No, this post is not about contracting venereal diseases (which I’ve learned that all the kids these days call STIs). It’s about making our save the dates!
While our Save the Dates are waiting to go to the post office, I thought I’d share the process and labor that went into making them.
From the start, we knew we wanted large magnets. I loved several magnet designs from Minted – but at $2.45 each, 100 magnets was way more than I wanted to spend on Save the Dates. I checked a few other wedding paper vendors, but most magnets were on the small side. Introducing: Vistaprint.
Vistaprint is not your typical wedding stationer. They offer a few wedding-specific designs for invitations and save the dates, but their main line of business is promotional materials for businesses. And since business products typically mean high-volume orders, VP is way cheaper than wedding paper companies – 100 postcard-sized magnets are only $95.00, compared with Minted’s $245 price tag. Additionally, it seems that you can always find a Vistaprint coupon for at least 40% off your entire order. The only problem? I wasn’t super crazy about any of VP’s STD designs.
And then I had That Thought that so many brides come to regret – “Maybe I can DIY.” Not entirely DIY – I would leave the actually printing to Vistaprint (whose price tag I could get on board with) – but DIY the design for our STDs. So I downloaded a copy of Adobe Illustrator and gave it a shot.
First, we needed to choose a photo. I had a few criteria:
- We were both equally “present” in the photo. While there were several amazing pictures where one of us looked towards the camera while the other looked away, or you saw one of our faces but the other person’s back, I wanted our STD to represent US – equally. So either we both look at the camera, or both look away, and neither of us have our backs turned (unless we both do).
- There is “room” in the picture where I can overlay text without covering us. Again, we had so many great shots that just wouldn’t work for our STD without someone’s face being covered by our URL – and I love both our faces too much for that.
- Tait had to love the picture. I needed to love it, too, but as I did the first pull of pictures, I only selected ones I loved to begin with. As Tait often reminds me, I’m far less critical of how he looks in pictures than he is of himself – I suppose I’m biased and always think he looks super handsome. But I didn’t want a picture that while I think he looks great, he feels differently.
We decided on this one of us walking together. I love the ease of it – it such a Happily In Love picture. Not to mention the lighting is just beautiful (I mean, really – look at the highlight on my hair).
Once we had the picture chosen, it was just the simple matter of artistically adding some text. Using those graphic design skills that I don’t have. While I wasn’t willing to pay Minted’s prices, I loved many of their designs, so I looked back to Minted for inspiration.
I wanted something simple that wouldn’t compete with our picture, but with a unique touch. “Gallery Classic” stood out – I can’t resist a good swash, and the curved names elevated the design above just a pretty font.
I downloaded the font “Business Penmanship” and got to work spending far too many hours playing around in Illustrator. I can’t even tell you how many different font combinations, microadjustments, and text variations I tried (comma? no comma? 20-point? 18-point? invitation to follow?). Eventually, you have to decide it’s “good enough” and give up.
I uploaded the final design to Vistaprint, and did a quick Google search to discover a 50% off coupon. 100 postcard magnets for…$47.51. Even after tax and shipping, the total came to a whopping $62.58. Can we say #winning?
Another point for Vistaprint – they arrived fast. My confirmation email estimated 8 business days…they arrived in 3. Under promise, over deliver – nicely done, VP. In fact, the only negative thing I can say about my Vistaprint experience comes down to the envelopes. The order included 100 free envelopes, which I was initially excited about. I mean, who doesn’t like free things? But the envelopes, in addition to being very thin (which I expected), had very small back flaps (which I didn’t expect). So small that it is not possible to write or print a return address on them, let alone use our embosser.
Now, I recognize that I can’t really complain about the quality of the envelopes I didn’t pay for. And I certainly did not expect high quality fine envelopes for free, but I thought they would at least be usable. I hate waste. Had I known that the envelopes flaps were so small, I would have chosen “no envelopes” at checkout. Instead, there are now approximately 90 envelopes sitting in our paper recycling pile, as I can even justify holding onto them for something else (I was able to use about 10 of the envelopes for test printing and foiling). So my feedback to VP – be more transparent about the quality of the “free” envelopes so consumers can make a better informed choice.
All said, the envelopes were a rather minor setback. Thanks to Amazon, I was able to procure 100 white A2 envelopes with standard flaps in 2 days for $10.94 (I love Prime). The envelopes were nothing special, but they would easily run through my laser printer and accommodate our return address embosser. Done.
