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How To: Make (sort of) Your Own Invitation Suite Pt I

Bear with me, dear readers – this one is a bit LOOONG.

Invitations are obviously a huge part of the wedding planning process, and a big part of the wedding itself, for most people. When it came time to figure out what to do for our own invites, I had read enough bridal magazines, trolled enough wedding blogs, and received enough wedding invitations to have an idea of what I did and did not want. I wanted a definite DIY component to our invites, but I wasn’t sure how much I’d want to take on. I also wanted the invites to reflect our style and color scheme, and I loved the idea of the wedding invitations themselves tying into our reception venue, something you see more and more on the ol’ wedding blogs. We could go with some quirky, like hankie invites, or even do an evite thing – but we decided we are paper people. Or rather, I decided I wanted to be paper-oriented, mostly so I could torture myself with as much DIY as possible, pick out vintage stamps, and scrapbook the rsvp’s. Thus the hunt began for the perfect invites.

Here were our requirements – our invites had to be: pretty, fun but a little formal, feature attractive fonts, appeal to the rustic fabulousness of The Barns, and maybe come in navy or have navy elements. Oh, and it had to fit in the budget, which was fairly loose, but I wanted to keep it as small as possible, so basically any fancy paper companies, engraving, professional calligraphy, etc, was out of the question. Could I have the pretty-fun-whimsical-rustic-elegant invites I wanted on a budget?

I decided to start at the beginning – I’d take a Paper Source wedding invitation class to see if I had the power to DIY our whole wedding invitation suite. I had a blast doing this – it was a great decision. I learned about all of the Paper Source paper products, and I learned how to emboss! I also learned that an entirely DIY suite was not for me. The things I learned during this class would come in VERY handy later though, so the workshop was worth every penny of the $15 I spent.

Next, I aggressively trolled wedding blogs for a “designed by someone else, printed by you” option. I decided I wanted to try and find STD’s, invites, and RSVP cards that were pre-designed. Any other additions to the invite suite (menu cards, maps, etc) I decided to make myself. I’d also worry about the envelopes, pocketfolds, printing, and mailing. Through one blog or another, I discovered Printable Press. They had the PERFECT invitation suite called “All Lit Up”

“All Lit Up” by Printable Press

It had everything we were looking for – the invite was navy, the fonts were fantastic, it was a “print your own” company, the design embraced the rustic, whimsical elements of the Barns, and though we hadn’t decided to add string lights to our decor just yet, in the end, the invite proved to be the perfect match for our wedding by featuring the string lights we’d add later. Almost as if it was all planned 🙂

Working with Kimi at Printable Press was sooooooooo easyyyyyy. I’m pretty easygoing (though I heard later, after the wedding, “we thought you were going to be a bridezilla and you totally weren’t! It was great!” Um, thanks?!) and I’m hoping I was easy to work with! After sending Kimi the customizations she needed, she sent the proofs. I showed them to husbando, we decided we loved them, and that was that. The design charge was $190. Can you even believe it? The whole process took just a few weeks (I ordered these in December 2009, 10 months before our wedding, so we were working with plenty of time), from initial contact to pdf proofs.

Next came the “where to print?” question. Since we chose the All Lit Up design, we knew we wouldn’t be printing these color-heavy invites on our own printers. At the time, Printable Press recommended CatPrint (they have new recs on their, site, check them out if ordering from them!) I liked CatPrint’s options (mostly their off-white options for the RSVP cards) and prices ($26 for our Save the Dates, and about $90 for the invites and RSVP cards). They were great to work with. I also visited Cards and Pockets because I loved the idea of pocketfolds. That site allowed me to order a few pockets in different sizes and papers so I could experiment.

Once everything arrived, I pulled together the Save the Dates. Next, I focused on the invites. The pocket folds from Cards and Pockets did not work. I didn’t like the set-up and the colors were wrong. They cost less that Paper Source pockets did, but a quick visit to my local Paper Source (with printed invites and RSVP’s in hand) showed that it was worth spending a few cents extra per pocketfold to get what I wanted, which was the A7 folder invitation enclosure in ecowhite. Ecowhite was just “off-white” enough for my taste, plus cheaper than the luxe option in cream.

