Wedding Invitations - The Naked Truth

I’m about to get real with you all. As a designer, it’s all well and good for me to come up with creative design ideas and think of different concepts for printing, paper textures and finishings. But it’s not always as simple as coming up with an idea, getting it printed and sending it out. I also have to find the right printer and finisher who understands my concepts and can fulfil it to the highest standard.

Budget is also a priority, so trying to find the best of the best printer at the lowest cost can always prove to be a challenge. So how do I overcome all of these obstacles? Let me tell you a story about how I designed, printed and sent 3 different styles of invitations on a budget with all the bells and whistles, in less than 6 months!

Warning: it was not smooth sailing.


invitation one
LARGE PRINTING COMPANY

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For our first set of invitations, I decided to go for a very simple minimalist design. As a wedding invitation designer, I had an inkling that our guests would expect something crazy and wow that would burst in their face as they opened them. So I hit them with that soft and muted style to keep them on their toes.

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I wanted simple, but of course I couldn't just go with the obvious black and white, so I chose a cool ice grey card with white ink print for the the invitations and for the envelope I reversed the colours to give it a bit of contrast and went with a white envelope and grey type. Monochrome minimalism at its best.

I was a little short on time with these invitations, so I went with a large trustworthy printing company as I had no time for hiccups. As expected. I sent my artwork, the files were printed, and I had these babies in my hot little hands in less than a week. Of course going with a larger company isn’t always the cheapest option, but for the quality and peace of mind, it’s definitely worth the money.


invitation TWO
offshore printing

Tropica Weddings - Invitations

So after the no fuss printing of the minimalist engagement invitations, I wanted to hit my guests with the wow factor for destination wedding #1. I designed invitations that had all the bells and whistles. Gold foiling, embossing, debossing, digital printing, gold swivel eyelets, custom die-cuts, folds, flips... THE LOT! The only trouble was, I needed to print 500 of these incredibly technical invitations.

To top it off, this was going to be a HUGE destination wedding where most of the guests resided in Indonesia, so I had to print 100 invitations in English for Australia and 400 invitations in Indonesian for Indonesia. I searched high and low to source a printer that could bring my designs to life without the hefty price tag, and found the cheapest way was to go through China.

Tropica Weddings - Invitations
Tropica Weddings - Invitations
Tropica Weddings - Invitations

Chaos in China

I had exactly 1 and a half months to have these invitations printed and sent before my flight to Indonesia. Everything started off all smooth sailing. Communication was perfect and they understood exactly what needed to be done. We set a timeline of 2 weeks to turn around the printing and allowed 1 week to ship, which gave me plenty of time to collate and send all of the invitations out. So far, China has been amazing.

Fast forward 2 weeks. Communication breaks down and printing's not looking good. I am frantically emailing back and forth to have measurements fixed, colours fixed, fixtures fixed. And after everything was fixed, I had to get it all re-fixed because the thing that needed fixing wasn't actually fixed. 

Fast forward another 2 weeks. We finally get it right. Invitations are shipped and I now wait impatiently for my invitations to arrive.

Fast forward another week and the invitations arrive! The english invitations are here, but the Indonesian invitations are nowhere to be found... EEEP! I spend the next week sending out english invitations in Australia while trying to find a last minute solution to get 400 invitations printed ASAP before my flight out to Indonesia.

Tropica Weddings - Envelopes
Tropica Weddings - Invitations
Tropica Weddings - Invitations

The Solution

We pulled some strings and managed to find an amazing printer in Indonesia who was kind enough to turn around our invitations in 1 week. I took my flight to Indonesia and 1 week later, all of the invitations were at my door. Needless to say, going cheap can be great for the pocket, but can be more of a headache in the long run. However in this case, the craziness was all worth it in the end as the invitations turned out amazing. Beautiful rich colour with the traditional Javanese pattern throughout. The gold foil details finished everything off perfectly. The printers in Indonesia did such an amazing job with reprinting these invitations for us, that we decided to use them for our final wedding celebration in Greece. But of course, life has its own plans and everything changed... again.


invitation THREE
SMALL BUSINESS PRINTER

Tropica Weddings - Invitations

So finally we come to the final wedding invitation. Destination wedding #2 - Greece.

We gave ourselves a good 3 months to sort these out, but of course nothing ever goes smoothly and we got our guest list finalised by the in-laws 1 month out from the wedding (super short notice for a destination wedding!)

So after having the designs ready to go for almost 2 months, we finally had the numbers to get these beauties printed. But because of the short notice, we couldn't go back to our beloved printer in Indonesia. So, back to the drawing board.

