Invitations, though small in size, have a big job to do; they set the tone for the entire wedding celebration. They represent a couple's style and history together, and they give guests a preview of what to expect on the big day. The designs you choose carry the theme of your wedding from the beginning stages of save-the-dates to the menus, place cards and finally the thank-you notes after the ceremony.
Designers who offer custom designs will most likely offer the most options for invitations; they can combine their professional knowledge of trends and products with your individual taste as a couple, and come up with something truly unique. Amy K. Moore, partner & designer of Peacock Design & Paperie, LLC located in Reading, PA, says that current trends often play a role in what style a bride will choose. “Some trends that we have seen cropping up for our brides include a modern twist on lace, contemporary use of multiple fonts, and nature-inspired looks that include trees and lovebirds.” A design professional can take your suggestions and color schemes and show you examples of similar ideas, so you have a starting point to work from.
It also helps to speak to a designer one-on one, especially if you want the look of the invitations to tie in perfectly with the décor of the wedding. The closer you work with a designer, the more control you will have over the final product. While this may not always be the cheapest option available, you are much more a part of the creative process, and can adjust and add details as you go.
Sites like Etsy are (if you know how to maneuver them) a marketplace of endless creative options. With an endless supply of vendors, it's virtually impossible not to find something creative and unique that ties in with your theme. However, the eternal problem with online shopping applies heavily here; the photo looks nice, but what will it look like in person? The danger with ordering invitations from online is that you can not be sure of the quality until it arrives. You are also at the mercy of online payment and delivery, so tread carefully. There are many trustworthy sites to order from, of course, and sites like Etsy usually allow you to communicate with the designer before placing your order. However, keep in mind that there will be a few aspects you won't be able to control. Order your invitations to arrive two weeks before you plan to send them out; this way, you have some extra time to adjust if the delivery is delayed.
If you're torn between ordering online and ordering custom, split the work! Think of websites as places to order a little extra flair to add to your invitations; a custom envelope embosser or wax stamp is a great finishing touch for invitations, and provides another layer of individuality without leaving the entire invitation in the hands of the unpredictable internet. Etsy is also a great place to shop around for design ideas and price points, so that if you go to a custom shop, you'll already have a style and look in mind to show them.
It basically comes down to how well you know yourself: Do you prefer to take the lead in creative projects, or do you like to window shop? Do you feel more comfortable being able to see and feel a product before buying, or are you an online shopper? Does your wedding have pronounced themes and colors, or do you have more of a general idea of what look you want to achieve? Take into consideration your personality; some people are naturally more hands on during the creative process, while others tend to take a back seat and only need to see the finished product. Consider your budget and timeline, and plan accordingly. But most importantly, remember that a special day deserves special invitations. Take time to look at all the designs you can; the more you know about what you like, the easier it is to find an invitation that represents you as a couple.