A Small Treatise on Paper

Yesterday’s wedding grad Gemma (who I am only a little bit in love with), said this about her DIY paper experience, “I totally fell in love with the idea of a DIY wedding, and decided to make all the wedding stationery. To kick this off I went and learned to make stamps so I could hand-make all my save the date cards. They turned out beautifully, everybody said they were lovely, and they took bloody ages. AGES! So I quickly ditched the idea of making my own invitations in favour of getting some from the internet.” Which is a nice reminder that DIY paper can be fun, but DIY paper can also be crazy. That said, David and I spent all sorts of time and love on our invitations, which ended up mattering a whole lot to me (so much so that I’ve never blogged about them in detail, because they seem that personal, but I’m sharing some pictures of the process with you today). So, for some of you, your wedding paper will not matter at all, and for others of you, it inexplicably will. So this week we’re launching into a little APW series on wedding stationary. And to kick it off, we have the official APW introduction on paper by Alyssa, in collaboration with me (what can I say, half my book is due this week, I’m not writing posts, I’m asking for help). So let’s do this thing.

{Part of Meg’s invitations, drying}

Hey y’all!  Alyssa here and I’ve been charged with a very important task: to talk to you about paper.

I am very serious about paper.  I love it.  I ADORE it.  If Paper Source had a credit card, I’d be selling my body on a street corner somewhere to keep me in card stock and embossing powder.   A whole ream of 100% pure cotton, 24 lb. ultimate white?  A 25 pack of A2 Stardream envelopes in Opal?  I want to spread them out and roll in them like a puppy.

Except I wouldn’t dare.  Because that would injure the paper.

I realize that not all of you feel like this about paper.  Okay, probably nearly all of you aren’t cuckoo for cocoa puffs over paper.  But you’ll probably have to deal with it while wedding planning.  Save the dates, invitations, placards, place cards, signage, thank you notes – you may use all, some or none of this stuff in your venture to the altar.  (And if it’s not your thing, why haven’t you been here already??)  And per usual, APW is here to give you a little dose of reality on that which is the oh so lovely, paper.

So let’s chat.  We’ll be featuring a couple of How-To’s in the next couple weeks from APW readers who DIY-ed their wedding paper sets, but how do you even decide which way to go?  Like any other vendor or expense, you and your partner need to decide what you need in regards to paper.  Don’t do it because you’re supposed to.  Do you love the idea of save the dates?  Do it.  Do you not get them and giggle every time you see someone abbreviate it to STD?  Don’t do it.  You both also need to decide how much you’re willing to spend within your budget on paper, this might affect what you do with and what you don’t.  And then once you decide, STICK WITH IT.  Do not get swayed by prettiness and if you fall in love with something more pricey, adjust your costs elsewhere to accommodate it or find something cheaper.  You absolutely, positively must have letterpress invites?  Cut costs by using electronic STD’s (hee….) Or just call your d*mn Grandma. There is a reason that Save The Date’s are a recent invention. (Hint. They are unnecessary, if sometimes fun.)

A few points on paper that are important to remember:

  • You will be told that your invitations will set the tone for your wedding.  This is a very nice idea.  It’s also crap.  Getting the date and directions correct are more important than the ink matching the exact tone of your bridesmaids’ dresses.
  • Stick to your guns, this is not your only opportunity to have pretty paper in your life.  If you fall in love with a vendor whose rate for 200 invites is too much,  I bet they have stunning personalized cards in sets of 25 that you can use as correspondence after your marriage. Do not have a meltdown about not being able to afford letterpress or gorgeous designer invites.  Because in the end, it’s just paper and it will be embarrassing when your husband brings up that time you teared up after working up the figures for Vera Wang invites.  (Not that I know anything about that.  *ahem*)  Go with a good vendor that can get the job done and then don’t think about it anymore.
  • Engraving is wonderful and what your grandmother thinks is fancy.  It also takes a long time and is only practical for large amounts of printing.  Thermography can be the way to go for smaller weddings; it gives the look but is more cost effective. (Though if we’re honest, sometimes the paper warps with Thermography, and your husband is like, “what is this called again? It looks funny.” Sigh.)
  • Gocco is pretty, fun and less prevalent than the internet would have you believe.  It’s great if you have the time, supplies and abilities to do it.  But if you just had to google Gocco, you don’t need to do it.  Learn it later when you have more time.  And the technology hasn’t already gone bust. By which I mean, do it in 2008.

{Meg’s Gocco project takes over her kitchen. In 2009}

  • Same thing goes for any kind of DIY-ing your invites.  Know what is also DIY?  Printing your own without having to design them or get glue all over your carpet.
  • Letterpress is stunning, beautiful, visually striking and just the thought of it makes me drool on my keyboard a little.  It is NOT, however, your road to salvation.  Make sure it is in your budget because letterpress is pricey.  (As it should be.  It’s an art.)  Use letterpress because you think it’s amazing and you want to support the artists making it, not because you think you should.  Because a great majority of your guests won’t know or won’t care that your invites are letterpress.  Most of them will run their fingers across it, go “Ooo, pretty,” and then stick it on the fridge and forget it.  And your grandmother will tell you that you should have had them engraved.
  • Know what really and truly matters? I mean, if any of this matters? What matters is the paper (and the design, if we want to talk nitty-gritty.).  You know how you can go to a party and see someone in the newest, trendiest and most expensive style, and you think, “Nice.  I like.”  But then they stand next to someone in a well-tailored classic outfit that fits them perfectly and you’re stopped in your tracks?  That’s the difference between any of the above styles on lower-quality paper and then digital printing on good paper.  As Meg says, “If you splurge on paper, you could write it in crayon and it would look good. So digital printing on good paper? It’s a win.  It’s the paper that matters. You want something like this. Your printer will hate it. You will love it. My business cards are on nice paper, and that’s the first thing people say about them.” She also said letterpress wasn’t Jesus, but 100% cotton paper was Jesus. [Feel free to insert your own deity of choice in the previous sentence.  Because 100% cotton paper?  Religious experience.]

In summary?  Decide what you need in your life, stick to your budget, and make sure it’s on good paper (and well designed. But again, that’s in the eye of the beholder).  And don’t get caught up in all the hoopla about paper and weddings.  20% of your guests will save your save the dates/invites, and most of them will be related to you.  The rest will probably lose it and call your mom two days before the wedding to verify the time.  Keep that in mind.

Pictures: By Emily Style. Design of Meg’s invites by the lovely CEVD.

PS Speaking of paper, DIY or otherwise, did you enter the Hello Lucky Giveaway for their Handmade Wedding book and $200 towards stationary? You totally should if you haven’t.

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  • Paper souuuuuuuuuuuurce. Sigh…

    I discovered that all the things I love about fabric were also true for paper: it has texture! color! You can get crazy beautiful stuff from Japan! And I will see your cotton paper, Alyssa, and raise you linen. Ugh, love that stuff.

    I went crazy lining envelopes with a million different papers. Loved doing it. It was so much fun. No one noticed it. I didn’t care.

