Happy Friday, y’all! Today we’re talking pretty paper + invitations (one of my very favorite topics of conversation)! There are so many crazy talented stationery designers in the wedding world; I am constantly in awe of the amazing pieces they’re churning out. In fact, I worked with a wonderful designer on the invitations for my own wedding.
But, I understand that for creative or budgetary reasons, some of y’all will want to create the paper pieces for your own wedding. I get that — after all, I created the entire invitation suite for my sister’s wedding by hand! So if that’s you, I say go for it! But, I’ll also say that time and again I have seen DIY paper projects spiral into a bottomless pit of angst, indecisiveness, tears, tedious evenings of assembly, and many, many extra dollars.
So today, Nicole and I have put together a few of our favorite tips for creating an invitation suite by hand, with the hopes of helping you avoid the most common pitfalls!
1. Start early! Y’all. If there’s one tip you take away from this post, please let it be this: start the design process WAY earlier than you think you need to. I guarantee there will be hiccups along the way, and you’ll be far less panicked about them if you know you’ve built a cushion into your schedule. We suggest sending out your invitations eight weeks before the wedding, so flip back in your calendar AT LEAST two months before that for your starting date!
2. Collect inspiration. At the beginning of the process, it’s okay to dream! See what your eye is attracted to without restriction. Pinterest, of course, is great for this. Once you’ve got a collection going, start to look for patterns: What colors are you drawn to? Do you like simple modern designs, or elaborate, swirly calligraphy? Rustic textures or gold and glitter? All of the above? :)
3. Take stock of the resources you have available as you narrow down your inspiration. This is where it’s time to inject a dose of reality, and focus on the nuts and bolts of what you’ll ACTUALLY be able to accomplish with the skills and resources you CURRENTLY have. Have a design program like Adobe Illustrator? Great! A professional program will give you the most flexibility. Working with Publisher or even Microsoft Word? A simpler design is probably better. If you want a more elaborate, layered suite but know you won’t be able to accomplish that on the computer, plan to add embellishments like a belly band or liner after the main pieces have been printed — and see tip 7 for some of our favorite resources.
4. Acquire resources as necessary. For example, there are SO many free fonts out there ripe for the taking. Nicole has mapped out some of our favorite combinations above. Search for these on DaFont.com, Fonts2u.com, FontStock.net, and ManMadeDIY.com. Another tip is to consider hiring a professional — at least selectively. For example, a custom lettering of your and your fiance’s entwined names can be such a showstopper that the rest of the design ceases to matter! Most calligraphers will charge between $50-$150 for a digital file.
5. Edit and polish your design. Unless you’re a professional designer, remember that simpler is usually better. When you think you’re done, we’d challenge you to step back from your draft and try to remove one element: a color, a flourish, a font (we recommend to sticking to just two). The “DIY look” is usually a result of trying to cram too many things into one project!
6. Send that baby to the printer! There are so many inexpensive and simple options for invitation printing, but one we like is DigitalRoom. Remember to read the upload instructions carefully and export/format your file correctly! And remember to factor shipping into your timeline.
7. Add the finishing touches. A colorful envelope, a patterned envelope liner, or a ribbon belly band can be the perfect way to add a little pizzazz to your suite before sending it off in the mail. A few resources we like: Paper Presentation for envelopes + liners, Paper Mart for ribbon, Paper Source for patterned paper + little embellishments, and Olive Manna for twine and sweet packaging goods. Of course, there are tons of Etsy shops that have gorgeous ephemera, too!
8. Keep your expectations realistic. Friends, have grace with your wonderful selves. Again, unless you’re a professional graphic designer, your invitations are probably not going to look like a professional graphic designer made them. Truth. If they are authentic to who you are, and succeed in alerting your guests to your wedding, then we’re going to call them a success, and think you should, too, even if they’re not “Pinterest perfect.” And give yourself a pat on the back, because you just checked one thing off your wedding to do list — hooray!
Tell us: Are you creating your invitations from scratch? Or are you working with a delightful designer? We’d love to hear in the comments!