DIY weddings have become increasingly popular over the years, especially in the wake of 2020, when many couples were forced to rethink the size, location, and even date of their weddings. Backyard bashes are all the rage, and with that informality comes a willingness to forego formal floral arrangements and glitzy centerpieces in favor of homemade bouquets and candleholders designed by the bride and groom themselves. But even the most ambitiously crafty couples have to draw the line somewhere.
You may feel comfortable hiring your Aunt May to make your cake, but how do DIY invitations compare to top-of-the-line customs?
1. The DIY Design Process
PRO: You have complete control over the design of your once-in-a-lifetime wedding invitations.
CON: If you don’t have design training or a natural eye for layout and color coordination, you may struggle to achieve an attractive, cohesive result.
If you have a specific vision for how you want your wedding invitations to look, it may be tempting to design them from scratch. That’s great if you have the knowledge and tools to deftly go from blank paper to a finished product with relatively few bumps in the road. But if you aren’t a designer by trade, you may discover that crafting an invitation from the ground up is trickier than expected.
If this is your first attempt at DIYing stationery, leave yourself plenty of time for trial and error — remember, you’ll want to mail invitations about two months before your wedding date. You’ll also want to explore your printing and paper options before you start sketching flowers and toying with fonts. Depending on your budget and access to printers, you may be limited in terms of size, colors, and even what images you can use given the type of paper you've purchased (texture and sheen can affect how photographs look once printed).
2. Budget Matters
PRO: DIY invitations can be quite a bit cheaper than custom designs, but it depends on your vision and what materials and tools you already have on hand.
CON: Yes, custom invitations cost more money, but the price of DIY invites can skyrocket quickly if you need to buy a lot of embellishments and accessories.
Everybody has a budget. One expert from the graphic design industry puts the average cost of wedding invitations between $5,000 and $8,000 for 100 sets. Another option is to view total cost in terms of percentage; assume you’ll spend 4-6% of your budget on invites. If that feels like a lot of money, going the DIY route could help you pinch pennies or even slice your stationery expenditure in half (or more). But there’s a major caveat here.
To design, print, assemble, and mail your own invitations, you’ll need a variety of materials and tools. This may include:
- Design software
- A home printer and ink or the services of a professional printer
- Markers, calligraphy pens, stamps
- Address stickers
- Envelope seals
- Add-ons like decorative paper clips, belly bands, and sheets of tissue paper
Many of those items are sold in bulk packages, requiring a larger investment up front. You may end up with unused materials or find yourself buying pricey tools you'll only use once.
3. Bells and Whistles
PRO: DIY invitations are limited only by your imagination, budget, and access to materials.
CON: Some interesting, on-trend design elements and invitation embellishments are only known and/or available to industry insiders.
Every industry has its secrets. In the restaurant world, there are often ingredients or cooking hacks that you’re only privy to if you’re a chef. In wedding invitation design, there may be stationery trends or printing techniques that are so new they’re only known to professionals who have the time and incentive to stay up to date on the hottest developments in paper and printing.
If you decide to go with DIY invites, accept that you may be restricted because of your own knowledge. You can’t use tools or ideas you aren’t aware of, and there may be a printing style or design option that’s out of reach because it requires a high-end printing press or other specialized equipment. For instance, a specialty invitation shaped like a fan or in the popular bracket style may not properly feed into a standard at-home printer. Adding raised foil, an exciting enhancement that seriously amps up the glam factor, requires a specialty printer (or tedious manual application and a very steady hand).
4. Time Investment
PRO: There isn’t one — if you’re pressed for time, there’s little benefit to adding DIY wedding design to your mile-long to-do list.
CON: DIY invitations are time-consuming to design, print, assemble, and mail
The CON is the undisputed winner here. Designing invitations can be rewarding, but it’s also a tedious process. It can be difficult to get the details on paper to exactly match the ones in your head. You’ll need to do test prints, double-check alignment and saturation, and so on. Once you’re happy with the printed invites, you still need to assemble each packet (don’t forget you’ll need enclosures like RSVP cards, maps, and something with hotel and rehearsal details), address them, and print or apply postage.
Typically, professional wedding stationery companies will take care of most if not all of those extra tasks. For instance, professional all-in-one invitations take care of all your invitation needs in one fell swoop. Packages typically include a self-mailing invitation with postage (no envelope required), a perforated RSVP postcard guests can detach and mail, and white seals to keep it all secure during transit.
5. Overall Quality
PRO: DIYing your wedding invitations means you can control certain quality-related aspects like the type of paper you use, but upgrades do come at a price.
CON: Professional print jobs will almost always look better than at-home prints, plus stores that specialize in stationery may get high-quality materials at more affordable prices thanks to bulk buys.
There is a certain charm to DIY wedding invitations. In some cases, like a rustic backyard wedding or last-minute ceremony, hand-lettered invites may win out over mass-printed options simply because they are so personal and perfectly imperfect. But in many cases, the quality that comes with professionally designed and produced invitations is difficult (if not impossible) to match in a non-commercial setting. If you’re a stickler for details and know some of your wedding guests will be too, professional invitations may be the way to go.
Partnering with an online wedding stationery site that offers customizable templates is truly the best of both worlds. You get to have a hand in creating personalized wedding invitations that speak to your aesthetic. Yet thanks to professional design input and printing, you’re all but guaranteed a gorgeous, frame-worthy result. The process is simple, too:
- Browse hundreds of expertly designed templates and choose the one that resonates most with you and your partner.
- Customize the design using your wedding colors, personal photos, and favorite fonts.
- Order free samples to ensure you love your creation in person as much as you adore it on your computer screen.
- Sign off on the final design and submit your order.
- Take all the time and the money you saved by avoiding from-scratch invitations and use it on something super fun like a pre-wedding trip to a cozy B&B or a couples massage at a local spa.
To get started on your custom wedding invitations, shop our affordable templates today.