Updated November 20, 2019

Study: Average Cost of Wedding Invitations

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Wedding invitations cost $445 on average. But a lot depends on the type of paper and printing. Here's what you can expect to pay for wedding stationery.

Wedding invitations may cost more than you think. It's more than the invitation itself. There are Save the Date Cards, thank you notes, and wedding websites to consider. If you aren't careful, it can really add up.

Read our guide to help you decide where invitations and wedding stationery fit into your budget.

Breaking Down the Cost

Designs, colors, and who's paying for what are just a few questions you must ask yourself. Just wait and see how the costs add up!

  1. What is the average cost of wedding invitations?
    Wedding invitations can cost anywhere from $1 to $100 each. Multiply that by the number of invited guests and you have your cost. Overall, in the U.S., couples spent $445 on their wedding invitations. The average wedding guest count is 120 in the U.S. This means couples pay an average of $3.70 per invitation.

  2. Who pays for wedding invitations?
    Traditionally, the bride's family covers the cost of wedding stationery. This includes the invitations, Save the Date cards, and programs for the wedding.

  3. What is the most expensive paper for wedding invitations?
    You could get lost in the many different stationery options. At the high end, 100% cotton invitations are the most expensive. It's for good reason, though. They are the heaviest, which signifies elegance at weddings.

  4. Are matte or shiny invitations less expensive?
    Shiny invitations are usually more expensive than matte invitations. You might be able to save as much as 50%. While shiny is somewhat more impressive, it's a great place to save money if you are on a budget.

  5. Which type of printing is the least expensive?
    If you aren't going for a completely formal look, consider digital offset printing. It's the least expensive option. The ink doesn't permeate the paper. Instead, it appears as if it lays flat on the invitation.

  6. Which type of printing is the most expensive?
    Black tie, formal weddings often use engraved wedding invitations. They are the most expensive option. But also the most formal. The engraved words are raised on the paper. They often offer a feeling of elegance.

  7. How much is it to hire a calligrapher for your wedding invitations?
    Calligraphy is a traditional technique that couples use on their wedding invitations. Usually, couples use it on the inner and outer envelopes only. This could be due to the cost. It's not unusual to pay between $2 and $5 per envelope.

    If you invite 150 people, that's as much as $750 just to address your envelopes.

  8. What is the average cost of Save the Date cards?
    It's not a necessary tradition, but many couples send out Save the Date cards today. It helps the guests plan ahead. Like wedding invitations, there are many options.

    You can opt for simple postcards that cost an average of $0.50 each. You can also go more elaborate with an actual card. Just like invitations, they can cost between $1 to as much as $4 each. Some couples send magnets, which when bought in bulk cost an average of $1.00 each.

  9. How can you save money on invitations?
    If all of these costs have your head spinning, don't worry. We found ways to reduce the cost. Here are a few of our favorites:

    • Save more expensive papers for the accents
    • Use paper that is a few steps down from 100% cotton
    • Downgrade the printing option while choosing a slightly more expensive paper
    • Use a standard invitation size
    • Order more than you need to account for mistakes or forgotten guests

The Wedding Invitation Timeline

Proper etiquette is a key factor when it comes to weddings. Your great-grandma and other relatives are counting on you. Read on to learn just what you should do to keep everyone happy.

  1. How early should you send Save the Date cards?
    If you decide to send Save the Date cards, do it early. Traditionally, couples send them out six to eight months before the big day. This gives out-of-town guests plenty of time to prepare.

  2. How early should you send wedding invitations?
    Wedding invitations should be sent at least 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding date for a local wedding. If you have a destination wedding, consider sending the invites around 3 months beforehand.

  3. How soon should you make the RSVP deadline?
    You'll need a final headcount for your venue around 1 week prior to the event. To stay on the safe side, make your RSVP deadline 3 weeks before your wedding. This gives you time to follow up with those who didn't respond.