    I also did not spend a ton on my invitations but probably a bit more than I absolutely had to, if that makes sense. Kimi at Printable Press designed them, I printed them at my local print shop, and then assembled and addressed them all myself, in my crappy handwriting. I bought special stamps from ebay at about the same as their postage price and sent secret messages to my friends and loved ones, which was definitely fun for the folks who got it.

    (I did buy fancy stickers in the same paper as my envelopes which I wrote the address on and then sticked them on the envelope. This is NOT because I liked the way they looked, it’s because if I made a mistake addressing the envelope, I wouldn’t have to waste the whole envelope, just the sticker.)

    • Ooh! Good idea about the sticker saving the envelope… I’ll have to consider that…

      • Yeah, in retrospect it turned out to be pretty genius, especially since I had gone to the trouble of lining the envelopes. I ruined a LOT of stickers! :)

    • Rizubunny

      Holy crap…that is a FANTASTIC idea.

  • I bought a Gocco machine and we made our engagement party invites, with the view to making wedding stationery as well. The look was great IN THE END, but it was a long, long process, fairly expensive, and a lot of trial and error occurred. But, we loved our individual look and it was fun. And it is soooo true what you say about the paper quality.

    • I find that other parties are a great reason to get to do all the fun things we didn’t do with our invites – things like envelope liners and rubber stamps are much easier to manage on a smaller scale.

  • I was shocked by how quickly printing on linen-finish recycled paper took our invites from “blah” to “oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh”. We got them done at Staples, which is much better equipped to handle cardstock than a home printer, and it was $30 to get it done, whereas the ink would have cost me at least $60 for a set of cartridges, which probably wouldn’t have been able to print all 100.

    My SIL is getting married this summer and they paid $40 for gorgeous, simple, stunning invites which somebody else printed for them. It actually made me a little embarrassed that our invites were DIY and cost much closer to $150, but we did it because we wanted a particular look that was much more expensive.

    • Cass

      “Same thing goes for any kind of DIY-ing your invites. Know what is also DIY? Printing your own without having to design them or get glue all over your carpet.”

      Exactly. I ended up getting 3 kits on the cheap from a crafting store and was surprised by the quality of the paper.
      This is also one of the few areas my fiance had a strong opinion about – he wanted them to look very traditional.
      We’ve gotten a lot of comments about our simple, DIY, home-printed invites.

      It DEFINITELY helped having a new printer, meant for office use and not home use. This resulted in high-quality black printing, with no issues about paper thickness, and the ink is DIRT cheap, and went a long way.

    • i am going to echo the staples recommendation. take your fancy heavy papers and your flash drive early on a weekday morning when nobody is there and the employee behind the printing counter will make your life easier/save you lots of money on ink.

      • Jillian

        Agreed. My husband designed them and we took our (gorgeous) paper to Staples and they did a fabulous job printing them.

  • When it came time for STDS, I was lucky in that my artist mother and graphic designer sister put together a simple, but beautiful, STD which actually did end up “setting the tone” for the wedding. They designed them in Photoshop and got them printed for almost nothing (along with the STD magnets) on VistaPrint. When it came time for invites, my mother designed them, and I picked a font which looked engraved and designed the text part, RSVP card, etc. We also got everything printed up with VistaPrint–200 invites, RSVP cards and personalized envelopes for $200! Everything looks exactly the way I wanted it: simple, straight to the point, and totally gorgeous. I was adamant against a calligrapher (uh, envelopes get thrown away?), so we just used the same font from the invites and printed all the envelopes out. It was such an easy, non-stressful, and money-saving process.

    Even if you aren’t an artist, so many websites now have templates or even free designs you can take and print up!

  • Lethe

    Amen to the point about paper quality. We bought beautiful canvas-finish cardstock in bulk online for cheap. Then I painted art onto a printout of our invite text, and we got the whole thing color-copied onto the cardstock at our local print shop. Yeah, it’s not engraved or letterpressed or etc, but the ink actually sits atop the texture beautifully, looking very glossy, and produces a great effect. I highly recommend the fancy-paper-cheap-printing route to anyone who needs to save money but wants fancy-looking invites!

    • Amy

      So, so true. My father was a printer, so I’m the paper snob who can tell the difference between a 40lb and 50lb piece of cardstock. This meant that for me, most online invitation stores were out. And why I sing the praises of Hello Lucky to everyone who will listen – I’d rather have a classic design on 50lb cardstock than the trendiest design on 25lb cardstock. Some people don’t care, but for a wedding I think it makes sense to splash out on the thickest, lushest paper you can afford – even if you’re not doing letterpress.

  • So, for some of you, your wedding paper will not matter at all, and for others of you, it inexplicably will.

    I think this can be said for any small (or not-so-small) detail of our weddings. There are some things that just MATTER to us. It might seem silly to an outside observer, and it might seem silly to YOU. So you shame yourself, and you try to pretend it doesn’t matter, but it DOES. And then you have regrets.

  • hahah I was too cheap to buy a gocco or anything else, so I decided I would just “get into” linoleum block printing. ha! it was kinda fun playing around with carving a lino block, but the actual printing process turned out to be way more work than I was up for. enter, email STD and linen invites from etsy. done. then I thought I’d get creative with “envelope wraps” for the address labels.. but kind of ran out of time and half-assed it and they looked TERRIBLE hahahah. I think everyone assumed I’d actually made the linen invites myself since the envelopes were so clearly DIY, and I’m happy to let them have that delusion.

    despite not using a whole lot of paper for our wedding, I do actually go cuckoo for cocoa puffs at stores like paper source – I’m just too cheap to actually buy any of it.

    ps Meg love your kitchen!! how old is that stove?

    • N

      My eyes went straight to that stove!! Want. it.

      I do recognize that this post is about paper, but can we have a follow up about how to obtain an awesome vintage stove?

      • N, are you in the DC area? There’s an AH-MAY-ZING store called The Community Forklift and they have MAD of them vintage appliances. I go there and drool and then my partner has to drag me away while I scratch at his face.

        Alternate option: Habitat ReStores are all over the place and have great reclaimed architectural ish. You have to keep an eye out, but sometimes they get those same killah appliances.

        • N

          Sadly, I am not. But the next time I am in the area, I will probably hit up that store just to stare at the pretty. And good tip on the Habitat ReStores!

        • meredyth

          oooh, I’m in DC! I’ll check that store out. I think I looked at Habitat ReStores when my sister was redoing her place. It’s always been a little dream of mine to have a stove like that.

      • I thought the same thing – such a fabulous stove!!

      • meg

        Rent an apartment built in the 1940’s, with the orignal stove intact. Done. It’s a great stove too. Solid.

    • ka

      Hahaha, my first thought was that’s my stove! Or pretty dang close.

      Second thought – thank you for doing this now as we are just beginning on stationary! And with my fiance the designer/artist and me working at an art magazine that uses the most insanely beautiful paper and printing techniques, um, I would like lovely invites. But I’m totally stuck on where to begin. Can’t wait for more!

  • Kristen

    My best friend and I made my invitations – they weren’t that expensive, but I didn’t get super duper crazy with them either (nice paper, normal printer, fun design, added texture through vellum/envelope liners/stamps). Our wedding was a year ago and looking at them still makes me smile…they just feel like love. Which I guess they were.

