My pride and joy, our mountain and forest wedding invitations

Back at the beginning of July, I finally sent out our invitations after 1.5 years of planning, designing, and executing them. For 1.5 years I poured my heart and soul into what would be the first impression guests would receive of our wedding, and I wanted them nothing less than perfect. This is my profession, after all, and what kind of designer doesn't put a lot of thought and effort into their own wedding invitations?

From save the dates to custom-stamped envelopes with liners, I present to you my pride and joy:

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Despite doing the design work entirely myself, and even making a few of the assets, these invitations were still relatively expensive - around $400 expensive. Below is a breakdown of each piece, what went into creating it, and the cost of everything in the hopes future brides, who are looking to do pocket invitations, understand all that goes into making them. 

Everything aside from the Save the Dates were printed via Cards and Pockets; all envelopes were also purchased through them as well. We invited 110 guests, which equaled out to about 60 households. I printed/purchased 70 of everything in order to have room for error. 

1. Invitation Suite

INVITE CARD
The invitation card is the main focal point of your wedding invitation suite. It displays all the basic information your guests need in order to arrive at your wedding's location at the correct time and date. While I won't be getting into etiquette in this post, there are formalities sometimes involved as well (like the whole "Mr. & Mrs. Parents request your presence at..." etc). The invite card also sets the stage for the rest of your invitation suite with things like color palette, iconography style, font choices, and visuals that you should use throughout the remaining inserts.

From a design perspective, there's a whole lot of information you need to organize and cram into a 5x7" piece of paper. My invite card went through two iterations that resulted in a minor, but necessary change to better display the most crucial piece of information to my guests - the date!

First design.

First design.

Final design.

Final design.

During the "Pinterest stage" of designing, where I take to Pinterest for inspiration, I found many invitations sporting these "mini calendars" that marked the date of the wedding in calendar format. I thought it was fun and worked it into my original design alongside the day and time of the wedding. 

When I presented it to my mom, she made a face and said she didn't like the calendar. There was no rationale for her decision, but just hearing that honest criticism inspired me to go back and rethink the calendar design. Within that second design iteration, I quickly realized the hierarchy of information was backwards, all because that calendar forced the date to be much smaller than most everything else on the invite in order to fit within that space. 

The whole point of an invite is to display the date! "SEPT 17th" was hard to see and was overpowered by it's "5PM" neighbor to the right, which, in reality, comes second to the date. 

It was clear the calendar didn't work within the design of my invite, so I focused on making the date more prominent within my second design of it. Now the date is larger, bolder, and given the stand-out accent color from my color palette. 

MENU
The tallest insert card was our menu card. At our wedding, we are doing a buffet instead of a plated dinner - a buffet allows our guests to eat/pick what they want, how much of each thing they want, AND they can come back later for seconds and even thirds (I've had many plated dinners at weddings where I'd eat the chicken, hate everything else, and still feel hungry). 

With plated dinners, the bride and groom are responsible for asking each of their guests, via the "RSVP" card of their invitation, what they would like for dinner. Guests typically select one of a few options and then attend the wedding knowing what they'll be eating. 

Because we're doing a buffet, everyone gets everything off the menu! Our guests do not need to make a selection, but I still wanted them to see their dinner options because 1. who doesn't get excited about food and 2. in case there were any dietary restrictions we didn't know about.

Thus the menu card was born! The design is simple and organized by type for easy viewing. Each of our insert cards are front/back design, which helped formed the "mountain-scape" look within the pocket. The back of each card displays one of 5 icons I designed for my wedding "branding," the menu one being the campfire because fire = cooked food.  

GUEST GUIDE
With such a small amount of space for information on the actual invite, it's pretty customary to exclude other bits of information, such as the location and time of the reception, and rely on an additional card or website to display that.

To ensure all our guests know where they are going, I included this "guest guide" card that gave a few more details about the ceremony, the time and place for the reception, and a prompt to visit our website for even MORE details. With this wedding being 3.5 hours away from most of our guests and taking place in two different states, it's important they know as many details as possible and where to go for more (our website).  

