I’m pleased with the reactions to the invitations; everyone liked them (at least, everyone I’ve heard from), and the biggest comment was, ‘wow, a lot of work went into these!’
Too true. But I love a good paper project, especially one with multiple steps. I had a vision for what I wanted—definitely, chapbook-style, because as this is a destination wedding, I’d need to provide directions and information on area lodging, dining, and accommodations. I wanted something stand-out that people could bring to the area and use as a guide for the weekend.
However, wedding invitations have lots of pieces and parts, and so I had to incorporate all of that into the work’s non-traditional style.
Here’s a visual look at building the invitations from the ground up.
I knew what I wanted the RSVP cards to look like and had designed them when I was on a break up at the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony. What I didn’t know is how well the design was going to work: I could either print the text directly on the cardstock (as a folded card or a flat card, I wasn’t sure yet), print the text on the flecked paper, cut it, and paste it into the cardstock fold-over, or option 3: do a folded slip-in. Michele, one my “Moms,” came over and helped me complete the design and start the ball rolling. Here she is, playing with folding on scrap paper.
We decided to go with the folded-over cardstock version. Here’s the sample we printed on scrap paper to see how it would look. Font size was also an issue; we had to play with both the cover stock and the interior sizes to get them in balance.
Each sheet of cardstock would yield two RSVP cards.
A test run of the interior text piece on the flecked paper.
This may seem dumb, but Nathan bought me a color printer for Christmas and this was its first official workout (I had been without a printer for close to a year and a half, maybe even two). I videotaped a few seconds of the RSVP cover stock printing. Working with the stock is Michele; we’d counted them into groups of ten sheets so we made certain we printed the exact number.
The next step was printing the invitation covers, which I’d previously designed on Publisher.
My new printer, loaded with the invitation cover stock.
Again, I shot a few seconds of my printer running the invitation covers. I was very impressed with the machine’s speed; my old printer, on which I used to do my chapbooks, took an age to print things. Running 25 invitation covers took fewer than five minutes, not bad at all for a small color ink home-model printer.
Because of the wedding’s theme, gems were part of my original vision for all of the wedding’s coordinating material. That night I put a couple of the brown tourmaline I’d selected specifically for the invitations on one cover just to get a feel for how the finished product might look.
In an earlier blog post, I wrote about my passion for wedding invitations and the importance of textures and features. I wanted to do a “slip-in”—basically, something akin to those fancy pieces of tissue paper that come with the expensive invitations—to make it more interesting. Originally, I was going to use unbleached parchment paper, but before resorting to that, I wanted to see what I could find at Michael’s. These sheets of acetate were perfect—especially since they had faux writing on them.
A close-up of the faux writing.
Time to hand-address the RSVPs! I got the envelopes, the white wine and the Sharpie and set to work.
The first one I completed.
The entire box of envelopes, completed.
The next step was to place gems on the RSVP covers. My original idea had been to use brown tourmaline, as I’d done with the invitation covers, but I thought rubies would pop, so I picked them up at Michael’s.
Turns out I was right. The rubies looked great.
A shot of the RSVP covers after I’ve put gems on them.
I folded all of the text inserts. Here are all the parts of the completed RSVP.
While I can do repetitive tasks just fine without music, I prefer to have something to listen to—usually a movie commentary, documentary, or music. On that night it was music. Here I’m listening to Brahms’ “How Lovely is They Dwelling Place.”
The 12 x 12 sheets of acetate needed to be cut to fit; it took a little bit of play (the smaller ones you see at the top of the photo I still have—they were an error and I’m sure I’ll figure something out). I finally got the right size. The acetate wasn’t easy to slice on the paper cutter because of its weight.
My friend Maureen was coming over to hang out and watch a movie. We decided to place all the gems on the invitation covers. Not a job I minded doing on my own, but it was much more fun to do it with someone.
Here’s Mo, showing off her gem design.
Here’s me with one of my designs. We had stones in different shapes, and besides the brown tourmaline and diamonds I’d bought specifically for the invitations, we decided to use up the rubies left over from the RSVPs.
One of Mo’s designs up close.
I always enjoy a weekend at home, especially when I’m deep into working on a project. Here’s what accompanied me for a full Saturday of invitation-related activities.
Welcome to my office! That’s Paranormal Activity 3 on the screen, overlooking the paper cutter (there were a few other projects I was working on that day besides invitations; I believe I also made the table place cards and favor box inserts, which required the cutter).