  • Cass

    I originally had grand ideas for non-paper, eco-friendly e-mail save-the-dates and invites.
    And then I did a test run of the save-the-dates. No one reads their e-mail closely – if they read it at all! Everyone kept asking, Is it this year? Will it be in your hometown, or where you live now? – all stuff that was in the save-the-date explicitly.
    So I ended up having to print save-the-dates anyway. What a hassle. But I actually wanted people to show up to my wedding on the correct day, in the correct place.

    • meg

      Y’all? CALL PEOPLE if you don’t want to send Save The Dates. Because they won’t pay attention to the paper thing either (most of our people didn’t even understand what we’d sent them and why) but they will be excited to chat with you about the wedding.

    • It seems like only people planning weddings know what save-the-dates are. We talked to some people personally. Everyone else just found out when we were getting married when they got the actual invite.

      • N

        This is so true! People totally don’t know what to make of Save the Dates. We did an online save the date, with a website that let people respond to it with a note (Paperless Post), which was fun, but made it even more confusing because some people thought they were RSVPing when they did this so they thought they didn’t have to RSVP later. Which kind of makes sense, except I find it amusing that they thought we were asking them in OCTOBER to respond with whether or not they would attend an event in May of the following year.

      • meg

        This is about the best kept secret of wedding planning.

  • Jennifer

    I spent *so much* time looking through every invitation vendor I could find on the web before giving up and putting my own design together with free-for-noncommercial-use vector art, and then spent *so much* time searching for an affordable letterpress printer who could use my design and room in the budget to pay the letterpress premium. And then I found an affordable digital printer who offered a heavy cotton paper, placed an order for two prints as a sample (because with digital printing, small runs can be cost-effective) and realized it was so much nicer than the samples I’d gotten of the more affordable letterpress options. Our invitations are probably my favorite “thing” from the whole wedding.

    I will confess that it did help soothe me to go back through the box where I keep things like wedding invitations and realized that not a single one, even the ones I’d remembered as being especially nice, were letterpressed or on super luxe paper. I know, I shouldn’t care about our invitations living up to what others had done…but I kind of did. A little. (Side note – it’s funny how up until the late ’90s, every single one was your classic black text on ecru paper, no swirls or embellishments, and then BOOM, not a single one from the past dozen or so years was in that old classic style. I’m grateful to have gotten married in a period when I felt like there were more choices, as much as those choices stress me out sometimes.)

  • I love your point about being able to order the pricey stuff as stationary. That makes me happy, because even though it should be obvious, I’m not sure I would have thought of it!

  • Our invites did get a lot of compliments at the wedding, and I think they probably got saved by more people than average, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they ‘set the tone’ for the wedding. Being outdoors in the GA summer heat set the tone for the wedding, as far as most people seemed to be concerned.

    If you’re looking to have invites that stand out my best advice is not to do a traditional invite. I mean, printed on paper and stuck in an envelope, yes. But there are so many things you can do within those parameters. Ours were 3 x 8 (On nice paper. That’s SO important), and I had them designed by a friend who was going to school for that with our china pattern as inspiration, which is Chirp by Lenox. As the name suggests, there are tree branches and birds on it, and so there was a corresponding bird right smack in the middle of the invite, and half of the background was the same blue as the edges of our plates. Anyone who’d looked at the registry couldn’t miss the connection. I gave the invite to our cake lady, and people even noticed that connection- even though the cake was half-assed 2 hours before our wedding because she forgot the date, and I wouldn’t have noticed the similarity to the invites/china at all.

    Basically, if your invite is in a standard envelope with dark type on light paper, people will forget it in a year. If you really want them to remember, do something different. If you don’t care, print on nice paper anyway, because people like me do judge you if you send us copy paper/cheap cardstock.

    • Noemi

      I feel like my low-cost invites bought on sale from a craft store printed at a printer’s with a generic font do send a message. The message is: we have just graduated from college with massive loans and little cash. The invites were at the absolute bottom of my list of things that were important to me, I knew they just needed to have the correct date and time for the ceremony. It is fine if the guests that we invited “judge” us based on our invitations, but they know our situation. My friends excitedly told me they had received the wedding invitations, and none of them mentioned how it looked. As long as our guests show up at the correct place and time, I am happy with my invitations, as they have served their purpose!

      • Maybe I should clarify what I mean about good paper. I have received an invite that was printed in Comic Sans on cheap 8×11 copy paper, and did have a moment of… Wow, really? I’m not saying I would come to your wedding thinking about how cheap your invite was… it would more be a momentary, “Oh, this is… regular printer paper.” That certainly wouldn’t inform my opinion of you as a person or anything, just my momentary reaction to your choice of invitation- I would correctly assume it wasn’t important to you. I would still love you and come support you at your wedding and party like crazy with joy for you afterward. And at generic craft store invites, I don’t bat an eye… just when people go super super cheap. Maybe judge was the wrong word, but it does make me pause for a minute.

    • Barbra

      I have to say, if I did decide to print my invitations on nice paper, it would be because I liked how it looked, not because I was worried that people receiving those invitation would “judge” me. I would hope the only judgment would be “Eh, I guess they didn’t care that much about invitations.” And what’s really wrong with that, if you really don’t?

      • I should probably choose my words better. I don’t mean that I would change my opinion of you based on a wedding invite, just that if you sent me a wedding invitation on regular copy paper, I would definitely notice how much you didn’t care. Probably I shouldn’t have said anything at all, since most people at least get some kind of stationary, but I have received a wedding invitation that looked more like a middle school flyer complete with clip art, and it was just weird, and I did judge it as kind of a breech of etiquette. Although now I don’t remember whose wedding it was for, so I guess it didn’t matter much in the long run.

    • Everyone has their own priorities for the wedding. I’d rather people forgot about my invite in a year and instead remember the blissed out look on mine and future hub’s faces than the invites.

      Remember, Weddings are not a contest. And unless someone has their invite delivered to me by white doves or llama’s chances are I’m not going to really remember it down the road.

      But I do love playing with design stuff so I will have fun designing mine. I just don’t expect them to be the END ALL BE ALL INVITE EVAAARRR.

  • ah paper. I will try not to get started.

    But when I first got engaged, and I couldn’t really book/craft anything because it was so far in advance and I was across the pond from the wedding location, I started designing the invitations. And kept designing. and redesigning. and finally, came up with something I absolutely love.

    And then…I got cocky, and decided it would be OK to try and letterpress them. Oh the things that I learned about myself during that process…. :)

    But I am excited to see more entries about paper! And also way excited that my stationary is done except for the rehearsal dinner invites, and I will feel free to steal all you ladies’ genius ideas to use for them :)

  • SpaceElephant

    We went totally ghetto on our invites. We found a fun, not-too-girly design we liked on Vistaprint that KIND OF matched our wedding aesthetic, waited to get a super discount coupon code from them (seriously- sign up for the emails. They’re annoying but amazing.), and got something like 90 invites, with personalized matching envelopes, for $70. We put all of the info that is usually on inserts on the back of the 5×7 card- directions, hotel stuff, rsvp instructions. We have a google voice number and a wedding website for people to rsvp, no little card.

