As we are writing this blog, me and my wife are proof reading my daughter's Bharatanatyam arangetram invitation. I can't even believe that I am writing a blog now. But then, there is no better time. If I don't write now, I probably won't write it ever because, as soon as we get the invitations printed, we will have to start mailing it, then we will have to start arranging other things for the arangetram and will get busier and busier...
I have designed and printed many brochures, event tickets, program guides and flyers as part of my volunteering work with many associations in and around Indianapolis. Usually, once we decide a program, the committee members will collect some pictures of the artists and I use publisher to put together the text and pictures. One or two committee members proof read it and suggest some design changes and then we will send to OfficeMax or Kinko's and we are done. All will be finished in a day or two.
But the Arangetram invitations is nothing close to it. We were waiting till last week to get the photo shoot done for the picture for invitation. By the way, photo shoot is another hurdle. Please read my blog on photo shoot to see what happened on that day and what you should or shouldn't do during photo shoot.
Back to invitations - first, come up with a budget. Most of us think printing in India is cheaper. Not true. My friend printed 200 cards for about 18000 Rupees and then paid extra to ship it here. About 2 dollars including the shipping for a 2 sided 8x6 inch card with envelope. Well, there is nothing other than name and address on the envelope. This is offset printing job though - the best quality print you can get for these type of jobs. Here in Carmel, we asked quote from two printers for 350 cards. One from PIP and another from my friend who owns a big printing business. PIP quoted about 600 dollars for a folded 4 page design with 10x7 inch card with digital print. The end product will be a folded invitation with 4 pages, each pages being 5X7 inch size. My friend quoted about the same price for offset printing for the same. Probably the best price one can get in USA. Both quotes included about 2 hrs of design time, provided we give all photos and art work etc...Obviously I went with my friend as it was offset printing and the price was cheaper. This worked out to about 1.75 per card for a larger card with offset. Most of the print jobs you get now a days are digital print outputs. Digital means high quality laser printers. These are cheaper and quicker, but the quality and originality of the color is incomparable with offset printing. Also since the paper or/card is being heated during the digital printing, when you fold, the ink will give way and card break at the folding line, resulting in a very bad appearance. Offset print will not do this to the card.
Selecting the background color, text color, border color and matching them with the envelop color is a time consuming process. Thanks to my wife and dance teacher - they have much better sense of color than me. Make sure the content is readable and clear. Main content is the names of dancer, guru and the event date, venue and time. Make sure to add the RSVP email or phone number. We had designed in an RSVP functionality to my daughter's website and so it worked out fine. If you do not like boxed gifts, please say so in the invitation. Also if you are going to donate the proceedings to some charity, tell that also in the card. Also specify the start and end of the program - this will help your friends to plan that day correctly.
If you are planning for any chief guests, please start talking to them at least 6 months before the arangetram. They are busy people and their calendar gets filled very quickly. We are exactly 3 months away from the Arangetram. We started talking to dignitaries about 3 months ago and and just finalized now. This helped us to put their names in the invitation.
Make sure you have the dance costume and dance jewelry for the photo shoot. Another thing learned is about the background of the picture during photo shoot. Mostly black is good for pictures for brochure and invitation. But if you are planning for different backgrounds in your brochure, try to take some of the pictures with white background also.