Process Post: Sarah & Stu's Wedding Invitations

And now it's time for a very special process sister and brother-in-law's wedding invitations!

It seems that all of the Rados were born to be artists and that, as adults, we've all been trying to find ways to be artists that don't involve starving. My sister Sarah is no exception—she's a painter and a singer. Sarah really wanted to her wedding invitations to incorporate vibrant watercolor artwork, so my challenge was to work with her paintings and incorporate them into one cohesive design. Oh yeah—and did I mention that I agreed to printing 100-something of these on my Epson inkjet? More on that in a minute.

Sarah and Stu live in Philly and also had their ceremony in the city, so they really wanted to incorporate the city into the artwork. Sarah ended up painting the Ben Franklin bridge, the Philadelphia skyline and the wrought-iron gate of the community garden where their ceremony took place, the Spring Gardens, for the invitation artwork. Because they wanted to incorporate these three scenes, we decided the format should be a z-fold that opened up into one long panel with the entire silhouette of the scene. On the back would be the essential details for the wedding ceremony and reception.

Once Sarah had done the painting, I scanned everything in, pieced it all together, cleaned it all up and added color in Photoshop. We went back and forth for a few more rounds on the gate, trying to get it right and make sure it looked more like a flowery arch appropriate for a wedding rather than the entrance to a decrepit graveyard. Sarah also made it clear from the get-go that her wedding invitations would absolutely require some form of rainbow, so that made the background on the three panels an easy choice. 


After several rounds, we got the arch looking just right. 

For the wording, I came up with the line "Sarah and Stu are saying I do!" (Thanks to Stu's parents for providing the great rhyme-abilty here.) But since Sarah is much better at writing poetry and lyrics than I am, I asked her to come up with a few rhymes for the inside of the invitation. She wrote:  

Before they met on that fateful day,
the city seemed so dull and grey.
He took her out, their friendship grew
into love so deep and true.
Now that they are hand-in-hand, 
the city skyline sure looks grand!

It fit perfectly with the invitation art.

The final piece of the puzzle was the printing logistics. We relied on my old Epson 1280, which I had bought used when I was in grad school (circa 2007; it has basically been collecting dust in my closet since I graduated) and I knew that it had a tendency to be very temperamental at the most inconvenient times by randomly spurting out blobs of black ink on an otherwise flawless print and banding for no apparent reason after cleaning the print heads several times. I had the added challenge of printing fronts and backs separately and then gluing them up, cutting them and folding them. This was mostly because we were using one-sided coasted matte paper, but also because my printer doesn't line up when it comes to registration, so printing front to back wouldn't have been an option anyway. Amazingly, I ran into no big issues with printing, and the only downsides of gluing, cutting and folding all of the invitations were tedium and a sore back. (Nothing some downward dogs and child's poses couldn't fix.) I gave myself two weeks for printing and assembling the invitations, but towards the end, I just went into full-on assembly machine mode so that I could get the invitations finished and reclaim the printing disaster area that had once been my living room. 

It was one last but very triumphant hurrah for the Epson as I delivered these babies. They turned out as colorful as their bride and with their delivery, I announced my retirement from the invitation printing business (but not the invitation designing business—I will gladly continue to design invitations). Sarah and Stu were thrilled with the final result, and once again it was confirmed that Stu was the man for Sarah since he was totally fine with having a giant rainbow on their wedding invitations. What a mighty, might good man.

Here's your 113 invitations, some spare envelopes I will never use and the rest of the I'm going to go do some restorative yoga!

Here's your 113 invitations, some spare envelopes I will never use and the rest of the I'm going to go do some restorative yoga!

If you're interested in more wedding invitations, you can check out my own wedding invitations here and the wedding invitations I did for my mom and stepdad here.


Wedding invitation goodness

Hooray for finally having a Saturday afternoon with enough time to post pictures and write a bit about our wedding invitations. Before my life was overtaken by all things matrimonial, it was all about running. After our wedding, it's been taken up with fun domestic tasks like rearranging the contents of our kitchen cabinets to make room for our matching, non-chipped dishes and going through years of accumulated hand-me-down housewares to drop off at Goodwill. I'm glad to be returning to normalcy (whatever that is).

