I’ve been in the stationery business since 2005 and although trends and markets change, there is one issue that I wish every couple was more educated about- their timeline.
Don’t get me wrong… many national publications and blogs feature this information at least annually. But as an expert in pretty paper- I can assure you that even though the industry does it’s best to educate couples that they should be purchasing wedding invitations at least 4-6 months before the wedding date, it’s not uncommon for us to have a bride come to us needing invitations in her hands within a month. Certainly we do our best to accommodate this request, but as you might imagine- nobody does their best work while rushed.
Buddha once said, “ Trouble is, you think you have time.” Truer words have never been spoken.
I have many examples why its super important to give yourself ample time between placing your wedding invitation order and when you should expect them in hand. Here are four of the most common versions of how the extended timeline plays out:
1. Proofing time: A lovely couple spends two hours with our Patchettes and makes the bazillion of decisions on fonts, styles, printing methods, etiquette, quantity and budgets. They place their order and go through the proofing process. Because they are busy professionals, they cannot immediately focus on each proof as it comes across via email, or they have multiple decision makers that need to bless the content. Each proof on average takes about four business days to turn around, so in the event that a couple goes through three rounds of proofs before final proof approval, and they take 3-4 days each time to send over edits- this would add an additional 21 business days before the order can even go to production. That’s three weeks before the order will even get on a printer!
2. Product availability: After spending several weeks on the proofing process, the order goes into production. And until the final proof is signed, no vendor will order the needed products for the order. It’s not uncommon for particular paper colors, ribbons, liner options or specialty envelopes to be on backorder for a week to 10 days, or to be out of stock indefinitely. Obviously our vendors do their best to keep up with demand, but in a world of hand-made paper and on-demand product, we are often in the position of explaining to our clients that they either need to add a few weeks to the production timeline to wait for the out-of-stock item, or to change their final choice to an in-stock option. Either way, this adds time to the in-hand delivery date.
3. Quality assurance: Great news! The proofing process is complete and the order is placed with the vendor. All of the products are in stock and now it’s time to go to production! From an engraved plate to a beveled edge, when printing hundreds of pieces at a time- there are times when the machine has a life of its own. In the 10 years I’ve been in business, we’ve had engraved orders crack, edges not consistent, inks bleeding and foil stamping not sticking. Most of the time our vendors find these quality assurance issues before they ship to the client, and put the order back into production at their cost. But again, these unexpected mishaps cost the client an additional week or so in their timeline.
4. Shipping: This is probably the one issue that 90% of our clients don’t anticipate, but yet happens with every order. After the order is complete, has passed quality assurance and post production, the order needs to ship to the client. Some of our vendors are on the West Coast, and without paying for expedited shipping, it takes six business days to get from one side of the country to another. And yes, this adds a week to the in-hand delivery date.
Obviously these issues do not happen to every order! But in addition to those listed above, factors such as vendor production time, a couple’s decision-making personality, and typos/errors in the proofing process can add additional time and stress too.
Our company is named The Dandelion Patch because like the dandelion, we are about making your invitation wishes come true and having you leave with a smile. By allowing ample time and professional guidance from a stationer, you will not be surprised or disappointed by an unexpected extended timeline. Plus, you’ll be fulfilling my one wish for every couple to enjoy a stress-free wedding planning process!
Until next time, here’s to big wishes and pixie dust!