    So, I hope the invites don’t really set the tone for the wedding, bc if so then our wedding theme is “CHEAP.” Although that is actually mostly true. Cheap but fun.

    • I’m thinking I’ll have my RSVP stuff on the back of my invite too, and I also only plan on offering online and maybe a phone number. It’s less expensive… and it saves trees!!

      • We did this and it worked out really well. Whenever someone sent in an email we were already at the computer to enter it in the spreadsheet. Also, we were able to send a thank-you email back saying how excited we were that they were coming or how we understand that a cross country flight with a 8 mo. pregnant lady just doesn’t work.
        No one complained (that I remember) And we knew that grandma was coming anyway.

      • N

        You can do an online RSVP really easily with Google. Google to the rescue, once again. Just set up a “Form” in GoogleDocs and then copy the HTML code into your wedding website. People fill it out and it is translated into a spreadsheet in GoogleDocs for you. So easy, and it forces people to visit your website and read all the info you put on there! And everyone figured it out without trouble–from the youngest to the oldest on our list.

        My invitations are probably the most eco-friendly thing about our wedding–we just did postcards and put the RSVP url on them. I was a little sad about them because our recycled paper/ink combo was apparently easily smudged by the post office–they arrived to many people with blemishes. If I had to do it again, I would put them in envelopes. But the design was sort of vintage so I am hoping people thought we gave them a distressed look on purpose!

        The most creative thing I did with invitations was get clear labels and match the font on them to the font on the invitation design. Such a far cry from printing your own/special stamps/calligraphy, but I was just proud of myself for coming up with something easy and decent-looking. To each her own.

  • Hey people, what’s your opinion on the quality of envelopes? Sorry to ask a question instead of putting a comment but I realized you guys may be able to help.

    Because honestly, I want BRIGHT BLUE invitations, but I know I can’t afford that in quality paper because it’s exceedingly rare to find bright blue card stock at all, let alone quality, and because I’m dirt poor and it’s definitely more than white or cream.

    So I’m thinking I’ll probably use a quality white, but I still want bright blue in there, because I love blue. So I’m thinking I’ll order cheap quality but brilliantly, dazzlingly blue envelopes. Do you think it’s okay to have cheap quality envelopes with good quality invites?

    • The envelopes usually just get thrown out, no matter how much people love your invitation. I don’t personally think it matters (says the girl who lined 200 envelopes)–if you like the look of the blue, go for it.

    • That’s a nice idea, but if you might end up wasting the money on envelopes beacuse they will get torn up in transit. When I’ve worked the front desk at companies, I can’t tell you how many very expenisve holiday cards and party invitations have ended up at our office dirty or torn or just grungy looking.

      If you have to have it, then go for it, what you can afford is totally the best thing for you regardless of cheap vs. good quality. But considering how much you like the envelopes you’d probably be devastated to hear that your invite arrived with mud or black marks or just plain ripped up.

      • I don’t really care if they throw them away, it’s more the initial impact.

        And if it has black smears, eh, it’s an envelope. :) I’m an artist, but not a perfectionist. And the whole point of them being cheaper is that who really cares if such a thing happens? It might be more likely to tear, but colored paper is actually less likely to have a glaringly obvious smudge than white anyway.

        • If it’s just an envelope, then why are you asking, sweetie? :-) Buy the d*mn things and have amazing blue envelopes!

    • Amy

      Why not line your envelopes in blue paper? Its a bit fiddly to do, but not difficult, and can be easily cranked out in front of the tv with wine. You can also use the same paper you used to line your envelopes to do wrap-around address labels (if you want).

      • Because, honestly, if I’m going through the effort of lining envelopes I’d rather use a peppy pattern than just blue. :) Actually, blue envelopes lined with a pattern sounds really awesome… you guys are giving me so many fun ideas! Too bad I just get to pick one direction to go with! (And I know I technically could do a few different types, but while I’m not a perfectionist, I would rather stick with one kind of invitation. Kind of gets to the ocd person inside.)

        • Save the other ideas for other events (especially when you will need fewer cards). Birthdays, Showers, Christmas, Thank-Yous.
          Because, seriously, paper products/cards/invites are not just for weddings. And I didn’t have the energy to do something super fancy for 100 invites but perhaps I will do something fun for the 10 thank-you cards that I’ll need next week. :-)

    • We had BLACK envelopes. I loooooooooved them. My mother is a graphic designer, so we did everything ourselves. The invitations were white and pretty traditional, and having black envelopes made it chic and and stand out without costing an arm and a leg. We used wraparound labels, which meant we could print them entirely on a printer (fewer mistakes! no handwriting cramps!), and they were still totally legible and had no problems going through the mail.

      We also found the envelopes for cheap online, but I can’t find the link…. if Mama Kate is reading this, maybe she’ll have the link for where we bought the envelopes… ;)

      • SarahMama Kate

        Yeah, those wrap-around labels were the perfect solution to the bad penmanship issue and the black Euro-style flap envelopes were a stunner if I do say so myself! The envelopes weren’t earth-shatteringly cheap ‘tho Miss Sarah K.N. but affordable; this is the URL http://bit.ly/hi5RSZ.

        • Ah, yes, I’ve looked at envelope mall, I may end up using them. :) I’m sure they were lovely (and actually I’d never heard of wrap around before so I’m going to look into it!)

      • We used black envelopes too and used labels with a pretty font. We used the ones from Paper Source and were pleased with the final result.We especially liked the printed labels (we added a swirly motif so it kinda felt artistic) because it looked much prettier than our handwriting would have.

    • Michele

      You should check out cutcardstock.com. I ordered some envelopes from there and they sent an amazing sample pack of paper that I secretly pull out and fondle from time to time. Look at this one: http://www.cutcardstock.com/mohawkvialinen80lbcoverwtcardstock25pkcyan.aspx. It’s looks really pretty and seems affordable to me.

      • I would try looking online at Neenah paper or Mohawk, etc. BUT VERY IMPORTANT: most printed pieces on “colored paper” are actually printed on white paper. If you use a very bright or dark color paper, it’s more than likely going to be a nightmare to get anything to show up well on it, and you’re probably going to be limited to just black ink or going with letterpress/screen printing method. Something you might want to think about, you can duplex paper stocks (this is WAY easier to let a printer handle it for you but can be DIY). Which means you glue two different types of paper together (usually with spray mount). You could have your really bright blue on the back of a white or light colored paper stock that has the information printed. Or you could always go with a white paper and have the design or text printed in a specified Pantone spot color of your blue.

      • Wow, that’s not bad! I’ll give that some thought!

    • we were all about cheap envelopes. mosty because we realized at the last minute that the paper store we used didn’t carry envelopes in the size we needed, so we had to do a last minute scramble and ended up getting a few boxes of inexpensive envelopes in a flashy color at the closest big box office supply store. i’m pretty all the craziness going on with the invitations inside the envelopes (wax seals! words typed with a real typewriter! pretty engagement photos!) distracted fom the cheapness of the envelopes themselves.

