I am so excited about today’s post. My sweet friends at Louella Press have offered to give us their tips for working with a custom invitation designer. Having worked with so many brides, I know how completely daunting the task of choosing and ordering your invitations can be…from working within your budget, to settling on a designer, a printing process, fonts, colors, whew!

So, the girls at Louella are breaking it down for us!

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A few tips for working with a custom designer from the ladies (and gentleman) at Two Paperdolls and Louella Press.

1. Finding “the one.”

By far and away, the most important part of choosing custom designed wedding stationery is finding the right designer to fulfill your vision. Unless you have recommendations from trusted friends who have used a designer they like, the first stop in your search should be the Internet… shocking, we know! You might first search invitation designers whose work caught your eye in wedding magazines and on blogs. Even if they work primarily out of albums, a quick email inquiry will tell you if, like us here at Louella, they also do custom design.

If you don’t have anyone in particular in mind, sites like SMP’s Little Black Book, The Knot or a good old-fashioned Google search can help you seek out designers in your area. Keep in mind that, though, it’s helpful to meet face-to-face, it’s not out of the question to work with a designer on the opposite coast through phone and email.

Once you’ve found a few potentials, peruse their websites for examples of past work. Pay attention to the quality of the website itself, as it can be an indication of the type of design and level of professionalism that you can expect. When you’ve narrowed it down to one or two designers or studios whose work you’re most interested in, make the call to set up an initial appointment or design consultation… This appointment should always be free of cost or commitment.

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2. Taking the plunge: the initial appointment.

The goal of your initial appointment with a designer is to find out if your vision fits in with her or his design aesthetic, and to get a better idea of the process and costs involved.

While your invitation will theoretically be a bit different than anything the designer has done before, you will still want to look through their portfolio for themes that parallel your own style. If you’re looking for something modern and simplistic, and you find that their work is mostly ornate with lots of flourish and embellishment, this may not be the designer for you. But don’t hesitate to describe what you’re looking for if you don’t see something that appeals to you right away. The designer may be able to show you something that varies from his or her typical work, or come up with ideas that excite you.

The initial appointment is also an important time for broaching the “B-word”… Budget! If you have a number in mind, share it with the designer and find out what she or he could do for that cost. If not, ask the designer for an average or starting price, and be sure to find out what that price includes. Keep in mind that the invitation budget does not normally include “day of items” like menus, programs and place cards, though you may want to explore the options for those items as well. Having the whole coordinating suite from invite to program can be a fun and special detail for you and your guests to remember.

The first meeting is also a good time to find out a few details about the process. How many initial proofs will they show you? How many proof rounds are included in the price, and how much will additional proofs cost? What kind of timing is involved in both the design and production? You’ll want to mail your invitations six to eight weeks ahead of time, so be sure that the designer knows your mail-out date.

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve found “the one” make your deposit (this normally comes in the form of a design-fee that is credited towards your final balance) and begin preparing any ideas that you’d like to pass along to your designer.

Stay tuned for more tips from the girls at Louella!!