Sunday, January 5, 2014

Evolution of the Wedding Invitation

The wedding invitation journey was a long one - many iterations and ideas spanning a couple months.  We went from an invitation that was super cool, innovative and non-traditional and ended with something that was still DIY and innovative but much more traditional.  This is a long blog post on the evolution of our wedding invitation.

It all started when I received a card in the mail from SAE International

It was a folding card of sorts, which you folded to reveal 4 different panes.  After a TON of googling (I'm talking a couple days and probably 2+ hours) I found that it was called an Infinity Folding Card. View this you tube video to see it in action.

That was it.  I was set.  This was going to be our wedding invitation.  It matched our personalities - it was fun, nerdy, innovative and simple - I could make it myself and we would save postage and have everyone RSVP via phone and email.  I went to work designing our prototype!

Eeee!  It was soooo cool!  It only had to past the parent test.  My mom and dad had to be able to open it up and figure out how to fold it to see all the information.  Easy, right?, it wasn't.  Mom was afraid that the older folks, upon receiving the invitation and having no idea what it was or what to do with it, would just toss it into the corner (hahah).  She said that if Grandma can figure it out, then you can go with it.  "OK!", I said.  Grandma had no issues with it..hah..  but alas, amid my mothers confusion and disapproval, I decided to explore another invitation route.

Along came the tri fold invitation!!  We would keep all the same information, still have people RSVP by phone or online through the wedding website, but put it in an easier to read tri-folding card.

 Say hello to iteration #2 of the wedding invitation!  (don't mind the cookies below..  ;)

My mom was generally OK with this rendition, although she was nervous about having people RSVP by calling her or via the internet.  I was set, once again, that this would for sure be the invitation.  Then I started showing it to some friends.  Most of them had no idea what the red image was above - it is Josh and I standing in front of our Chevy Volt.  And then with all the fonts going on and all the different colors and pictures it just seemed to be too much and kind of a jumbled mess.  So, when it came to actually ordering the invitations, I finally cracked down and created a more suitable and traditional invitation.  

The photo above shows the finalized invitation!!  I went WAY simpler with the colors and decided to just go with Red, Yellow, Orange and fall leaves and swans - which were our overall wedding theme.  Red, Orange, Yellow and Grey were our colors - hence the grey envelopes and text.

Notice now that there is no longer the option to RSVP online or via phone.  Since a lot of those attending were not computer saavy, I thought this to be the best option.  Not to mention I thought it would be easier to keep track of (and fun to save) all of the returned RSVPs.

So, where did I get these invitations you might ask?  Cards and Pockets!  This place comes highly recommended!  They work with you personally to finalize your design, emailing with you to make sure the design will fit appropriately.  I designed my invitation in Microsoft Publisher and emailed them a PDF.  After finalizing the design with them, I ordered a sample invitation, along with envelopes.  The invitation I went with was the Zig Zag Card in Cream Puff.  The envelopes were Dark Grey.

After getting the sample invitation, I mailed it to my mom to make sure it would make it OK and then had her mail me back the RSVP to make sure that it arrived back unharmed.  After successful arrivals both there and back, I ordered the invitations!

  I was so excited when they arrived that I made Josh take a photo of me opening the box!  haha  Inside were all of my pretty custom wedding invitations, the mailing envelopes and the RSVP envelopes.  The only thing wrong with the invitations was that the "fold here" line when folding the RSVP in half was not in the middle - there is always one thing that goes wrong, isn't there?  Better than spelling someones name wrong or the wrong date I guess ;)

Now, these invitations couldn't simply be stuffed in envelopes and tossed in the mail.  We had to: Address, return address and stamp all the invitations; Return address and stamp all the RSVP envelopes; Create perforations for the RSVP to be ripped off; and (most important thing ever recommended to me by my amazing bridesmaid Rachel) write numbers on the corner of each invitation so that if someone forgets their name - or misspells it terribly - you will know who the RSVP was from.

I was a bit picky about the addresses on the invitations.  They needed to be in white ink since the invitations were a dark color, but printers don't print in white.  I also wanted the addresses to look hand written, but neat.

I ended up using mail merge in Microsoft Word to print out all of the addresses on the envelopes in a light grey color - barely visible to the naked eye.

From there, I went over each and every address with a white gel pen.  I got so many comments on how great my handwriting was and how beautiful the invitations were!  I spilled all my secrets when asked how I did the invitations though - no, I do not have that great of hand writing!

My wonderful fiance went to work on putting postage stamps and return address stamps on the envelopes.  He was very good at this.  He tends to be more precise than me at these kinds of things and was a great help.

The return address stamp was bought on Etsy so we could have it personalized with our address and I could stamp all the envelopes with a white ink stamp pad.

Finally, I had to add perforations to all the invites.  Cards and Pockets was able to create the fold marks on the cards but not a perforation.  Sewing machines are very handy for this!!

I used my mom's old singer sewing machine because my new one will beep and stop sewing if there is no thread in the machine.  They must not have thought of the other uses of a sewing machine when adding this feature :P  hah

Grandma graciously helped with my endeavor by folding up each of the invitations after I sewed them.  Thanks Grandma!!

After numbering each of the RSVPs, I stuffed the invites - along with an RSVP envelope - into the mailing envelopes and used a sponge to secure the flap.

I also got pretty stamps from the post office.  Roses for the main envelopes and wild flowers for the RSVPS  :)

Then came the most nerve wracking part of the process - putting all your time, effort and money in the  mail and hoping they make it to everyone!

Knowing that I had already sent a trial invite to my mom and back made me feel better.  After reading some forums on wedding websites, I thought I might drop them all in a mail drop box, but when I got to the post office (where the box was) I decided to go inside and hope for a nice post master to calm my fears.  He ended up being very nice - weighing the invitation to make sure it would make it and taking my entire box of invitations instead of me having to stuff them in a mailing box.  After walking out I kept thinking of how I just handed over ~$400 to a guy at the post office...eek!  (in case you are wondering - all the invites made it safely to their recipients)

And there you have it - the long process of designing an invitation   :)   I can't say that we really saved a lot of money by creating them ourselves, since the printing and cost for envelopes added up, but I was very happy with how they turned out!

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