After moving to a larger space, my husband and I found ourselves in the market for a new shelf to house the books that had been boxed up for the past two years. Unfortunately, (as usual) our tastes exceeded our budget. We were drawn to industrial-style shelves made of metal and reclaimed wood. Anthropologie’s version (pictured below, left) retails for $998 amd West Elm’s version (pictured below, right) goes for a whopping $2960. We’ve made a commitment to only buy furniture that we absolutely love and since we couldn’t find anything that compared in our price range, we decided to DIY it!
So, it snowed. A lot.
And when life gives you snow, make snow cream! After going on 36 hours in our 400 square foot apartment and countless episodes of The Wire (Season 2, if you’re keeping up with our TV on DVD watching), I needed an adventure. An expedition to find the freshest snow cream ingredients commenced.
One way to save some wedding dollars is to be a DIY DJ. Jason and I originally elected to go the ipod route to stretch our small-ish (by today’s standards) budget further. We ended up, however, really enjoying the process of adding and deleting songs from our playlist to create the vibe we wanted. I don’t think we could have communicated what we were looking for to a DJ because it was more of a “I’ll know it when I hear it” kind of endeavor. Above all else, we wanted EVERYONE to hear something that would bring them to dance floor.
Of course, crafting a playlist that would have people itching to dance by cake time was not without its challenges. Phrases uttered in our apartment in the month leading up to the wedding included: “No one wants to dance to that obscure stuff ” and “I will be embarrassed if people think had anything to do with picking that song.” But, by the big day we were 100% committed to each and every lovingly (and painstakingly) selected song.
Before we get to the songs themselves, I want to give some tips on DIY DJing, in general. First, it doesn’t matter how great your playlist is if no one can hear it. Invest in some speakers. We purchased this PA system from Guitar Center; it came with speakers (and stands) with enough power for the size our reception space, a microphone, and all the necessary connecting cables. The cost to buy this was less than the cost to rent them.
Next, if you’re the one getting married, you don’t want to be manning the DJ booth. Delegate! We appointed one of my bridesmaids to emcee (an experienced party planner) the festivities and a good friend to adjust the music when necessary. We wanted to make these tasks as simple as possible and made 3 separate playlists to coincide with distinct portions of our wedding (welcome cocktails, dinner, and dance party), minimizing the amount of interaction our “DJ” would have with the ipod.
Finally, we crowd sourced song selection (to a degree) by including a “requests for the DJ” line on our RSVP cards (pictured below).
Jason and I handmade our wedding invitations. Jason designed the graphics, we wrote the text together, and I hand-stamped and embossed each one. The rest of the stationery was a combination of hand-stamped and printed out from our computer – all was designed by us. It was definitely a lot of work, but I would, without a doubt, do it again. We would not have been able to get a custom design and letter press feel at a price we could afford.
The inspiration for the stationery was my hometown, Newtown, CT. The famous flagpole in the middle of our Main ST. and the Newtown Meeting House (where we were married) graced our invitation and a close up on the meeting house’s weathervane was immortalized on our save-the-date.
The first step was designing the templates. If you’re planning to design your own invitations, give yourselves extra time to allow for creative differences. We then sent black and white PDFs to an artist we found on Etsy: Blossom Stamps, who turned them into rubber stamps!
The next step was to make the stationery. We exclusively relied on The Paper Source for, you guessed it, our paper. We went with luxe white for our color. A7 is the standard paper size for an invitation (5 x 7″), 4bar for the response card enclosure, and A2 for the save-the dates. They also sell envelopes that perfectly fit each of these cards. Here is a money saving and sanity saving tip: buy a bulk pack (50 sheets) of 8.5 x 11″ paper. Many printers freak out when trying to print on smaller sheets, so you can print 4 copies of the save-the-date (4 A2 cards fit perfectly) and response cards (you’ll have to trim the edges) on each sheet. We got a cheap paper cutter and it was up to the task.
Our save-the-date was half printed and half stamped. As I mentioned, the save-the-dates were first printed on 8.5 x 11″ cover stock and cut into 4 cards. Next, each card was stamped and embossed one at a time. We chose Colorbox Midnight for our ink and clear superfine detail embossing powder. When you’re using a colored ink, clear embossing powder is used (this is the opposite of my holiday gift tag post in which clear ink and colored powder were used).
The invitation itself was entirely stamped. Because the area of stamp was so large, I laid it rubber-side up on the table and pressed the stamp pad onto it to apply the ink. Once the A7 paper was stamped, I dumped a generous amount of embossing powder onto the wet ink and then poured the excess back into the container. I next used my heat tool to melt the individual bits of embossing powder together, created a raised texture.
If you click on the picture below, you can see the texture.
If you’re not up for making your own invitations and accompanying enclosures, I would definitely recommend lining your own envelopes. Its really easy, fairly inexpensive, and adds so much to the experience when a guest opens their invitation. We used wrapping paper from the paper source.
To make envelope liners, you basically just trace the outline of an open envelope onto a piece of card stock and then trim 1/8th of an inch from each edge. Viola! You now have a template that can be traced onto a sheet of wrapping paper and cut out. Using a glue stick, add a thin layer of glue to the entirety of the inside of the envelope flap; there is no need to glue inside the envelope as gravity will do the trick. Finally, stick the liner into the envelope and press the top of it into the glue. So incredibly easy and I think it makes the invitation seem so much more fancy.
Here’s the order of operations if you’re lining your envelopes: 1) use computer printer to print address, 2) return address stamp the flap (self-inking stamper pictured above), 3) line the envelope.
The price to mail our invitation (A7 card, lined A7 envelope, 4bar response card, and 4bar envelope) was 45 cents (the price of one stamp). I was disappointed with the stamp selection at my local post office (breast cancer or flags), so I took to USPS.com and found weathervane stamps!! Yes, weathervanes! If you’ve made it this far into this blog post and you actually noticed the coordinating stamps on our invitations, I want to hear about in the comments or on facebook. Validate me :).
Finally, there was plenty of paper left over for other wedding-related paper products:
Ceremony programs were printed double-sided on 8.5 x 11 paper – 2 copies per page.
Menu cards were printed on A7 paper
Escort cards were printed on pre-perforated paper. They also came with a downloaded template. You can see that we re-used some of envelope liner wrapping paper underneath the escort cards to tie things together.