How To: Stamps and Envelopes

After putting so much effort into the wedding invitations, I wanted the accompanying envelopes to look as pretty as possible. While I already owned an envelope liner template (Paper-Source, AGAIN!) I had to decide whether I was going to use just one envelope with the invite enclosed, or go fancy with two envelopes, an outer envelope with the invitee’s name and address and an inner envelope with just the invitee’s name. How could I resist being a little bit fancy?! After consulting Martha regarding some etiquette questions I had about addressing the envelopes, I went to work.

I decided to go with navy inner envelopes and eco white outer envelopes, both from the Paper Source. I used the same pearlized filigree paper from the belly bands to make the envelope liners for the inner navy envelopes

Pearlized filigree paper lined the inner envelopes – it coordinated with the invitation belly bands!

but decided to leave the outer envelopes unlined.

While the whole “print out script and retrace in fancy pen to look like calligraphy” plot did NOT work on the STD’s, given the color and size of the navy envelopes, the result was much more satisfactory for the inner envelopes. Once I had set up a word template to the dimensions of my envelopes, all I had to do was print (and print, and print, and print again) each envelope (using Scriptina font), then retraced with a gold pen.

I used three fonts during this whole wedding process: Albemarle swash, scriptina pro, and copperplate gothic. The names here were printed in albemarle swash, with black ink on the navy envelope, then retraced with a gold pen

I love the contrast of the navy and ecowhite envelopes!

I decided to use the same printing strategy on the outer envelopes as I did for the STD envelopes – navy font, with names in Scriptina and addresses in Copperplate Gothic Light. Not only did this 1. save money (no calligraphy cost) 2. save time but also 3. kept a theme going. Yes, this is just a small detail, but it was nice to continue the use of the Scriptina/Copperplate font combo.

sorry for the less than stellar photo – this was taken waaay after the fact….after I dug my invitation out of my scrapbook. The originals were prettier and uncreased!

Once again, return addresses were stamped and embossed with the stamp I purchased on etsy. Do note the awesomeness of calligraphy in the picture below, however. If your budget allows and that’s what you’re into, I say go for it! Even better if you have nice handwriting and can pull off doing your own calligraphy. The results can be super-gorgeous.

When it came to stamps, I was in a conundrum. I wanted something special (of course I did, ha) – you know, something delightful and whimsical like the invitations featuring vintage stamps that you see featured on wedding blogs these days:

Vintage stamp look

The problem was the fact that I did not want to pay more than face value for my stamps (OK, not too much more than face value) and I wanted them to be relevant to some sort of theme. Since birds were already a part of our wedding, I began searching the internet for bird stamps. I found this link, which featured all the US-issued bird stamps – and I noticed that smack in the middle, was a US state birds series. YES! 50 stamps to a set. Since I had been to the Post Office for a pre-mailing-weigh-in, I knew each envelope, with the exception of the one going to England, would cost $1.00 to mail. I had 70 invitations to mail, which meant I just needed to track down 7 sets of the state bird stamps to mail all my invites. The same site also featured some tropical bird stamps that would be enough to cover the RSVP post cards. If I could find enough stamps for both the invites and RSVPs, I could stick with my nice little bird theme.

State Bird Stamps!!

eBay became my new best friend (and remained so through more than one search for the perfect wedding-related item!). With a bit of strategic planning, I was able to buy enough bird stamps to cover the postage for all of my invites and RSVPs. This often took patience – I couldn’t (budgetarily) afford to get caught up in a bidding war that would push the price of the stamps to more than face value. Since I was looking to send out invitations in July/August for an October wedding, I did have time to bide my time waiting for people to post bird stamps for sale.

When it was time to put the envelopes together, the Tape Runner XL was my friend once again – it saved me from stamp and envelope licking. I loved the effect of the bird stamps too!