Tropica Weddings - Invitations
Tropica Weddings - Invitations

We eventually stumbled across a brand new letterpress printer in Australia, producing high quality printing at reasonable prices... Hallelujah! It can always be hit or miss with brand new small businesses as you don't have any reviews to go by. However, from seeing the quality of work they had produced for themselves, this was a risk we were willing to take. 

I shot over an email for a rush job and they had these invitations printed and express shipped for me in less than a week. Absolute lifesaver! Gotta love small businesses. Their customer service was on point and their quality control is second to none!

These olive green letterpressed and blind pressed invitations came out beautifully!


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Step Four : The Invitations cont.

part five | printing options


The final step to getting your wedding invitations made is obviously to print them. There are so many different printing and finishing techniques that it can get quiet time consuming and expensive.

PRINTING

Because there are so many forms of printing, I am just going to run through the 3 most common methods of printing for wedding invitations.

Digital Printing 
This is the most common printing method as everybody knows it, understands it, and it's the most time and cost effective. 

Letterpress Printing
Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press. This is quiet an old printing process where a direct impression of a design is pressed onto sheets of paper. The end result is gorgeous but is quiet expensive. The more colours used in the process, the more expensive it becomes. Most letterpressed invitations are printed with 1 colour. After all, less is always more. 

Foiling
Foil printing is pleasing to look at. Although foil printing can be done in a wide variety of colours, the most commonly used colour is the gold foil to create a luxe style wedding invitation. There are a few ways to create the foil finish and this depends greatly on the type of paper stock you choose, so if you're wanting to get foiling done to your invitations, make sure you take a look at your paper options first!

 Example: A combination of letterpress and gold foil printing.

Example: A combination of letterpress and gold foil printing.


FINISHING

Aaaand to complete your invitations, we have the finishing touches. You can always go with a standard finish and just have your wedding invitations cut to size and you're done! But if you want your invitations to be extra special, you can always consider the following.

Diecutting
Have your invitations cut to a different shape like a circle instead of rectangle or square.

Laser cutting
Get patterns cut out of your invitations to give it more dimension.

Edge Painting or Edge Foiling
Paint the edges of your invitations in either your theme colour or using the same foil colour you used on the invitation to give it that extra "edge"

Perforation
Have a section of your invitation perforated so your guests can tear off things like the RSVP to send back to you.


printing tip

Take your time when considering how you're going to print your invitations. You don't want to spend countless hours designing a beautiful invitation to print the masterpiece onto a standard piece of paper. Remember this is your first impression... make it a good one!


Do you need help with your invitations?
Get in touch with me to get your invitation custom designed and printed, specifically for you and your big day.
— Deena | Graphic Designer

Step Four : The Invitations cont.

part four | paper choices


Never underestimate the power of paper. The way it looks and feels makes a massive difference to the way that your guests will view your wedding. Paper also plays a major role in printing as you will need different paper stocks and paper weights to print certain methods such as letterpress printing, gold foil stamping or digital printing. But we will cover the printing side of things on another post. For now, lets go through what kinds of paper we can print your wedding invitations on.

COATED

Coated paper includes gloss or matte finished stocks. These paper stocks are smooth to touch and best used for digital printing. Coated paper stocks generally only come in white and give you the flexibility to print any custom digital design onto them.

UNCOATED

Uncoated paper includes textured paper such as linen, recycled, cotton or handmade paper stocks. Not all of these stocks can be fed through standard digital printers, so you may need to consider other printing methods to make it work. Uncoated paper comes in varied colour choices from white through to black.

METALLIC

Metallic paper stocks have have a shimmery look to them and are slightly textured. Metallic paper stocks can be fed through digital printers and come in varied colour choices.

Once you have chosen the type of paper stock, you will need to consider the paper weight. All paper stocks come in different weights starting from 80gsm which is your standard photocopy paper to 600gsm which is a thick card stock which can be used for letterpress printing.


paper tip

As a general rule for wedding invitations, try and find paper stocks that weigh no less than 300gsm so your invitations feel sturdy and don't flop in your guests hands.


Step Four : The Invitations cont.

part three | typography


Typography plays an important role in the look and feel of your invitations. I receive a lot of requests to use script fonts in invitations, however there are so many different types of script fonts out there that it can be quite confusing choosing the right one. Script or cursive fonts need to be chosen carefully in order for the invitations to still be legible, aesthetically pleasing and fit within the theme of your wedding. Using the wrong font can completely change the look and feel of your invitation, so make sure you take this into consideration and choose carefully. Below are some examples of some of my favourite script fonts.

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type tip

Try to keep script fonts to a minimum. As script fonts can be hard to read, avoid using script fonts for the body of the invitation such as the time and place of the event to prevent any confusion for your guests.


