Save Money On Invitations! An invitation is often the first impression your guests have of your wedding, so it’s important to make that first impression one that lasts! Continue reading to learn how you can save money on invitations. For fabulous invitations (and first impressions), we turned to Jody Stein, owner of CREATE Studio. Jody creates custom designed invitations and coordinating collateral for all types of events. We had the opportunity to talk to her about her business, designing for brides on a budget, and new invitation trends to watch for. Q. Tell us about yourself and your business. A. I was born to create. My mother knew I would grow up to be an artist when she found me making clothes for Barbie when I was 3. She was positive when I painted my Dad’s car to look like the Beatles Yellow Submarine! I eventually created my way through childhood and college; graduating with a BFA from Washington University. My creative career was launched art directing print and television commercials for major brands in New York and Chicago. Marriage brought me to Pittsburgh which led to the creation of CREATE Studio. Now, I collaborate with exciting event planners and with clients planning one of the biggest, most important events of their lives. So many ideas! So many decisions! Coming up with jaw dropping, WOW! creative solutions that bring their vision to life is my niche. I love to create traditional invitations, also traditional with a twist, or, completely out of the box. No pun intended! It all depends on their sweet dreams! Q. How far in advance do you recommend sending invitations? Is there such a thing as sending invitations too early? A. Most people have jam-packed calendars so my advice is to shout out the date of a big event early with a creative, fun, Save the Date. This is the very best way to never be too early or too late, to build anticipation, and to informally set the tone for the formal invitation to come. For a destination or event with a large out-of-town guest list, mail the Save the Date as soon as possible. If the guest list is made up of mostly in-town guests, at least 6 months out. Once the Save the Date has been mailed, plan to mail the formal invitation no later than 8 to 10 weeks before the event. For weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s or large parties, a website devoted to the big day is a great way to keep guests posted as the event unfolds in-between mailings. Q. Do your clients typically create custom designs or choose from a design book? A. Whether or not a client wants a one-of-a-kind custom invitation suite, or falls in love with a standard design from one of our books, we sit down to discuss all of the ideas swirling around in their head. Then we decide how to best organize these thoughts to create their own perfect invitation. It’s funny because a standard design almost always ends up being customized with individual choices of colors, fonts and paper selections. I usually suggest adding little unique details that make an invitation their very own. For custom, one-of-a-kind invitations, I create mood boards as a visual reference for the entire event. It includes a color palette, paper selections, photographs of flowers, and if apropos, bridesmaid dresses, swatches of linens and trims, and images of the venue. This way, when we meet, we can clearly see how every element at the event will coordinate and tweak it to perfection. These boards become invaluable tools when trying to make decisions and are great for planning ahead for the “day of” materials; programs, escort cards, menus, table numbers, gifts, and even projections on the walls and dance floor. Q. Any advice for clients and brides on a budget? A. Everyone has a budget whether it is on the low side of the production spectrum or the high. Being on a budget does not mean we can’t create one of the most beautiful invitation suites ever. It is my job to create a “winner” at many different price points. This is one of my strongest fortes. What matters is how the design and materials work together to tell the story. I take time to resource the right materials that will work for each individual budget in order to make each clients dream a reality while you save money on invitations. Here are a few ways to save money on invitations: Choose a rectangular shape instead of square. Square invitations cost more to mail. Do not include a lot of extra layers. Multiple layers increase labor and weight. Consider digital printing instead of raised or offset. This is a huge cost saver. With today’s high-end digital printers, digital printing can look as nice and vibrant as offset printing. Include a coordinating accommodation and event information insert. This saves costs on a second mailing, not to mention your time answering questions by phone or emails. A new cost saver is to have guests respond by email, or to an event website. This does away with printing a reply card and envelope, and the cost of its return postage. Q. Are there any new invitation trends on the horizon? A. There is no end to new trends. With the internet, finding clever options are endless. I literally look all over the country and the world for interesting trends. Invitations can be etched into wood, Plexiglas and metal. Sending invitations in custom, fabric covered boxes has become very popular. Many clients are asking for custom logos to “brand” every detail of their special day. Logos are usually introduced on the Save the Date, become an integral part of the invitation, then appear later on programs, menus, escort cards, projections, dance floors, gift tags, and on custom stamps. Finding ways to repurpose and combine different materials is a big trend. For example, I just won a LOUIE award, “Best Bar Mitzvah Invitation Design”, from the Greeting Card Association for repurposing a large wooden initial letter “A” block on the front of the invitation. Mirroring fashion trends, bold patterns and pop colors are huge right now. Q. Anything else you want us to share with our readers? A. It is always important to figure out your event budget before we get started. This way, I can do the best job resourcing materials to present the best, unique concepts at the best price. Don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars. It is my job to figure out how to get the job done and help you save money on invitations. Q. What’s CREATE Studio up to now? A. I just won a LOUIE Award for Best Bar Mitzvah Invitation Design. I just finished designing two special event invitations for Bethlehem Haven and Pittsburgh Opera which included the invitation, eblasts, posters and programs. And, I am currently working on a party being held in Paris, and a bunch of lovely weddings. Interested in custom designed invitations from Jody Stein? Visit her website: createstudioinvites.com for more information.