Our invitations were a labor of love. Obviously, I had to design them myself, however painful that process might prove to be. I wanted to do something different, something handmade, letterpressed, personal, and classic. Something that I wouldn't look back on and cringe at later in life for having fallen victim to some cutesy wedding trend. (I won't name any of the ones that annoy me, but there are plenty—a slight downside of reading wedding blogs). 

I decided that I wanted Scott and I to write each other letters and have that be the main idea behind our invitations, since we hadn't dated for that long and not all of our guests knew about how we met. Somehow, I convinced Scott that pouring his heart out on paper, and publicly, was something he could do. He endured ridicule from his male friends and tears from our mothers and many compliments all around from everyone else.


I knew that I wanted to incorporate blind letterpress into our invitations, and I think it turned out really well. I was a little worried that some of the detail might get lost, but I think that if the illustrations had been inked, it would have been a bit overwhelming. I actually squealed when I picked these up from the post office.


I also wanted to make a protective cover for the booklet, which is the gray outer layer. A sane person would have probably looked at Papersource for these pre-made envelopes. I am not sane. I made them all by hand—trimming, folding, and gluing in the pocket to hold the booklet. Like I said, labor of love.


Initially, I was going to stamp the "J+S" monogram on the outside of the gray cover in silver, but the hues were too similar, so the stamp wasn't visible enough. Aside from that, it looked too plain. So I moved on to plan b, which was to take leftover gray paper scraps and roll black acrylic paint on them with a brayer to create a darker texture on which to stamp. A quick trip to the craft store for yellow scrapbooking paper to back the belly band was the finishing touch. Well, I guess gluing it all together was the finishing touch. Along with printing, cutting, and double-stick-taping in all of the envelope liners. 


These invitations were one of the few splurges we had in our wedding budget. We definitely spent a chunk of change on them (because they were letterpressed) but it was well worth it. The whole time I was putting them together, I kept thinking of how astronomical the price would have been if I wasn't a designer with the crafty cheapo gene! Thank goodness I will never have to worry about that. 

Please pardon the long absence

There has been a severe lack of me blathering on about my personal life here, and I'll get to the reasons behind that soon (for the 1.4 people who read this blog and the .08 people who care). In the mean time, here's some new work... Save the dates that I did for our wedding! (Please don't anyone post bizarre things on our wedding website).


Here's a bit of background about our save the dates: my main goal was to not overthink them. That was the approach that I had to take—really, I just wanted to "do something cool and plop those suckers in the mailbox." I printed everything digitally. The yellow "save the date" banner was printed on cotton paper, trimmed out, and then glued on to the postcard just to give it an interesting tactile element. I knew that I wanted to do a teen-tiny cute envelope since I saw these invitations from designer Erin Jang.


Inside of each envelope was an even more tiny insert with our wedding information. I had originally wanted to do these save the dates as postcards to save money on postage (because yes, I'm a broke ass bride). Ironically, it ended up costing me way more. Not only did the post office tell me that I needed full postage because of the measurements of the postcard (ugh, it was like 1/8" too long or something) (things I should have researched before designing and printing 65 postcards), nearly all of our save the dates were returned to us in the mail. In a moment of what I thought was being helpful, I put our return address and a giant "FROM" underneath all of the addresses of our guests. That meant that the post office misread the addresses and sent our save the dates back to us. So there went $30 worth of postage down the drain.


It was sort of a blessing in disguise, because the postcards that got  returned to us were just about destroyed. Many were torn, the toner had  rubbed off, the labels peeled (though remarkably, the mini envelopes  all stayed intact—good old rubber cement never fails me). In a word,  they all looked like doodie. Luckily, I had printed a ton of extras and  was able to re-use some mini envelopes. I also ended up buying gray  drawing paper at the craft store and cutting out envelope templates and  making about 25 of my own—that was a lot of fun. HOWEVER. As a designer,  I could not be sending out crap for my own save the dates! So I put together another batch of postcards, but this time I mailed them all in a lovely, protective envelope to keep the battle wounds at bay.

