, font, or format, because those are all things you can change. You can even rotate most papers sideways, so just pay attention to the card itself, and nothing that’s printed on it. If you do happen to notice a font, ink color, or format you really like, note it on the back of your Top 10 list to come back to later.
- Bring swatches or pictures of fabrics, colors, flowers, and other things you like that you’ve already chosen for your wedding. That way if you need to match something, you’ll have it with you. It may also help the sales person know what you’re talking about when you say “I want an invitation with roses. No, not that kind of rose!”
- Calculate the price. Assuming that you have a budget, or that you should have a budget, or that you’re at least someone who either doesn’t want the most expensive invitation or who does want the most expensive one, you’ll probably want to compare prices. There should be a pricing chart for each sample invitation, and you may notice that after the first quantity (usually 25) the price per invitation drops significantly as you increase your quantity (more on that later). The easiest way to compare prices is usually to look at the price per 100 (which is easily divisible by 100 to get the price per each). The exception is usually in those invitations that include a photo, where you’ll probably want to calculate out the price for the actual number of invitations you want to purchase.
Once you have a Top 10 list and are sick of looking at invitations or have exhasted your options, go back and open up to the pages of your favorites and start comparing them to each other and eliminating. I suggest taking the first invitation on your list, compare it to the second, and decide which you like better. Get rid of the one you like less, and repeat the process through the entire group. If you can’t decide between two, then hold on to both of them and compare both to the rest of your list. Most people come down to a list of one to three invitations they really love from that process of elimination. At that point, bring in your fiance, your parents, or just decide based on the price difference.
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