  4. How early should you order wedding invitations?
    It's best to order your wedding invitations 5 months before the wedding. If you are ordering basic invitations, you might have a little more leeway. But you want to make sure you have them in enough time to address and assemble them.

Wedding Invitation Etiquette

You certainly don't want to offend anyone before your wedding even happens. Keep reading to see just what your invitation should and should not include.

  1. What information should your wedding invitation include?
    Your wedding invitation should be elegant. In other words, it shouldn't be crowded. Stick to the basic information:

    • Names of bride and groom
    • Name and location of church
    • Name and location of reception
    • Information for the RSVP
    • Dress code

    You can place any other necessary information on an insert. If you want to save more money, consider creating a wedding website for the extra information.

  2. How do you put wedding invitations together?
    Wedding invitations have so many layers, it can get confusing!

    You'll start with the invitation itself. Lay it face up. Next, place your reception card face up. Next in order are any response cards or other inserts. If they have an envelope, tuck them under the outer flap.

    Again, everything should lie face up. Next place the entire stack in the inner envelope. Finally, place the inner envelope in the outer envelope. The front of the inner envelope should face up.

  3. Should you send a wedding invitation to the wedding party?
    Yes! It seems silly, but it's not only tradition, it helps keep things honest. Who wants to make the mistake of assuming anything? Not only is a formal invite polite; it lets the guests know who you invited along with them. If you have a friend or relative who isn't married, this can really help with awkward questions.

  4. When should you send Save the Date cards for a destination wedding?
    Destination weddings have their own unique timeline. Guests need more time to make flight and hotel accommodations. They also need to prepare for coverage at home if they have kids. Proper etiquette states you should send Save the Date cards out 6-8 months before a destination wedding.

    The further away or more costly the destination, the sooner you should send the card.

  5. When should wedding invitations go out for a destination wedding?
    If you sent Save the Date cards, you can send your wedding invitations around 12 weeks before the wedding. If you didn't send Save the Dates, consider sending those invitations a little earlier.

Creating a Wedding Website

Today's couples are tech savvy. Should you jump on the technology bandwagon and create a wedding website? Read on to learn more.

  1. What is a wedding website?
    The information you are supposed to leave off your invitation can go on your wedding website. Consider it a central place for everyone to get detailed information on your wedding. You can post as much or as little information as you want on there.

    A few examples of what you can include are:

    • Detailed directions to all events
    • Ideas for out-of-town guests to do while they are in town
    • Special requests you have of your guests for the reception
    • A weather forecast for the big day
    • A countdown clock so everyone can join in on the excitement

  2. Is it proper to list your wedding website on your wedding invitation?
    Generally, it looks tacky to list your wedding website on the invitation itself. Instead, consider listing it on your Save the Date cards. This is a great way for guests to feel included right from the start. If you are set on including it with the invitation, make it a separate insert. Some couples use the wedding website information rather than a formal reply card.

Miscellaneous Facts About Wedding Invitations

  1. What is the traditional size for wedding invitations?
    Traditionally, wedding invitations are 4.5 inches by 6.25 inches. But, you can use any size you prefer. Just know that the bigger the invitation, the more expensive the postage.

  2. How many extra invitations should you order?
    Ordering extra invitations might seem like an unnecessary expense, but you'll save money in the end. If you have to make another order because of unforeseen circumstances, it'll cost you. Instead, order around 25 extra with your original order. This allows for mistakes, invitations you must resend, or last-minute invites.

  3. What is the proper timeline to send thank you notes?
    Proper etiquette states you should send a thank you note within 2 weeks of receipt of a gift before the wedding. Any gifts received at the wedding should be acknowledged within a month of your wedding.

You are in charge of what you spend on wedding invitations. Cut back on things that don't matter to you. This leaves you money to splurge on the details you really want.

Not sure where to start? Browse through the options at The Knot for ideas other couples used. Still planning your engagement? Prepare yourself by learning more about the average cost of engagement ring.

Sources and References:

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