Well, hive, the RSVPs are rolling in and I’m ready to show you the goods. Mr. S and I truly poured our hearts (sweat, splintered fingers, and burned hands) into this project. We started out with some grand ideas. With Mr. S’s background in graphic design, we both knew we wanted our invites to be show stoppers. We spent the early months playing around with designs and not thinking through logistics. Since all of our guests would be coming from out of town, we knew we had to really entice them with the invite and make it so appealing that they just had to come. This is a long post because I want to walk you through the whole process. And today I am only talking about the outside…
Here is how we went from this:
Five 8 x 4s loaded up into my dad’s truck
Yes, we are ridiculous and decided to make a book from scratch. For around 200 of our closest friends and family ( =110 books).
As we planned the book, we considered many different materials for the outside. Mr. S was feeling a modern metal. I was pushing for authentic book binding with fabric. As we compared costs and effort, we realized wood would be the best option. It is inexpensive, easy to cut/drill through, and matched our theme perfectly.
So Papa Squirrel and I got to work over the holidays.
He obviously is the professional here.
My job was was “guide” the wood. We took those 8 x 4 huge pieces of wood and first cut them lengthwise into long strips.
We cut the strips into smaller rectangles that measured 6 x 8 inches. The cutting itself was easy. (Or so I hear. Again, just call me the “guide master.”) We have a good tag-team thing going…
We drove the wood back to Tampa, and I proceeded to leave all 220 pieces (we needed two per book) on my couch for a couple weeks while I stubbornly refused to acknowledge the next step that awaited me.
That’s right—we hand sanded 220 pieces of wood. This took not hours, but days. I found myself constantly asking myself, “Would it be that big of a deal if a guest or two got a splinter when opening up our invites?”
We had even thought ahead and added an electric sander to our registry for this purpose. Unfortunately, we had chosen wood that was thin and light because we knew shipping would be expensive. The electric sander was too intense, and the wood either splintered or became rougher. I’m sure there are some sanding gurus out there who are going to rock my world and comment with a really easy way to do this.
After watching Jennifer Garner save the world again and again as I sanded though many seasons of Alias (old school goodness), I was finally able to kick back and enjoy my handiwork:
Oh wait…it looked exactly the same. Talk about delayed gratification.
But that’s OK—the fun was about to begin. I started by gluing the two pieces of wood together with a strip of fabric. We found fabric that was sort of like burlap except woven much tighter, which is important because otherwise the glue would have soaked right though. We found the fabric for about three dollars in the scrap bin at JoAnn.
It felt good to have it start looking like a book.
Mr. S and I had many dates at the self-serve station at Office Depot. We had a little system down. He would cut (he is much better at straight lines), and I would staple.
(Teaser for my next post…the inside is pretty amazing.)
I then tacky glued the shiz out of the paper and stuck it in the fabric. I took this picture to show how the paper fit inside the covers. The paper stuck out farther than the wood on the bound side of the book. The goal was to hide the staples in the fabric.
I found lots of heavy things around my apartment. And prayed that five bottles of cheap tacky glue would do the trick.
Thankful, tacky glue is amazing and it worked great! Next, we played around with many cover designs. I was originally hoping to do a wax paper transfer so we could design our own cover image and then transfer it onto the books.
Obviously this was not going to work. This is more like Attempt #5, because the wax paper kept getting stuck in the printer and then, when we finally got it to print out perfectly, I had put too much water on the wood. Cue hot mess.
Another wax transfer. I love the simplistic design because, as you’ll soon see, the inside of the invite has a lot going on. As much as I loved this, I informed Mr. S that in order to keep whatever sanity I had left (after sanding 220 pieces of wood) I refused to do wax transfers because the printer was miserable. Thankfully, he agreed.
Random doodling with the wood-burning pen. Everything just felt too chaotic. No go.
We loved the simple tree from Attempt #2, so we scoured craft stores until we found a tree stamp we liked. I really liked this option. We even added a knob and gold elastic on the right side so the book would be held shut. I thought we had a winner on our hands. Then my mom pointed out that the knob meant the book wouldn’t be flat and that would complicate shipping. Without the knob, things felt a little off balance.
Attempt #5: The Winner
It was time to pull out that wood-burning pen.
Move the tree stamp to the middle.
And end up with this gorgeousness.
We wrapped each book up in butcher paper.
We decided to bite the bullet and print out labels using the font Mishka. At this point in the project, just the thought of hand writing the addresses exhausted me. I wrapped each book in baker’s twine and added a heart stamp. When Mr. S brought the first batch to the post office, we learned that twine on the outside of packages was a no go. So Mr. S waited until the next day and went to a different post office…isn’t he the best? Unfortunately, they told him the same thing.
It all worked out because we just used clear packing tape to cover the twine. I think it was for the best because it made the wrapping more secure, but they still looked cute.
We budgeted a nice chunk for our invites because we knew shipping would be expensive. The invites themselves were actually very affordable:
- Wood: $40 at Home Depot
- Paper and printing: Free-–my bridesmaid hooked me up at her work and printed them out in batches.
- Roll of butcher paper: $10 at Home Depot
- Tree and heart stamps: $ 7 at Michaels
- Baker’s twine: $7 at Michaels
- Shipping: ~$300 (Each package cost between $2.82 and $3.09 to ship. I must’ve really varied my tacky glue application or something.)
- Total cost without shipping: $64 or $0.58 per invite
- Total cost with shipping: $364 or $3.31 per invite
Overall we are really happy with how they turned out! It definitely evolved over time and it was a great project to work on together. By the end, I was so ready for them to be gone…
Did you DIY your invites? Did you save on money but sacrifice time?
- Tampa, FL
- Genetic Counselor
- Wedding Date:
- May 2013
- Davis Island Garden Club