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DIY Budget-Savvy Save The Dates

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In late October 2011 at a wedding expo, Dane (darling fiance) and I stumbled across a local, small-scale letterpress company. We were having a heck of a time finding any stationery for our winter wedding that wasn’t cheesy. After spending hours online looking for save the dates and coordinating invitation suites, everything had love birds, or was too Christmas-y, or had hearts or cheesy snowflakes. None of it matched our personalities. I’m lucky that my fiancé wants to be a big part and have a say in wedding decisions. I promised him early on I would not make him wear pink. Having a winter wedding allows us to marry elegance with woodsy elements – perfect for Dane and I. However, this is hard to find!

I liked the look of letterpress stationery online. However, the price was astronomical – we’re talking $700 to $900 for 100 save the dates. Ouch. The local letterpress company was half the cost, including their design services and envelopes. Designing our own invitation suite worked well for us because we wanted something unique. I got to meet with the company’s graphic designer over coffee and tell her exactly what we were looking for. It’s a good thing that we had an idea of what we wanted – colors, design and text. The designer emailed me drafts and was happy to make small changes. Plus, the first design session was free! The envelopes were included in the price and we got to pick the color. We chose a dark gray with a hint of sparkle.

The day we picked up our letterpress save the dates my mother-in-law was visiting. The three of us were so pleased at the beautiful little cards in the box. The owners were gracious and with design, envelopes, save the dates and enclosure cards we paid about $400. And to be further budget-savvy, because we already have our design nailed down, they won’t charge us for small changes and adjustments on our invitation suite! So next time around, we’ll just be paying for the paper and printing!

With a little woodsy inspiration from Martha Stewart Weddings, here’s how we assembled our save the dates:

Scissors, glue stick, gray ribbon, pheasant feathers, white ink pad, snowflake stamp, white embossing powder, embossing heat gun, hot glue gun, envelopes, save the date cards, enclosure cards

Note: We had two sets of save the dates. A few with enclosure cards went to bridal party and family members hand-selected to stay with us overnight after the wedding — our facility rental included 15 rooms!

Step 1: Measure how long the ribbon needs to be and cut it. Hot Glue the ribbon at the back of the cards. Make sure it’s tight so your bundle stays together.

 Hot glue the ribbon so it’s as seamless as possible at the back of the save the date.


Step 2: Put one dot of hot glue in the middle of the ribbon on the front and press the feather down.

On to the envelopes!

With the envelopes, we had seen a die-cut snowflake on some Christmas stationery at an expensive chain store and I knew I would love to try to do a cheap version at home. We bought a large snowflake punch for about $16. First, we tried to position the punch in the upper left hand corner of the envelope and the punch couldn’t get in far enough. Then we tried the flap on the back of the envelope, but we didn’t like the way it looked. We opted to punch out the snowflake on white paper and attach it to the envelope with spray adhesive. Big problem. The fingers on the snowflake came unglued or would get snagged in the mail processing centers. Our postmaster vetoed this idea (it’s a small town, we know our postmaster well!). She gave us the idea of embossing the snowflakes and it worked better than we imagined!

Step 3: Grab flat-bottomed dish with edges to keep the embossing powder in one place. (I selected the snowflake stamp based on size and its vintage quality that coordinates with our venue. ) Press the stamp down hard onto the white ink pad making sure the whole stamp is inked.

Step 4: Angle the stamp and press down firmly on the envelope in the desired location. I found it best to not roll the stamp, but to press down for a couple of seconds.

Step 5: Before the ink dries, sprinkle on embossing powder. I wanted white snowflakes on our dark gray envelopes so I chose white ink and powder.

Step 6: Tap the envelope on the dish to get rid of excess powder. I used my fingers to brush off embossing powder that got stuck in areas other than the snowflake. If the powder stays, it will bond and raise and I would have little permanent dots of white.

Step 7: Use the embossing gun like a hairdryer to go over the stamped image. The embossing powder will make the snowflake shiny and raised.

Step 8: I used a template from Martha Stewart to print out address labels for each guest on light-gray paper. Cut the finished template out, and glue it with a permanent glue stick. Again, I found the glue stick worked better and stayed put rather than the spray adhesive. And lastly – add a stamp! The 35 cent stamps from the post office are cost effective!

I love the look the embossing gave us. Once you buy the gun (I chose a better one at $25) the rubber stamp, ink and embossing powder are cheap – about $5 each. Plus, I can come up with a ton of other ideas for the same stamp and embossing powder – gift wrap for the bridal party gifts, thank-you cards, signage, napkins and the tags that will go on our room keys for our guests.

What do you think?

Jillian Beaudry

runs a weekly newspaper in a small town in Eastern Washington State. She got married in 2012 - You can read her wedding planning posts here.