Planning a wedding and blogging about it along the way is a funny thing as there’s so much that must be kept a secret until the day itself. We’re almost reaching a year from when we got engaged (crazy right?) and within that year we’ve made so many decisions, both big and small, both together and seperately, both instant and long winded, that it feels as if when the time comes to actually share all of our wedding details with you on the blog, there will just be SO much to tell.
Yesterday GB picked his suit, down to the fabrics, the shape and the details, with only his Mum for a second opinion and he’s decided to keep the final design a secret from me until the big day too. Already only 24 hours in I’m finding this equal parts exciting and excruciating. Now I know how he must feel not knowing anything about what I’ll be wearing on the day!
After almost a year of planning, things are finally starting to fall into place and feel connected and just under a year’s worth of research, ideas, Pinterest gathering, visiting, booking, negotiating, DIYing, stressing and crying, is almost at the stage of fruition (73 days to go). There are a million and one things I’m DYING to write about on the blog and share with you all, from the wedding shoes I bought back in November last year which have been patiently waiting in their box ever since for their first outing, to the creative details I’ve been working on over the last few months, even to the venue and location itself. But as is so often the case with a wedding, all of those details must remain a secret for another 73 days.
With all that in mind, it really does make me very happy today to finally be able to share our wedding invites with you, something that I’ve had to keep schtum about ever since April when we first started working on them. The last of our invites were signed, sealed and delivered (sorry) at the weekend and now that I know all of our guests have received them and the RSVP’s have started to come back (genuinely one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning so far!) I can share the finished design here too.
With our wedding budget being so small (and design companies charging a small fortune for bespoke invite design) we knew we’d have to go DIY with our invites, and so when my brother (a computer artist by trade and a bit of a Photoshop pro by nature) offered to help us design something, we nearly bit his hand off in thanks. Although I never doubted his skill (he’s an incredible artist and brilliant at everything he turns his hand to) I knew that graphic design and particularly wedding related design wasn’t really his thing, and with us planning to print and assemble everything ourselves, I genuinely never expected that we’d end up with an invite as beautiful and professional (if I do say so myself) as we did.
Back in April, around the Easter long weekend, we visited my brother in Guildford for a few days of eating, drinking, dancing and designing (the way all long weekends should be spent if you ask me) and made the first tracks towards something that resembled a wedding invite. By this stage we had gathered a little bit of inspiration from Pinterest, pulling together some of the things we liked and didn’t like and agreeing on a few key details, but much was still to be decided so having my brother to guide us was a huge help.
The first step was creating our logo, or wedding emblem. This was the one part of the invite we’d decided on pretty early on as we wanted something, incorporating our initials and colours, that could really sum up the feel of the wedding day and that we could then use in other capacities throughout the wedding as a recognisable emblem for the day. Of course the idea of leaves, vines, trees and all things organic was immediately an obvious addition, something that has become a bit of a (unintentional yet coincidentally perfect) running theme ever since we got engaged. Remember our engagement video where I threw a pile of Autumn leaves in the air? Which then became the first catalyst for designing a vine engagement ring? Not long after which we chose a rustic woodland setting and a November date for our wedding day and ever since we’ve been using the natural elements of the woods and the idea of a love which grows and intertwines continually within all of our wedding details.
Luckily my brother understood our vision instantly and set to work finding the perfect font and hand drawing and designing all of the branches and leaves which would grow around our two initials. The only clarification needed was whether we wanted to go in a Disney or a Tim Burton route. A lot of the images we’d been drawn to on Pinterest were a black silhouette on brown craft paper (our original choice), but rightly so my brother pointed out that these had a touch of the eery about them, more the gothic vibes of Tim Burton’s Nightmare on Elm Street than the happy wedding vibes we were perhaps seeking. He was of course absolutely right and we quickly agreed that we wanted the invite to be a reflection of the fun, laid back and enjoyable day we were hoping to create. As soon as we introduced colour to the design, and settled on a white background, everything started to come to life. How could I have ever doubted that Disney would be the right route?
