02/29/2012 07:04 pm ET Updated Apr 30, 2012

Invitations and Lattes

A bride knows that the wedding invitation sets the scene for her and her fiancé's event, and the
guests, upon opening the invitation will know what type of wedding they will be attending. A
bride wants a wedding invitation that is unique and reflective of her style -- custom colors, fancy paper, embellishments, etc.

At first, brides might go to designer studios and leave with looks of disappointment at the cost of her custom invitations, but upon searching wedding boards, might be directed to wedding e-marketplaces. The designers selling their invitations on these e-marketplace sites can custom design a one-of-a-kind invitations without breaking a bride's bank.

The majority of invitation designers who sell their products on e-marketplaces such as Wedding Bliss Lane are home-based businesses and can charge a fraction of the cost for their designs compared to name brand designer studios because they have little to no overhead. In most cases, the quality of these home-based designers is on par with higher priced designer studio competitors. Invitation designers will list many of their designs for sale as a sample, meaning you can buy just one invitation to see their quality and workmanship.

As a bride, it is ideal to search for designers located near you so that you can meet them in person if you like the sample you purchased. But what if you find a designer you like and they are not located nearby? It is important to look at the reviews other customers have left for the designer on these e-marketplaces so that you can trust that the quality of the sample you received. Also ask for referrals and speak to the designer directly over the phone instead of through emails.

I was on a wedding board one night and saw a thread titled "Meeting my invitation designer at
Starbucks?" The bride was questioning the validity of this because she had never heard of it before and was doubting the designer. Many of the responses from other brides were that they had done the exact same thing, they bought a sample on-line and then met the designer in person. Since the designer does not have a physical store to go to, they meet their clients in a public place that is relaxed, and coffee shops are ideal for this.

A bride can spend anywhere from $1.50 an invitation set to more than $10.00 on these e-marketplaces. The unique designs that are available is vast, and there is a designer to fit every style and budget. Most of the designs you 'll find can have the colors changed, font style varied and have embellishments added or taken away to fit within the given budget. These smaller designers are more flexible in their prices and will most likely add on additional perks to get your business. Often, they will run specials to distinguish themselves from other competitors, such as free guest address printing.

It is ideal to begin searching for wedding invitations a minimum six months ahead of the event to allow ample time to find the chosen designer. Remember that creating your wedding invitation is a fun and imaginative process, and the designer you choose should reflect that spirit as well.