Monday, March 10, 2014

DIY Wedding #7: Save the Dates & Invites.

Welcome to the start of another week and a new "DIY Wedding" post! This week we're going to get a bit more hands-on and discuss the paper goods that you'll send to your guests. This was something that I cared a lot about, probably more than I should have. But I'm a designer at heart and I wanted our Save-the-Dates and Invites to display who we were and a sneak peak at our wedding's style.

On one hand, don't break a sweat over these because the people who really want to come will not base their RSVP on your chosen design of invitation, and in the end, unless it's your Mother or Grandma--it will probably end it's journey in the trash.

But on the other hand, the hand that compelled me the most, is that this small piece of paper is the first interaction that your guest has with your wedding. It makes them feel special to be included and receive something in the mail. It will land a spot on their fridge or bulletin board for a month or so--where all eyes will see it. And it shows how much you cared about making your guest feel welcome by the effort that you put into it. It shows.

Now, like I said, there has to be a balance--you can't throw all of your time and money at this project. And you may not even care very much about this particular aspect and that's fine. That's why I'm going to discuss several ways that you can give an expensive looking, "I care about you coming" invite that is low-stress & low-budget. It can be done!

Why Save the Date?

Save the Date's are only critical when you are hosting a destination wedding or getting hitched over a holiday. In this case, it would be much harder to adjust your schedule when you have to buy a plane ticket or skip Aunt Jo's Christmas party. The whole point is to give your guests plenty of time to make plans to be there and it doesn't hurt to be the first to claim that date. A lot of people feel compelled to keep their original arrangements when they have to choose between events--an easier way to decide is just by determining who asked first.

I chose to send a Save-the-Date because several guests would have to travel long-distance and it was scheduled in August, prime time for vacations. It probably wasn't a necessity, but I wanted to make sure that the word was out before someone scheduled a beach house over the same weekend. 

You can always send Save the Date's just for fun, but this would most likely be a waste of time and money when it might be better to invest in making better invitations.

the Anatomy of an Invitation

There are a few key parts to a good invite--all things that are essential for your guests to know.
Obviously there's the main invitation and RSVP, which is covered extensively in the next two sections. However there are some other pieces, of which you should choose at least one, to include in this packet.

1) Reception Cards: if the reception is held at a separate location, it might be beneficial to include a card with the location, time, and address.

2) Directions & Maps: I've included a few ideas for these towards the bottom of this post. It's helpful if you want to provide a visual for the guests--especially if it's a difficult location to find or get to.

3) Accommodation Cards: includes the pertinent information to the area such as hotels, restaurants, rental agencies, etc. Especially important if you're having a destination wedding or for guests that have to travel long distance and book a hotel.

4) Web Site: a small card showcasing the link to your wedding website. I prefer this route because all of our pertinent information could be found online in one spot rather than a huge envelope of papers. I did consider a few of the older people that might not be as tech savvy and made sure that they connected with someone who was or received the information that they needed.

5) Registry Card. Personally, I'm against sending invitations with a registry card included. It's an old standard of politeness, but I think it remains appropriate. Sending one of those business cards for Bed, Bath, & Beyond or "we registered here!" sends the message that you only care about one thing when it comes to your wedding--the gifts. It was a goal of mine to make the guests feels welcomed and wanted, I wanted them to know that I wanted them there on my wedding day as a friend or relative, not for what they might offer me.

For me...I chose an invitation, a detailed RSVP, and a small card with our wedding website link.

What should I include in my RSVP?

Think of it this way, the RSVP holds all of the information that you need from your guest in regards to their attendance of your wedding. Sometimes this is very simple with either a "yes" or "no," other times, you need to know their food preference and favorite song. Determine what you need to know for your situation and go from there.

For me...I wanted to make it super simple so that all my guest had to do was put a check mark on it and put it in the mailbox. I hoped that would alleviate the frustration of having late replies--they still come, but it's minimal. The RSVP included the following:

1) A "yes" or "no" box to check.

2) A sentence that asked the guests to "leave room for our dessert reception in the barn immediately following the ceremony." Informing them of the location, the time, and that there would not be dinner but dessert! Important!

3) "Would you kindly RSVP within 4 weeks..."

4) On the front, it was addressed to and from, with a stamp. Like I said, easy peasy.

5) If you don't want to write each address or name twice on the envelope and RSVP's--create an excel document that numbers each guest. Write that number in a corner on the RSVP. That way, if they don't include pertinent information like their name--you know who to blame. ;)

What Style?

You have to decide a theme, and typically this generates from your already chosen wedding theme. To match my rustic-vintage wedding, I sent out chalkboard style Save the Date Postcards and simplistic, kraft paper with "lace" Invitations. That's right, they weren't cut from the same cloth! I'm one of those that will try to add as many fonts as possible to a design because I can't decide which I like best. In the same way, I couldn't determine between chalkboard and kraft paper--so we went with both. Some people prefer the rhythmic feel of similitude, and that's fine--it's probably easiest to do so. Either way, the Save the Date is generally sent out 5-8 months prior to a wedding while the Invite isn't stamped until 6 weeks before--there's a large window, so perfectly matching isn't necessary.

I found it really helpful to make a Pinterest board for all of my ideas. That way I could compile my thoughts in one place and then later, with fresh eyes, decide which one really caught my attention. You can find my Invites&Save the Dates Pinterest board here!

Now What?

