- Mrs. Paisley
- 8 years ago
- Wedding: June 2010 - Family Lake House
I letterpress printed my own invitation suite (20 total press runs) in four colors. I did save the dates, invites, programs, response cards, and maps. I started really digging down into the process about 8 months prior to the wedding. It is now 5.5 months till the wedding, and I did the printing in one week’s time with my letterpress mentor. All told, I spent roughly $650 on invitation paper, graphic design time, poly plates for letterpress, not including the gas for the trip up to NorCal to my mentor’s shop–I don’t count that because that was a trip I needed to do anyway to go to my parents and my hometown–where the wedding will be. I stayed at my bridesmaid’s house in the Bay Area for free while printing for an entire week…
Here is my advice, so if you go this route of complete DIY, you, too, can save $10,000 (I really, legitimately saved this much, if not more!)…and perhaps you can save even more if you don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Also, can I just say, please allow 6-8 min per envelope for addressing by hand in calligraphy if you do what I did when addressing envelopes for both save the dates and invites for your wedding–which was print liners, cut out, line, and then do the calligraphy. These are my lessons learned, and the process I went through:
Two years ago: began taking letterpress workshops at local community art studio. Total: $90 dollars for 4 long classes.
1 year ago: Go online to forums and make letterpress printer friends, check out books on letterpress printing, and learn!
7 months ago: Meet letterpress veteran online in forums, who lives 8 hours away and make friends with the elderly gentleman. Exchange 100s of emails in which I learn everything there is to know about letterpress that you possibly can over email.
6 months ago: Find design I LOVE on Style Me Pretty, which another bride had cutom made for her. Research which graphic designer she used. Contact her, and have her render all my invitiation suite needs, including making tweaks to the original design (so I like it better and also so I feel like it’s more my of my own design), and designing me a cutom program, response card and monogram (she did this free of charge as wedding gift) for $400.
4 months ago: Use Oct. 20 percent off coupon, go to Paper source, and learn that I can get an additional 40 percent off on the color I like (discontinued luxe white color, plus an ice blue envelope color) Save 60 percent total and buy all paper and envelopes (for STDs, invites, and 4-bar envel. for the response cards) for $115.
4 months ago: Start working with Boxcar Press to get plates made. End up being overcharged $40 because they spaced out my designs on the poly letterpress plate too much (you’re charged per inch of the plate). Get mad at Boxcar because they took advantage of me knowing i was not an expert. Advice: DO not, ever, EVER admit to Boxcar you are a novice!
3 months ago: Finally get files sent by GD correctly to Boxcar, and plates made and sent to me.
3-4 months ago: coordinate schedules with best friend in bay area, myself, and mentor and set a date to go print.
2 months ago: Go up to mentor’s place, and print for five days straight. Make a lifelong friend and adopt the gentleman and his wife as my new grandparents. Enjoy a wonderful dinner with them, and my Bay Area friend at my mentor’s house.
1 month ago: focus on work (magazine writer) and Christmas and forget about invites for awhile (highly recommended)
three weeks ago: realize the six month mark has passed, and casually think “i should send out my save the dates”. Think it will take maybe three days or so to address envelopes. I thought oh-so-WRONG! Lol…
three weeks ago: Go to Kinko’s and use their paper trimmer, and trim my save the dates so there is a lovely “bleed” of the letterpress design on the very edge.
three weeks ago: begin what I now call my two week-long process of address hell, collecting needed addresses from friends, mom and their friends, FI’s mom, and then nagging FI for about a week straight to finish collecting his friends’ addys (still 7 that he hasn’t gotten! HE says he will hand deliver them, lol).
Then begin this gruelling process:
To create cheap liners: Scan pretty fabric onto computer, and mess around in photoshop. (half hour)
Take memory card of fabric design to printers to print out 215 envelope liners for STD’s and invite envelopes. (one hour)
Make template to cut out liners. (10 min.)
Draw liner pattern on 215 envelope liners (two hours)
Cut out 215 envelope liners (2.5 hours)
Go to Michales and get a bunch of double-sided tape runner. Go thru 5 tape runners really fast and realize stick glue is cheaper. Go to Michaels and get a couple of gluesticks. Three trips to Michaels total bringing FI and friends so we could all use the 40% coupons, lol! (3 hours–driving 30 min. round trip)
Find calligraphy font online. Download. (1.5 hour–spent too much time looking for fonts)
Try printing addys on envelopes on my printer and totally munch up the envelope. Resign myself to idea of doing hand calligraphy myself, convincing myself it will be more elegant anyway.
Gather addresses via facebook. Nag FI to call friends for addys. Respond to people’s facebook messages. (~4 hours)
Type in each person’s address one at a time on the computer so that I have the calligraphy to follow. (I did this one at a time as I was doing the envelopes for the STDs and invites, for ~100 addresses (we are inviting 175 people but many are couples, so fewer total addys)–so about 1.5 hours spent typing in addys, maybe)
Realize my idea of using a thick card slipped inside envelopes with thick lines in heavy marker will NOT work as a guide to keep my calligraphy straight– Paper source luxe envelopes are too thick! Proceed to measure with a ruler four lines and draw in light pencil on each envelope. (1.5 hours)
Go to art store and get calligraphy pen and ink. (art store 30 min. away–so 1 hour 10 min.)