Step Four : The Invitations cont.

part two | the colour scheme


Choosing a colour scheme can be as simple as picking your favourite colour. But you also need to take into consideration whether or not that colour fits in with your theme. For example, say your favourite colour is yellow, this colour might go well with a summer beach theme, but might not go so well with a winter vineyard theme.

Here's are a couple of examples of invitations and menus we have designed that used colour.


Purple

tropicaweddings_invitation_colour.jpg
 

NAVY

tropicaweddings_invitation_colour_navy.jpg
 

pink

tropicaweddings_invitation_colour_pink.jpg
 

yellow

tropicaweddings_invitation_colour_yellow.jpg

In each design, we have tried to keep number of colours to a maximum of 2, focusing more on the primary colour and only using the secondary colour to accent certain elements of the design. By doing this, the design stays clean and simple. Less is always more!


colour tip

We recommend choosing no more than two complimentary colours, and using these colours subtly throughout your styling. Using too many colours can look cluttered and unorganised, and using too much of one colour can be overpowering. 


Do you need help designing your invitations?
Get in touch with me to get a custom invitation design, personalised specifically for you and your big day.
— Deena | Graphic Designer

Step Four : The Invitations

So now that the guest list is locked in, the date is set and the venue is booked, we can now start inviting people to our engagement party. We're well versed in this department seeing as we, Tropica Weddings, are specialists in this field. So we're going to get all deep and meaningful with you on this topic to get you up to speed on the power of an invitation.

 

part one | the theme

Since starting our business in 2015, we have designed a wide variety of invitations ranging from casual household birthdays, all the way up to luxe New York weddings. There are so many options out there for invitations that it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. An invitation is the first interaction your guests will have with your event, so it's important to make sure that they get a true understanding of what the invitation is for and the theme you are trying to portray. Remember, an invitation not only tells your guests when and where to be on the day, but it also gives them an idea of the style you're going for.

 Diana & Adrian's New York Wedding Invitation.  View wedding photos.

Diana & Adrian's New York Wedding Invitation. View wedding photos.

Themes can be anything from an intimate garden style, a tropical beach feel or a luxurious destination wedding. All you need to do is make sure that this style translates through your invitation.


theme tip

If you have yet to come up with a theme and need some inspiration, we recommend using Pinterest as a tool to visually see what direction you want to go in. Save the pins of the weddings you love into a folder and then look back at your Pins you've saved once you're done. This will give you a good idea of what kind of wedding styles you're into and help you to narrow down your search.


Up Next

 

Next week, we'll talk about colour schemes and how to choose the right colours for your chosen theme. Sign up to our newsletter to have our tips sent straight to your inbox.

 
 
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Step Three: The Venue

How to cram your friends and family in one room 101

 

Now that the guest list is "done" we've moved on to the venue hunting. We've tried not to restrict ourselves too much on our criteria, and by keeping our options open we're hoping to score a hidden gem that we may not have thought about looking at. We do however have a preferred style which is somewhere between a garden and a warehouse. We want the space to be big enough to hold all of our guests, but small enough to keep it intimate. Surely with all of the venues Melbourne has to offer, there must be something out there to suit us!

Keeping in mind that we are inviting around 100 guests, we started the google hunt.


Hidden City Secrets

The first site we stumbled across was Hidden City Secrets. This site is amazing, as it lists hundreds of different venues that you can search from throughout Australia. You can search by Popularity, Event style, or even by the style of venue (e.g Laneway, Rooftop, Warehouse etc.) With so many options to choose from, we went a little nuts opening every single venue up in a new tab and emailing each and every one of them to see if they were available. We went to bed happy, ready to take on the world the next day.

Lo and behold, the very next day, our emails were flooded and our phones were going off from all of the venues responding to our requests. That's when we realised that what we thought was a productive night of venue hunting turned out to be chaos the next day. We had no idea who was calling us, we had forgotten which venue was what, and had to back track and re-research each venue to see which ones we actually liked. It was a headache!

So then I devised a plan. I created a table to list exactly which venues we liked, and made sure we knew the costs involved, how many guests they could hold, how to contact them and made sure I had all of my questions ready if anything was missing off that list. It made life so much easier to see everything written down.


I have included a printable of what I used to list the venues as a free download, SCORE!
You'll find the link at the bottom of this post.


Venue Insider

The Venue Insider is another great site to look at for venues. It has more of an Airbnb type vibe to it where it lists the venues on one side of the page and also gives you an option to search the venues using the map, which is super convenient. Apart from the convenience, we also loved the quality of the venues that were shown on the site. As good as it was that Hidden City Secrets had such a large list of venues to choose from, we really had to sift through the good and the bad. With the Venue Insider, all of the venues are amazing and literally listed all of our top picks. Definitely one to check out!

