5/6 Real Bride Shannon: Be Honest with Yourself

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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!