    • Sarah :: Jackson Riley

      My sister brought up a great point on envelopes: make sure they match your invites a bit. Because think about what you do when you open the invite? You stick the envelope behind it, read the invite, take in the pretty, and then toss the envelope and put it up on your fridge. If the envelope matches nicely for those 2 seconds it gets face time, you’re good. But that’s pretty much the only role (and keeping the invite kind of protected in transit.) So focus on the color, not the quality.

  • Amy

    It’s Gocco, not Gooco.

    • meg


  • epicstl

    okay first off: We DIY’d all the paper-related items except for our invitations. STDs (hehe) were printed via Apple on my mac. Place cards, table numbers (most practical part of our budget – 14 table numbers done for ~$20), labels for hospitality bags and thank you notes were made by me, thanks to the Paper Source convincing me to buy an embossing gun, their awesome collection of rubber stamps, and having chartreuse card stock in every size imaginable. Seriously, best store ever. How did I move from a city where I had one in walking distance, to a city where the closest one is 3 HOURS AWAY! If they are reading this, please open up shop in St. Louis!

    and now, a funny story about our invitations (i’ve been waiting to share this one!) our invites were simple, beautiful, digitally printed on good paper by someone super awesome from etsy (who also did our ketubah in a similar style). the envelopes were by far the best part – chartreuse green. i. loved. them. and wanted to do the mailing address labels myself on oval off-white labels (from the paper source, of course) with navy font matching the invitation printing. our etsy lady printed the return address / reply card address in the same blue font. i’m no creative artsy guru, but i’m creative and nitpicky enough to make it work. i did a sample, it was exactly what i wanted. i showed it to my mom. . .
    . . .now without getting into all the related mamadrama, my mom thought the labels were tacky. she thought the mailing addresses should all be printed on the envelopes. she had a friend who did this for a living and offered to do it for us for practically nothing. i gave in (see related mamadrama, above). a few days later, i get a call from my dad. you see, my mom’s friend had run into some issues. she couldn’t get the blue color right on the green envelopes. it was coming out purple. no biggie, right? we can go back to the original label plan. except she went ahead and did ALL of them with this weird, pukish purpley-gray color rather than check with us first! and she made it a large enough font size that filled the whole envelope. i could read it from across the room, without my contacts in. needless to say, my mom felt horrible (which is why she made my dad call!) After the initial shock wore off, my now husband and i realized that most people will just tear open the envelope and throw it away without really noticing how awkward the large print purple font was. and after that, no more mamadrama.

    • Vmed

      Woah. I think I would have lost it.

      Way to look on the bright side, though- it sounds like she was quite contrite.

  • paper! wheee! I was incredibly set on doing them myself and gosh darnit I did it. Was it worth it? I guess so? I was really expecting more people to tell me how nice they were than actually did (HAHA). But I love them and was incredibly proud of how they turned out.

    I designed those babies in Microwoft WORD. Yeah. Which was actually sort of difficult because guess what, Word is not set up to do fancy graphic design bullshit. So it took me days and weeks to do but it worked out because I have *lots* of free time at work. And I printed them on 140 lb. water color paper I bought by the pad at Michaels with 40% off coupons. I trimmed it down to 8 1/2 x 11, ran them through our shitty ink jet printer, cut them all out and they looked like a million bucks. Seriously, the paper was devine (and cheap). I think all in all for 48 invites I spent about $60 (including postage). WIN.

  • Caitlin K

    I am a true saver so paper was never a big part of our budget. For our STD during Christmas at vistaprint.com you could get 100 postcard Christmas cards for FREE. What they didn’t tell you was that it applied to ALL of the post cards so I picked out some cute STD and got 100 for the cost of shipping, $6.26 :)
    But dealing with our invites has been another story. I have asked the photographer who took our engagements to design our invite (here in SEI picture postcard invites are the way to go) but I contacted her about a month and a half ago. I recently sent an email over a week and still have not heard anything back. Should I be worried? I am paying a decent chunk for them and I am at the point where I just want to scrap it and find less expensive ones.

  • clampers

    Invitations are really the only part about wedding planning that I care about. We didn’t do save-the-dates, because I think they’re silly (that’s like, my opinion, man) and we’re only inviting 16 people including me and the groom. So we did save-the-date phone calls instead, and just sent out the invites 3 months before the wedding.

    My friend and former colleague, who is a graphic designer, designed them for us. She made an invitation and an RSVP postcard. I had them printed at Kinko’s for $40. Then I went wild with envelope liners, lace paper, bellybands, vintage stamps and hand-cancelling. They turned out awesome. I gave her a really nice bottle of wine and a gift card for her trouble (she refused payment). Everyone raved…success!

  • I am a certified paper-holic. My invitations have now gone through 2 very labor-intensive iterations, and I think we’ve decided on a design for realsies. The process to create [100 of] these is going to be INTENSE, and I plan to blog about it, but MAN it was so hard to choose. Paperstuffs give me heart palpitations, so I couldn’t go with a cardstock square or pocketfold or anything that immediately looks like a wedding invitation. But I also hearts creativity on a budget.

    This ish is now in process, and I’m not giving any specifics until after the wedding, but goodNESS I am excited about them.

    So I guess I’m the antithesis of the “this is too hard, DIY isn’t for me.” But I wanted to share some paperlove. Because that’s how I roll. I’d also like to note that this isn’t the first time I’ll have taken part in the process of creating really elaborate invitations, with an invitation-sending deadline. I think that’s really important experience to have for this. I’ve done this enough times to know that I’ll design the graphics myself, but I’ll pay someone to print the images onto fancy paper. Because temperamental printers make me want to hurt puppies. And avoiding that will mean I’ll have less to dread, and I won’t procrastinate as much. Ohhhh the psychology and self-analysis of wedding DIY…

  • RachelLyn

    We made our own invitations with Paper Source paper, printing at Staples, and spray glue. A very talented friend drew the illustration for us and the total process took about two hours (not including shopping time.. mmm Paper Source) and cost $150 for 90 invites.

    I’m so proud of myself that I’ll share a link to the photo (if that is ok):

  • C.

    I’ve almost finished our invites, DIYed without too many major dramas and not much cost.

    The invites are square, made of white linen paper and orange card stock. The text is on the white paper; it’s in Word, with a very basic design and simple font in black with a pop orange colour. This was pasted onto the orange card. For this I drew and photocopied a burgundy flower design in texta. So, when you pick it up, you read the text and then flip it over and see the flowers. The idea was a bit of a compromise – my fiance likes the classic, non-girl text, and I like the bright, nature motif.

    It was very easy to do and just cost a little for the papers, especially since I was able to print and photocopy at work.

    For the envelopes, I ordered cheap white square envelopes and then traced the flower design onto them using orange texta and a lamp under my glass coffee table. I’ve hand addressed them.

    My friends joined me for an afternoon DIT session of cutting and sticking to finish these off. The only really hard bit in the process was restraining my perfectionism when friends cut a little crooked!

