Did you know that your guest count is the biggest contributor to your budget? It’s because there are very few costs associated with a wedding that is not number dependant. For example, you will spend more on food for 150 people than 40 people. A 300+ guestlist requires a larger venue, more chairs, more place settings… you get the picture.

This phenomenon also applies to stationery, but with a bit of a twist.



Photo Credit: bubblerock.com

For our work, we enlist something called “quantity pricing”. The more you get, usually the cheaper each item will be. Twenty-five invitation sets may be $20 each, but 150 of the same set could go down in price to $11 each.

This is due to the setup costs required for the creation of the items in the invitation/stationery sets.

Here is a bit of a hypothetical breakdown. (Remember, each printer and situation may vary slightly!)

A printer may charge a $50 setup fee for each file going to print. These setups include the file prep, an in-house test of the print, and final cutting time. So the numbers add up. (For equation below, we are going to assume that the printer did not need to order special paper, and they are printing on a stock that they have on hand.)

– invitations: $50/set
– rsvp cards: $50/set
– menus: $50/set
– place cards: $50/set

There also may be other fees associated with the setup. This can include foiling plates, letterpress plates, cutting dies etc. Each time these are placed on the press, it comes with its own setup charge (so if you have a foil stamp being used 2 times on an invitation, that’s the press fee x 2)

So, before anything is even printed, that is a minimum of $100 setup for just an invitation and an rsvp card. Before we add in the cost of the paper. Say the paper cost is $1.50 per invitation, and the printing cost is $0.70 per invitation, we would take the total setup cost, plus the paper cost and the print cost and divide that per invitation.

Photo Credit: bubblerock.com


Now, your printer’s equations may be a bit different, but this showcases very basically how the quantity pricing works:

$50 (setup) /1 invitation + $1.50 + $0.70 = $52.20 for one invitation
$50/150 invitations + $1.50 + $0.70 = $2.53 each for 150 invitations

This is why the idea of a single “keepsake” invitation may be a good idea in theory, but does not actually work out to the couple’s advantage.

There is also another quantity factor that will affect your numbers.

Certain stocks of paper come in specific quantities. If the “must-have paper” needs to be custom ordered, it may only be available in packages of 50, 100 or 250 sheets. If your order only needs 25 sheets the printer will charge you for the 50 that they need to order. This is because the printer may not be able to sell the same stock to someone else, and it was brought in just for you and your event. This means that your per invitation paper cost will be adjusted to match the cost for bringing in the full 50 sheet package.

(We will go into the paper costs in a few weeks… so stay tuned!)


Photo Credit: Ken Tan Photo

As you can see, there is a lot of mathing going on to create a quote per item (and we went to design school to get away from math!!!). So, please be patient with your stationer if they say that they can’t give you a ballpark figure for your ideal paper stock off the top of their head! It is a process!

Keep in mind, when it comes to your stationery, you will need different quantities for different parts of your event. Generally speaking, for invitations you only need slightly more than half of your guest count. Items like place cards, you will need one per person!


How can you help keep costs down?

• Choose in-stock papers from your stationers!
• Come into your consultation with a basic understanding of quantity pricing
• If you need only a small number of invitation sets, choose items with fewer setup requirements (tools like foiling plates, number of items with setups, etc.)
• Choose items that require less assembly, or choose to do the assembly yourself
• Minimize paper layering (although we do LOVE the look!)

We hope that helps give a good overview picture of how the quantity of your stationery can vastily affect your final printing costs!

Photo Credit: Ken Tan Photo

The rest of the posts in this series:

Budgets—An Intro
Budgets—Quantity (You are here)
Budgets—Printing Methods