The design is yet again simple and remains consistent with the menu design in terms of layout.

RSVP CARD
This card tends to be proven difficult in terms of design/UX. Go on any wedding group and you'll find multiple brides freaking out because their guests are incorrectly filling out their card, adding uninvited guests, forgetting information, etc. I spent a lot of time on the design of this card to try and solve some of these repeat issues.

My main concern was guests adding in guests/plus ones that they were not given. I addressed this in two ways that are now quite common to see on RSVPs:

"We have reserved ___ seats reserved in your honor" - for each guest, I pre-filled that blank space with the number of people within the household actually invited. So for example, John and Jane Smith, a married couple, are invited to our wedding. John and Jane have 2 children, but this is an adult only affair, so only the couple has been invited. "We have reserved ___ seats in your honor" now looks like "We have reserved 2 seats in your honor" because we only invited John and Jane.

The "___ out of ___ attending" also now looks like "___ out of 2 attending" to once again stress the fact that John and Jane are allowed no more than two seats at our wedding. This also eliminates the option of actually writing in their names on the name line, which is another form of trying to combat the extra guest issue, but can sometimes get confusing in the case where one of those people cannot attend. In the case where John can attend, but Jane needs to stay home with the kids, John can put "1 out of 2 attending" and only write in his name so that I am not left making any assumptions.

This politely gets the point across and leaves little room for error. Granted, this doesn't stop people from CROSSING OUT the number of seats reserved and adding in their own, but at that point, that just makes them look bad and is just plain rude (and they know it too).

Each RSVP was also numbered with little yellow number stickers I found via Amazon for $6. I assigned each household a number and then attached that number to the RSVP. In the case where someone didn't fill out the "M" line, where they are supposed to write their name, I could easily tell who the RSVP was from by looking up the number. 

For an additional bit of fun, I allowed people to request a song they'd like to hear on the back of the RSVP card. I'd say this got about 60% usage from our guests, but the ones who did use it were really excited!

MAP CARD
Admittedly, this card was purely for aesthetic purposes. In the days of GPS and maps on demand, there's really not a lot of reason for a map insert. I needed another card to complete my mountain-scape look and thought the map would be a nice little touch within all the details already displayed within these invitations.

While the map may not be entirely necessary, there IS the chance some of our older guests would appreciate it. I also think having the visual of where the reception location is can be helpful (meaning guests know to look on the left side of the rural road they're driving down to get to it).

Either way, I had a blast designing it.

COST OF PRINTING
ONE invitation needed the following printed:
1 Invitation card
4 Insert cards with front and back designs
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$3.02 per set

They were printed and cut via Cards and Pockets. The custom mountain and tree-line die-cuts were done by me via my Silhouette Cameo (280 inserts total please kill me). 


2. Invitation Mat

The yellow "outline" behind the invitation card is called an invitation mat. I considered purchasing the cardstock and cutting them myself, but it was actually cheaper just to purchase them through Cards and Pockets!

COST
70 Invitation mats ($0.25 each) 
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$17.50


3. Envelopes

There were a lot of damn envelopes included in these invitations!
Pocket Envelopes: the dark gray envelope with the little pocket on the right hand side to stick all the inserts in. 
RSVP Envelopes: the smaller, yellow envelope that was inserted into the pocket for people to slip their completed RSVPs in
Outer Envelopes: the large, light-gray envelope to put the entire invitation suite in, stamp and mail to guests! 

COST
70 Signature Plus 5x7 Pocket Envelopes ($0.80 each) = $56
70 A2 RSVP Envelopes 4 3/8 x 5 3/4 Euro Flap ($0.17 each) = $11.90
70 A+ Silver Envelopes 5.75 x 7.75 ($0.35 each) = $24.50
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$92.40 just in envelopes!

All purchased via Cards and Pockets.


4. Envelope Liners

Using the 6 icons I established for this wedding (and talked about earlier), I created a little pattern of them to use as an envelope liner within the main envelope. Quite the unnecessary expense, but these invites were all about the details for me and I just had to have them.