Practice calligraphy. (1 hour and stupidly, three or four ruined envelopes when I tried before ready)
Do calligraphy on each envelope. Ruin about 15 envelopes out of sheer stupidity and working too late, getting tired and misspelling people’s names or addresses. (A LOT of time…probably 3 hours per night for 8 nights straight)
About halfway through, run out of my two ink cartridges and realize my calligraphy pen nib is pretty much shot. Go to Michaels in the hopes they have calligraphy pens, and yes, they do, curse to myself that I went all the way to the Laguna art store the last time, and buy another calligraphy pen and ink. (45 min.)
Eight days later of about 4-5 hours each day doing all of the above..finally finish envelopes! Go to post office and buy Queen and Kings “love” stamps because I’m too fed up to look for cool vintage or unique ones online. Have envelops weighed and pleasently surprised I need only one 44 cent stamp, even though the envelope is oversized.
Told, however, they can’t hand cancel. Take my envelopes home with me. Next day, wake up at 7 a.m. and call 10 post offices to inquire about hand cancelling. Find out post offices do not answer calls until one hour after their listed opening time online. Told it’s “against policy since 2007 to hand cancel anything.” LAST post office I call, a nice guys answers and says to go into the closest post office at opening and drop his name–they should be able to do it.
Next morning, go into said post office and politely ask to get hand cancelled. Lady says “no problem!” and chats with me about Oprah as she puts cute, round, red hand cancelling stamps on my precious envelopes.
Wait three days for my 175 lovely friends and family to start telling me via facebook or email or in person that they love their save the dates! Get nothing. Fourth day, while at Grey’s Anatomy girls’ night, one friend (more like, fake frenemy, sadly) says…”got your save the date….what ever do we do about hotels–there is no hotel info on them!” me: “oh, there’s a website listed on the save the date. that’s our wedding website. All travel info’s on there.” Her: “Ohhh, it is? I didn’t see that. Well can you just write some hotel names down for me now.” me: nod and write some down, but die a little inside.
Five days later: Best friend gushes over received invite. MOH, unfortunately, says on phone that she got it and proceeds to change subject to her wedding…which is taking place three months after mine… No further comments about save the date from MOH. Makes me sad.
Six days later, mom emails me that she got the save the date, that it is BEAUTIFUL, and that now she actually undertands that the wedding IS in fact going to happen and is super excited and nervous! Me: thankful that my save the date helped her to realize this! That, alone, is worth this whole ordeal!
Fast forward to today, and I’m still waiting to hear if people got my save the date…
Cost for envelope liners: $35 to print paper (after calling 10 print shops to get a good deal)
$15 for two sets of calligraphy pens+ink
$15 for sticky tape (using 40% off coupons and bringing FI and friends along to buy more in one trip)
$4 for two glue sticks
font: free (online)
Total for lining and doing calligraphy: $69. Estimated saved: $300 (at conservative $1.50 per calligraphed envelope) and ~$100–$200 for either liners or pre-lined expensive envelopes.
Cost all told to letterpress invite and save the dates, as well as letterpress monogram on envelopes and return address on envelopes, (cost not including travel to my mentors studio): $650 including paper and graphic designer fees. Mentor charged nothing and refused to accept $200 check for supplies and his time. Total time spent with mentor: 50 hours. Total time spent driving 16 hours round trip to Norcal, and back and forth to mentor’s place from friend’s house for a whole week: 21 hours.
Estimated money saved by doing caligraphy, letterpress printing and liners myself: $10,000.00. (For high quality, custom designed letterpress invites, it is $700 per color JUST for invite + response cards…usually not including design and color letterpress printing of other suite items like maps cards, programs, or envelopes. [Each color must be a separate press run, that is why so expensive.] I ran a total of 20 press runs, and hand mixed my four ink colors. I printed: 4-color invites, 4-color STDs, 4-color programs, 2-color map cards, 3-color response cards, 2-color envelope runs (monogram in light green and return addy in navy blue), and 1-color response card envelopes (my address on front). So, that is why my CONSERVATIVE estimate of total savings is around $10,000. Original budget two years ago, for whole process: $400. (when I didn’t know any better). Revised budget this fall: $650. (thinking I would pay for inks and donate a little to mentor–who told me not to expect to pay him any tuiton for his help and teaching). Theoretically overspent: $250, but considering my mentor refused my check (in a moving speech that made me cry, lol), I came in right about on budget (revised budget)
In the end, it was all worth it! Even though most people don’t care (my best friend in Bay Area knows and appreciates the process since she watched at the studio for a whole day, and said she plans on framing my save the date and invites and keeping them forever! 🙂 <3 It was worth it because I became a master letterpress printer, made a lifelong friend, and am personally gratified that I did the envelopes myself.
Any questions? PM me! Happy printing. (It’s never “letterpressing!” Remember that, I made that mistake and my mentor corrected me!)