    As i said, it’s been pretty easy – and I’m no designer or artist, only a touch creative. However with 80 invites it’s taken a while to do. I’m glad it’s been mostly enjoyable; i hope people like them, but we do so it doesn’t matter too much if people don’t notice much.

  • Beb

    This post came at a great time for me. I am currently mired in confusion over what we should do for our invites (engraved? digital? letterpress?), as well as a vague feeling of, I don’t know, guilt, maybe, that I know for a fact I could design really awesome invitations (but I worry that if I go down that road, the invites will take over my life). Has anyone out there designed their own invites? If so, did it take forever? I don’t really want to *make* the invitations myself, I just want to design them and have them printed somewhere on some nice paper. Is this feasible?? Help!

    • This is absolutely feasible! Do you have experience designing such things? If so, it shouldn’t be too much of a headache at all. I designed our Save the Dates and we got them printed through vistaprint.com for SUPER CHEAP, and I’m planning to go a similar route with our invitations as well.

      • Beb

        Awesome! No I don’t have experience designing invitations but I have hand-drawn cards for friends before and I’m sort of an artsy fartsy type so I am confident in my ability to come up with something good. I think I’m just intimidated by the technology aspects of it – like how do I get whatever I draw/design onto 200 cards?

        • Vmed

          high res scanner. I think kinko’s has them, or you could try a local university- there’s usually free guest access to computer labs, and nice equipment available.

          And then export the image as a .png which you can use in whatever software suite you have (I love apple’s iWork Pages in particular for documents but MS Publisher is good too, or if you want to go real fancy/expensive, adobe Illustrator. Or you could try to find a free one).

          This file type will interpret white as blank space (rather than opaque white) which is more versatile for layering.

          and then go to http://new.myfonts.com/ and look at all the pretties. If I were designing my own invites you can bet I’d use some “saved” money to buy myself a sexy font.

        • travelingrory

          hand draw them, defnitely, if you have time! my guy and i did ours, i have a lot of design/print experience, though. It took him about a day to hand draw the pen and ink designs, and a couple hours to scan the art and do minimal cleanup in photoshop. It took me a full day to print 100 sets (invites,rsvp, rsvp env, directions, and fully addressed outer envelopes). Then it took another full day to line envelopes, tie twine around the cards, stuff, and stamp postage on them. We completely designed/printed/assembled in less than a week (because we’re crazy procrastinators) but it really was easy for us. good luck if you decided to go this route, and let me know if you have questions!

          • Beb

            Thank you to both Vmed and Travelingrory – super helpful! I will definitely let you know if I decide to do this…

        • I scanned in a much larger pansy image that I’d water colored and then shrunk it down to the size I needed. I just used my trusty all-in-one scanner/printer to do the scanning.

  • Can I just say two words that are going to make all of you paper crazed people respond like crack addicts? PAPER SAMPLES. Seriously. If you go to the professional quality paper manufacturers (Neenah, Mohawk, French, etc) you can request samples. Neenah will send several sheets of unprinted letter paper in the weight, texture and color you request. You just pay shipping. You can do a lot of creative things with paper samples. We printed everything on Neenah Classic Crest 65lb paper and then used paper samples (Neenah Sundance 110lb felt and Classic Linen 80lb Text in sage) to line envelopes, make cigar bands, etc. Also, if you have more than one type of printable (invitation + RSVP, map, reception, save the date, etc) try purchasing good quality paper for printing all of the small stuff and use absolutely drool worthy samples to print the invitations themselves. Of course, you have to carefully handle the crack because even though paper samples are generally free, you may end up spending your life savings on paper anyway. I don’t want to think about the money I’ve spent on paper but hey, as a graphic designer I can justify it with a tax right off, right??

    • travelingrory

      classic crest is and will probably always be my go to paper! i can’t count how many times i’ve used it for customers, especially in natural white. easy peasy to print on with most inkjet printers, so great for at home DIY/DITers too.

  • I love good paper, but couldn’t be bothered for our wedding invitiations for a variety of reasons. Instead, I had a work contact print full colour postcards – a picture of us walking with the Calgary skyline behind and a Chinook arch overhead, with the details on the other side. The cost was just right: free. And my biggest paper weakness is (antique) postcards, so this was just perfect for us.

    However – it turns out that in Canada, you can BE YOUR OWN STAMP. (www.picturepostage.ca) Seriously. Stamps with your faces on it. For only ~$0.40 more per stamp. So much awesome.
    The cost of a sheet of 40 stamps: ~$40.
    The cost of having your face on legal stamps: priceless.

  • Zoe Huertas

    Ooooh! As someone who got into letterpress to do her brothers invites, and with a rash (and I do mean RASH) of friends getting hitched, I have found myself doing a lot of letterpress printing for cheap. And while its an amazing thing to hold a beautiful two color print on 220# Lettra (whoo! excuse me while I go take a lie down) I really LOVE that my friends are thinking about different and interesting ways to do their invites. (One of my faves I’ve done was one we letterpressed on wood. Fit my friends, the setting, and was surprisingly cheap!… well, letterpress cheap i.e. a division of cheap otherwise known as ‘moderately affordable’) I love getting invites that feel like people have taken a moment and thought about how they’ll be received. Because if you really care about these, it’s gonna show, and then I’M really gonna care!

    I have to say tho, that I do believe that a good invite is a window into your wedding. And while your invites obviously don’t need to coordinate with your dresses, I always feel they should go some ways to letting people know what type of wedding you’re having. I once heard a story about a lady who was aggrieved that she and her boyfriend wore cocktail attire to a wedding where they had to sit on the ground. What I say to this is twofold – did you not read the invitation? and two – was that a terrible invitation that seemed to say ‘cocktail attire’ and not ‘sit yo butt on the ground?’ I always have to remember that for most guests, this is the only piece that will tell them what your wedding is going to be like. Flip flops or Laboutin’s? How fancy is fancy? (and yes, since I started printing, I think like that now.)

    Seeing so many couples having amazing DIY/DIT endeavors that speak so much more about the couple, and the wedding than at any previous time in the last 100 years (having recently seen the invitations for ALL of my mothers family (great grandma, ma, cousins, you name it) I feel I can make that generalization..) is an amazing amazing thing. So I say HURRAH! to all those DIY/DIT-ers, and HURRAH! to those who decide – “you know, that’s not something I want to deal with… but I still want something unique and US”; you’ve made stationery beautiful for this age!

  • I’m about to get into DIYing our invites, and I am both excited and completely terrified! We designed our STDs and then went the Vistaprint Free Postcard (caps necessary) route, and had a wonderful experience, but I’m trying to figure out the best way to do the invites, since I’m hoping to use Kraft cardstock for them. It’s a little scary as someone who usually stays in the digital realm when designing things, but it’s also been, so far, a ton of fun!

  • Perfect advice. For our wedding, I did a mix of DIY – some of it was 100% DIY and some of it was DIY-ish. Even though I loved the idea of making all my invites on my (new used) gocco, I knew that I would quickly lose my mind. Instead, I decided to mix gocco and digital printing as a way to satisfy my gocco-bloggy wedding-craze, but also maintain my sanity.

