Yesterday, I tweeted about my frustration with blogs that give away free printable wedding stationery. The details of one giveaway are what really got my panties in a bunch.
From marrythis.com (I’m not calling this site out, it’s just the one that set me off. Here’s another and another and even Martha does it.):
Our printable invitation suites are the perfect budget solution for any wedding. All you need is a printer and a fiancé, but not necessarily in that order. Open the file in Adobe Reader to fill in your personal wedding information (names, dates, venues, etc.). We’ve done all the hard work and design for you, so you just have to type.
“Hard work and design” for free! What the hell, man?!
Someone spent their valuable time and talent to create that. Why shouldn’t wedding stationery designers get paid like everyone else?! Why must bloggers continue to devalue what we do by giving it away for nothing? Why does “affordable” have to equal free? And I hate it when a so-called free printable that looks A LOT like paid work by a colleague and good friend of mine, like the image above. Obviously, my fellow stationers agreed but one blogger (Thanks Jess!) sincerely asked “Are there better options for brides with very limited budget?”
ABSOLUTELY! Your wedding paper doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. It should reflect you and your love, and the spirit of the day. There are always affordable stationery options out there if budget brides bother to look. Here’s just one. This is an issue I’ve written about before: cost vs. value.
You will never see a DIY gown pattern being given away on a wedding blog. Wedding planners, florists, venues, bands, jewelers etc. would never give their products or services away and couples don’t expect them to. Why? Because there is a PERCEIVED VALUE to these things. They are somehow worth whatever they cost. But to many couples paper is “just paper” and not worth paying money for. The blogs reinforce this idea by giving away a designer’s work for nothing and thus devaluing stationery across the board. When a bride contacts à deux looking for a free printable of something that I trained for 10+ years to create and make beautiful, I can’t help but be disappointed and frustrated.
DIY is an undeniable movement and, while I’m not a fan, I completely understand and appreciate the need for it. But DIY stands for “do it yourself” not “only do part of it yourself.” Why not create your own stationery design instead of piggybacking off of the “free” work of others? Can you customize the colors to be exactly what you want. Will you pay for the fonts you want? Are you spending your nights assembling them yourself? And, most important, how will you print them and on what kind of paper/envelopes?
Just like you expect to be paid for the work you do at your job, every vendor and blogger in the wedding industry is running a business designed to make money. Some are set up to make more than others and that can turn couples off or make them feel entitled to asking for deep discounts. We are not slaves who will do anything any any cost for your special day. We are your creative partners who work very hard WITH YOU to provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime event experience.
I cruise the bride forums regularly to take the pulse of what’s happening and I’m often amazed at the amount of misinformation that gets transferred between brides, especially when it comes to cost vs. value. Unless you’ve been married before, you have no idea what wedding stationery is supposed to cost or what value it has to your event. I partially blame the wedding industry as a whole for creating out-of-whack pricing ideas.
Bottomline: Anyone can be creative on a “sky’s the limit” budget; it is the truly brilliant than can do it at a reasonable price. “Reasonable” does not equal free and, ultimately, you get what you pay for.