It’s been a busy month! At the beginning of December, we visited our venue for a tasting event. They organize the event as a mini bridal show, so some local vendors also attend. We had lots of delicious food and met some great vendors. We actually had a really good time, but we left we lots of decisions to make.
That started the detailed planning phase of our process. We have all the big stuff, date, venue, photographer — now, it’s time for the small stuff, and I’m definitely sweating it! Here’s what I’m contemplating:
Do you really need to offer Level 3 appetizer? Is that extra $5 per person worth the amazing mini chicken and waffle skewer? Sure, it’s cool, but does anyone leave a wedding thinking how awesome the cocktail apps were? Should we add a pasta to the buffet? Do we need a carving station?
We picked a delicious cake flavor, but I’m thinking of offering a second option. Our first choice is a maple cake — perfect for Vermont and our brunch reception, and did I mention delicious?! Since it’s a white-based cake, I’m thinking of doing a chocolate option, too. She had a great chocolate espresso cake at the tasting, but some people don’t like coffee-flavor, so I’m debating chocolate-hazelnut.
How much information is too much information to include in the invitation suite? How early should we send them out? I want to send them out earlier since it’s a bit of a destination, in order to give guests time to plan travel. How long do you give people to RSVP? Is a month not long enough? Is two months too long? Who makes the final cut?
What kind of flowers do I choose? Do I really need flowers for the ceremony, to decorate the arbor, etc. when we’ll only be there for 15 minutes? Do I get bulk flowers and spend the morning or evening before making arrangements, or is it worth it to pay the florist to do it?
Do I REALLY need a seating chart? I went into the planning process totally against it, but all the “experts” seem to say you need to have them, that people don’t like a lack of direction. If I do one, then I need to come up with a display and escort cards. Sigh.
This is sure to be a topic all it’s own for a future post. Where to register? Online or in-store? What to register for?
To take one, or not? Where to go? And when? Should we go right after the wedding, or wait to recover from the craziness? Three days? A week? Longer?
So that’s the list swirling in my brain, all the little nitty gritty details and decisions. So how do you decide? Did you ever regret the choices you made? Flipping a coin is looking pretty good right about now!
I have to say, I’m pretty proud of how my wedding invitations turned out. I didn’t realize invitations were even something I cared about … until I did. Here I had come up with a whole big list of priorities and not-so-importants to try and be sure that I properly focused my efforts, limited funds, and time, and suddenly I realized super late in the game that something that was on List Two belonged on List One.
A shifting set of priorities isn’t always something that’s easy to acknowledge when you’re a Broke-Ass. It can mean you might be stuck paying more for something than you originally hoped and planned to. Our invitations were all set: They came with our wedding package from our venue. All we had to do was pick them out, send them our details and slap a stamp on them. Now, as we looked through the invitations available from our venue, and while they were all very beautiful none felt like us. If we didn’t use our venue’s invite, we had the option of receiving a credit instead, so we looked elsewhere but everything we looked at seemed to run in the thousands of dollars — way more than the credit we’d be offered. We seemed to be stuck. We’d have to compromise our vision.
Then I remembered something: Way back when we purchased our memorial candle for the wedding, we went out right after the fact and grabbed a couple of sets of printable invitations in the clearance section of Walmart. They were $4 a piece with 50 invites in each box and contained the envelopes and RSVP cards. We had bought them just in case. We figured if we didn’t use them, we’d sell them in a Facebook Yard Sale. Time was getting short s,o we decided we’d just use them. Matt loaded them into our printer, we chose some some nice wording and after weeks of ironing out our ceremony details, we printed out the invites and the RSVP cards.
When they were all printed, I realized that they didn’t really solve our problem: I still wasn’t really happy with what we were sending out. So I improvised! I looked around online for ways to dress them up. The simplest way seemed to be a pocketfold. I found a place nearby that sold them but couldn’t get to it before I’d need to send the invites out. It would’ve cost us about $70 more with them, but that’s not including the added weight that might’ve ended up costing us extra postage. Instead, I decided to take a trip to the craft store.
