Big Wedding, Small Budget

A Shift

I don’t know if you guys have noticed it, but there has been a definite shift of tone on this blog. As the wedding has gotten closer, I’ve been writing less inspiration or philosophy posts, and more hardcore planning posts. There’s a reason for that—most of the thinking and decision making is done. We’re now in the checking things off the list part of planning (thank god). And just like I’ve been interacting differently with my wedding blog, I’ve been interacting differently with the planning as well.

For example, I’ve spent a lot less time on those inspiration-heavy wedding blogs. I still like to look at them, of course, but now, it’s more a case of flipping through them quickly while I’m watching TV. I’m still on Offbeat Bride, of course, mostly because the Tribe provides lots of concrete planning help. The thing is, I don’t need to look at pictures anymore. What I do need is to write the ceremony, but that is a topic for another day.

This all came to a head at the end of last week, when we mailed the invitations. Anyone who has planned a wedding can tell you, this is a big step. First of all, there is so much planning that leads up to the actual mailing. Before we could send invitations out, we had to have the place and time nailed down. The website had to be completely finished, especially important for us because so many of our guests are from out of town and we are using the website for all of the information and RSVP. The wedding weekend events had to planned and included. Also, we had to choose, design, and order the invitations. And my mom had to address them all.

So, just being able to send out the invitations means that a lot of the planning is finished. But besides that, spending all of that time stuffing and stamping the envelopes, putting them in the mailbox, and actually imagining people receiving them made this whole thing so much more real. It felt like a point of no return, for lack of a better phrase. People have already started RSVP’ing, and that means that people are really attending. This wedding is really happening.

It’s thrilling and stressful, exciting and anxiety-producing. Now that it’s 2013, now that invitations have been mailed, it’s finally starting to hit me. The wedding is not just a big project, an event to plan. There is a huge to-do list, but that’s not the half of it. A wedding, a marriage, is a big life step, a colossal transition. Intellectually, I knew this all along, but I’m only starting to feel it now.

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Vendor Review – e.m. papers

This is my very first vendor review. And that can mean only one thing—we got our invitation!

Well, sort of. We now have the digital file; I haven’t actually ordered it from the printer yet. But oh my god, the pdf is gorgeous!

Eleanor from e.m. papers was amazing to work with. She does printable invitations, where you order a digital file and can then print them at home, at a copy shop, or with an online printer. Because I needed some customized options (cutting invitations on my own is too DIY for me), I filled out a form on her website with the exact changes I wanted. I did that last night, and this morning, I received the invitation! It was so fast!

Although the design itself was set in the file, I was able to change all of the pertinent information and the wording. I played around with a couple versions, finally settling on one we really like. It really made me feel like this invitation was our own.

Not only was the e.m. papers process super easy and fast, the designs are AMAZING. Not just my own, I promise. But ours is so beautiful! I’ve been looking at it all day. Besides my engagement ring, this is the first tangible evidence I’ve had that the wedding is happening, and I’ve spent the whole day so excited. I’m so glad Eleanor made this process so easy and fun!

**This is not a paid post. I just want to pass on the experiences I’ve had with vendors, good and bad (although I hope it will be mostly good).

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Supporting Marriage Equality

I’ve written before here about marriage equality. It’s something that’s always on my mind, but even more so now that I’m planning a wedding. As an ally, I think it’s important not just to vote in a way that supports everyone’s right to get married (not that there is much opportunity to do that in Florida), but to also let people know where my beliefs lie. And that one is tricky. I want to use the privilege that I have in being able to legally marry Steve to support others who can’t. But how to do that? The thought of making a statement in our wedding doesn’t really resonate with me. I do talk about marriage equality quite a bit, but it doesn’t seem like enough.

One way to further the cause of equal rights is to support businesses that are LGBT friendly. Not only does it help those vendors do more business, it also sends a message that non-discrimination is good for the bottom line. Also, it helps normalize same-sex marriages, making them part of the ordinary American landscape instead of an anomaly.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of research about ordering my invitations. As I’ve explained before, we’re planning on buying a printable invitation from an independent designer, then using an online printer for the actual paper invitations. One of the printers I have been looking at is Vistaprint. I’ve used them for my business cards before, and they always have amazing deals (and Groupons!), so they were definitely a contender.

Vistaprint offers a free Bridal Sample Kit, where they send you samples of all the different options for wedding invitations. That way, you can check out the various size and paper options before actually ordering. This is really helpful since ordering online means I would have had no idea what the paper looked or felt like. When I received the kit in the mail, I was, well, not over-excited by the paper choices. They were fine. Just not wonderful.

Then I looked a little closer and realized that one of the sample invitations was for two grooms. That’s inclusivity for you. The same-sex wedding was not included in a special LGBT wedding kit. It was in the normal wedding kit that goes out to everyone, just like any other wedding. And just like that, my mind was made up. We’d be supporting Vistaprint’s inclusivity by buying our invitations from them.

Companies, especially wedding companies, need to realize that when they market to LGBT couples, they are also marketing to their allies. I am more likely to support businesses that I know support marriage equality. There are a lot of us out there. And with this kind of inclusivity becoming more and more common, our numbers can only continue to grow.

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Invitations, Take Two

Well, it seems that the time is coming up soon for us to think about ordering invitations. Even though I’m pretty sure about the design we want, it’s so fun to look around and see what’s out there! As opposed to the last post I wrote on invitations, these are not ones I am necessarily considering. But I love them anyway…

Stinkerpants designs

This is an example of a custom-designed invitation from Stinkerpants. They will literally create an invitation based on you and your life, with hand drawn pictures of you, on a background of your choice. And you can even include your pets like this couple did! Since our house has been such an important thing in our relationship, I would love to have an invitation with us in the living room (or maybe in front of the house) with Asha, Buttercup, and Consemilla. How cute would that be?

