10/1 Real Bride Elissa: Best Practices for Stationery Design

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Affiliate Disclaimer NewThere are things I don’t miss about wedding planning: the seemingly endless hunt for affordable vendors, the DIY materials and 24-packs of craft beer piled up all over my living room, and of course the anxiety dreams where I show up to the church on my wedding day having forgotten to buy a dress, but it doesn’t matter because all my guests forgot it was my wedding day in the first place. What I DO miss, though, beyond having an excuse to buy sparkly jewelry, is designing. Knowing a proposal was on the horizon, I even designed the Save the Date below well before Nick and I were engaged (that I actually ended up re-purposing for our programs). I also mocked up a different invitation suite for each venue we seriously considered. Because it took so much brain-power, designing actually was a huge stress reliever for me during the planning process.

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I feel like invitations are deeply personal, a reflection of not only the style of the wedding but the ethos of the couple. Plus, you have to have to something that stands out on your friends’ refrigerators, right? I probably put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to have the perfect pieces – especially since they’re likely going to end up in people’s recycling bins – but after a long process of drafting and tweaking, I’m thrilled with how everything turned out.

WHAT I DID

  • If you decide to go your own way like me, and have access to some sort of image-creation software like Adobe Photoshop or PicMonkey, may I recommend DaFont.com? Most of the fonts are free to download, as long as you’re not using them to gain profit, and you can type in your own text in the preview box to see how your name will look in various scripts, for example. Just Google how to add font files to your computer operating system’s font library, and ta-da! Unique, professional looking fonts are literally at your fingertips. Designing everything myself also meant I could create continuity throughout my paper goods.ScreenShot457
  • I used VistaPrint for my Save the Dates, and went with the 7 x 5 commercial postcard option with a design on both sides. Surprise, the prices and quantities of the business products were much better than those in the dedicated wedding section of the site. I wanted a very substantial cardstock and chose the 130 lb. Premium Glossy option, as I read the colors can end up looking a little washed out on the heavier, matte choice. The back of the card is still matte, though, so it allowed me to write addresses and messages with ease.Overall I was pleased, but not in love with, how they turned out. Though I got a great deal via an online coupon, the colors still didn’t pop like I’d hoped (especially the font, which was significantly brighter in the original image). They also badly messed up my first order, resulting in a two week delay in getting my postcards out. But for the price and ease of ordering, they weren’t a bad choice.
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  • I was very unimpressed though with VistaPrint’s wedding paper samples, which I ordered for free from their site (and that also took three months to arrive). Nothing was the high-quality heavyweight, textured paper that I’d imagined for my invitations. PaperSource turned out to be an amazing resource. I got 10% off by signing up for their emails, and they also have occasional, more significant sales on all their products (last year, one was around Valentine’s Day). The Luxe cover weight paper had a subtle texture and turned out to be exactly what I had in mind. I also was able to mix and match the envelope colors (I used A7.5 for outer envelopes, A7 for inner envelopes, and A2 for the response cards) for a more dynamic look. Just to be safe, I bought more than I needed. I think I ended up spending about $120 because I didn’t catch them on a sale cycle.
  • My home printer just wasn’t going to cut it in terms of print quality, so I searched on Yelp until I found a local commercial print shop with an excellent reputation. I bought a small packet of the paper and took it in to the shop, who did a test print with my design to make sure the ink would adhere properly to the texture. Make sure to call the shop beforehand though to find out their image requirements (RGB vs CMYK color format, DPI requirements, do they need a bleed, etc.) and make sure they’re OK with printing on outside paper.
  • Once I was satisfied with the sample print, I went back to PaperSource and bought a bulk-size package of the paper. It took about 15 minutes and $40 for the shop to print AND cut my invitations and response cards, and I was out the door, ready to stuff envelopes. And one of the many benefits of shopping small and local is that they were willing to reprint for me for free when I realized that I gave them the wrong version of my file — thanks guys!
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OTHER OPTIONS

  • Gilt City has deals every few months for Wedding Paper Divas. They’ve got a great mix of trendy and classically pretty designs, and are pretty affordable once you have that coupon.
  • Some friends hired a designer via Etsy and sent her inspiration pieces. They got an incredible, one of a kind design, and paid a little extra to have her print all the pieces, so all my friends had to do was assemble them and slap a stamp on the envelope. Because their designer did work as a side business, she wasn’t as pricey as a full-service shop.
  • Etsy also has template designs available, where you pay a flat rate and get a customized design file to print yourself.
  • Don’t completely rule out the boutique stationery shops, though. My mom checked out a cute little shop in my hometown, and their prices for a full service package (design, printing of invitations, RSVP cards, and envelopes) were equal to, and in some cases slightly better than, the popular online stationery destinations.

Are you considering tackling stationery on your own? Have you tried it and came out with some extra tips? Share in the comments below!

Elissa Stooker
Elissa is currently trying to figure out what possessed her to go back to grad school, all while working full-time as a college advisor and planning her totally awesome garden wedding. Blogging for The Broke-Ass Bride is her much-needed break from writing papers about communication theory! A Southern transplant to the West Coast, her favorite things in life include Mexican food, useless trivia, and her snaggle-toothed rescue dog, Pickles. If you like pictures of flowers and puppies, follow her on Instagram at @socalliss, and on Pinterest at socalliss for all things wedding.