Custom Creations

Custom Creations
Brides-to-be search for invitations to match their personal style


By the time you read this story, wedding season will be in full swing. It may be too late to make changes now, but it’s never too late to update your selection going forward.
Styles will come and go and new patterns will be added, but brides will always come knocking. Why? Because they want a personalized product to acknowledge their special day.
As most of you know, personalization is key, so the invitation business calls for hours of overtime and loads of staff assistance. Are you up for the challenge? You should be, because profits are almost guaranteed.
Personalized Perfection
When a bride calls Dori Pomerantz Saypol, owner of Total Party, looking for personalized invitations, she wastes no time getting the process rolling.
Pomerantz Saypol schedules an in-person appointment and personally sits down with each bride. The goal is to better understand the bride’s budget and style and then introduce invitation albums that meet her needs.
“Communication is key,” Pomerantz Saypol said. “I try to remove all distractions from our meeting so the bride knows I am focused on her. I take notes to make sure I’ve captured all of the details of her order.”
The initial meeting can last almost two hours, but the work doesn’t stop there.
“Clients tell me about their lives, families and why they have to invite this one and that one,” she continued. “I’ve had clients here for four hours at a time. Then it’s another hour tracking the order and getting the proofs to the bride for approval. After a few rounds of back and forth changes, we get the order printed, shipped and in the studio.”
What styles are brides-to-be begging for?
“Die-cut-shaped invitations are new and selling very well,” said Brenda Boyer, promotions specialist and graphic designer at Carlson Craft. “Anything shiny — invitations with metallic, glitter and sparkle are also in demand. Continuing to be popular is the vintage and rustic looks — invitations on kraft papers, or with the look of lace and finished with twine, jute cords and/or burlap embellishments.”
Staff at Luscious Verde have noticed similar trends.
“In the past years we’ve noticed that floral, vintage and winery themes have popped up along with super thick cardstock, letterpress and mixed media print,” said Megan Jenny, marketing director at Luscious Verde. Gold and silver color-tones are popular, too.
Boyer agreed and said that gold and silver imprints on black paper are taking hold in the industry. But some brides have their own ideas in mind.
“Custom invitations are in demand,” Boyer said. “So if a bridal couple wants their own look, they may begin with an existing invite and change some of the components and imprint options for a unique look.
The possibilities really are endless — “be personable, be creative and be organized as possible,” Jenny said. No matter the invitation style or selection, remember that the bride comes first.
“You have to have a quiet place for the bride,” Pomerantz Saypol said. “Make a cozy nook for the brides to scan the albums and then sit with them to answer questions and write up the order. The easier you make the process for the bride, the more she’ll appreciate you.”
And if you the make the process trouble-free, she will come back to your shop asking for personalized add-ons and décor supplements to make her special day shine.
Going the Extra Mile
“The invitation order can lead to the purchase of other personalized printed items — including programs for the ceremony, personalized napkins and menu, place cards and table cards for the reception,” Boyer said. “Many couples also order accommodation and map/direction cards and ribbons, wraps or other embellishments to add to their invitations.”
Pomerantz Saypol knows this first-hand.
“These add-ons are more profitable than the invitation sales,” she said. Total Party offers calligraphy services for envelopes, custom place cards, guest books and much more.
RC Ike, owner of Party Time, trains his staff to suggest add-ons after every invitation sale.
“We offer wedding invitations at 30 to 50 percent off, so it’s crucial that we are suggesting the additional items,” he said. “But it truly benefits our customers as they are able to get some nice add-ons with the money they saved on invitations.”
Because brides-to-be typically walk through your store three to five times, you have a real chance to cultivate additional sales — as long as your customers are satisfied with your initial services.
And how can you guarantee satisfaction? Ike responded with one word: training.    
“We have all invitation orders reviewed by another staff member to avoid costly mistakes before the order is sent in,” he said. “We also have a checklist to make it go smooth, quick and error-free and do training a few times a year to keep our staff current on trends and changes in prices.”
Errors really can kill your profits, so preparation is key.
Consider the following tips when preparing for the 2015 wedding season:
Get to know the bride. When if comes to custom invitations, personalization is key — and each bride has a different story to tell. If you take the time to get to know them and their vision, success will soon follow.
Suggest additional merchandise. “Utilize this time with the brides as an opportunity to show coordinating items, colors and additional custom items,” Ike said.
Stay organized. Often times, invitation shopping can become overwhelming. Have samples available for the brides-to-be and be ready to spend hours catering to one loyal customer.
Take a risk. Invitations tend to have a small profit margin, but Ike encourages you to remember that you save money not having to carry the inventory and spend payroll to stock your store shelves.
But above all else, remember that a lot of money is spent on weddings — invitations, place cards, centerpieces and much more — so don’t hesitate to offer it all. You’ll see your average order size increase in no time.

By Courtney Culey
Digital Engagement Editor

Originally posted Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2014

Tags: bridal invitations, carlson craft, luscious verde, total party