Invitations (how-to guide to ~ )

From virtually day 1 of the engagement, Groom & I both knew we would do our own wedding stationery and were very excited about the prospect. I have pasted below some notes I sent to a friend who was also looking to make her own invitations, so it’s quite a hands-on post. But I know I found these kinds of posts useful when I was in planning mode, so hopefully it might help someone out there. Groom & I designed and printed our own invitations, envelopes, place cards, table numbers and thank you cards.

We were always wanting to do our own designing, but the printing we weren’t sure about. Both of us love letterpressed invitations and love nice cotton papers and things but the cost was prohibitive. In the end, we bought a new Canon colourjet printer for $169 and bought packs of 50 of nice card in colours we were happy with from art shops and the cost was much more manageable. And – we were thrilled with how they all turned out.

The new inkjet printers are amazing. We had heard stories of people having to handfeed every sheet of paper and that it might take hours to print a few – but our new one was great, really fast, did lots of 20 without any hand feeding and had perfect print quality. (A big thank you to All Said & Done whose own posts on the subject convinced me we could manage it too). And – now we have a printer at home! The only thing I will say is that you will need to replace your colour cartridges a couple of times probably and they’re $20 a pop per colour.  I think the card we chose cost around $20-$30 per packet from Deans Art (we went to the shops in Lonsdale St, Gertrude St and Sydney Road and cleaned them out of ivory I think!). You can pay over $2 per A4 sheet for fancier papers, including cotton papers that will go through a modern printer. We simply could not afford that cost.

In relation to the design – we had a rough idea of how we wanted the invitations to fold and how each segment should look. We loosely based our design on advertisements in old French fashion magazines (which we found pictures of on the internet). I drew the protea which formed the background, did a few test drawings to see how it would work replicated as a pattern, then Groom brought it all together on an Adobe program – he is very good with proper design programs. I think from memory one of us scanned the image on a photocopier at work and brought it home on a USB plug. We spent ages looking for art deco fonts on the internet and found one we liked that we could download and use for free.

With the envelopes, I opened up some envelopes at home and played around with the shape until I had a template that opened out to no bigger than one A4 sheet, and which was the right size to fit our invitations inside. I then measured the sizes and angles and replicated the outline on a design program on the computer. I found free downloadable damask patterns online to sit inside the envelope and printed back and front so that we could pre-print a return address on the back. We then printed these on plain reflex paper in a creamy colour on our printer at home and hand cut and glued them. It didn’t really take that long to cut and glue 100 of them – maybe a few hours I think.

I made the placecards also using the computer (having done some by hand first to see how I liked it) and then hand cut the bit that stood up from the top of the front. Groom designed the table numbers using our protea pattern again and one of his favourite deco-style fonts. After playing a bit on google maps to work out where all the major roads were, I designed the maps myself, again on the computer.

I wrote names on the invitiations in calligraphy, using a dipping fountain pen and a bottle of ink – on the invites, envelopes and place cards. We bought some fixative and sprayed all the invitations with it (to avoid any smudging. Hair spray can also work for this). We also bought a proper green cutting matt, a good metal ruler and several stanley trimmers.

A few things to watch out for:

  • If you’re using downloaded fonts and taking the design elsewhere for printing, you need to make sure you have the fonts properly installed and may need to provide them to the printer as well.
  • If you’re printing anything at home, run a few test prints to check for colour, to see if the ink bleeds on the paper you have chosen (preferably before you have bought lots of it!) and to see whether you are happy with the textured or plain sides of the paper.
  • The other thing you will need to check (just use plain paper for this) is how the print setup and page margins work. This can be a total pain in the neck and took us several goes to get right. No matter how the design looks on the screen, it often creates margins in unexpected places so that things get chopped off when you print it. Be prepared to fiddle!

Protea design - Step OneIt's /in/ the computer!Tricky stuff - colour tests, margins and bleedingProduction Line #1Production Line #2The First InvitationCeremony location


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