Pricing for wedding invites and prints

Hi everyone!
I bought a challenge gordon platen press a few moths ago and it needs some refurbishing, so I plan on it being my summer project. (Let’s hope I can actually get to it)

I am taking a small business/entrepreneurship class right now and I am writing a business plan around my press. At this point I have no idea if I am going to actually start some sort of business or just monkey around with it for fun, but I need to finish my business plan for class and that is where all of you come in! :)

I am a graphic designer, so what I am proposing for my small business is custom wedding invites, business cards, and pre-printed (not custom, at least to start with) prints that I would sell on Etsy.

Here is my problem. I am SO new to letterpress I have no idea how to forecast sales, put together a price list or know what my income would be because I have never even used a press before. I am of course not even going to attempt to start any kind of a business until I have things figured out, I have been doing it for a couple years, have taken some classes and have done work for friends and family. This is purely for my assignment for class.

I know what my press cost and I know what three new rollers would cost me (around the $400 mark), but I do not know the following….
1) How much would it cost me for ink to get started?
2) How much does it cost YOU to produce a set of wedding invites for a typical wedding and then how much do you sell the invites for? (I know this price could range significantly due to all the different pieces and paper choice, but I just need a rough estimate) What does the paper cost? What does the ink cost? How much do you charge for your time?
3) I see that most letterpress prints on Etsy cost between $25 and $50. How much does it actually cost you to produce?

I know the answers to all these questions could really vary, but I am just looking for something to base my pricing off for my business plan.

I have freelanced quite a few wedding invitations, so I know what pricing is for plain printing on plain old paper, but I have no idea about letterpress.

ANY help that anyone could give me would be GREATLY appreciated. My final business plan is due in a few weeks. Please feel free to email me if you don’t want to answer on here.

Thank you!

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Oh, and one more question….
How much does it cost to get a plate made? My press can make prints up to 8x12 in. Again, I know this probably varies quite a bit, but any estimates would be great!

For photopolymer plate pricing, check Many people use them for plates and they break down their prices by the sq. in.

Wedding invitation customers can be VERY NEEDY. That’s okay! That’s what they’re paying you for. But it takes a lot of effort on your part. So if you just bill for your press time, you’ll be charging for one third of your actual time spent on the project.


When you’re just starting out, it’s usually best to price up every job individually. Hobby printers can’t take advantage of the same “economies of scale” that larger studios benefit from.

So for instance, it may only cost you a few bucks to get a starter set of ink, but what if the customer wants an exact PMS match? That’s going to come out of your pocket.

Issues with impression during a run? Do you turn in the project as in and risk alienating a client, or do you rush out and buy more paper at your own expense to do it again?

It’s normal in the custom printing business to lack a set price list, and unless you plan on making printing your own lifelong neurosis, you should take a page from designers and bill by hours per project. Estimate a rate for labor and look up prices on materials you’ll need for each project, and work out your estimates from there. Don’t forget about profit, or you might be caught without any budget to cover unexpected expenses!

Another valuable point to mention is that others’ overhead has absolutely NO relation to your own pricing system. So, printing on a Gordon, you might not want to offer discounts on large runs, since you’re still going to be using your labor to hand-feed the beast. Other studios might be using automatic feeders…

Good luck!

I just had my first wedding invitation job and I learned a lot. I put the price low as I wanted the experience so I’m ok with having lost money. Next time I will charge a LOT more. Two colors, design work, extra paper for test prints are some of the things that I will charge more for in the future. The timing is tricky. I had to wait till they had finalized the dates and I was ready to print for many weeks before I finally got the go ahead and then I was working against other projects that seemed far in the future when I started. It’s a big responsibility so there’s the stress of wanting to get it right.