Next up, I decided I did want to bring in a third color for the invitations. I was thinking gold, but again, a visit to the Paper Source to look at my options changed my mind completely. A7 Notecards in Copper Shimmer were the right size and color for the background.

Once the invitations were printed and the pocketfolds and background pieces were chosen, most of the hard decision work was finished. Next up, manual labor time!

How To: Make Your Own Hair Flower

I absolutely loved the veil I picked out when I bought my wedding dress. It was the perfect length and style, and I thought the beaded lace trim matched my dress perfectly. Recently, when I was preparing my dress and veil for cleaning and preservation, Jam noted that while my dress probably wouldn’t be worn again as a wedding dress (another story for another time), I should make sure I keep the veil preserved, because it’s “so pretty, it could become a family heirloom.”

View of the Veil

Another reason to love the veil: I could drape it strategically across my arm to hide a little flab

All veil love aside, the thing I didn’t love about it was that it was a little weighty. I imagined my head tilting backwards by the end of the night, weighed down by beaded lace…plus I wasn’t in love with the headband I had bought and insisted that I’d be ditching that after the ceremony (which I didn’t, but whatever), so in one of my many self-indulgent moments, I went to etsy and bought myself a hair flower:

Hair Flower from Brenda's Bridal Veils on Etsy - isn't Etsy the BEST?!

The plan was to have my friend Jen put the flower in my hair early so no one would have to carry it or remember it pre-reception, placing it low enough in my hair that it wasn’t a distraction. I think we pulled it off just fine in the end.

Hairflower, headband, veil - rockin' everything at once...

My sister saw my hair flower and really liked it, and she might’ve even hinted around that she wanted one. We-ell, what she did know is that I wanted her to stand out and feel special as my MOH, and if that meant having a hair flower, I was all for it. What she didn’t know is that I had bought her a special clutch for her MOH goody bag:

MOH clutch, also an Etsy purchase

and, as much as I love my sister-bestie-MOH, I had kinda stretched the budget and couldn’t swing a $50+ hair flower….but…I really wanted to make it happen, so I hunted for hair flower tutorials. Luckily, I only had to look as far as weddingbee to find this fantastic tutorial by Mrs. Pineapple. Simple, straightforward. I could totally do this (oh, and at this point we were t-minus 7 days to the wedding I think) – and do it fast.

My sister and I went to Michael’s and JoAnn’s for supplies, and found the fake flowers at each place were gross. We ended up at AC Moore, on the hunt for the perfect navy flowers. Ugh. Horrible selection. In the end we decided to go with cream colored flowers instead – better selection by far – with navy beads in the center. This was one of the cheapest DIY’s I did for the wedding – I bought silk peonies, beads and a barrette. I had clear beading line at home that I was planning to use for the assembly, so the final price for this was less than $10.

I wish I had taken pictures while doing this project, but I didn’t 😦 the good thing is it’s SUPER easy 🙂 I took apart the silk peonies (I think I bought 2) and arranged the pieces of the flower by size. I just stacked the pieces, one on top of the other, rotated the petals here and there, added some small pieces to the top, ’til I had the look I was going for, then glued them together with a glue gun. While you could finish the flower with a glue gun, I don’t trust glue, so I chose to sew the rest. We chose a bunch of navy crystal-like beads and sewed them in the middle of the flower. Here’s another tutorial from wedding be that explains the sewing process a little better. Once the beads and petals were secure, I sewed the flower to a barrette with some clear beading line. I went over the barrette with as many rows of stitches as I could without adding bulk to ensure security!

It took less than a half hour to make my sister a hair flower, but we both loved the results. Everything came together so beautifully, and I loved the fact that we were the only two rocking hair flowers on the wedding day:

You can see my sister's hair flower peeking out of the side of her head...

