Thursday, January 17, 2013

DIY Invitations? Don't say UH-OH! Read this first!

©Image created by Hugh McLeod - Artist, Cartoonist
Printing your own wedding invitations can be fun and exciting.  It can also be scary, tedious and in the end a hot mess!  Keep in mind that if you're thinking of doing your own invitations to save money, it may cost you more in the long run!  Here are some things to think about before venturing into this project.

Printer, Toner, Cardstock - Oh My!
Now here is the big question and the first you should ask yourself as this will drive your future decisions, what printer are you going to use?  Why is this so important, well, as a printing professional with over 20 years in the industry, let me tell you, not all printers are alike.  Inkjet printers are great - but NOT for metallic paper stock!  They run or the colors look flat and muted.  They can be a big mess! 

Laser printers can produce fantastic results, but not on textured paper {such as felt or linen} or some envelopes, oh dear, don't even get me started {that's further in the blog anyway!}.  And some laser printers will curl the cardstock or not be able to pull the thick cover weight through it's winding print path.

What are your printers margins?  Most printers need 1/4" - 1/2" all around for printing.  So you won't be able to purchase cut cardstock and have the art go to the edges.

You may want to find some sample stock to test on your printer before you commit to doing them yourself!  If you cannot print them yourself, perhaps you can design them and have a professional help with the printing and finishing.  We are happy to print and finish our bride's designs if she would like to set up her own art {Quick Tip - talk to us prior to art set up!}

Paper, Paper and more Paper!
Now that you have figured out the printer.  Where do you get paper stock?  There are a number of online resources and they often will let you order samples, but this can get cumbersome and shopping around is not always easy and gets overwhelming quick.  There are different paper weights {cardstock vs. text weight} and different textures {matte, metallic, felt, linen - just to name a few}.  Not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of colors! 

The best idea is to go to your local stationer that will sell you just plain stock.  At our shoppe, The Birds & the Bees, ltd. we carry several paper lines and a vast selection of colors, textures and weights.  We also have swatch books that you can actually see the color, feel the paper and see what you are ordering, without needing to pay for a sample and wait anxiously for the mailman {Quick Tip - they may even have extra stock you can request to test print!!}.

Getting Creative
So, you've selected your paper, and you ask, where do I begin with design?  We use professional design programs such as CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator.  However, if you are limited to what you have on your home computer, I strongly suggest test printing on plain paper stock.  Before you print to your actual stock.  Make sure the alignment is what you are after and the fonts look how you imagined.  It can be surprising what looks good on the screen may end up too small or too large or simply put - not good.  Remember this is the first impression your guests will see, take your time, don't rush the process.

Fonts are a great way to dress up your invite!  You can download free fonts at or some beautiful typography at  Whichever you choose, again, printing out a sample print is key.  Some free fonts look great on screen, but are not as sharp and clean as those you might purchase.

Looking for some decorative elements?  One thing I cannot stress enough - do NOT use Google images!  To start, the images you find online are not free to use.  Images are copyright protected by the originator {ie., artist, creator, designer, photographer,etc.}  You may use art if the site you find it on says it is royalty free for personal use or you purchase the rights to use the art on sites like or {stepping off soap box}.

You will want to keep mindful how you set up your print files.  You can what we printers call "gang up" the cards to conserve paper stock.  Usually you can get multiple cards on an 8.5" x 11".  You'll want to arrange them on the 8.5" x 11" and print crop marks to use in trimming.

Ok, so you have figured out the printer, the paper stock and the design elements.  Now, how are you going to cut these beautiful invitations?!  Your local stationer or print shop can also assist with this.  You'll want to make sure they are clean edges and straight, and quite frankly you do not want to make that many cuts - your hands need to look great for that ring shot remember?!

The little details will add up too!  Ribbon, adhesive, scoring, ink and embellishments will be additional items to consider.

Let the countdown begin!
Give yourself plenty of time to complete your invitations!  This project will take you longer than you think.  Assembling can take up to 3-5 minutes per invitation, let alone all the set up and print time {Quick Tip - Inkjets print SLOW! We suggest ordering your invitations at least 4-6 months before the wedding.  If you are doing them yourself, give yourself the same amount of time!  You'll want to get them in the mail 6-8 weeks prior to the big day and you don't want to have some late nights of assembly!
Adding it all Up
Be sure to price out all the parts for your project and be sure to calculate the time you'll be spending on this craft.  Is it worth the time and effort {and possible stress and aggravation} you'll endure? Pulling your hair out before the wedding does not make for pretty wedding photos!

No comments: