Breaking Down the Difference in Wedding Invitation Types & Providers

Being engaged is one of the most special seasons in your life. You’re going to marry your soulmate! You get to plan the soirée of the year surrounded by your friends and family!

There’s a lot of information out there on every aspect of your wedding. From where you should allocate your budget, to the best and on-trend cake flavors depending on the season you’re getting married. It’s important to remember with all of that, that you ultimately need to focus on what’s special to you for your wedding.

After all, it’s for your wedding, right?

I’m here to help with some of the details on the wedding invitations and other paper goods. Wedding stationery and invitations is almost a mystery when it comes to planning. You know that at some point you need them, but for some couples, the timeline creeps up on you.

During this series, I’m helping to shine some light on planning for your wedding invitations and stationery.

We’ve already covered when to start planning your wedding invitations. Briefly, I alluded to different types of wedding invitation providers. This time we’re diving into all the details.

Keep reading to Breaking Down the Difference in Wedding Invitation Types & Providers.

The Differences in Invitation Types & Providers

When doing your research on wedding invitations and which is the best route for your event, it’s important to consider a few things:

  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Importance


Each plays a factor in the different types of wedding stationery providers, as each of their own pros and cons. Now, as an invitation designer, I want to tell you that your wedding invitations are super important. (Because I think they are.) The reality though is that for some of you, investing in custom designed wedding invitations just isn’t at the top of your priority list.

And you know what? That’s okay.

It is important, though, to be educated on the differences in wedding invitation and paper goods providers.

Template Design Websites

Pros: Affordable, fast turnaround, some ability to do luxury finishes
Cons: Limited customization, non-personal customer service

Template design websites are great for those of you who want a tangible invitation but don’t necessarily want to invest a large portion of your wedding budget on it. These websites have a wide library of designs to choose from and websites like Minted work with independent designers to curate their collection.

They offer limited customization to their products. Certain designs come in different color options, and some wording can be personalized. But overall if you’re looking for the ability to customize things such as envelope or paper colors, these websites have a limited capability. Some designs on these websites will allow for gold foiling certain elements of the designs either through foil press or digital foil printing. This usually means that the foiling is limited to a generic part of the design and not things such as text or names.

If you’re looking for a quick turnaround time, these offer fast printing because all printing is done “in-house” with these printers. They have the capability to run quick, short runs and have a whole production team to get them out the door to you.

The biggest cons of a provider like this is the last of personal touch with their customers. When working with a website, there’s a limited personal connection with the designer on the other end of the order. With something as personal as your wedding invitations, I think it’s important to forge a relationship with your vendors. This allows for added emotional touchpoints along the way, and just knowing that through your wedding planning process, should you have any questions, you have someone there for you, rooting for you.

Semi-Custom Wedding Invitations

The Everett Semi-Custom Collection from Leighwood Design Studio.
Photo Credit: Steph Masat

Pros: Affordable, more customizable options, a personal relationship
Cons: Some limitations to design options, longer turnaround time

Many custom stationery designers (like me!) offer a curated collection of semi-custom designs. This is like an upgraded version of those plug and play websites mentioned above and allows for you to forge a relationship with your wedding vendors.

The length of customization varies depending on designers. Some designers have base suites that allow for customization of paper and envelope colors, wording, and even the ability to choose from a few different type options. They usually offer the ability to upgrade your printing methods (say you like the look of a design but would like to see it letterpressed, these designers will work with you to see your dream become reality).

Because it’s a templated design, it’s more affordable than fully custom design options but slightly more of an investment than the big-name websites. The reason for that is because many independent designers outsource printing to their trusted partners. While we are responsible for the vision and design, many of us don’t have the capacity to print in-house.

This also means the turnaround time is longer than a website template. You’ll save design and proofing time, but production time can be anywhere from 2–3 weeks, depending on your designer. (So if you’re keeping track, about a month from start to delivery.)

The Kingston Semi-Custom Collection from Leighwood Design Studio.
Photo Credit: Steph Masat

Custom Wedding Invitation Design

Custom Wedding Invitations from Leighwood Design Studio
Custom Wedding Invitation Design from Leighwood Design Studio.
Photo Credit: Steph Masat

Pros: 100% customization!
Cons: Long turnaround time, more of an investment

If you’re invested in creating a fully personalized experience for your guests and looking for a way to add unique touchpoints to your wedding invitations, investing in custom wedding invitation design is the best route to go.

Custom wedding stationery allows for you to work one on one with a stationer to bring your entire vision to life. When working with a designer, you’re able to determine what the most important aspects of your wedding paper goods are. Through consultations and meetings, you determine your budget, style, design, printing methods, and luxury finishes. This gives you the most creative freedom and the opportunity to keep all elements of your wedding vision aligned.

With custom design, the options are endless. From digital printing to letterpress, thermography, or foiling, there are numerous printing methods that most custom wedding stationers offer. The same goes for added finishing touches—ribbons, wax seals, special enclosures, etc.

The one downside to custom wedding invitation design is that the turnaround time is much longer than other methods due to the process. Custom design builds your suite from the ground up. From initial design to proofing, and production, this process can take anywhere from 1 month to 3 months. So be sure to book your stationery designer with plenty of time in mind. Some designers can work within a shorter window but rush fees are likely and it’s possible to not achieve the same dream suite that you had been hoping for.

Custom Wedding Invitations from Leighwood Design Studio

Custom wedding invitation design from Leighwood Design Studio.
Photo Credit: Steph Masat

It’s important to do your research when investing in a custom stationery designer to make sure that their style, personality, and expertise align with your overall vision. Some designers specialize in illustrative or watercolor work while others are more modern and minimal. Make sure to discuss your initial vision during your discovery calls to ensure that together you’ll bring it to life.