Here's a better view of the flower (she's cracking us up, clearly)

As you can see, the hair flowers stayed put. We are probably gossiping here, tee hee.

Knowing now how easy it was to put this flower together, I would’ve probably made my own (not that mine wasn’t absolutely lovely, but I could’ve made one for a fraction of the price I paid!). You can really dress up a DIY one with feathers or rhinestones – or better yet, a really fabulous rhinestone button or sparkly pin for the middle. If you have the time, why not make one for each of your bridesmaids? If they don’t want to put it in their hair, you could put a pin on the back and your girls could put it on their dresses or purse…the possibilities are really endless for this fast and fabulous DIY project. Plus, now that you have the skills, you could make a coordinating hair flower for any fancy occasion!

Fantastic DIY Idea!

I know I’m jumping right in with the craftiness before going over bridal party intros or the dress post, but I found this project today and was too excited not to share.

Bridesmaids gifts are important to me for a lot of reasons. It’s a lot of work being a bridesmaid! Plus all of my ladies have to travel at least two hours to get to our wedding – I want a nice “thank you, you rock” gift to hand each of them the night of the rehearsal.

I always planned on giving them a bag full of goodies (which shall go unnamed, just in case any of the ‘maids are on here poking around. I want it to be a surprise!) While I am a crafty girl, I was hoping to avoid sewing totes. There’s the affordable paper bag option, but a keepsake sounded a little nicer, especially if the ‘maids ended up hauling anything around with them the day of the wedding from hotel to church to reception. I am a hauler of goods and go to work every day with a huge purse and a tote – I understand the need for “haulability.”

I thought about Vera Bradley’s for everyone, something pretty that would match the dresses:

My Vera totes have never let me down, they’re washable, foldable, carry a ton of stuff….oh yeah, and they run about $45 a piece. Not that my bridesmaids aren’t worth that, because they are worth all that times about a million…but if I want to stuff each of these totes with goodies, $45 each isn’t gonna fly. Plus I recalled one of the ladies likening my beloved Veras to “old lady bags.” Now EE, if you are reading this, I know you and I share the Vera love…but not all the girls do…so moving on to the next big idea.

I was having my eyebrows waxed and my rockstar aesthetician asked me what I was giving my ‘maids. I told her a few things, then I said that I wanted to pack them all in a tote. She thought it was a great idea (she is super-opinionated…but in a good way, ie if she thought the idea was a piece of crap she’d tell me, so I was glad she thought the tote thing was cute!). She suggested monogramed llbean or land’s end totes, you know, the famous boating totes:

These are awesome, and I totally love mine (did I mention I’m a bag person?) but the only one that touches the budget is the small size. Again, I have a small and LOVE it, however, it’s still kind of out of the budget range and it’s a bit small for what I want to use it for – so even with the monogram deal (free monogramming for LL Bean card members) this didn’t seem possible budget-wise, unless I ordered one tote a week. Meh.

Last night I finally resigned to the fact that I would be making these totes. I figured I could get some bulk-pricing on canvas fabric and sew totes with cute liners. Maybe I could even hand embroider them. I came into work this morning and started googling. I found this gem:

Complete with tutorial (both photo and tutorial found here)! It takes a craft store tote and jazzes it up with a fabric paint motif and monogram. Hello perfection! I think this is cool and pretty enough for the girls to want to use again, and it’s certainly within my budget and large enough to fit all kinds of great stuff. I mentioned before that we’re featuring a ton of DIY projects throughout the course of this wedding, but this is certainly my favorite find thus far, so much so that I might prioritize this project for my housesitting stint! When I do take it on, I’ll come back with a full report and pictures.

Not Ready Yet!

Hello All,

This is Allison here. Jamaal and I got engaged in March 2008, and I set up this blog as a way to keep friends and family updated on the planning process and eventually, all the wedding details. Stay tuned – plans are still in their infantile state, we haven’t even set a date yet! We will both be able to update the info on this site though, and promise to get started soon 🙂

-Allison