Lessons Learned from DIY Save the Dates and Wedding Invitations

Stalking. Because Google Analytics.

Stalking. Because Google Analytics.

This week our wedding invitations are arriving in homes of friends and family across the United States. We know this because of the text messages celebrating envelopes reaching their final destination as well as traffic from Google Analytics. Because of course you want to put GA code on your wedding website to see who is looking up information on your venue and booking a hotel room.

Throughout this entire part of the planning process, Dayle and I held firm to the DIY nature of our Save the Dates and Wedding Invitations. Lots of research was done before we came close to anything resembling the final product, and we went through a lot of test versions before making final prints on card stock. I’m by no means an expert on this stuff but I figure it’s worth documenting some of my lessons learned. As I won’t be needing to make wedding invitations again, ever, consider this my attempt to pay it forward.

  1. This above all: Pinterest. I’ve said this numerous times on my podcast and elsewhere, but I now understand Pinterest. Yes, there were more creative and elaborate invitations and save the dates within the infinite scrollbar of Pinterest, but the key with all of that searching was idea gathering. Like the color scheme of this one? Pin it. Like a phrase of text used on that one? Pin it. Want to see how other people arranged a folded enclosure card? Pin that too. Of all the online resources at our disposal, Pinterest was by far and away the most useful.
  2. Sketch. Test. Test Again. I wish I saved all of the napkin notes we made throughout this process to see how many of them made it to the final version of what we sent out. This may seem like a no brainer, but paper stock is not cheap, which makes testing all the more valuable. We probably went through 7 different printable versions of our invitation card on ordinary paper before we considered testing it on paper stock.
  3. There’s Fancy, and there’s Fancy. Avoid the second one. To add a little flair to our invitations, we purchased a hole punch designed for corners. In theory, this was great. In practice, the results may vary. As excited as we were to have something like this on our invitations, attempts at mass production revealed a design flaw in the punch that resulted in a perfect cut maybe 10% of the time. There’s nothing wrong with a simple, more straightforward approach to designing these things. At the end results will still be spectacular.
  4. Once you’re done, save everything. Twice. Who knows if you’ll need to print an emergency invitation for someone you forgot or if you smudge a stamp or an address and need to start fresh. Make sure your final designs are easy to print and compose. This includes cutting guide lines for smaller elements, which saved my butt way too many times.
  5. Related: Buy a guillotine. There will be a lot of paper. Paper that needs to be cut. Scissors aren’t nearly as fun. This is what we have. You can thank me later.
  6. Etsy is your friend, too. I’m not a Photoshop wizard. Luckily, you can buy creative elements on sites like Etsy for a very reasonable price and incorporate them into your final design. Need a tree in the shape of a heart? They’ve got that. Love birds? No problem. The good thing is that these are digital downloads and once you pay for them, you are well within your right and ability to edit them. So, with a little effort on your part, you can make sure your color theme(s) are incorporated throughout. Piece of cake.
  7. Don’t get cute with the Post Office. As I previously mentioned, we put our return address stamp on the back of our invitation envelopes. This turned out to be a bad idea. Apparently the forever stamp is not enough of an indication of the front of an envelope for whatever sorting technology works the back end of the USPS. Fancy lettering is fine, but when the time comes, stick with the traditional layout of an envelope. Thankfully, the people working at our local Post Office were quite patient with us.
  8. Paper Source is great, but the Internet is better. We invested a lot of money in Paper Source over the past months. But as great as it is to see color combinations in person and feel the paper you’re dealing with, don’t forget that the Internet can connect you with dozens of paper suppliers that will likely have a much wider selection of colors and styles for you to choose from.
  9. Make it You. After all the decisions and exhaustion and occasional stress, I wouldn’t change a thing about how we approached this entire process. It’s our wedding. Every piece of it needs to be about us. It needs to be us. No pre-formatted template was going to accomplish that. We did it our way, and I’m forever grateful.

I’m not a professional. And I certainly don’t know what I’m doing. But if you need them, these takeaways should set you in the right direction. Good luck.

Image (linked) via giphy.com

3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from DIY Save the Dates and Wedding Invitations

  1. One more lesson learned you may have forgotten to add: Weigh in! We had already purchased “Forever” stamps for our invitations AND RSVP cards, but then we decided to weigh all the components of a single invitation together and… it was 0.5 ounces overweight. Fortunately the post office is prepared for this and the needed 70 cent stamps are available in a few lovey “I do” options. But we should have weighed the materials first to save us a little trouble. 🙂

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