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My budgeting is coming along nicely and I’ve scratched off one of many value generating projects from my list that is making my beer budget taste more and more like champagne. In our pre-engagement phase I came across this beautiful gatefold save-the-date I just had to have. I had no clue who made it or where it came from, but I wanted one just like it.

gatefold save-the-date
Photos and Design by the Weaver House

Going in I knew I would never be able to afford the designer who made this fabulous creation on my budget, so I set out to do it myself.  Thanks to my intuitive nature and my high school’s vocational curriculum, I learned to use word processing programs fairly well, and was not worried about designing it all. With my design skills and my friend volunteering her printer, I had a plan. As soon as we got our engagement photos back from our photographer, I set out picking photos that would lend themselves to the spacing limitations of gatefold print projects—which primarily revolve around the panoramic photo needed for the inside.

To start, I ordered 100, 8.5x11sheets of 100lb cardstock in white and 150, A-2 envelopes from Paper and More (during one of their once-in-a-blue-moon sales). I simply used a little bit of word art, our photos cropped in Microsoft Word, and a picture collage generated using Picasa (for the back panel). Voilá!! Once printed, each sheet cut in half would make two gatefold save-the-dates.

gatefold save-the-date

Gatefold Illustration Source:

I’d never done a project quite like this so I did a little research and learned folding the cardstock would not be as simple as lining up the edges and creasing the paper. For a professional grade fold on cardstock, it is important to have a bone folder or some other tool to score the cardstock for clean lines. If my explanation isn’t clear enough, watch this video. It helped me in my preparation and I'm sure it will help you too.

As to be expected with any DIY project, I ran into a problem.  But this wasn't just any ol' problem—it was a BIG problem. My friend’s printer could not handle the weight of the card stock and kept jamming. How was I going to move forward without one of the biggest cost saving measures of the project—FREE printing?

Knowing I had bigger fish to fry, I pressed forward with plan B-find a printer STAT. A quick Google search brought me to an online printer who would print each page (front and back) on cardstock for about 24 cents. The lowest cost printers that were a car ride away all charged a minimum of four times that amount to print on cardstock that I’d have to furnish. And if I didn't furnish the cardstock, one print (single-side) would cost $1-1.50. I was nervous, anxious, behind schedule, and not able to pay much more than what I’d already paid to stay in budget. Fortunately, I would be able to get a refund on the paper I bought from Paper and More and the online printer's full-bleed prints on cardstock would only cost about $11 more than the plain cardstock. Weighing my options, the online printer made the most sense even though it was risky not being able to see the final product. I gave it a GO, and in full disclosure, the purchase was not without error.  But just over a week later I can say I made the right decision.

After I let my inner perfectionist and realist personas duke it out over what no one seemed to notice but me, it was time to get to business cutting, folding, and stuffing envelopes. I manned the cutting board and took my time folding the save-the-dates. With all the issues I'd had with printing, I felt better taking care of those tasks myself. However, I enlisted the help of another friend with beautiful handwriting to address the envelopes. The only payment she asked for was a home-cooked meal, and I was happy to oblige as well as send her home with leftovers.  I didn’t get any photos of our delicious meal, but I took a few process pictures.

DIY Save the Date

Notice that by the end, I ditched the bone folder for a kitchen utensil. If I had it to do over again, I would've used an item from my kitchen from the very beginning. It was so much easier and much more effective. My advice to anyone doing a project like this would be to save your money on a bone folder and use a butter knife or any item that has a blunt edge but isn't sharp. 

Here's the final product. How does it measure up to my inspiration piece?

 Bianca's gatefold save-the-date Bianca's gatefold save-the-date Bianca's gatefold save-the-date

Bianca's Budget-Conscious, Professional Grade Save-the-Date Breakdown

  • Prints: $31
  • Envelopes: $39
  • Postage: $46
  • Bone Folder: $4

Total – $120
with enough materials for 200 save-the-dates

**Please note, I received my prints at a significantly lower price than listed here because of the printing error, making my total less than what is listed.**

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About Bianca

I’m Bianca, a Washingtonian transplant from Chicago’s Southside. During the day, I work for the people; after hours, I moonlight as an artist and avid DIYer. On May 10, 2014, I’ll wed my love of 4 years in Atlanta, GA and add a few letters to my list of achievements…M – R – S.

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