After one last run through our guest list, I used the date merge function in InDesign to create envelopes from our Excel file. Then I patiently fed the envelopes one by one through our laser printer, because my handwriting would ensure the STDs would never arrive.
Being me, I couldn’t leave it there. Black text (even pretty black text) on a white envelope is just a bit too boring for my tastes. A couple months ago, I purchased a Heidi Swapp Minc Mini (aka fancy laminator) and some rose gold colored toner reactive foil. Rose gold is one of our wedding colors (we will have rose gold foiled invitations), and I wanted to incorporate it into the STDs in some way. So I decided to foil all the names on our envelopes to make them a little more special and pretty.
This was easier said than done. In theory, one simply cuts a piece of foil to size, lays it on top of the text to be foiled, runs it through the machine, and ta da! Perfectly foiled envelope. In reality, it was a bit trickier than that.
First challenge: the machine works by using pressure and heat to adhere the foil to the toner on the envelope. You know what pressure and heat also does really well? Seals envelopes. The machine was really good at heating the glue on the envelope seal and gluing them shut – without the magnets inside (and you can’t run it through with the magnets inside). The envelope couldn’t fit through the Minc Mini with the flap open. I tried placing a piece of wax paper under the flap, but it just glued to the wax paper instead. Finally, I trimmed a piece of plastic carrier sheet (the plastic folders you stick the envelopes in to run them through the Minc) and tucked it under the envelope flap. That did the trick! The envelope still stuck to the plastic, but only a little bit, and the carrier sheet could be easily pulled off the flap with no damage. Problem 1: solved.
The second challenge I faced was wanting to only foil some of the envelope. The entire address was printed using toner, but I only wanted to foil the name. So I placed foil over the name, stuck it in the carrier sheet, put in through the Minc, and…pulled it out to find that the uncovered toner had partially transferred to the carrier sheet. The envelope itself was just fine for the lost toner – but the carrier sheet was ruined, as well as any subsequent envelopes put into the carrier sheet – the toner would transfer back from the carrier sheet to the new envelope, leaving a ghost image of the previous address. In other words, a mess. The obvious solution is to just foil the entire address. And why not? Since when is more rose gold ever a bad thing? Unfortunately, the USPS specifically notes that addresses need to be non-reflective to be deliverable. Womp womp. But I wasn’t giving up on my rose gold envelope dreams just yet. Fortunately, thanks again to Amazon, I was able to get some new transfer sheets. Then I cut up rectangles of plain white paper to cover the non-foiled part of the address. So when the envelope was put into the Minc, all toner was covered, either by foil or paper. The paper had the same issue as the transfer sheet – it was fine on round one (the toner from the envelope would transfer to the paper), but had the same issue as the transfer sheet on round two (the toner would transfer back to the new envelope). Luckily, unlike the plastic transfer sheet, we could afford to use a new rectangle of paper to cover the non-foiled part of the address for each envelope. Problem 2: solved.
So after much cutting, foiling, and patience, I manged to foil the names on all 90-some of our envelopes. After that, it was simply a process of embossing our return address, stuffing the envelopes, and sealing them shut using our glue pen (the envelopes are pre-glued, but I’ve always found using a glue pen to be much more dependable – plus, I’m not into licking envelopes). Oh, and stamping them.
In case you haven’t heard, 2016 is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Tait and I have a thing for the NPS and our parks. So when I heard that the USPS was releasing a set of 16 stamps with images of our National Parks to celebrate the birthday, I HAD to have those stamps for our STDs. So one day I left early on my way to go teach and stopped by the post office and waited in line for 45 minutes to get the NPS stamps. Except they didn’t have them (and the most frustrating part – there’s no one who is willing to tell you that they don’t have them until after you’ve waited in line for 45 minutes). Le sigh.
They are available to purchase online through the USPS website, but they charge shipping. Yes, the USPS charges shipping to deliver their very own stamps, so that you can pay them to deliver your mail. Ugh. In any case, I was not about to wait in line at another post office and risk not obtaining the stamps again, so I just sucked it up and purchased the stamps online. And I’m so glad I got them. I know most people won’t notice the stamp, but they feel special nonetheless and very much “us”.
And that’s it! Our magnet STDs are complete! The price breakdown:
- Magnets: $62.58
- Envelopes: $10.94
- Foil: $10.42
- Postage: $54.39
For a total cost of, $138.33*. That’s $1.38 each – almost half the price of the Minted magnets alone.
*Note that the price breakdown does not include the Minc machine itself.