Wedding invitations are one of the most important wedding decisions. Not only do they notify your guests of your impending wedding, if chosen carefully they can also inform your guests about:
  • The style of you wedding (formal or casual),
  • Your wedding locale (destination-wedding, local wedding, church, park, etc.),
  • Your personal style (contemporary or traditional)
  • Color scheme, and
  • The theme of your wedding, if you have one.
Wedding invitations also vary in price point from very expensive to quite reasonable. You'll want to choose them with care, so that you get the best invitation possible at your price point. The pricepoint of your wedding invitations will depend on quite a few things including:
  • Paper selected,
  • Print used,
  • How many sheets of paper are used,
  • How the paper is folded, and
  • How many inserts are included in the invitation.
Fortunately, with the help of the Internet, you can investigate price points, paper quality, printing styles and gather other pertinent invitation information without actual footwork. Use these steps to help make your wedding invitation selection easier:

Take a count. Though you may not have an exact number of guests that you'd like to invite to your wedding, you should have a ballpark range. This way, it will be easier to come up with a realistic budget for your wedding invitations.

Create that budget. A good estimate for wedding invitations is about three percent of your total wedding budget. If your wedding budget is $20,000, you'll want to limit your spending on invitations to no more than $600.

Start now. It's good to give yourself plenty of time to see what's out there. You'll not only save money, you'll have time to order samples.

Take six. You should allow for a six-month window when it comes to ordering your wedding invitations. This way you'll have enough time to allow for printing, AND the correction of any errors in your invitations. You'll also need time to assemble your wedding invitations and prepare them for mailing.

Pick it out. There are literally thousands of styles and designs of wedding invitations available, there are only a handful of basic types of invitations. You'll find invitations that are:
  • Engraved
  • Thermographed
  • Offset Printed
  • Calligraphic
  • Embossed
  • Handmade
  • Boxed

Engraved. Engraved invitations are classic wedding invitations. They are generally used to announce a very traditional-style wedding. For very formal weddings, engraved invitations are an absolute must. Engraved wedding invitations are also very expensive and time consuming because it takes an engraver several steps to complete the invitation. Note: You should order your engraved invitations no less than eight weeks from the date of your wedding--preferably further in advance. 
Thermography. Thermographed wedding invitations are an affordable alternative to an engraved invitation. Thermography creates the illusion of raised text (like engraving) through a printing process that heats the ink and resin chemical in a combination causing the printed text to appear raised while the paper beneath it looks smooth. The end result has a very elegant look and works very well for semi-formal weddings. Note: Plan on ordering these invitations at least six weeks in advance.

Offset Printing. Most printing today is offset printing (also known as lithography). Offset printing has become one of the most popular choices on the market today because they are very cost efficient, they are available through most stationary vendors and printers (both online and off), and the invitations can be purchased "blank" allowing you the option of printing your own information on them. Printed invitations are appropriate for semi-formal and casual weddings. The quality of offset printing can vary greatly, so be sure to look for a printer who can deliver crisp quality and true colors. Note: While the turnaround time for printed invitations is typically short, you should still plan on ordering your printed invitations at least 4-6 weeks in advance.

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Embossed. Similar to engraved invitations, the raised print on an embossed wedding invitation looks impressive and classy, but might be hard on the budget. Since it is rarely seen, though, embossed wedding invitations stand out among the many pieces of mail your guests receive. Note: Buy a small embosser with your monogram or return address on the plate. This will allow you to create custom stationery in a more affordable way.

Calligraphy. Calligraphed invitations are very elegant. They work well for weddings with an old fashioned theme, but can be very expensive due to the amount of time and effort involved in producing them. Because of the expense, you might also look for a printer who creates the look of calligraphy on printed invitations. Note: When deciding on whether to choose calligraphy invitations, remember that you need to allow extra time for preparation. Keep in mind, too, that this type of invitation may smudge if it comes in contact with moisture.

Handmade. Wedding invitations that are handmade are gaining popularity because they are cost efficient and they add a nice personal touch to your very special day. You may want to consider using a desktop publishing program, too, and attractive stationary to make the process a little easier. Note: Remember to plan on making additional invitations in case of mistakes and allow plenty of time to prepare them.

Boxed. Boxed wedding invitations are available at most retailers and provide a quick and easy alternative to other types of invitations. Also, they can be easily dressed up for a unique and personal touch. Note: Buy extras to ensure that you have enough in case of mistakes or you need to invite additional guests.

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