Once again, I turned to my etsy-purchased return address stamp and trusty embosser for return addresses on the back of the envelopes. I found a platinum-colored stamp pad at Paper Source that I just loooved, and used some clear embossing powder to complete the look.

Return addresses

More invitation tips:

– when assembling invites, write the RSVP # (if using) on a mini post-it and stick it to the outside of the invite. That way you won’t have to re-open an assembled invitation to check the RSVP #

– keep track of RSVP #’s on a spreadsheet – I created a new column next to everyone’s names I had on my address spreadsheet and filled it in accordingly

– ask if you can hand cancel your own envelopes at the Post Office. The PO near my office promised to hand cancel, and the lady there even hand cancelled the first few envelopes in front of me. Then the rest were dumped into a bin as soon as I left because they arrived streaked with black (from the sorting machine I assume) and generally beat up and crappy looking. I KNOW #firstworldproblems but seriously, if you or a calligrapher puts that much work into something, you want it to arrive looking decent, even if your guests are tossing the envelope in the recycle bin the next day.

– make sure everything you need to include in the invitation is in there! We found out a few weeks after sending out our invites that we would need menu selections ahead of time after all (we had been told that guests could choose their meal at the reception – but to be fair, we were told that nearly 2 years before our wedding and things change! We should have double-checked!) In the end it was ok, we scrambled, made menu cards and got back everyone’s meal choices, but it would’ve been far easier to have sent out those menu cards with the invitations!!

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

Ok, Pt I left off with the anticipation of some manual labor (and a word-heavy post – this one is picture-heavy and therefore, more fun!). Pocket folds, colors, and envelopes had been chosen, CatPrint had finished out printing order. Time to assemble!

Assembling the pocketfolds was a decent amount of work, but we only had about 70 invites to pull together, so this was done in a day. I set up a little wedding-invite-assembly table in my parent’s porch:

It helps having all the supplies you need in one place!

And of course after falling in love with the copper paper from Paper Source, I realize that in order for it to even show, I’d have to cut down the excess edges on my invites. Argh! Luckily, my sister lent me her great paper cutter.

Cutting down the edges

Oh, another important note here – adhesive. Let this become your new best friend:

Taper Runner XL – be sure to choose the “Permanent” adhesive so your wedding invites don’t fall apart!

This little thingie dispenses adhesive when you roll it along the edges of whatever paper you’re planning on sticking to your pocketfold. You don’t have to worry about the lumps and bumps glue and glue sticks leave behind, plus there’s no drying time. When you’re doing a big project like wedding invites, it may seem as though the tape runner doesn’t last very long, but it’s totally worth it. Stock up on a few refills while your in the store. I still have a couple of these babies (of course I bought multiples in my planning-induced fog) and I use them making cards and gift tags – they’re great!

Make sure everything is centered! You can reposition a little once the adhesive is on the paper, but it’s not a good idea to be moving everything around.

I decided to put a navy piece of paper in the pocketfold to serve as a backdrop for our inserts

Once the main invites were in place, our inserts were ready to placed in the pockets. We included RSVP cards, an Additional Info card, and of course, our map.

Our lovely RSVP cards were part of our invitation suite from A Printable Press:

A Printable Press’s “All Lit Up” RSVP

RSVP – We stuck with postcard format so people could just drop the card in the mail. We did all we could to maximize RSVP’s including giving people a lengthy cushion for sending it back to us!

I saw a tip online about using an invisible ink pen (readable with a UV light) to number each RSVP in case they were sent back blank. Though I thought this was a little silly I did it – which came in handy when we received multiple RSVP’s back without names!

I used some flat card packs from Paper Source to print up the Additional Information card and ceremony/reception maps.

We included this “Additional Info” Card in the invitation – it listed the address of the reception site, hotel information, and the address to our wedding website

Our wedding map was a labor of love (more on this later) – since the distance between the ceremony site and reception site was less than three miles but not exactly direct, I decided to include the map along with the other inserts.

Wedding map! I’ll explain how I made this in another post….

