If I’m honest, I did not grow up thinking that I wanted to be a wedding stationery designer! My own wedding stationery business was actually born out of a week of being sick on the couch, frustration with infertility and a failed Etsy shop. Not exactly a recipe for success, but that’s how it happened! Here’s the short version to starting my wedding stationery business:
I designed all of my girlfriend’s wedding invitations after we graduated from college. It happened slowly over time but eventually I had a nice little collection going. In February of 2015, I was sick for a week and decided to spruce up a few of those old designs—just for fun! Later that night, I shared them with my best friend after I vented to her about my Etsy shop failing. I still had a few listings up on Etsy but I was just going to let those expire and not renew them. I was embarrassed and frustrated with the whole thing. We schemed over it and I ended up replacing the 5 listings that I already had with 5 wedding invitation designs.
I didn’t tell anybody except my husband, best friend and mom. My last business had been such a bust that I couldn’t stomach the exposure again. I started working under a different name (fun fact: it was actually “Evermore Designs” for about 3 hours before I switched and stuck with Blushed!). I decided that I would give it a good solid try for 3 months and then I would shut it down for good. And you know what? My wedding stationery business took off.
It was SO MUCH WORK. One of the biggest things I learned to use was SEO (search engine optimization—we’ll talk about that in a later blog post), but after a few years in the business, there are definitely a few things that I would recommend for those who are looking to start a wedding stationery business!
Save one of these for later:
I’ve learned so much over the past few years and there are definitely somethings that I have found to be a common thread among those who “make it” and those who struggle. Here are my 5 tips for starting a wedding stationery business:
1: Get Legal
You need to make sure that you are LEGAL before you start selling things online. I recommend a LLC, though I personally started with a Sole Proprietor. Check with your state and county for details about getting started. There are a lot of little fees ($10 here, $20 there), but it is SO WORTH IT to not have to worry at night. Stress is the worst.
2: Separate Finances
Open up a separate banking account for your business. You don’t have to make it fancy, but have a separate checking or savings account to keep everything straight. This will give you so much piece of mind when tax season rolls around. Keep everything as separate as you can until you can start paying yourself consistently each month.
3: Choose The Right Platform
Next, find out what style of invitations you are going to sell and what platform you want to get started on. If you are going to have a brick and mortar shop (a physical location), then you don’t necessarily need to have a website, but in this digital age, it’s still a good idea! Especially if you want to take advantage of Pinterest.
I use and really love Squarespace. There are a lot of great templates, it was easy customize, and it has been really easy for me to adjust to fit my needs along the way! I have heard other designers who love Shopify, and I believe that Wix has a free program and has improved their design software. If you are going to mess with printing, custom stationery then I recommend getting started on your own website.
If you are thinking of going the digital download road of premade designs, I recommend Etsy. That’s where I started and where I still sell digital designs. Having your own website can be overwhelming to start with, so if you’re not sure you want to tackle that yet, you can use a platform like Etsy (use this link to earn 40 free listings when you open a shop). Etsy is a little tricky for a weddings stationery business because there are SO MANY other sellers on the platform already, but it’s also a great way to get traffic because the site already has a good reputation and systems that can help you.
4: Make It Your Own
This one is going to be a little controversial, but this is a major element of what separates those who make this their job from those who are in it as a hobby.
Some element of your designs needs to be YOUR OWN. If you can, take a break from all of the images that you see on Pinterest and Instagram. Sign out of those platforms for a while if you need to! You need to get in your own head and in your own lane. Design something that you LOVE and that you would love to create again—not something that you think will sell or is trendy. In the end, it’s going to be your design that separates your wedding stationery business from the competition. To avoid being price shopped, you need to have something unique to offer.
So I want you to design 3-5 suites that you love, and go through the process of finding a printer (I recommend googling to find someone local) and getting a physical sample of your work. This will give you a great selection of samples to share and photograph, give you a better idea of pricing and will make the process with a real bride so much less stressful!
No, I am not taking back what I said in “Step 3”, but I do think it’s important to find your own vision before you start networking too much. It’s easy to get side tracked and run towards the new “shiny” thing before you have a chance to really decide who you are! But once you have a few designs created that you love, definitely get out there and start networking!
There are a lot of wonderful communities out there for Wedding Stationers! A simple google search will help you find all that you need, but if you don’t know where to start, I recommend the Rising Tide Society (Facebook) for business in general, and there are a few great stationery specific groups on Facebook as well. Another wonderful source was actually started by my friends at Biz Birthday Bash! It is currently only an annual event, but I believe they are dreaming of creating something more consistent in the near future.
And the best resource? Good ol’ fashioned friendship!
Network with other creatives, and learn from them! I would be careful about questioning another stationer too hard at first because it comes across as rude and parasitic. Build that friendship first by commenting and interacting on their posts. After that friendship is nurtured, I’m sure that they would love to share their knowledge with you.
When in doubt, a Google search can uncover a wealth of knowledge if you don’t know where to start!
BONUS: Establish Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
I know that landing your first bride can be a super stressful thing. How do I price for profit? Look professional? Promote myself? The great news is that networking can help you establish these practices as you attend lectures, lean from the mistake of others and refine your business based on the etiquette of your specific style/target audience.
Here’s my advice: Take your “make it your own” projects and pretend that they are for clients. Give them believable names, a wedding date and venue, a difficult MOB—the whole nine yards! Write out a process that makes sense to you and follow through with it. Write out the Emails that you send out and save them in a Word Doc. Everything from proposals, sketches and design boards that you build for your fake bride will serve as a template for your future (real) brides.
If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start on your CRM (Customer Relationship Management), then I recommend that you take advantage of the templates that I use in my own business. Seriously, I WISH something like this had been available when I started my business. I would have saved myself a lot of stress, fumbling and embarrassment!
I’ve listed a few examples for you below:
Any Questions? Concerns?
I would love to hear what you are specifically struggling with in the comments, or zap me an Email and I’ll do my best to answer any questions that you have! Starting a Wedding Stationery Business should be a super fun and exciting time—despite the natural stress that a new business will add to your life!