Tag Archives: invitations

$5500 Wedding budget: Invitations

There’s nothing I love more than applying hard numbers and equations to concepts (my dad’s an applied mathematician. What have I become?!). Ok, there are some things I love more. But I do sometimes play with hypothetical wedding budgets for fun. And ever since I wrote the $5500 budget post, I’ve been thinking about what kind of wedding that would actually translate to. Today: what kind of invitations you could afford.

First, some basic principles:

  • $5500 should be the median, meaning half of all weddings would cost more and half would cost less. But Dog knows the wealthier half is already well catered to in finding out what their options are. In fact, even the so-called low budget ideas offered up by magazines and the like are generally too expensive for the 50% below the median. So I’m looking at two hypothetical budgets – the $5500 one, and a $2500 one, chosen for being roughly half the median, and rounded down in a spirit of erring on the conservative side.
  • I’m going to go ahead and unscientifically state that your average kiwi wedding has about 75 guests. To account for variation, I’ll look at three scenarios – an average wedding of 75 guests, a large wedding of 150, and a small wedding of 35.
  • I’m using this much loved wedding budget calculator to assign proportions of the total budget to specific items. Since this is a low budget wedding, I’ve removed the stuff I consider frivolous. Oh, that’s like 20 blog posts right there.
  • Kiwis are international people. We leave NZ a lot. For postage costs, I’m going to work with three scenarios: all local guests, all international guests, and 50/50.
  • I have worked my google-fu to find out that a good estimate of the number of invitations needed is about 60% of the number of guests. Hence I will proceed with this estimate forthwith…

Now brace yourself, there’s a lot of numbers coming at you!

75 people (45 invitations)
1. All local.
$27 on stamps, plus $83 on materials or $1.84 per invite
2. All international. $85.5 on stamps, plus $24.5 on materials or 32c per invite
3. 50/50. $56.9 on stamps, plus $56.9 on stamps, plus $53.1 on materials or $1.18 per invite

150 people (90 invitations)
4. All local.
$54 on stamps, plus $56 on materials or 62c per invite
5. All international. $171 on stamps…DOES NOT COMPUTE!
6. 50/50. $112.5 on stamps…DOES NOT COMPUTE!

35 people (21 invitations)
7. All local.
$12.6 on stamps, plus $97.4 on materials or $4.63 per invite
8. All international. $18.9 on stamps, plus $91.1 on materials or $4.34 per invite
9. 50/50. $26.9 on stamps, plus $89.1 or $4.24 per invite

75 people (45 invitations)
10. All local.
$27 on stamps, plus $28 on materials or 62c per invite
11. All international. $85.5 on stamps…DOES NOT COMPUTE!
12. 50/50. $56.9 on stamps…DOES NOT COMPUTE!

150 people (90 invitations)
13. All local.
$54 on stamps…DOES NOT COMPUTE!
14. All international. $171 on stamps…DOES NOT COMPUTE!
15. 50/50. $112.5 on stamps…DOES NOT COMPUTE!

35 people (21 invitations)
16. All local.
$12.6 on stamps, plus $42.4 on materials or $2.02 per invite
17. All international. $18.9 on stamps, plus $36.1 on materials or $1.72 per invite
18. 50/50. $26.9 on stamps, plus $28.1 on materials or $1.34 per invite

So the only times where the cost per invitation approaches what your standard inspiration blog promotes are the cases where you’re having a small wedding, and your overall wedding budget is sitting right at the median (cases 7, 8 and 9 above). At 75 wedding guests, it seems we’re at DIY or very pared down options. Even buying a downloadable graphic design to print yourself, at the low end will be around US$70 (excluding paper and ink), and therefore unreachable most the time. I’m not entirely clear on what it costs to DIY an invitation or card, and I’m wondering what the options for cases 1 and 3 would be like.

If the majority of guests are international (I’m telling you, it does happen), even at the median budget level, the amount of available to send invitations for an average size wedding dwindles to untenable, so evites are your only option. If you’re having a big wedding, evites are again the only thing affordable. Unless everyone is local (case 4), and you’re really crafty.

On the lower budget, you’re looking at evites all the way, baby. Unless you’re both crafty and having a small wedding.

So here’s what we’ve learnt:
1. Stuff that is sold to us as standard is actually way unaffordable for most. Surprise surprise. WEDDING BLOGS: STOP SHOWING ME LETTERPRESS.

2. Evites are the way of the future!! And since we figured out in the previous post that email invitations are fine, that’s cool.

3. We need to see a lot more blogging about how to DIY invitations for cheap. Right now I am so into the idea of DIYing cards, and maybe a fountain pen to write in them with.


Rethinking Miss Manners: Invitations and formality

I finally got myself a copy of Judith Martin’s Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, and I devoured that sucker more or less instantaneously. I love her approach to ettiquette: it mostly boils down to making people feel comfortable, and taking care not to offend them. It’s not about rules for the sake of form, and she’s unwavering in rejecting old traditions that make no sense. What I like best is how she applies her general prinicples to modern issues by creating contemporary versions of old forms. Just sometimes, though, she doesn’t get it quite right, like the whole destination wedding thing. Today I’m going to talk about invitations.

The levels of formality in correspondence, according to Miss Manners, go like this:
Third person engraved or calligraphy invitation
First person handwritten letter
Phone call
Word of mouth.

Only Tier 1 is considered formal, Tier 2 is informal, and poor old email is “That most informal of communications”. So if you are sending out wedding invitations, your options are a formal engraved/letterpress/calligraphied invitation in third person, or to handwrite a letter on your supposed personal stationery where you say something like, “Dear Granny, I’d love you to come to our wedding…”

Well, first of all, she needs to get with the program on forms of printing that aren’t engraving or calligraphy (which incidentally, are damn expensive). That’s just not the world we live in. And then secondly, it’s not true that email can’t be formal. I’ve sent and received a billion formal business emails. Roughly, email today fills exactly the same niche that handwritten letters did before internet. It’s how we talk to our friends, it’s how we get business done.

So Miss Manners’ recommendations need to be adjusted down a notch. A handwritten letter is so rare these days, that that stuff is formal. And email is fine for almost anything she would want handwritten.

And as usual, I’m obsessed with the idea that wedding receptions need to reflect more our actual lives and culture, and reflect less our inner fantasy to live inside the world of Pride and Prejudice. Because unless you’re pretty wealthy, it’s not going to be like the Bingleys. And the bridal party will look like they’re at a different event from the guests. That’s a pet peeve.

USA-ian bloggers kind of give a different impression*, but the in the world that I live in, letterpress and calligraphy invitations do not happen even for the big special parties. My Dad is having a biggish 60th birthday bash this weekend – I’m pretty sure he just emailed people. 21st parties generally involve a home-designed, home-printed DIY invitation.

We want to have a beach party reception that maybe includes swimming: NOT FORMAL. So I’m not seeing the need for major *jazz hands* invitations. But, it is our wedding. It’s still very very special. I’m thinking handwritten cards, written in first person in my best cursvive (I’ve been loving this idea since this post on ESB).

And dudes, save-the-dates. Let’s not make that a thing, when it doesn’t need to be. That shit is going to be a group email. Done.

*Americans, seriously, do you guys really give out fancy invitations for birthday parties, or is that just blogdom misleading me? I’d actually love to know.