16 June 2014

DIY Wedding Week 2014: wedding invitations (that don't look homemade!)

Guess what, errbody! It’s time for one of the most popular weeks on the blog. Mr. P and I are celebrating our anniversary in a few days, which means... IT’S WEDDING WEEK!

For the third year (technically fourth, if you count Honeymoon Wedding Week), I’ll tell you how we DIY’d our wedding four years ago. Not only is it a big draw for DIY brides, but it’s one of my favorite things to write about – as it’s about the first, and biggest, DIY project I took on with my beloved Mr. P.

If you weren’t around for earlier wedding weeks, here’s the first one, and here’s how I kicked off last year’s projects. And that first project I showed you last year – one of the most popular projects on the blog! – is the DIY’d calligraphy on our wedding invitations.

But I didn’t get around to showing you the rest of our invitations. So this year, I’ll show you! As you might have guessed, it was entirely DIY’d.

We considered fancy engraved wedding invitations for a hot minute – until I realized that just the postage for our invitations alone would run well over a hundred bucks. That’s when I convinced myself that some quality time with my inkjet printer could probably yield results we’d be happy with. Considering we really just wanted simple, super-classic black writing on ivory paper, DIY would work well for us!

Still, I needed paper, and I needed envelopes. For that, I ordered what I needed from LCI paper.

And there’s my first trick to DIY wedding invitations that don’t scream DIY: Order good paper. Honestly, I ordered a few invitation kits from big box stores – one from Walmart, one from Michael’s – but they just looked too low-quality. The paper was too thin, and the design (on the rare occasion that I liked one) was sometimes off-center. In contrast, the embossed, shimmery paper from LCI was as nice as I’d find on invitations that run $5/pop and up.

It wasn’t super heavyweight, but that was actually a good thing – I had to feed it through my inkjet printer, after all!

As for how to print these off... well, I became very VERY familiar with Microsoft Word and my inkjet printer and the quirks of each. I’d write a tutorial, but it’s totally specific to the paper (the embossed band on mine caused occasional slippage I had to work around), the printer (for some reason the “transparency” setting gave me the thickest, wettest ink), and the word processor (the font kerning options are buried in Word, I swear). It’s just trial and error and a lot of patience – I printed these by hand-feeding the paper, one at a time. Order several extra invitations (I spent $20 for extra paper alone, just for margin of error) and try to work out the kinks on scrap paper!

I also ordered all my envelopes from LCI – double envelopes, as I am the sort of southern lady who handwrites all her wedding invitation addresses in faux calligraphy. But you could skip the inner envelope if you wanted to save cash. I customized the outer envelope by printing my return address with a damask on the back flap, rather than using a return address stamp. The damask is hard to see, but I promise, it’s there behind the address.

I ordered the supplies to make reply cards from LCI, too. If you want to save on postage, do an online reply card instead! I hadn’t seen many of those four years ago, but I’ve received many since then. (But if you do include a reply card, this mannerly southern lady absolutely insists that you provide a stamp for the guests to mail it back. Do not make them locate a stamp to RSVP to your wedding, ugh!)

Other than finding the paper source and finagling my printer, making the standard parts of the invitation was pretty.... well, standard. Where I exercised a bit more creativity was with the map cards. Nowadays GPS is much more common than it was in 2010, but even today I think map cards are a nice touch – it shows you’re both helpful AND stylish!

For those, I print-screened a Google map view of the area in question, copy and pasted it into Powerpoint, and just traced right on top of it (today, I’d use Illustrator to be a bit more hi-tech). Delete the map behind it, and boom, you’ve got a custom, “hand-drawn” map! I fudged some of the exit ramps for simplicity, but you get the point.

To add the little icons of the hotels, church, stoplights, etc., I just found some free clip art and pasted it in. It was surprisingly easy – at least, designing it was easier than the printing challenges!

The paper for the map cards didn’t come from LCI, but rather was a bulk pack from Hobby Lobby in a remarkably similar shade of ivory.

I just printed two maps per folded card, front and back, and then cut them in half with my paper cutter after printing.

And finally, there’s just one thing missing: that little sheet of tissue paper you find inside fancy wedding invitations. I wanted that, but not because I’m a stodgy southern lady (at least not this time). No, I wanted a bit of paper to protect the invitation from potential ink-smudging, because nothing says “these invitations are totally homemade, not professionally engraved” like smudged printer ink. And what could be a cheap substitute for tissue paper? Cutting out squares of parchment paper, straight from the roll in the kitchen!

My mom gets full credit for the idea as well as the execution – and it worked fabulously.

Here’s a breakdown (of estimated cost, I can’t even begin to remember how much time these took):

LCI card and envelopes: $170
Map card paper: $15
Parchment paper: $3
Inkjet cartridges: $30 (fairly sure I used two)
Postage: $135
Total cost: $353, or less than $4/complete invitation

So that’s how our friends and family were invited to our wedding, in true DIY fashion! And I’m fairly sure not many people realized that our wedding invitations were homemade – which is exactly how I wanted the rest of our wedding to go!


Janice said...

Everything about your wedding was top notch!
As I read your blogs I keep looking for the "like" button periodically throughout the post :)
Happy Anniversary Week!