Broke-Ass Tag: stationery


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As I and many of my fellow Real Brides will tell you, DIY is a great way to save some dollars.

IF you’re crafty.

IF you know where to get supplies on the cheap.

IF you’ve got buttloads of free time.

I tossed around the idea of designing my own save the dates, but when MagnetStreet was running a great sale (and they do that a lot), I ended up ordering save the dates and invitations at the same time so I could take advantage of $150 off a $500 purchase and got the whole shebang for under $400 for 75 save the date magnets, invitations, RSVP cards, guest info cards and all of the envelopes.

Shannon and Woody's save the date

The ordering process was a breeze: Most of MagnetStreet’s designs are completely customizable from the colors to the fonts and when Woody and I couldn’t decide which of our engagement pictures to use, there was a great design that used two images. The package was delivered in a lovely box, neatly packed with all of my stationery pretties. I probably could have saved a little by designing and printing myself, but the estimated $50 savings wasn’t worth the sanity I would have lost. Remember the super-trendy engagement party invite I told you about last time? Yeah, that took me over a week to design and cost me over a buck a piece to print.


BUT I still wanted to leave a little DIY mark as I addressed the envelopes and mailed our save the dates. I felt like something wedding-related needed a little more pomp than regular ol’ black pen scrawled on the envelope. “Let’s do calligraphy in gold!” I said to myself. Let’s be honest, myself is a bitch with no respect for my time.

Shannon Calligraphy

As lovely as they turned out, I spent five hours on a Friday night before my hand was cramping and I was so cross-eyed that I had to employ reading glasses (when up to this point I thought I had perfect vision). Four hours isn’t that bad for all that writing, you may think. Honestly, four hours in and I had 24 out of about 70 envelopes written on … but that was just names. I began to develop an affinity for my loved ones with short names with “i”s and “l”s over ones with “M”s “C”s and “G”s, which is adorable seeing as my last name is McConathy and I’m marrying a Graham. This text to my best friend sums things up well.


I had visions of ornately calligraphed names and addresses taking up the front of the envelope, but in the end, gold gel pen filled in the address part. Because, time. I started looking through the list and figured single guys couldn’t give two shits about gold calligraphy and just started writing their names. Because, time. My handwriting got decidedly less neat. Because, time.


Once I got all of the writing done, I noticed all the fine pencil lines directing my pen in a straight line. So used up an entire eraser deleting those and trying not to ruin the gold paint pen.

Then I had to stuff.

Then I had to seal.

Then I had to stamp.

Then I began to wonder whether I was ever going to hand-write anything again. I signed my name on a bar tab and it gave me flashbacks.

All in all, I spent about 24 hours on save the date addresses. It was a labor of love for about 10 percent of that. The rest of the time I think I was just keeping up appearances and being bull-headed about finishing what I started. But what did I save by addressing them myself? I looked up calligraphy services and the prices range between $4 and $6 an envelope! So yes, it was a huge chunk out of my weekend, but I also didn’t have to spend $300. I twitch a little when I think about the fact that now I have to do that all over again with the actual wedding invitations, but I’ll sacrifice my time for something pretty and almost free. (Three pens cost me about $12.) Hey, at least I ordered those bitches three months ahead of time!

So has anyone else bitten off more than you can chew with DIYs? Do you pay a professional or settle for less? Let us know how you handled it in the comments!

  • 2/9

    Carrie + Zach 58

    Credit: Bright Fizz Photo

    I downloaded one of those wedding countdown apps a few weeks ago out of curiosity. Just how many seconds were left until we said “I do?” My biggest shock though came in realizing that, duh, January to June is FIVE months, not six. We had missed the six month mark, when I told myself that I’d have to actually start making hard decisions instead of continuing to do research on my lunch hour. So January got a little crazy for me, and now, it’s February (a.k.a., four months, two weeks, six hours and 10 minutes).

    Basically, if this whole post ends up being tl;dr: shop small, shop local, go with your gut, ask everyone you know, and don’t be afraid to ask for a payment plan. After seeing the countdown clock tick faster and faster (or so it felt), I allowed myself a few days of panic, but then gave myself a deadline of the end of January to have some big decisions made and contracts signed. Let me tell you how amazing it feels to have so much crossed off my list:

    • Catering: In my last post I questioned whether I should take a leap of faith and try a caterer whose food I’ve never tried. In the end, though, I realized that I needed to go back to my original vision: Tacos. You guys, I love Mexican food so much. So does my fiancé. So does all of my family. And we live in Los Angeles, which has some of the best Mexican food in the country, outside of Mexico. Why was I bothering with anything else? On a whim, I checked the website of my absolute favorite taco stand in the city, MexiCali Taco & Co. I swear six months ago they didn’t have a catering link on their website, but now they did. I reached out, got an immediate answer from their awesome proprietor and sent in my deposit last week.
    • Cake: L.A. brides, one word: Porto’s. Actually, six words: Cuban cake with mango cream filling.
    • Music: After having a whole DJ vs. iPod playlist existential crisis, I went ahead and asked on Facebook if anyone knew any good DJs. I got tons of great recommendations, and even got some great tips from one company about what to look for in a DJ, after I told them they were outside of my budget. But, as I had secretly hoped would happen in a city like L.A., an old friend whose boyfriend is a professional DJ messaged me. We’re meeting up in a few weeks, so more on that later.
    • Rentals: If I had any advice to give newly engaged brides, it’s that all-inclusive venues are a generally a great idea. Since that wasn’t an option for mine, I called a place nearby my apartment with reasonable rates. After calculating which items were cheaper to rent than to buy, we settled on tablecloths, napkins, dishes, and wine glasses. I could possibly have shopped around more, but I got such a good vibe from them that I knew I should just trust my gut (and Yelp).
    • Dress Alterations: Facebook came through once more with tons of awesome recs. But once more, I felt such an instant connection with a seamstress my BFF recommended that I decided just to go with her and not look around anymore. I dropped my dress off last Saturday to have straps added and all the usual fit issues corrected; not only did she already have all the materials I needed in her shop, but she also quoted me significantly less than I was expecting.
    • Save the Dates and Invitations: After a kind of crappy experience with Vistaprint on my Save the Dates (more on that later), there was no way I was going to use them for my actual invites. I LOVE graphic design, and though I’m by no means a pro, I designed both my save the dates and my invites myself. I found a graphics/print shop near by my house with great reviews, and got a sample printed on some Paper Source bulk paper the shop recommended. It looks amazing, and I’m going to save about $100 by buying all the supplies myself, versus using a professional invitation company.
    • Wedding band: My fiancé bought my engagement ring from a jeweler’s stall in an antique mall. Luckily he restores and recreates jewelry too, so we were able to melt down an old white gold ring and have it remade into a band that perfectly complements my current ring. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Plus, he was able to break out a payment plan and provide a slight discount because we’re paying with cash. This is another huge tip, especially if you’re using smaller, more local vendors.
    • Decorations: We were able to find an awesome stained glass piece at another antique mall, already on sale but again with the payment plan/cash discount. We brought it home a few weeks ago and are currently on the hunt for more antique pieces for our altarpiece – between Craigslist and haunting my local thrift stores and salvage shops for the next few months, I’m feeling pretty confident we’re going to have a pretty bad-ass creation to share with you after the wedding.

    I think I may take a break from wedding planning for the next week, since I’m starting to feel like a broken record with my family and friends. But the next big task is something hopefully a little more fun: finding bridesmaid dresses!

    Elissa Stooker
  • 10/17

    Happy Friday, everyone! I'll be traveling to Charlotte, N.C., in the morning for a meeting with some of our partners and to see a friend, and Dana and Paul are officially on the second leg of their epic honeymoon tour, chilling in a great hotel in Seoul. But I'd never take off without leaving you with some great deals and discounts to help you kick…

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    It's almost the weekend, BABs! And that means I've found 10 smokin' deals for you, to make your weekend and wallet a little happier. From art to online yoga classes to clothing and more, there are some seriously amaze discounts and offers this week! Looking to spruce up the walls in your home? Save 25% on all orders of Art, Prints, Posters, Fine Art, Decorative…

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    OK, newbie BABs, by now you've probably looked through hundreds of pages of websites for those perfect wedding invitations that exemplify your fun, yet chic and colorful wedding theme. And you've probably ogled over countless letterpress, cardstock, fonts, and color options...all to be heartbroken by the uber costly price tag at the end. Well, rest easy, darlings. has the easy-on-the-wallet wedding stationery respite you…

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  • 2/13

    Oh, hey, newbie bride! Got that guest list done? Are you now working on those baller wedding invites and scouring the Interwebz for the cheapest yet most amazing ones you can find? WELL, YOU CAN STOP. Invitations by Dawn has a ridiculous amount of beautiful and shockingly wallet-friendly options for you. Want it quick 'n' easy? Want fancy-pantsy? Want ALL THE THINGS? They've got it covered.…

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    YOU GUYS. (Sorry, I didn't mean to yell, but this is important.) Invitations by Dawn. Let's chat, shall we? I must admit, I'm a pretty serious mom-and-pop-store lovin' kinda gal. And when it came to my wedding invitations, I wanted so hard to keep it small, but with my 200 invites, it proved a difficult task. So, being the resourceful Interwebz maven I am, I…

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    Be honest, do you have all the addresses you need nicely organized in one spot? Or do you have some in email, some in Google Docs, some in your cute little address book that you bought and swore to use (whoops!) and some on random scraps of paper strewn throughout your abode? And then there are those that you could swear you've written down a…

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  • 10/19

    This  is our very last crafty guest post from the fabulous Autumn from Sugarflower Design! Did you miss Part I or Part II? Be sure to check them out here…and here!   I'm back for my third and (sniff, sniff) final installment on the ups and downs, dos and don't of DIY'ing your own wedding stationery. We've already covered the potential pitfalls of DIY, and ways to keep your DIY design fly. But,…

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