 


keep track of all your favourite wedding venues and download the venue listing printable here for free!


Step Two: The Guest List

but, they're all my best friends

 

Writing up the guest list is probably the hardest and most tedious part of the whole event organising process. How do you decide who comes to your engagement? How do you decide who comes to your wedding? What's the difference between an engagement party and a wedding these days? Who are they, and why are they invited? Why can't we invite everybody? Ok, that's it! NOBODY'S INVITED!

It's tough, you have to make what feels like life or death decisions. So much pressure deciding who makes the cut. But you have to do it, and here's how we did ours.


FAMILY & "FAMILY"

First and foremost we had to make sure we invited our immediate family and relatives. From my side of the family, my dad comes from a family of 8 siblings and my mum comes from a family of 11. According to my calculations that's 19 aunties and uncles, who are all married which makes that 38 aunties and uncles. They all have 2-4 children each which makes that, give or take 114 cousins, which brings us to around 150. On the other hand, Frank is Greek and uhh... have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Poor Ian Miller only got to invite his parents!

So yeah getting our families together under one roof was going to be tough. We also both have a large group of friends. And if you know Frank, everybody is his best friend (bless his cotton socks). So with approximately 300 family members and a gazillion best friends, we needed a way to break it down to a solid 100.

 Shot we took at Marc & Cloe's engagement party last year.  View more photos

Shot we took at Marc & Cloe's engagement party last year. View more photos


the divide

We ended up dividing our lists into 4 lists

  1. Her Family
  2. Her Friends
  3. His Family
  4. His Friends

We then listed absolutely everybody we knew under these 4 categories so that we didn't miss anybody. Once everybody was listed, we started removing people that we didn't mutually know, and people we hadn't spoken to a long time or aren't really close with anymore (Note: We didn't delete them, we just moved them to a safe place incase we decide they're our best friends later). Then we divided it further to turn those lists into 3 location lists and marked off who we would invite to each location.

  1. Melbourne
  2. Indonesia
  3. Greece

And that's it! It made complete sense once it was done. And now we're ready to actually get to the fun stuff.... PLANNING!


DOWNLOAD THE GUEST LIST SPREADSHEET HERE FOR FREE!

I've perfected the guest list spreadsheet that I used, to make it easier for you to list and organise your guests for your engagement, wedding ceremony and reception in one simple document. It comes fully labeled, colour coded, and even automatically calculates the number of guests invited to each occasion. 

Because luckily for you, I'm a little OCD like that! Download it for free now x


Step One: Panic!

So it's official. Deena & Frank are engaged!

 

I'm not usually one to agree to fly off to a winter destination. But when Frank said "Japan", my tickets were booked and off we went! And what an amazing trip it turned out to be as we hit another milestone in our relationship.

It was one cold Tokyo night when Frank somehow managed to find a quiet location and popped the question! It was that very moment when we both burst into confetti from so much joy and excitement. We told our families, made it "Facebook official" and everybody was incredibly happy and excited and congratulated us and WOOHOO!! WE'RE ENGAGED!

 Frank and I, all engaged and stuff in Tokyo.

Frank and I, all engaged and stuff in Tokyo.


what now?

So after the excitement of a proposal and announcement of an engagement, what really happens next in the mind of a bride-to-be? PANIC!

The first thing I did was look for my engagement dress (just getting my priorities straight, you know how it is). Then I started thinking about who we were going to invite, "ooh! Our parents, brother, sister, best friend, their partner, relatives, their partners, their children, family friends, their partners, their children" *breathe*.

Then I started thinking about how we were going to fit everybody into one building. "Hrmm, maybe we can do it in a garden? hire a venue? do it in our tiny backyard? find someone who has a big backyard?" Eep!

Then after thinking about all the costs per head, I started thinking about cutting down our guest list, and then I realised that I've only been thinking about planning the engagement party and haven't even started thinking about the actual wedding. O... M... G!

Being a wedding vendor, sometimes it's easy to forget how hard it actually is to plan a wedding. Hats off to all the Brides and Grooms who have successfully planned their entire wedding day. You guys ROCK!

In saying that, I've decided I'm going to blog about our wedding planning experience so newly engaged couples can read through this and learn from our mistakes haha! Oh did I tell you that we're planning to do this in 3 countries?! Oh yeah.... this is going to be fun!

Stay tuned x


hip hip HOORAY! Mag

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We're so excited to be featured among so many other amazing wedding invitations designers on the Hooray! Mag website today. Our most recent Save the Dates that we designed for our Perth couple, Astrid & Brendan have been featured under Hooray's Classic Romantic Stationery Edit. Take a peek!

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