One key thing that every single one of your guests will see before your wedding is the invitation. This is your first chance to give guests a sneak peek of the theme and details of your wedding day. Choosing the perfect wedding invitations can be one of the more complicated tasks involved in wedding planning because there are many facets to consider. Choosing the paper type, inks, textures, fonts and wording are all smaller aspects of designing your invitations. However, one of the bigger decisions to consider before getting to the fun part is deciding whether to use a specialty paper store in your area or an online company—and  we’ve explored the advantages and respective drawbacks of each option.

We’ll begin with the traditional method of going to your local specialty paper or stationery store to order invitations. The number of regular “brick and mortar” stationery shops has declined in recent years, but by doing some research, you should be able to find one in your area. Consult friends or family for recommendations if they have worked previously with a local store with favorable results. There are two different types of choices you will have at a paper store: customizable invites, or pre-printed options that you will fill out when assembling.

The benefits of visiting a physical store include working directly with a sales associate who knows your order intimately, and is reachable if any questions, changes, or problems arise. These types of stores are generally more flexible with returns and payments, and may even allow you to pay in installments. When choosing the specific elements of your invitation, you have the advantage of being able to touch and see the product before making any commitment. This will allow you to have a good idea of what it will look like when it is produced.

The cons of working with a specialty store can be that your choices may be more limited. If you have creative and discerning taste, you might not like being restrained to what that particular store is supplied with, including designs, paper options, colors, etc. Because these independent stores are typically smaller in size and manage several orders at once, the process can be drawn out longer than you’d prefer. Stores usually operate during business hours, so it can be hard for working brides and grooms to find time to go in and order the invitations, pick up, make changes, etc. For the budget-conscious couple, it can be easier and cheaper to comparison shop online, as specialty paper outfits also have a reputation of being more expensive.

If you decide to go the online route, there are a variety of benefits and disadvantages that accompany it. When shopping for wedding stationery choices online, your choices are virtually infinite. There are thousands of online sites that offer invitation printing. If you are looking for a very unique or specific type of invitation, chances are, with some research, you can find it online. It can be easier to make custom changes to invitations using online forms, and you can typically shop for and work on your design 24 hours a day. Several websites that offer invitations and stationery also offer discounted products, due to their large size and printing capability.

However, as with many products bought online, the product you receive on your doorstep could vary from what was shown on the website. When ordering online, you need to be prepared not to know exactly what you are getting (no matter how good the pictures may seem) until it arrives. If you are not satisfied, it could be too late to return them, or they may not even have a return policy. Another drawback could be having a hard time tracking down the correct person to speak with when emailing or calling about a problem or questions regarding your order.

The main points of difference in these two options come down to availability, options, budget, and security. As with all other aspects of your wedding planning journey, your choices will be governed by your preferences and budget. In this regard, wedding invitations are no different, and it’s up to you to do the research to find out what option is best suited to you.

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