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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!

emily Written with love by Emily
5 Comments
  1. avatar Elise reply

    I am going to try out creating my stationery from scratch. I have about 5 months till my wedding and since I have gotten pretty good with Adobe Photoshop we decided it could save us some money to put my skills to use. Of course, if it starts to go south I’ll jump ship and order some.
    I’m even considering printing them myself if I only have black ink. I don’t want to risk cheap-looking colors. I will add a pop of color with envelope liners or ribbons.

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  3. avatar Vicki reply

    Hi Emily, how do I get your favourite free fonts. Much obliged. Vicki

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  5. avatar 12 Favorite Collections of Free Wedding Fonts | BonFX reply

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My sixth and final National Stationery Show recap contains some SUPER Southern gems. Let’s get started!

I just about died and went to Southern heaven when I walked into the Belle & Union booth! It was their first time exhibiting, and they sure bowled me over. Expect to see a lot more of this Southern goodness coming at you over the next few months!

Of course, old favorites are always nice to see, too, like our talented friends at Rifle Paper Co! Did I tell you that they designed my future sister in law’s wedding invitations? They did, and they were beautiful!

Up next was May Books, another new one to me. I loved their colorful patterned covers, and their motto – “life is too short for ugly notebooks.” Indeed! These customizable gems would make another great bridesmaid gift.

I was so excited to get to the Fig. 2 Design booth, not only because I love Claudia’s invitations and stationery, but because we had recently been corresponding about a fun collaboration for V5! You’ll have to wait until the fall for the reveal, but it’s goooood!

I loved this sweet little ribbon and gold shimmery backdrop at the Great Lakes Goods booth.

Don’t you love traveling halfway across the country only to meet someone from the next town over? That’s what happened with This Paper Ship, one of my favorite new exhibitors! Their booth was so cute, and I loved that they’re our Chapel Hill neighbors.

I thought this month-by-month watercolor calendar from Fine Day Press was especially beautiful.

As always, Dear Hancock had some beautiful hand-drawn and watercolored cards, but I especially liked their new product, the stand-in peony, which is meant to sit on your desk when you can’t have fresh flowers! Such a sweet idea!

The fill-in card for the year you were married was my favorite design at the Double Bravo booth. Again, such a great frame-able keepsake!

Flywheel Press was showing an assortment of adorable and just plain cool cards. I’m not even sure how those metallic, ombre-looking cards were printed, but they were really neat!

Last but most certainly not least was Rebecca from Wild Ink Press. I loved her sweet + cute greeting cards! Also, her business cards were THE COOLEST.

And that concludes my coverage of the 2012 National Stationery Show! I hoped you enjoyed seeing all the paper goodness that was on display this year. Let’s give one last huge thank you to Cyn Kain, who snapped all of these photos for your viewing pleasure!

In case you missed a segment…
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Until next year!

Cyn Kain is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
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    Paper, paper, everywhere! By this time, my and Cyn’s feet were getting a little sore (she had actually changed from her heels into flats!), but we pressed on, all in the name of paper!

    The Smock + Bella Figura booth is reliably one of my favorites – it’s just so colorful! There patterned boxes were a hit as usual, and I liked seeing their new notebooks, as well. It was also a pleasure to meet Erica, who I have worked with often over email but had never met in person before!

    Next up was the Ladies of Letterpress booth, where several talented (you guessed it) letterpress printers exhibit together. We loved the sweet cards from Moglea. (Bottom image by Nole from Oh So Beautiful Paper!)

    These wine bottle tags by Tella Press were quite cute, and would be great for dressing up wedding or thank you gifts.

    Also at the LoL booth were Shauna and Stephen, the geniuses behind Something’s Hiding in Here, Forage, and now, Seed House! I love these fill-in advice cards as a stand-in for a traditional guest book.

    Pink Orchid Press designed this darling card which made me think of our Florida brides!

    A card all about mason jars?! You know we loved this one from Petal Press! (And aren’t their little business cards adorable?)

    Sweet art prints from May Day Studio. These would be pretty hanging at a reception, too!

    That’s it for today, y’all – coverage will continue next week! Let’s have another round of applause for Ms Cyn Kain, who snapped these photos!

    NSS 2012 Part 1
    NSS 2012 Part 2

    Cyn Kain is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    emily Written with love by Emily
    5 Comments
    1. avatar Bella Figura in the Press, Summer 2012 | Letterpress wedding invitation inspiration | Bella Figura reply

      […] our invitations on their amazing sites! BRIDES, Green Wedding Shoes, Oh So Beautiful Paper, Southern Weddings, Invitation Crush, Blue Bergitt, Paper Crave, Racked, Charlotte Lucey, and Woodsy […]

    2. avatar Stephanie Jacobs reply

      Hi- Can you please tell me where I can find the calligraphy stationary suite (picture #2)?

      Thank you!

      • avatar Emily reply

        Hi Stephanie and Courtney! That suite is “Simple Charms” by Bella Figura! Here’s the link: http://www.bellafigura.com/letterpress/simple-charms.html

    3. avatar courtney reply

      Please let me know who makes the calligraphy invitation suite in the second photo?

    4. avatar Wedding Planning Tips: How To Set The Scene On Your Big Day reply

      […] Photo by Cyn Kain via Southern Weddings […]

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