With the rising costs of weddings, coupled with the credit crunch it is no wonder that more and more couples are looking to DIY weddings. Perhaps the easiest item to DIY is the wedding stationery, especially with the readily available card-making supplies and the ease with which one can make a card. Retailers have realised the potential of the DIY wedding market and it is becoming easier and easier to obtain supplies and relevant workshops. Whilst it can be a lot cheaper to make your own stationary, it can also cost more than you I've initially think - it is very easy to get carried away with all the beautiful embellishments and the feeling that you must buy all of the equipment.
Leaving the hastily printed, wonky cards aside that simply don't do a wedding invitation justice, I've seen some lovely homemade wedding stationery, but all too often the same common errors are seen.
- Font size too small - this is a real problem on the order of service. Not everyone has perfect eyesight - be careful that important details and items that need to be read with ease are in a font size of at least 11. I know space is often at a premium, but your guests do need to be able to read the information.
- Fussy choice of font - some fonts are not made for ease of reading. I've seen entire Order of services that are in a fancy italic font that made it impossible for the guests to join in the hymn singing. Fancy fonts are fine for headings and the front of stationary, but for the important details choose a readable font. I tend to like 'Book Antiqua' - it has the ease of reading that Times New Roman or Arial offers, but a more 'classy' edge, perfect for weddings.
- OTT design - I am a great believer that less is most definately more. I prefer understated elegance. So often, I see people that must have bought every last thing that caught their eye in the craft shop and then felt compelled to incorporate it into their design, leading to a fussy design and one that is not very practical for the production run a wedding entails.
- Wonky lines - the problem with one-off card makers is that they often do not have the equipment that helps create a professional finish and try to produce a run of wedding stationery with the minimum of tools. A decent guillotine in my opinion is essential if you intend to make your own card blanks (buying A4 card and trimming it down often works out cheaper than buying pre-made card blanks). If you do not own one, try to find someone who does and borrow it. A decent pair of scissors is also a good idea. When cutting or trimming paper or card take your time - a straight line cannot be rushed and a wonky one cannot be undone easily. Adopt the tailor's mantra - think twice, cut once.
- Typos - it is impossible to proof-read your own material. Always ask someone who has a good standard of English to proof-read your wording, spelling and punctuation. Check and double check important details - date, venue, time, rsvp address etc. It is amazing how many people omit essential details.
So, how can you ensure that your DIY wedding stationery has a professional edge to it?
- Simplicity - if you are new to crafting, you are well advised to keep it simple. Play it safe - I always think that it is better to produce something simple to a very high standard than try to be clever or fancy and falling short. Be realistic about what you can do - if you have never embossed before, now might not be the time to start trying when you have so many cards to make. However, if you plan ahead you can give yourself time to learn new and more tricky tenchniques.
- Attend a workshop - as more and more brides and grooms attempt to slash the cost of their wedding, workshops targeting the DIY wedding market are becoming more widespread. Ask at your local craft shop if they run any courses or know of any locally.
- Ask for help - preparing for your wedding day should be enjoyable. Making a heap of invitations on your own can be tedious, so ask your crafty friends for help. Perhaps it might be a perfect chance to get your Bridesmaids round for some girly chat and get your stationery made to boot.
- Production line it - break your design down into elements and create a production line. When I have to make lots of the same thing, I complete it in stages. It seems to be quicker to complete the same task over and over and then move to the next part.
- Borrow equipment - as mentioned above, having the correct tools to complete the job can make a real difference, so ask around your crafty friends and see if they can help you out with tools.
- Matching items - using elements of your design throughout your stationery helps to create a more professional look. The photograph above is the order of service I created for my own wedding. The invitation was identical, but smaller. I then created favour boxes and gift tag place settings with similar design elements to aid continuity and help everything go together.
Lastly, one of the main aims of DIY weddings is to keep costs down, but it is all too easy to spend a small fortune in craft shops, as I know only too well. Initially it might be better to buy a few bits to play around with and work out a design. Once you have a design you need to work out how much of everything you need to buy. Remember that you need an invitation per couple/household and not one for every person. Similarily, you may not require an order of service per person if you would like to keep costs down. Whilst I would not advocate over-buying too much - the whole point to DIY stationery is to save money - it is worth buying a little extra in case of mistakes.
Above all, enjoy creating things for your wedding - it is lovely to see a wedding that is more personal and unique and to have contributed so directly to the overall day.