Not only were the invitations absolutely stunning, but they were handmade, down to the DIY letterpress.
~ Mrs. Border Collie
Well, it looks like we are officially having a wedding. Not as if all the other things we’ve been planning indicated otherwise, but sending out the invitations made the event somehow seem more tangible than ever before. We’ve received the first of our RSVPs back (they said yes!), so I think it’s high time for me to share with the hive.
You might recall that I planned to DIY our invitations from the beginning, and boy oh boy, DIY they were. I got a few text messages from guests who knew my DIY plan and asked, “Well which parts did you make yourself?” What do you mean which parts? Save for creating the envelopes from scratch and weaving our own twine, we made everything!
The scene at the post office was not as hectic has I had imagined. It might have helped that we mailed our invitations from our hometown in New Jersey rather than NYC. My parents’ dining room had become my invitation headquarters as there just wasn’t enough space in our studio to spread out a suitable crafting station. We were able to keep the postage to the 70 cent wedding invitation standard (I was very nervous about the weight), but the first post office we went to wanted to charge us 21 cents extra for hand cancelling. I had never heard of an upcharge for hand cancelling so we tried another post office in town. Lo and behold, no upcharge there. Winner! We did end up hand cancelling them ourselves, but I didn’t mind.
I like stamping. When I was a kid I used to play “library” and stamp the insides of my books with one of those rotary changeable date stamps. Trust me, it was much more fun than it sounds. (Hey, you have to get creative with games as an only child…) Anyway. Once they were all cancelled, we put them in the USPS bin and wished them luck to their final destination.
I’ll let the pictures and some side commentary take over from here. If ever there was a time I wished I knew how to use a fancy camera, this is it. One day, one day…
The technique I used to address our invitations was not so much proper calligraphy as it was just my regular handwriting with a calligraphy pen, perhaps a little swooshier than usual. Throw it into the category of “Good Enough.”
The gold liners were a product of our very industrious LBI summer vacation. My mother, “The Carver,” did an excellent job. She’s also responsible for pressing and gilding the baby’s breath that you see peeking out. I do believe I’ve created a crafting monster.
We formally addressed the outer envelopes, but kept the inner envelopes colloquial. I’ve never met the President or First Lady in person, but POTUS and FLOTUS seemed appropriate. For our family members it was Mr. and Mrs. Robert Blahblah, Jr. on the outside and Uncle Bob + Aunt Mary on the inside. I’m dubbing it the “Mullet Method.” We’ll see if it catches on.
Gold painted vellum envelopes, also courtesy of my minions during our LBI vacation.
I designed (in PowerPoint), letterpressed, and hand cut all the invites and inserts myself (and I had the blisters to prove it.) Many, many thanks to Mrs. Panda and Mrs. Campfire who had a big hand in helping me transform my PowerPoint design into a Boxcar plate. The invite and inserts were gold-edged, but it’s hard to see from this picture.
Our favorite little detail on the invitations: the customized Chunk stamp on the back of the RSVP envelope.
We also ordered a customized address stamp to use on the RSVP envelopes and return address on the outer envelopes. Bit of advice on customized stamps: get the self-inking stamps. Seriously, so worth the extra $5. I did not do that because am a cheap idiot.
For someone who doesn’t craft on the regular, I certainly was ambitious with our invitations. I don’t know if it was because I was naïve as to how much work it would amount to, or because I knew this was my one DIY project so go big or go home, or because I watch too much HGTV and obviously if those regular people can knock out walls with their bare hands, surely I can throw some wedding invitations together without breaking a sweat. (HGTV: giving people a false sense of ability since I don’t know when.) Probably a combination of all of the above. Still, I don’t regret it. We’ve gotten so many compliments on them from our guests and it’s so gratifying to be able to tell them, “Yeah we made them with our blood, sweat, and tears love. So much friggin’ love.”
For you non-DIYers looking to DIY your invitation suite, here’s what I had to learn the hard way:
Collect inspiration, but have a focused vision. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest pinning various designs and homing in on what exactly it was about them that I liked. This was pretty time consuming because I ended up with A LOT of inspiration and had to really weed through it all to narrow down my vision. But it was well worth it to have a carefully plotted plan because once production starts, it’s difficult to incorporate last minute changes.
Don’t be a perfectionist. This one was REALLY hard for me because I am my harshest critic. Whenever I’d let out yet another groan of frustration, my minions would have to remind me, “It looks good! It’s ARTISANAL!” And then I’d mutter, “Artisanal, artisanal, artisanal” over and over again hoping to convince myself that that’s how I had intended it to look. Lesson learned: they won’t be perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If perfection is what you’re after, save yourself the stress and buy them.
Keep it simple. You’ll notice our invitation suite is pretty simple (black and white, minimal graphics) and that was done on purpose. Going hand in hand with the previous point, I figured it would be easier to achieve perfection if I set the bar low kept it at novice level. Still, it was easy to get carried away with all the Pinspiration out there. At one point I was seriously considering free hand painting a design on the inside of all the envelope flaps (instead of using a liner). That may or may not have resulted in my admittance to a mental institution, so I’m glad we didn’t go that route.
Look at them individually. I got really caught up in the “Well, this RSVP card looks better than that RSVP card, so throw that one out.” NO. DO NOT THROW ANYTHING AWAY. Of course some of them will look better than others when you make the direct comparison, but guests are only getting one invitation so they’ll never be any wiser as to if it’s better or worse than another set. Once I took a step back and looked at them individually I realized they were all good enough. (Towards the end, “good enough” became my mantra.)
Enlist help. I cannot stress enough how impossible this would have been if I didn’t have Mr. S, my parents, and BM A to lend me their time and effort. At first I was hesitant to delegate tasks, but everyone genuinely wanted to help me and it was really nice to get in some family bonding time.
Buy extra supplies / plan to make more than you need. Because when your standard operating procedure is “Winging it” you will undoubtedly make mistakes. Many mistakes. We needed to send out 112 invitations, but I bought enough paper for 160 invitations and 150 of each kind of envelope we used. With each new task came a learning curve, so by the end of it all, we netted approximately 130 usable invitations. Yes we have extras of almost everything, but that’s better than running out.
Start early / do a little at a time. I started tinkering with the design and layout of our invitation suite back in June and would revisit it for an hour or two every week. We worked on our envelopes in August, I was at the letterpress studio in September, and we finally got them to the post office in October. With all the work spread out over four months, it rarely felt too overwhelming. And when it did, it was nice to have the luxury of time to be able to just stop and step away from it all for the rest of the day/weekend.
I promise to provide more information on details, supplies, and sources in my next post(s), but for now let’s just relish in the fact that the Squid wedding invitations are finally done. Good riddance. Yay!
What was your experience with DIYing your wedding invitations?
If you’d like to see earlier “Best of the ‘Bee” posts, check them out here.