Matt, one of my bridesmaids and I took a trip to Michael’s craft store after work one night. I was in a straight-up panic. I wandered in a frenzy through the aisles looking for anything that might dress the invites up just enough to stave off my mania. And then I found books of red cardstock. They were all different shades. I was a little bit iffy on using them … I mean you’re supposed to order your bridesmaids dresses all at the same time to make sure they’re the same hue. Shouldn’t it be the same with invites? But here’s the thing: Not all your guests will see your invites at the same time. Even the most eagle-eyed observer might miss the difference in coloring. So we grabbed it. There were 50 pages of cardstock in the book, and the book itself was $5.00. We got two. Suddenly a plan was forming. The cardstock wasn’t big enough really make a pocketfold, but we could mount the invites we’d printed on it and go from there. I still wasn’t satisfied though. My bridesmaid brought up the idea of putting a ribbon around it, and suddenly it all came together. We searched through the ribbon and found just the right one and bought some spools of it (when all was said and done, that cost us around $15).
At home, we put our supplies together. I found some double-sided tape lying around (I looked it up, it would’ve cost us around $8 for what we used). We grabbed the paper cutter and some scissors and went to town. We set up an assembly line. Matt cut the border on the invites down and then cut the cardstock to fit around it.
I put the cardstock and the invite together using the double-sided tape and then put the ribbon around it and secured it, also using the double sided tape. It was beautiful … but there was still something missing.
Enter Real Bride Shannon’s post about her invites! Even before we had any idea we’d be in this position with our invitations, I had bought the Epson printer she mentioned in her post because I knew it would come in handy somewhere. Yes, another impulse buy but it paid off in the end. The machine prints out beautiful printed personalized ribbons and it turned out to be just the right touch to make me feel sated in my search for the perfect invitation. The small details do indeed pack a big punch. We printed out 4-inch ribbons using the spool of beige ribbon that came with the printer and stuck them on top of the ribbon that was already encircling our invites. Voila! it was suddenly exactly what I was looking for. We did have to buy a second spool of ribbon (we mixed it up and did red with gold lettering this time), but all in all it worked out perfectly. The total cost of the printer was $69.99 on Amazon, and the ribbon was $20 a spool separately, but we still have a ton of ribbon to use and a printer that we can use for other wedding items and beyond. Without these ribbons, our invites had cost us around $40 so far. The last detail we added were some business cards a friend of mine designed with wording I gave her. I got them printed up for around $15 on cardstock and cut them down to size myself. They included the directions to the church and a request for dietary restrictions. Depending upon what you count for the cost of the invites themselves, we spent between $85-$150 total for gorgeous set of invites we could really be proud of.
Our invites with the red and gold … a few details have been blocked out.
Even more so than that, these were definitely our invites. We had slaved over them for hours (and my cousins helped out too!) and stayed up late working on them. We spent hours watching movies and stuffing envelopes (which were addressed using our regular printer, no need for calligraphy for us), coming up with a whole new set of inside jokes along the way. At the end of the day, it was a much tougher route than just getting them printed elsewhere. But we saved a ton of money … and even more importantly we did it our way.
Our final product complete with all information! This one is a little less crisp than the other because it was actually a return to sender that got lost in the mail for a bit.
Note the extremely important self addressed inner envelope! There is nothing more embarrassing than getting one of these bad boys back and realizing you forgot to include the stamp.
Not having a perfect plan in place, or having your plan fall apart doesn’t have to be the end of the world or mean that you’re going to end up stuck spending ton of money (or with something you don’t love). Sometimes having what you think you want completely fall apart is the best way to have things fall together. Now, the RSVPs are rolling in, along with the compliments on our invitations. I can’t help but beam with pride whenever I think of them … not just because they’re pretty, but because they’re something beautiful my fiance and I created together.
Have you had any frustrations turn into beautiful results? Share in the comments below!
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