Royal Steamline

This invitation is so not us and so not our wedding, but I effing love it. It reminds me of the Haunted Mansion. I love the grittiness of the picture, I love the font, and I really love how evocative it is. If we were a more goth-y couple, or having a Halloween wedding, I would totally do this.

Sweetheart Shout Out

I think these are so cute. Yes, they are totally gendered; yes, they are totally heteronormative. But I’m in a heterosexual relationship with a fiancé who got down on one knee to propose, so who cares? I love how modern these are, and truthfully, their mood matches what we’re looking for at our wedding. Fun, lighthearted celebration. Plus, look at how excited the stick figure on the right is. How can you not feel excited when you see that?

Set Apart Designs 85

I love the wording on this invitation. It gives so much information? And I think it’s worded in a really fun way. Who doesn’t want fun and frivolity at a wedding? The mix of fonts is pretty, and I’m totally in love with the “under the magnolia tree” line. It really puts a picture in my mind. But I am also very easily overwhelmed visually, and it’s hard for me to read this invitation with skipping my eyes all around the page.

Inviting Moments

This is called the “cute owl” invitation, and it really is cute. I like the colors, and I really like the font. I love how the owls are on the address of the postcard RSVP and the return address label. The designer has really thought of everything! It’s simple but it definitely has personality.

Mallory Hope Design

I am absolutely in love with this invitation. It’s beautiful and elegant. I adore the touch of color (you can choose the color when ordering) and the grey background. I’m really into grey lately. This does not look like a printable invitation at all.

So, there you have it. Invitations that are not meant for our wedding. But they are meant for someone’s wedding, and why not have something pretty to look at on a dreary (in Florida, anyway) Monday?

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Now that our save the dates have gone out, it’s time to start thinking about invitations. Even though we did email save the dates, we’ll be doing paper invitations (with online RSVPs). I love getting mail, and doesn’t everyone? So, paper it is.

There are so many awesome invitation options out there. Here’s some I’ve found that I really like so far (sources listed below, as always):

Cadence Paige Design at Minted

I think this invitation is so different than the traditional. I love how colorful it is, and there’s so much to look at. Plus, I think it’s super festive. Doesn’t this just make you think the wedding will be really fun?

Hello Tenfold

This invitation is really pretty, and it does match the sort of garden/picnic setting we’ll be having. I also really like the font that is used for the names.

Paper Dahlia at Minted

This also matched the garden/picnic setting. And I like the grass, because the whole wedding will take place on beautiful lawns, but it’s a little too plain for me. Not festive enough.

E.M. Papers

This is a printable wedding invitation. Basically, you buy the digital image and then either print it at home or get it printed yourself. It’s definitely an economical idea. And love, joy, and happiness? How could you set the mood any better?

Alethea and Ruth at Minted

This invitation is probably a little too tropical for us, but it’s really beautiful. And the lady beetles are a nice touch! (Who ever would have thought that I’d always be on the lookout for ways to include bugs?)

Bumble Ink at Minted

I love this invitation because even though our wedding is not technically a destination wedding, most of our guests are from out of town and we are inviting people from all over the world. So this would definitely match that!

As you can see, and probably not surprisingly, we aren’t really looking at traditional white-on-white engraved invitations. I think the invite sets the scene for the wedding, so I want people to expect a fun time!

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Save the dates are a relatively modern invention, I think. It’s easy to write them off as yet another unnecessary thing the WIC tells us we must have. I’m pretty sure save the dates didn’t exist when my parents got married. On the other hand, though, I don’t think families and friends were quite as spread out 34 years ago. When I looked over our guest list, literally 90% were from out of town (I love having Excel do math for me). 80% were from out of state. So, save the dates seem pretty necessary and helpful for our guests.

Besides, I love stationery, and I love looking at invitations and pretty paper online. There is just so much out there! And it’s not just paper. Sure, there are save the date postcards. But there are also magnets, comic books (yes, really), and videos.

Wow. Isn’t it enough work to plan a wedding without having the added pressure of making these unbelievable, unique, unforgettable save the dates? Yes, yes it is. Plus, with such a big invite list, there is no way we are going to boxes of homemade cookies with our wedding date on them. So we’ve decided to go with email save the dates. As much as this may be a technical breach of etiquette (not something that really bothers me), it works for us for several reasons:

  1. Keeping it simple seems to be the only wedding theme idea I can stick with.
  2. Just the thought of addressing and stuffing all of those envelopes twice (for save the dates and invitations) makes me want to take a nap.
  3. It will save us a significant amount of money on printing and postage.
  4. It is way more eco-friendly.

Luckily, there are apparently other people making the same choice, and there are several places on the internet where you can choose, personalize, and send out email save the dates. Of course, I’ve looked at them all: Paperless Post, Punchbowl, Evite, Cocodot, and Pingg.

Even though I know some people like to stick save the dates on their fridge, I would personally appreciate getting one I can stick in my starred folder, you know? And lest you think we’re total heathens, we will be sending out paper invitations (more on those later). For now, we’re going with the easy so we can put our time, money, and effort into making the wedding more fun!

I leave you with the following: a save the date I would never send out, for many reasons. However, I would love to get this in the mail. These are actual cookies, people. Could someone I know make this happen, please???