Completed wedding invitation suite – I thought it looked snazzy!

With the pocketfolds complete, we just needed to add the finishing touch. As I mentioned in the Pt I post, I took a wedding invitation class at The Paper Source, which is the first place I had ever seen/heard of “belly bands” – a piece of ribbon or paper that goes around your pocket fold to keep your invitation closed. Totally unnecessary, but very pretty nevertheless. I thought I’d go with the paper I had used to make the vellum STD envelope liners, but I found a piece of flat paper at The Paper Source that kind of blew my mind – pearlized ivory filigree paper that was just the right combo of subtle and elegant:

Pearlized Ivory Filigree paper from The Paper Source

It looked wonderful layered on top of a navy piece of paper. We completed the look with a gold piece of DMC thread.

Is it vain to admire your own handiwork? Probably. But I have to say, I loved the finished product so much, I made one for myself to scrapbook.

Spare invite for me to scrapbook

I was going to talk about envelopes, calligraphy, and stamps next, but if I’ve managed to hold your attention this long, you deserve a break. More on the rest of the invite details later!

Our photog took this fabulous picture of our finished invite – make sure you send your photographer an invitation (or have one on hand for them) – this is the first page of our album!

How To: Let Loose the STD’s

Yeah, I know that sounds ten kinds of wrong…but I like it that way.

So the Save the Dates have been sent. Finally. It was a birthday gift to myself,

and I did feel the smallest twinge of relief shoving them into the mail slot at

my local post office. I wanted there to be some sort of big emotional, I dunno “feeling” I guess, kind of like sending off your college admission acceptance forms or something, but honestly, I was so tired of looking at those damn

things, I felt almost nothing. The feelings came later when guests started emailing and facebooking about how they liked the std’s. That made me very happy and I admit,

totally self-satisfied. I was like “ha. All that work SO paid off.” Of course I simultaneously thought this “screw hand calligraphy-ing, DIY pocketfolds, and any other insane ideas I had for the invites, these were hard enough.”

Eh.

Anyways, the STD’s were a process, mostly because 1. I didn’t buy enough paper to make the number of envelope liners I needed the first time around 2. I constantly messed up when printing envelopes and because I am slow on the uptake, instead of running a test paper through the printer to recheck alignment, I’d run a fresh envelope through there. UGH.  I threw away about 20 envelopes! 3. I had the world’s WORST corner-round puncher 4. I dragged my feet. I never set aside a time to just finish the project.

Despite this experience being a long, drawn-out “process,” I was, as previously stated, very happy with the results, and in retrospect, if I had just had my sh*t together, things would not have been so difficult. Here’s a photographic journey for you (complete with cats, as I started the std’s whilst housesitting):

Never ever buy a corner punch like this. It will hurt your neck and shoulder and you will get stigmata-esque blisters on your palm!

OK. So. When I had the std’s printed, I chose a matte finish on high quality paper. In white. Ugh. Since we’re aiming for an navy/ivory theme, the white came off as pretty garish, especially when compared to the cream envelope. Plus I wanted to print the wedding website on the back of the save the date, and the thought of putting my newly-printed std’s through my printer freaked me out. Instead I decided to buy some paper the same size as the std card in cream and simply double-side tape roller it to the std. This was an easy project until I decided to round the corners on the std’s, requiring separate “rounding” sessions for both postcards and backings. Yes, it was an insane decision….but I really liked the result:

Most people probably think me INSANE for putting so much effort into the corners, but I like the finished look.

Next, it was time to throw those cream cards through the printer. I decided for a simple message referring to our wedding website. I took a chance with navy font – my printer is not the most up to date technology, and I had just replaced the ink cartridge, so I was a little wary of how the navy font would appear on the cream colored paper. Luckily, this part was relatively easy.

Luckily, I liked how the navy font looked on cream paper...

The kittens just wanted to play. Kitteh says “I mock ur efforts”

Kitteh also says "No more DIYing!"