COST
70  A+ Euro Flap Envelope Liners ($0.89 each)
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$62.30

These were printed via Cards and Pockets and I requested they print them on their "Lemon Drop" colored paper (which was the color of the invite mats and RSVP envelope). I had originally included the yellow background in the PDF file, but when printed, turned out a slightly different shade of yellow than what the rest of the yellow accents/accessories looked liked. After talking to customer service, they told me they could print directly to the Lemon Drop paper, so I removed the yellow background and sent to print. It was no extra cost to do so! 


5. Belly Bands

Keeping all this shit together meant adding in a belly band. I designed the band and did a couple of test prints on computer paper to make sure I had the sizing correct. Once it was good to go, I purchased a few sheets of the yellow cardstock for no more than $5 at Michael's and cut them myself via my Silhouette Cameo.  

They were held together with a single glue dot. All guests had to do was slide them on and off the pocket. 

COST
60 Belly Bands
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$10.00 for paper and glue dots


6. Postage Stamps

I did custom postage stamps for the outside of the invitation and then National Park themed normal postage stamps for the RSVP envelopes inside. Once again, the custom stamps were completely unnecessary, but were essentially the cherry on top of my over the top invitations.

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It actually took me about 6 months before I pulled the trigger on buying these. I signed up for email alerts from Zazzle so I could stalk their sitewide and regular sales. At first I'd get 15% sidewide, but I've heard of better, so I waited. Then they sent 30% off sitewide and I still waited, determined they would do a 50% at some point. Then I got a sale that was $5 off per sheet of custom postage stamps - this was really good considering each sheet (of 20 stamps) was around $27, this was the best I had seen so far. Still, I waited. 

Then the same sales started cycling through. A few major holidays passed and they still never did a 50% off sitewide sale, so I started kicking myself for not jumping off the $5 off promo. I even emailed their customer support, asking if they would bring it back, but was met was a 30% off promo code and told I would just have to keep an eye out.  

I waited another week or two with no luck. Since I was approaching June and needed to send my invites in July, I had to act. I went through the checkout process using the 30% off order code they had sent me via email, but still didn't pull the trigger. I was holding out hope and I'm glad I did - the next day the $5 off promo was back! 

I got my 60 custom stamps for $68 when they normally would have been around $81+ - I was stoked. I highly recommend waiting for this sale. 

COST
60 Custom Postage Stamps ($23 per sheet of 20 x3)
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$68.00


7. Return Address Stamp

Something about return addresses that aren't just stickers or boring stamps makes me super happy, so I decided to design a custom return address stamp for us. It just includes our first names, so that I can use it again after we're married for our remaining time in our current house (we're building a house after the wedding). 

I uploaded my design to www.rubberstamps.net and it was made and shipped in about a week. The quality is great and they had the best price I could find!

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COST
One custom address stamp about 2.5x2.5"
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$19.00


TOTAL COST

Here's a recap of all the above prices with the quantities that I ordered:

Design services = $0
70 Invitation sets ($3.02 each) = $211.40
70 Invitation mats ($0.25 each) = $17.50
70 Signature Plus 5x7 Pocket Envelopes ($0.80 each) = $56
70 A2 RSVP Envelopes 4 3/8 x 5 3/4 Euro Flap ($0.17 each) = $11.90
70 A+ Silver Envelopes 5.75 x 7.75 ($0.35 each) = $24.50
70  A+ Euro Flap Envelope Liners ($0.89 each) = $62.30
60 Belly Bands = $10.00
60 Custom Postage Stamps ($23 per sheet of 20 x3) = $68.00
One custom address stamp = $19.00
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$480.60

Expensive, but well worth the price, in my opinion. There's nothing like your invitations to set the tone for your wedding day. I get married in 10 days and my guests have been raving about them non-stop since they made their way into homes. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask! Once again, all printing and most materials were purchased via Cards and Pockets, I couldn't be more happy with their services!

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