It’s no surprise that weddings are expensive. But what might shock you is just how much they actually cost. In 2021, the average couple spent nearly $30k (or $34,000 if you count the engagement ring) on their nuptials, with over $500 of that going toward wedding invitations.
And while some of those costs (notably picking a great venue), might be totally worth adding to the budget. However other expenses, like the fancy bits of gold-embossed paper your guests end up tossing out (or hopefully recycling), are definitely questionable.
So if you’re one of those savvy couples who’d rather save the budget for an epic and cheap honeymoon, keep reading. We’ve got the details on how you can save money on your big day, by getting crafty with your wedding invitations.
DIY Wedding Invitations
When it comes to DIY wedding invitations, there are two basic options to consider.
The first is to purchase a template (more on those below) that you fill in, print and embellish yourself. Alternatively, there are also digital-only templates you can buy and use for e-invites which will save you some money on printing costs and postage.
The other option is to do everything yourself from scratch. This is best for artsy-craftsy types who prefer printed invites rather than digital ones. For this option, you’d be responsible for creating the design, then printing, cutting and packaging the invitations yourself.
Before deciding exactly how DIY you want to go with your invites, do some research and think about how much time you realistically have to put into your invitations. Do you enjoy crafting? Or are you just trying to save a little money?
Once you’re ready to take the plunge, we’ve got several cheap and free wedding invitation templates here to help you get started.
Free & Cheap Wedding Invitation Templates
The easiest option for DIY wedding invitations is to use digital only or print-it-yourself wedding invitation templates.
They’re plentiful online— and many are even free. You’ll simply add your details, download the template (usually as a PDF) and then email or print the invitations at home or a local copy center.
Here are some of our top places for scoring amazing DIY wedding invite templates:
- Etsy: Thousands of print-it-yourself wedding invitation templates to choose from, starting at $10.
- Download & Print: Unlimited access to all of their templates for $25 per year.
- Greenvelope: Digital-only customizable wedding invites, starting at $39 for 40 guests.
- Tempoola: Free, downloadable wedding invitation templates that you can customize and print in Microsoft Word.
- Canva: Customize and download these free wedding templates, then use them as digital invites or print them yourself.
- Shutterfly: You might have already used them for holiday cards, now check out their wedding invitation templates.
- Wedding Chicks, Greetings Island and Paper Source: Dozens of free templates to choose from.
For those interested in paper invitations, another option is to simply order a customized wedding stamp with all the pertinent details on it. Rather than printing the invitation, you’ll just stamp the info onto a nice piece of paper.
Want to see what they look like? Here’s an Etsy store that sells partially hand-lettered wedding invitation stamps for $80 and up.
Designing Your DIY Wedding Invitations
If you’re a graphic designer or calligraphy artist then you might just want to take your DIY wedding invitations one step further by fully customizing them from scratch.
First things first: The words are the most important part, so make sure you get a second pair of eyes to proofread!
Then, to create the basic layout of your invitation, you can use a free trial of Adobe InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator; a free online program like Canva or PicMonkey; or a word-processing tool like Word or Pages.
Important design elements to consider when you are designing your own wedding invitation include fonts, line spacing, alignment, colors and theme.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t mix more than three fonts, and plan on staying consistent throughout the invitation suite (including other inserts like RSVP cards or maps).
Choosing Paper for Your DIY Wedding Invitations
Although it might seem unimportant, don’t skimp on the paper, especially since it can make or break your invitation.
If you’re printing your invitations at home, buy cardstock that’s at least 65-pound, though 80-pound is even better.
If you’re printing from home, you’ll also want to make sure your printer can handle whatever cardstock you choose. You can find this information in your printer’s manual, or by searching online for your printer’s “max paper weight.”
Recycled paper is also a popular option — especially for rustic or boho invites. You can order cardstock online at Amazon or specialty shops like Cardstock Warehouse, Michaels, LCI Paper, Paper Source and Paper Presentation. Or you can go to your local Jo-Ann’s, Walmart, or office-supply store. You can also choose different finishes for your paper; for wedding invitations, popular finishes include cotton or linen, which are incredibly beautiful (but also more expensive).
Don’t forget, you need one invitation per address — not per guest. So don’t make the mistake of ordering double the paper you need!
Printing Your DIY Wedding Invitations
Whether you’re using a DIY wedding invitation template or designing the whole thing yourself, you’re going to need to print it somehow.
The most penny-hoarding option? Print your invitations at home. As long as you have a decent printer, and use nice paper, this will probably work just fine.
Both inkjet and laser printers are up to the job; just be sure to select the highest-quality print setting. To save money, use black ink only; if you want a splash of color, use colored paper.
If you’re worried about your wonky printer messing up that expensive paper, outsource the job to a professional print shop. Sure, it will cost you a bit more, but it beats ruining your specialty paper by trying to save money. It also might save you a bit of extra time and frustration, and they can likely cut the invitations for you.
One of the easiest ways to keep costs down is to keep your paper printings to a minimum, and include a QR code or link to your wedding website.
Sites like Zola and The Knot offer free wedding website builders which will allow your guests to digitally RSVP, see all the details about your big day, and even contribute to your wedding registry. If you have relatives who don’t use the internet, you can include a small printed card in their invites asking them to RSVP by phone.
Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder
Making Your DIY Invitations Shine
Once you’ve got them designed and printed, there are countless ways to make your invites shine.
You could add embellishments like:
Don’t Forget the Envelopes
One final way to make your invitations stand out? Killer envelopes.
As for the addresses, you can hire a calligrapher, but that’ll cost you a whopping $2-$5 per envelope. It’s much more affordable to enlist your friends to help you, or to just print pretty labels.
Don’t forget to include your return address, using a label or stamp.
The next step is to visit the post office to weigh your entire invitation and see how much postage it’ll require. (Note: Square envelopes cost more to mail, so unless you’re really attached to that shape, rectangle is a better option.)
As for actual postage stamps, you can purchase custom versions but it’ll cost you more than $1 per stamp.
When it comes time to finally — blissfully!!! — mail out your invites, it’s a good idea to physically take them to the post office.
That way, you can ask the postal worker to hand cancel them (rather than put them through the machine and potentially damage the envelopes). Some post offices will do this for free; others charge up to 20 cents per envelope.
That’s it! You just finished your DIY wedding invitations. Now all that’s left to worry about is the band, the food, the cake, the dress, the honeymoon …
Looking for even more ways to save on your big day? Here’s our list of 90 Savings Tips from Wedding Professionals.
Contributor Larissa Runkle frequently writes on finance, real estate, and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder. Writer Susan Shain contributed to this article.