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Let's Talk About Prices (and Price-ing!)

Jesse Jo StantonComment
Photo by Daniel Kim

Photo by Daniel Kim

When people start planning their weddings, I think there is a moment that is universal in every household: the “wtf, it costs that much!?” meltdown. You probably had one — I’m sure I had several — it’s how it goes. It’s impossible to know how much anything costs ever because we’re flooded with misinformation (see also: HGTV and ruined home renovation budgets everywhere!). If you google the average cost of a wedding right now, you’re probably going to read things that aren’t true for your guest count, region, time of year, etc.

It’s our job to educate our clients, and I also believe it’s our job to help each other, so today I’m laying it alllll out. How much I charge for things, how I decided on these numbers, and how you can price appropriately, too. I am no expert, and this information comes from years of undercharging, charging inconsistently, not having a system, and general mayhem.

Photo byVienna Glenn

Photo byVienna Glenn

FOR MY COUPLES

CUSTOM INVITATIONS

Fact: custom invitations are more expensive. They are labor-intensive because they require a stationer to not only manage a customer-service experience, but also graphic design, project materials, payment schedules, tools, and oftentimes, hours hunched over a desk, writing names and addresses.

While expensive, they are also beautiful, special, and quite frankly, one of the ONLY THINGS that survives after the wedding day. Your flowers will die and the food you ate will… ya know. If you have your heart set on a gorgeous suite, it’s a good idea to budget accordingly and be upfront with your stationer. A custom suite will cost you anywhere from $10-$60+ per household (remember, you don’t send one to every person on your guest list!). My starting package, which includes an invitation, RSVP card, and addressed outer and RSVP envelopes, is $1300 for (100) suites. Add in envelope liners, letterpress, calligraphy, wax seals, vellum jackets, custom stamps, etc., and you are looking at closer to $3000.

Semi-custom suites are a great budget-conscious option that still give you a custom feel. They are pre-designed, but can be totally customized, so you get your luxury suite while opening up room for embellishments that hadn’t been possible with a fully custom route.

DAY-OF STATIONERY

Day-of stationery includes the pieces that will be used on your wedding day: menus, place cards, etc. Expect to pay a minimum for $325 for menus and $2-3 per place card.

SIGNAGE

Signage is a really fun way to elevate your design. Your venue might provide labels for buffet items, but most of my clients want everything to coordinate and appear custom. Signage ranges in cost, with paper being the most affordable, followed by wooden signage, then acrylic signage. I think that just about anything can be turned into a sign, so don’t feel limited to those materials!

For pieces that have guests’ names written on them (i.e. mirror escort displays), expect to pay per guest.

Photo by Katrina Wallace Photography

Photo by Katrina Wallace Photography

FOR MY FELLOW STATIONERS

This is how I price things, generally. I’ve found it works best for me, and gives me a formula that I can apply to just about anything. It also helps me understand my profit at a glance, to ensure I’m actually making money at the end of the day!

(design fee) + (marked up product costs) = total

DESIGN FEE

I’ve determined my design fees based on the amount of time each item requires, and the amount of money I need to charge to be profitable. This number is essentially “how much I want to make off of the piece.” For invitation pieces, design fees range from $150-400. For signage, this can be $25-150.

As small business owners, we can’t forget that our “profits” have to also cover a buttload of taxes, business expenses, materials, website fees, etc., so this number is more than just what we’ll pocket.

MARKUPS

Marking up product costs covers the time it takes you to source, order, and manage the materials. For example, wooden signs — wood is relatively inexpensive, but requires going to the store, cutting, sanding, staining, and sealing before you can even write on it. Another example is printing; I mark up my printing costs to cover my time and experience with the software needed to prepare a file for printing, time taken to communicate with the printing company, the materials I’ll need to wrap it up, etc. I typically mark things up by 25-50%. For those of you who don’t love math, just multiply your costs by 1.25-1.5 to get your marked up cost! Add that to your design fee and you have your total.

CALLIGRAPHY

Calligraphy is a separate category because I don’t account for volume when pricing calligraphed items. Follow me here: for items like menus, it’s cheaper (per piece) to print 100 than it is to print 10. With calligraphy, there is no bulk discount. An order of 100 envelopes will literally take 10 times longer than an order of 10. I charge $2.5+ for escort cards, and $3+ for envelopes.

In the same vein, I charge “per line” for pieces like escort displays, since the amount of work depends on the size of the guest list. So, for a large wooden escort display, I’ll charge $1.5/line + marked up product costs!

Photo by Marisa Belle Photography

Photo by Marisa Belle Photography

Welp, that’s all! Any questions about pricing?