After deciding your guest list (one of the most tedious tasks in the wedding planning process!) invitations must be purchased. This is always a shock to the budget, as this minor detail often slips people's minds. Full wedding invitation suites - including a Save the Date, RSVP card, RSVP envelope with return postage, possible maps, gift registry inserts, and menu option cards can cost upwards of $10.00 a piece, this can work out to be an extraordinary cost to the couple, but there are a few loopholes in the invitation world.
Unless you have your heart on a lavish wedding invitation suite, look at all the other options. Not only are the full sets extremely costly, but they are not so earth friendly as well. Some people are setting up websites where all the wedding information as well as an RSVP section can be found. This website is sent out via email - completely eliminating the paper trail. Websites such as http://www.mywedding.com/ are popular, or, if you or your fiance are technically savvy, you can create your own personalized web page.
A spin off of this is ordering single-sided post card style invitations. The examples below are a few of my couples that have done this. Kelly and Brad used very minimal information in the text and chose to hold signs stating the date and location. For Deborah and Barrett's invitations, we went out to the venue, took some casual engagement shots and set them up in Wedding Paper Diva's and actually used a simple "Save the Date" template. With stamps and envelopes, these cost less that $2.00 a piece, save on a lot of paper and the website can be so much more informative. Items such as bridal party introductions, gift preference, and even the formal dress style for the wedding can be mentioned on the site. Saves money, phone calls and some trees!
Do remember, that the invitation is the first impression of your wedding. If you are having a major black-tie affair where tuxes and ball gowns are expected, then the casual invitation route may not be the way to go, but for many couples, as well as guests - this seems like a very smart and chic solution!