It seems to have paid off. I've gotten some very nice compliments. Now the pressure is on to do a wedding invitation...

Wait, what? Really?

So, I got engaged at the end of summer (yay!). It is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. Well, really, it's the planning that's overwhelming. There are lots of wedding blogs to peruse, pictures to right click and save to an inspiration folder, names to add to the guest list, things to figure out, money (or lack thereof) to try and set aside to pay for things. The wedding blogs in particular can be a bit mind-boggling. Before I was planning a wedding, I wouldn't really pay so much attention to the "budget wedding" posts that were out there. Now I do, and I often find myself looking at these pictures in disbelief, mumbling, "Really?"

Like, really, you had all that time to make homemade boutonnieres out of buttons and twine? Or, really, who cans their own jam and prints labels and pastes them onto 150 jars as a wedding favor? Not that I'm hating on it, but it just... well... maybe I'm just too non-traditional when it comes to what I think of weddings. Or maybe I just don't have a thoroughly cemented idea of what a wedding "must" have.

I ran across this article that sums up my feelings pretty well. "To  the prospective bride, the wedding sites are a beautiful despair:  always done on a shoe-string and filled with the contributions of  equally talented and magical friends happy to whip out many-tiered  shortcakes and evergreen bouttonieres and old-timey music."

Certain things are important to me when getting married. I want our friends and family there. I want everyone to have a blast. And I am not going into debt to pay for it. That said, I had a hard time understanding why people pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for blah venues that you can't really make your own. Or why people pay so much money for catering?! That was a big one. I want my guests to have a good time, but I can't lie, I don't really care to pay for everyone to have a filet for dinner. Frankly, they can go to Outback if they want steak. And on our budget, it was starting to look like if we were going to hire a caterer, we would have to stoop to the level of "Here's a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli, here's a fork, enjoy your meal." Luckily, we found a different, delicious, non-traditional solution. I also don't really understand the whole "wedding favor" thing. Sure, I enjoy a random candy favor or a set of bamboo coasters, but would I have noticed if they weren't there at the weddings I attended? No. I have a hard time understanding when and where people go so off the rails in spending for weddings. Then again, I guess it's probably easier when someone else is shelling out the cash to pay for it all.

I am sure it will be an interesting ride as I plan this out with a ruthless budget spreadsheet in Google docs.


Big changes are occurring around here. Chief among them are that I am MOVING! And also, running a ten mile race without DYING! And also, my mom is getting RE-MARRIED! And I did her wedding invitations:

Not too shabby for designing, printing, and mailing them in a week. Luckily, my mom's also cool and basically set a few parameters for what she wanted and otherwise let me run with it. I don't feel it's often that a client would let their designer play with gigantic italic uppercase type. But I did, and mixed it with some watercolor flower paintings I did, and voila! I have to get better pictures than these iPhone shots and also take some of the envelope labels as well, but for now these will do.

The other thing I had to do was clothe myself for said event, in which my sister and I are bridesmaids. Luckily again for the both of us, my mom had no requirements of taffeta and David's bridal matching bridesmaids dresses, which is awesome. There's nothing worse than dropping $160 on a perfectly nice dress that yes, you could wear again, and it's pretty, but everyone can take one look at it and know it's a bridesmaid dress. But then it takes up a huge chunk of your closet because you feel bad throwing out $160 worth of Alfred Angelo's finest designs. So I took my debit card to Anthropologie and bought a gorgeous dress that I have no doubt I will wear for forever and ever. And I even splurged on a new bracelet. Damn, that Anthropologie's hard to say no to.

More on the other life-changing events to come. Until then, I get to pack boxes and boxes of 27 years worth of accumulated crap. Oh fun!