This one is a shot of my printer running the invitation interiors. I’d spent a few days writing and designing the invitation interiors on Publisher, and printing them all correctly was a challenge since my printer doesn’t run two-sided automatically. I had to figure out how to print all the booklet-style pages so the backs wouldn’t come out upside down; I ran one side, and then the second side. I was more concerned about figuring how to print the correct pages, however—if you’ve ever printed a chapbook then you know that page 1 probably has page 1 on the right and page 8 on the left. Fortunately the trick on Publisher is to click on “Pages” and put 1-1, 2-2, or whatever page you want next in the sequence, and a dialogue box comes up and asks if you’d like to print it as part of the whole booklet or as a separate booklet. This made it easy; I was able to click on “whole booklet” and the printer would run the correct pages. It took several hours to get everything done correctly.
Stacks of the printed interiors went into a sturdy box until I was ready to assemble.
My friend Manzino’s comment on the invitations was “those were a lot of work, I could just see stacks and stacks of crap all over the place while you were putting them together.” You got that right, Manzino! Here, I’ve separated the pages and am preparing to collate (I really hate that word. It sounds like a bodily function).
I’d purchased ivory interior envelopes – I wanted something nice, since the pieces were going to be mailed in the standard brown catalog envelopes (thick enough to survive mailing a large piece like this, but also matching the theme). Here, I’m going to use pre-selected brown tourmaline in combination with gems left over from the favor boxes to decorate the inner envelopes.
A close-up of the gems on the inner envelopes.
Because I was using leftover gems from the favor boxes, no two inner envelopes were the same. Here’s some.
Another design, this one featuring an amethyst and a small emerald.
The finished inner envelopes.
The next step was to take the collated invitations and bind them using my handy-dandy binding stapler. My short story chapbook bindings are two or three staples depending on the book’s thickness; for these, I only did one in the hopes of keeping it a bit more elegant.
The finished invitation chapbook.
The bag of bound invitation chapbooks…waiting for additional innards.
The next step was to place the inserts into the chapbooks. The photos were slipped inside the back cover; the acetate sheets inside the front cover.
After I finished stuffing all the books, I stopped and hand-wrote the names on the inner envelopes. Then I stuff the books into the envelopes so I wouldn’t lose pieces.
Stamping the RSVPs. After they were stamped, I slipped them inside the chapbooks at the center of the bind so I didn’t have to pull the books back out again.
We’d spent March 14-16 up at Howe Caverns finalizing many wedding plans. This created a need for some additional pieces in the invitations, such as info on cave tours, our menu, and activities we wanted to do with our attendants. I spent St. Patrick’s Day working on these additional pieces.
These cards went only to our bridal attendants. The bridesmaids are going sluicing to make jewelry on Saturday morning; the groomsmen are going ziplining. Instead of doing slip-ins, as I’d done for the RSVPs, I printed the text directly on the cardstock. I had printing things the correct way down by then, so it wasn’t difficult to do.
This is a poorly-lit picture, but the menu cards are on the gold cardstock. I wrote up the menu, designed the cards on publisher, placed a mosaic stone on each (which involved an additional trip to Michael’s that morning) and cut them on the paper cutter.
Break time! Corned beef and cabbage. Our housemate Charles makes it every St. Patrick’s Day.
I had hand-return-addressed all the mailing envelopes on an evening prior to this, so after I was done putting the finishing touches on the completed packages, I hand-addressed the mailing envelopes and stuffed them.
Stephanie, a bridesmaid, came over to help me seal up the invitations. We also worked on assembling the table cards, which I’d printed the day before.
The invitations, ready for gold-sealing and stamping!
I took a completed invitation to post office and had it weighed. Each one was going to cost $2.12 to mail since it was considered a parcel. I purchased all the necessary stamps. The writing on the note belongs to the postal worker who weighed my package. She was really nice and took an interest in assuring me they’d get to where they were going. Each invitation would require two $1.05 stamps and one two-cent stamp.
The gold foil stamps to be placed on the back flap of the sealed mailing envelopes.
The mailing envelopes “blinged” and ready for stamping!
A shot of the stamps on the envelopes.
Nathan brought me some fuel!
The invitations in the trunk of my car, ready to go to the post office! They were mailed on Tuesday, March 20.