    I had someone I found on Etsy design our invites, had my dad print them on his fancy work printer, and then I enlisted some friends to help me put them all together. They were pretty simple, but still proved to be just as much as I could handle. Tying the baker’s twine just so? Tricky. Getting the designer to change the color to match the Curry (PaperSource, obv) backing paper? Tricky. Being across country for a month-long work trip when I was trying to put the invites together, texting my husband pictures to see what he thought and being kinda crabby he couldn’t help? Um, tricky. By the end, I was immensely happy I didn’t use my invites to test my gocco skills.

    I was happy, though, to make all our thank yous, return address thingys for the envelopes, and paper products for the reception on the gocco. I used the same font from the invites so I felt like it “matched.” (Side note: I don’t like matching in real life, but somehow I bought into the idea that there needed to be a “tone” and a “theme” with the invites…ugh.) Do what makes you happy, but keep in mind that nothing will go perfectly and know your limits. You can craft and be a DIY-wonderwoman (or man) after the wedding, too.

  • Ooh, I haven’t even started thinking about all this invite complications yet. But I know it will have to be done soon…
    I have, however, been laughing at the note on my wall for weeks that says “Give Susan and Morven STD’s” Hilarious, non?

  • travelingrory

    I spent almost all of my 20s working for THE destination of all things paper in SF, and the majority of that time managing the stationery department. I don’t know how many times I heard coworkers tell customers that their invitations were the.most.important detail because it’s the first hint your guests get at what your wedding will be like. Those same coworkers would also tell couples that their invites would have a reflection on the types of gifts they would receive! Fancy invites are rewarded with fancy presents, I guess? I think that’s all crap, as even then (3 and more years ago, before I was engaged myself) I knew that it was most important for our customers to spend and diy in a way that was authentic to them. If that meant $2000 (minimum) on custom letterpress, awesome…. or if that meant $20 on clearance cardstock to make postcards, great! For my own invites, that just went out a couple weeks ago!!, I spent on beautiful paper (Fabriano Medioevalis torn edge cards, and envelopes) and digitally printed (at home) the custom drawn artwork my guy created. It was the pefect combination of the two of us, and we worked on it together, which was awesome, and authentic to us.

    • Erica

      Did you use a laser printer, or an ink-jet? Is there one or the other that takes to fancy card-stock better?

      • travelingrory

        I used a canon pixma (seriously, the best inkjet your money will buy.. ok the best under $150 for sure!) ink jet printer. If you’re using a “toothy” stock, like letterpess paper, laid finish, or linen finish ink jet is ALWAYS better than laser. Regular smooth stocks like Classic Crest, or just regular old carstock tends to work best also in an inkjet, although it’ll work in a laser if it’s not TOO thick, like under 80lb. If you’re wanting to use smooth metallic paper (like stardream) you’ll have to use a laser printer, the ink from an inkjet won’t absort and will smear all over the paper. Just to note, if you’re inkjet if over a few years old, you’re probably not going to have great luck using anything other than a super smooth plain cardstock, most newer printers (like the pixma) work really great with specialty stocks, like the fabriano medioevalis! :)

        • Erica

          Thank-you so much!

          • travelingrory

            you’re very welcome!! :)

  • Erica

    Alyssa and Meg: when you say “You want something like this. (link to really lovely paper) Your printer will hate it. You will love it.” what do you mean, exactly? Do you mean my at-home computer printer? Do you mean a dude or lady who works as a printer? Why will they hate it? Is that stuff meant to be used in printer? I have only used paper like that for traditional etching in an art studio…

    Also, a more general question, open to all: I am an artist, and I’m really excited about the idea of designing my own invites. Thing is, I’m a hands-on, brush and canvas or pencil and paper kind of artist, used to making one-offs, and I don’t really know the best (and cheapish-est) way to turn my ideas into something printable… Is there anyone who could give me a clue?

    Also, please bring on those paper DIY/DIT segments ASAP!!! I really need to get going on those invites and would LOVE to hear the excellent advice of APWers! Pretty please!


    • travelingrory

      when you use thicker paper, like fine art paper you mentioned, your home printer may give you a tough time, especially if it’s an older model inkjet. most newer injets, like the canon pixma, work really well on fine art/letterpress type paper.
      in your case, if you’re wanting to make your own, i would design a single invite or artwork on paper, and have it scanned into the computer, and then digitally reprinted. you can have it digitally offset printed by a professional printer, or try your hand at printing at home!

      • Erica

        Again, thanks!

  • alice

    I was greatly relieved recently, when I had an amazing revelation about our wedding invititations; which was that the majority of our invitees have not spent the last 12 months looking at wedding websites like I have. So, while I might have worried that our invitations were not fancy or creative compared to some of the ones I’ve seen online, our guests won’t be making that kind of comparison. In fact, I suspect most of them will actually be impressed to get something in the mail with a wax seal they have to break to open the invitation!

  • Lara

    Long time reader, first time commenter…

    I have to pipe in here to plug the miracle that is Etsy (this isn’t self-promotion, I don’t have a shop, promise!). My fiance and I are having a super small wedding in October (<25 guests), and we wanted special, beautiful invitations that wouldn't break the bank. I toyed with the idea of DIY but, knowing myself and my (mild?) perfectionism, I knew that it could end in stress/drama. Etsy to the rescue! There are tons of shops that will hand-make gorgeous, custom invitations, save-the-dates, correspondence cards, etc.

    We ended up paying less than $100 for everything, and our invites, save-the-dates, and correspondence cards are beautiful, quirky, vintage-y, and importantly, finished with minimal stress. Ok, now I will plug for Beth at Queen of Cups (http://www.etsy.com/shop/thequeenofcups) who did everything – she was so wonderful! I much preferred the Etsy route than the WIC- or DIY-route. Just a suggestion!

    • Amy

      Etsy saved my sanity for many, many wedding related purchases (including my husband’s ring!). It was such a good option for homemade (just not by me) touches.

      • wasabi

        Yes! I threw my plan to Gocco programs out the window, and just got on etsy. Definitely a sanity saver.

  • Yay paper! I fell in love with pocketfolds (a little cliche, I know, but they’re so organized and pretty!), but we had to get a little creative because the budget certainly didn’t allow for the fancy letter press variety designed and assembled by someone else. We designed them ourselves (mostly in Microsoft Publisher with a little bit of work in a free 30-day trial of Adobe Illustrator) and then had them printed through the same company that we ordered the pocketfolds from. We also visited a local store in Minneapolis (Paper Depot–if you’re in the area, I highly recommend it!) to pick out some of the paper in person. My wife fell in love with a purple hemp paper, so we found ways to incorporate that in too. We then assembled everything ourselves. It was a long process and still wasn’t cheap, but we LOVED the way they turned out in the end so it was all worth it.

    But seriously, as others have said, if you don’t care much about invitations, don’t spend a lot of time and money on it. Put your energy and $ into the things that really matter. For me, that was invitations and programs (not paper overall–I didn’t give a crap about the STDs, so I was thrilled by the dirt-cheap postcards we got from VistaPrint.)

