Custom laser cut details can elevate invitations and stationary above and beyond the average, but they also require an ample budget. Invitations typically range from $5 to $30+ per invitation depending upon complexity. Although quotes are based upon time, minimus do apply and may include additional set up fees. Please reference our Get a Quote page for additional information.
Please be aware that we do not sell or stock materials.
We get many requests to laser cut wedding invitations from very creative brides and grooms and I wanted to write a bit more about this subject. I have looked at other blog sites that offer information on wedding laser cutting but I don’t find them to be entirely honest about costs or what is involved in the process. Laser cut invitations are NOT for the budget conscious; they can be very expensive. It is easy to find online images of fancy-lacy-laser cut stationary and invitations on sites like Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and other wedding blogs or sites, and fall head over heels in love with the concept. These laser cut items are typically show stopper intricate and are a way for designers to showcase their talents; they are not necessarily well suited to inspire do-it-yourself wedding stationary. Most of our quotes stun brides/grooms or even wedding planners when they get the estimate for similar projects. Here I hope to explain why that is and where the costs come from.
Though we do not stock or sell materials, we are familiar with paper and other material costs. The heavier weight cover and card stock papers are typically more suited to this application, but are also more costly than text weight papers. We also prefer to cut parent sheet paper (in the 35″x23″ realm) verses 8.”5×11″ or smaller sheets that only allow one piece to be cut per sheet. Cutting larger sheets allows us to cut more than one invitation at a time which is more efficient and allows for perfect registration. Picking a paper for your wedding is like picking a wall color for your home. It is very personal. There are probably more shades of white paper than there are color stocks. Individual paper prices can range from $0.20 for solids up to $20 or more per sheet for prints and handmade papers.
Wood can be a dramatic and beautiful material to laser cut. There are of course certain woods that lend themselves to cutting more than others. Exotic and hardwoods can be hard to source, difficult to find in 1/4″ or smaller thicknesses and expensive to mill. Also certain woods like Purple Heart and Bubinga are not recommended for laser cutting. In general working with 24″x36″ material size allows for efficient laser cutting, but there maybe cases where a different size is the best option. Optimizing sheet size may require your wood to be specifically milled to size, which can add to cost. Woods that are easy to find and laser cut are plywood (all plywood under 1/8″ will cut), balsa, bass and veneers.
Regardless if you are a designer or are working with a graphic designer there will often be additional adjustments needed in order to create the correct file for laser cutting. This can be a very big or very small additional expense depending upon how much design work, artwork creation or file conversion is needed. For some clients we simply convert or clean up a file. For others we take a rough concept and do design development, graphic design, prototyping, production and assembly.
Laser time costs are generally pretty straight forward. We bill by run time, so the more intricate the cutting, the more time it takes to cut and the more it costs. There are, however, different elements which can also effect laser time. Another issue, like burn marks, can effect general quality and can present challenges that effect the run time. We give our best estimate when quoting, it can be subject to change based upon testing the final materials and final design. Costs can range between $3.50 to $56.00 or more per piece depending on the intricacy. This does not include printing, paper, art work, or fixtures(see below). If your project requires a high quantity, die-cutting maybe more cost-efficient, in which case laser cutting can be used to make prototypes before a die is made. Laser cutting is also used as an alternative to die-cutting when a high level of intricacy is needed that the die cannot achieve.
Fixtures are specially created platforms or devices, customized per project, that allow us to correctly register to printing or hold materials when cutting that improve quality and reduce burn marks. Fixtures are not always needed, but for specific situations they are the only way to achieve accurate and high quality results. Fixture prices are based upon the time it takes to design and cut the the fixture as well as its material cost.
The majority of invitations that we laser cut incorporate some printing. Regardless of whether it is silkscreen, digital, offset or letter press, it is important that we work directly with your printer so we can insure that the elements, such as paper stock and registration, are accounted for in the printing process. Invitations with 100% laser cut text or graphics remove the need of dealing with a printer, but then require more laser time. For printing we often work with Tiny Pine Press, they are a print house capable of offset, digital, letter press and foil printing. They also are great at sourcing paper and deal almost exclusively with wedding and special event invitations.
Intricate and some times even simple invitations require hand assembly. We offer some assembly services and have in the past created boxed or intricately layered wedding stationary and decorations.
Our pricing cannot be fairly compared to massed produced and non-customized items. Laser or die cut items available online or in stores are priced based upon thousands of units and are generally produced in India or China.
IS LASER CUTTING IN YOUR BUDGET?
Here’s a short list of all items to consider in determining if laser cut invitations are within your budget:
What kind of paper or substrate and is it laser appropriate?
Is your paper or wood available in the optimal size for laser cutting or does it require additional cut fees?
What will your shipping costs be to and from us as well as to and from your guests?
What kind of printing will you require?
Who will be designing your stationary and what are their fees?
Will your files require additional conversions or alterations by us?
How intricate is your laser cutting?
Do your invitations require assembly?
If this hasn’t scared you away from the process, feel free to send me an e-mail with your invitation concept.