As a little bonus to the wedding party members, I made an extra notecard for each of their std’s. Because guests have already started reserving rooms in our hotel block, I really wanted to give the wedding party a little nudge about reserving rooms. Their std’s went out a week ahead of everyone else’s. I hope they believed me when I said rooms were going fast…

I remembered to send these to each of the wedding party members...except one groomsman. Whooops.

Now you all know how I ‘trol the wedding blogs. Weddingbee is a particular favorite, and I discovered the glory of DIY calligraphy on the ‘bee. Look at this post – DIY calligraphy has never been more glorious! or easy!! RIGHT?

WRONG.

Things started OK. The size of the std envelopes kept me from choosing a larger font size, but I figured that this wouldn’t be a big deal given my mad calligraphy skillz. I had practiced with a fabulous gold pen on a piece of paper. It’d be pretty much the same, right?

Gold text. Blech.

The “gold” I chose came out this ugly greenish color. Yuck. But I didn’t get too stressed about it – I was going to trace over it with my sparkly gold pen.

Scriptina is not a good font choice for DIY faux calligraphy

Oh disaster. I hated everything about the look of this envelope. The pen was messy, the tracing took away from the beauty of the Scriptina font. Ugh. I  set aside envelopes to work on the liners, a particularly odious task. After finishing with those, I had to stick the backs with the website on them to the std fronts. They really looked beautiful:

The Save the Dates from Printable Press are really lovely

Next, I worked on getting the liners in the envelopes. It was NOT as bad as I thought it would be, especially because I had had, at some point, the sense to invest in a bone folder, which made refolding the envelope flap post-liner insertion much easier. I also chose to put the std’s in the envelope with the backs facing out to make sure that people saw the website…in case they don’t tend to turn their mail over. I know I’m insane, believe me, I know.

The vellum liners looked even nicer than I hoped!

I had bought a return address stamp on Etsy a few months ago – and totally loved the final result. I eagerly stamped away at our bridal party std’s and let them dry overnight, for almost 12 hours. I gathered them together the next morning, planning to lick them and stamp them at the office before work. When I arrived in Boston and took my invites out they were streaked, yes STREAKED with blue ink. I can’t even tell you how PISSED I was after all that ridiculous work. Luckily I had this:

The Magic of Magic Rub. Source.

This was left over from my calligraphy days in college, and has a history of getting me out of many scrapes and disasters. The std-pocalypse was no exceptions – no, it did not erase every trace of navy ink streaking the envelopes I so lovingly printed and lined, but it made them send-able. I did have to redo two of the worst-looking, but all in all, Magic Rub saved my ASS. Needless to say, I had to come up with a plan for my remaining 87 std’s, which is where my embosser came in handy. I bought some clear embossing powder, moved to a big table and stamped and embossed about 10 envelopes at a time. Easy-peasy.

I had to learn the value of embossing the return addresses the hard way

Once the embossing was finished, the only thing left to do was lick and stick…with coordinating stamps of course:

I liked the final product!

So there it is. I settled on navy font, which saved me an enormous amount of time compared to DIY faux-lligraphy, plus I came to really love the combination of scriptina and copperlate gothic. I am even thinking of reviving this look for the invites, but I am still vulnerable to being sucked into the vortex of faux-lligraphy. Anywho.

Next up are the invites. A bit daunting, considering I’m trying to save some cash by making my own pocketfolds. Part of me says “GO FOR IT!” Then I remember all the std drama….but then again, I think “maybe I’ve learned all my lessons and the invites will be flawless!” Hmm, here’s to wishful thinking!

Sadly, there will not be any kitties involved when it comes to invite making, unless Jam buys me a pet kitten, lol. I think that’s ok, since they became about as anti-save-the-date as I did:

NO MORE - I hide my eyes to make the crafting go away..

I have taken the paper cutter hostage. No MORE wedding crafts!