  • meredyth

    Nice timing! I just finished printing invites and doing the first step of the invitation decoration. Paper Source fit into the budget I’d set for invites and it made me insanely happy (in a slightly WIC way) that I got to use them rather than go a cheaper online paper route. I’ve always thought to myself that when I got married I’d love to use their paper, but also thought it would cost too much to do that. Fortunately it didn’t and that little part of my brain that lusted after pretty details got satisfied while my logical one did too.

    But I’d like to also mention to count carefully. We’re having 90 guests so I got 100 cards/envelopes not thinking about the fact that some of these guests are kids, dates and others who don’t need an actual invitation. Once I finally realized that I had twice as much paper as I needed. But, I also forgot about inserts with the RSVP & wedding info so I’m going to cut the extra paper in half. Oops!

  • I’m relieved to get the affirmation that STDs are not strictly necessary. We didn’t do ’em, mostly because we’re lazy and it seemed like one more thing to do. And also, if I’m being honest, the term “STD” does creep me out. (We did send some emails to people being like: hey dudes, we’re getting married! but they were not fancy emails with graphics and pretties.)

    I had moments of wistfulness when I got my friends’ super cute save the dates in the mail (which are currently gracing our fridge) but mostly I’m glad I held fast. I love save the dates and think they’re super cute, but they are not really what I wanted to spend time and effort on (see: lazy). Plus, not doing save the dates meant that we got our asses in gear on our invitations ahead of time, so people will get the actual invites with plenty of notice.

    • Ha ha, my husband and I laughed so many times over STDs and made many a joke. We also have the maturity level of 12 year olds.

      Our STDs were postcards we designed and had printed from Vista Print, I believe.

      • Amy

        I think the only reason we did save the date cards was that we wanted an excuse to actually use the engagement photos we took. So our save the dates were really lovely photo postcards that were the full extent of my wedding-related crafting. Totally optional, but fun.

        • Yeah, that was definitely part of the reason I kinda wished we did save the dates. As it is, probably our engagement photos will be seen by our moms and … that’s about it. And I really like the photo cards. But, meh. As Alyssa pointed out, this isn’t the last time in our lives we will send cards, and in the future I plan to send cute photo cards of my kidlets.

          • wasabi

            Definitely not necessary! I sent them because that’s what you do when you are having a destination wedding/lots of out of towners, right? Wrong, that’s just the WIC talking. Some thought they were the invitation (though clearly not the case), most ignored them and didn’t really start making their plans until they got an invitation. Just get the invites out good and early, say 8 weeks prior instead of 6.

  • Stephasaurus

    Another option: I love the idea of plantable paper. We’re doing that for our STDs (heheh) and requesting people plant them, then take pictures of the resulting flowers to send back to us with their invitation RSVP. We’ll display the pictures somewhere at the reception, if enough people actually follow through with our plan (which they better!) — and even if they don’t, it won’t really matter because the save-the-dates will still be earth friendly and biodegradable!

  • Jen

    I have one piece of advice about invites, although it’s not really related to paper so much. Send them out BEFORE the RSVP date. Otherwise people will get all uppity and think they were part of some “second tier” of guests and that they weren’t on the original invite list. EVEN THOUGH they received their invite in the mail the SAME DAY as the best man. Ugh.

  • Pingback: A Small Treatise on Paper « A Practical Wedding | Printing Invitations()

  • wasabi

    Thank you! This post is full of wisdom I found to be true. Plus, I feel much better about my “subtle” invitations having read this. They turned out great, but not what I had in my head before I knew what anything cost.

    So, here’s how I did it for anyone, who like me, REALLY wanted letterpress but it didn’t fit in the budget:

    Invitation Printing, Design, and Paper: StarShaped Press $395 for 75 flat cards printed on an old fashioned press on thick recycled paper (awesome vendor that I was thrilled to support)
    RSVP: $5 to buy postcard image from Card Cow; $25 to design and print my own RSVP postcards on VistaPrint (everyone loved these and we saved on postage, win-win)
    Envelopes: $40 for A7 luxe envelopes from paper source
    Addressing by Penned and Pretty was 90 cents an envelope (my handwriting is awful)

    Grand Total (before stamps): $528

    In the end, I got the letterpress and hand addressing I wanted, and I’m OK with the price. Did anyone notice my that the invites were letterpress? Nope. But I like them and appreciate how they were crafted, and there will be future opportunities to really indulge my paper obsession.

  • We printed all of our paper things on my Canon printer/scanner. I had come into some serious nice paper several years prior and we used that and then bought some matching envelopes. I did the layout on Print Shop and we had them trimmed at FedEx. We used a scrap booking corner trimmer thing for a little extra pizazz on just one or two of the corners (all of them would’ve been overkill). And I was so beyond giddy to send them out and have people get them. It was our first chance to share our wedding prep with everyone and it was great.

    • Oh. And I designed a chimpanzee image (that looked like an abstract circle design unless you knew what to look for, so it was still “classy”) to put on our RSVP postcards so we got a hundred or so postcards with chimpanzees on them. That thought still cracks me up to the point of tears.

  • “The rest will probably lose it and call your mom two days before the wedding to verify the time. Keep that in mind.”

    zomgthatissotrue. my own father asked for the time, location and wed-site address a week before the wedding.

    I (not the husby) picked a completely ridiculous, four-part suite with envelope liners. the initial design was free, but the loveliest font was not. I designed a corresponding info-piece with map and ordered (expensive) envelopes. then I (we, during the latter, loco phase) printed tons and tons of sheets, then cut 4, assembled 3 with glue dots, folded 2, tied bow on 1, bundled, addressed and stamped.

    it was most definitely *not* the cheapest option. neither was it anything resembling the easiest route. but it was suuuuper pretty (at least 3 people appreciated them), and I have a new bff at jerry’s art-a-rama, where 25-sheet pads of gorgeous 120lb cotton paper were $3.

    regrettable decision? not really, but they were so labor-intensive we didn’t make even one extra for our album.

  • Rachel

    “You will be told that your invitations will set the tone for your wedding. This is a very nice idea. It’s also crap.”

    This is so funny! When we were designing our invitations I asked my sisters (who are also bridesmaids) to help out and one of my other bridesmaids – my housemate – was also around. They told me this same thing – and specifically that the fact that I was wearing a bright green coat in one of the photos that I wanted to use would make people think that bright green was one of our wedding colours. My fiance and I just thought that was hilarious and couldn’t really imagine that people would think I had gone out and bought a coat in our wedding colours to take a picture to stick on an invitation so that the invitation would set the tone for our wedding. So we giggled to each other and used it anyway. I wonder if everyone will get a shock when they turned up to the wedding and everything isn’t bright green!

  • I take pleasure in, result in I found just what I was taking a look for.

    You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you
    man. Have a nice day. Bye

  • Amber

    OMG I needed this…Every decision in the wedding planning has been easy-except invitations. I’ve always loved fancy paper, letterpress and stationary, so of course I want my invites to be PERFECT. I can’t afford letterpress, so everything else makes me feel insufficient. *deep breath* it’ll be great no matter what.
    Saving this one, I know I’ll come back.