A month or so after that first design session, my brother sent us through an initial draft of the logo and we were jumping around like idiots in the living room when we saw it – it felt as if he’d somehow seen into my jumbled up brain, plucked all of my visions and ideas out and turned them into something which was better than either of us could have ever imagined. And it wasn’t even finished! I popped back through to Guildford one evening and watched in awe as the logo became a true work of art. We added pink leaves on one side and orange on the other (to represent each of our colours), gave it a winter vibe with dark berries, added texture to the leaves, created a real bark overlay for the initials using a photo of a bark texture, and gave the illusion of sun streaming through the branches by adding clever light sources (my brother is a lighting artist so really came into his own here). The finished result was totally amazing, and made even more special by the fact that it had been created by someone close to us and close to the wedding.
After we’d finalised the logo, everything else just happened naturally and fell into place. We loved the A6 size of our save the dates and decided (also due to the fact that we had a fair bit of info to be included) that we didn’t want one large invite but rather a series or concertina of smaller pages, each with different details on which could somehow be linked together. We had ideas of festival lanyards or creative folding methods, both of which seemed to pose problems with printing, but then I saw a decoration at The Etsy Wedding Fair which had been attached together using eyelets and our ‘twist and reveal’ idea was born.
I visited my brother for one final design evening armed with all the content we wanted to include and we rattled out each page like pros, adding sections of the same vine design to the background of each page for continuity and using three selected fonts; the one we’d used for our initials in the logo, a calligraphy font and a third simple font for readability. My brother added vignettes to the corners to give the pages a more rustic feel, we designed a postcard style RSVP and then they were complete!
We used Printed.com to get everything printed, and also ordered our brown craft envelopes and small stickers printed with our logo from there too. The price for 100 + sets of four pages was so unbelievably reasonable that we didn’t even bother looking elsewhere, and a giant box arrived on our doorstep only a few days later with the print and paper quality much better than we’d hoped for at that price. We cant recommend them enough really, the whole process was ridiculously easy.
A week of punching holes into 400 pages and securing eyelets then ensued, with GB taking on the bulk of that task while I set to work making envelope liners (something I’d wanted to try from the word go but hadn’t quite anticipated how much work it would be). I found a roll of wallpaper reduced to £3 in Homebase and although I couldn’t quite see the pattern when I bought it, it looked as if it might have the shape of trees on it so I took a chance. As it turned out, it was perfect – a light greyish brown shade with the silhouette of woodland trees growing up it. I created a template and cut out and stuck over 100 liner shapes until I was sick of looking at that wallpaper, but seeing the vines of the invite match up with the branches on the envelope liners made it worth the graft.
The final detail was the hand stamped keys, one of each went into every invite and will serve as entry for guests into our ‘Secret Wedding Party’. We’ve disclosed the location of our ceremony on the invite but not where we’ll be spending the rest of our day which is remaining a secret, so we thought it would be fun to add a quirky element and keep everyone guessing (let’s hope they remember to bring them on the day!). We’d (thankfully) had the good sense to complete these months ago when we didn’t have so much to do, and we both gave us ourselves a large pat on the back for this forward planning (I think the task of cutting out 100 leaves from luggage tags and stamping every guests name individually would have caused us both to have a mental breakdown had we attempted it in the same week).
My dreams of using my new calligraphy skills with quill and ink to address all of the invites fell short after the first attempt saw the ink bleed on the craft envelopes (note to others planning to use calligraphy – you’ll need a strong card envelope to avoid bleeding) so I reluctantly had to use a calligraphy pen instead (something I was secretly grateful for when I was writing them on the train up to Scotland later that week) but I don’t think anyone really noticed the difference. The stickers sealed the envelopes and it was off to the post office we went.
After so much hard work, I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to actually see our invites completed and in the post box, and hearing/ seeing everyone’s reactions, and getting those first RSVP’s since has made us get excited about them all over again (it’s amazing how you can start to get sick of looking at something when you’ve worked on it for so long). Somehow until the point of sending the invites, the wedding was like an imaginary tale we were weaving, but now suddenly that tale feels so very real and we’re hurtling towards the final few pages faster than ever. Considering how quickly the last 11 months have gone, I’ve no doubt the next 73 days will whizz by, but it’s all really really exciting!
Are any of you bride to be readers at the invites stage yet?