Let's face it, buying your invites professionally is highway robbery, but your options at bargain stores like Ollies might be limited. Granted you might be the exception and find something great at either one, but I've found that the best way to not compromise on having great looking invites and keeping out of debt is either through: DIY or Free Printables. With a style in mind and some ideas floating around, let me share with you some of my favorite ideas for giving out great Save the Dates & Invites on a tight budget


No matter how you look at it, DIY is going to be one of your cheapest but most time consuming options. It depends on how you've budgeted your time and money, but I found that DIY'ing my invites was very fun & rewarding with my bestie & fiance helping in the process.

If you're knowledgeable with Photoshop or have a willing friend, this is a great way to make your own printable invitations. There are tons of free fonts & graphics out there to make it look professional--you just need some time and creativity.

If you don't have Photoshop would be a program like Mixbook. You can create your own card or postcard using their graphic and fonts, they will do all of the printing for you--and it looks amazing. But beware, this can be pretty expensive with shipping and printing. In my research it ends up costing the same as having cards printed professionally, but you get your own personal touch.

If you're going for the photo look and don't have a large amount to spend on this, Snapfish, Walmart, anything with a photo center will offer super cheap prints that fit your bill. They may not have the most variety or best quality, but it does the job well.

My favorite variation of a simplistic, photographic, typographic invitation is this:

A lot of couples will have a "wedding date" picture taken during their engagement photos, that would be an easy way to implement your information into a simple, photo design.

Another easy and cute option! Printing off your invitations then layering a paper doily underneath with twine or ribbon to finish.

More or less what I was talking about with printing your own pieces. Super cute, fun, simplistic, and easy.

Another option for the map part to make it more "classy." Print on vellum rather than card-stock.

Meeting that free font fetish with this style of Save the Date. The slim size would make it really easy to print several on one page. More bang for your buck!

Here's a link for a super cute and simple Save the Date complete with stickers for your guests to paste on their calendar. It doesn't get much cuter than that.

I absolutely love this if you have the time! Similar to what I did for my ceremony programs, this would include: two pieces of card-stock for the cover, a photo pasted to the back cover, and unless you have an incredible embossing or cutting machine, there's vellum! Layer those together and make a running stitch with your sewing machine up the side. 

 Free Prints

This is probably your best bet if you have limited time and funds. There are several FREE prints out there for you to scour, grab, and send to your printer. Here are some of my favorites:

What I did.

I probably made things way more complicated than they had to be--but I loved the end result. I saw these pictures on Pinterest, and I wanted them. However, they either weren't available or were very expensive. 

I wasn't reselling anything, so I sent these pictures to Jacqueline, over at Raindrop's on Roses, and she drew her own version of these pictures for me, complete with personal touches for Andrew and I. This was the final product. She sent me the hard copy so I could have them printed. I was originally planning to scan these and have them printed through GotPrint. It would have been much easier to meet the measurement standards were I working within Photoshop--and I highly recommend printing through them if you are! Great print quality and great prices. 

With my situation, I ended up so frustrated trying to get these to meet the requirements through scanning that I decided to copy and print them myself. So I invested in a printer, good card-stock (keep an eye out for sales at your local craft store!), and a great paper cutter. My bestie and I stayed up one night and printed/cut all 200 invites, RSVP cards, and website cards.

I couldn't print both sides (color ink/configuration), so I chose to print the side with text. To make it look even nicer, I invested in white card-stock and a lacy punch--Martha Stewarts, I believe, with a coupon! I cut those pieces to be slightly bigger than the invite, punched the sides to look like lace, and layered it underneath. I recommend not using Elmer's glue but double sided tape or stick glue (avoid the bubblies).

I purchased our envelopes through Envelope Mall online. It sounds sketchy, but it's cheap and they work! I found some large, Kraft brown envelopes to match my theme at a great price. And used a white pen (also from the craft store!) to write the addresses on the front.

As far as stamps go, it would be nice to have themed, personalized stamps--but in my opinion, it's a waste of money. I chose the neutral, somewhat vintage fruit stamps--and when I ran out and was at the end of my wits, I used the American flag stamps that were sitting around from before. Not so pretty, but it worked, and nobody is looking at that anyway. 

In the end it cost me time, but it looked great, and I saved a lot of money by doing it myself.

Tools to Make Your Life Easier

This is a shout-out to the tools that I wish I had when I was addressing each invitation by hand. Trust me, it's an investment!

This nifty tool embosses your address on the tab of the envelope. Forget hand cramps, just punch and go. It's only $24, and it would be money well spent--said from the girl and mother who hand wrote each address and return address for over 200 invitations. Keep your sanity and get the embosser.

Another option, a custom stamp! Also a great investment, something that you can purchase at an office supply store or Etsy, if you want it to be cutesy. If you're moving a lot in your future, just use your parents address or whomever is receiving the RSVP's. Plus, you can use either of these tools when completing thank-you's. Oh the time that I lost and cramps that I gained in that awful process of bulk addressing.

Learn from my experience!

There you have it, theCrumbster's thoughts on Invites & Save the Dates. 

I hope it was helpful to you in your search for paper goods! Please leave comments to share your experiences or advice, I'd love to hear from you!

Next week, we'll be addressing the issue of "Photography & Videography." Can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. It's sweet..GotPrint's custom designers helps create your custom business cards. I love Impression Emedia too! They uses the best quality print ;)