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DIY wedding stationery – when it works, and when it really, really doesn’t.

Are you making your own wedding invitations? You certainly won’t be alone: more and more couples are taking on the challenge of a bit of DIY wedding stationery to save money and enjoy being creative. But is it really worth it? Sometimes the honest answer is no…

Not all DIY wedding invitations are equal!

I’ve seen bad wedding invitations as well as good – on wedding forums for example. I’d never say so if it would offend someone… but Wedding DIY certainly isn’t easy for everyone! Making invitations often looks easy – even couples with no craft or design experience can be tempted down the DIY route.

If you have a craft or design background then making your own invitations and stationery is almost instinctive – and it’s a must! I’ve seen the most amazing stationery dreamed up in the minds of creative couples, like Jo, Aqua Kat and Farrah who I was chatting to on my Facebook page last week!

But if you’re not naturally handy with a glue gun sometimes it can all end in tears. Wedding DIY can cost huge amounts of money and take up valuable weekends of your time in the run up to the wedding day leaving you stressed, frustrated and covered in glue.

So how do you know if you should risk making your own wedding stationery or not? Here’s how…

DIY wedding stationery – 7 signs it’s a good idea for you!

Some of us are natural crafters; some are laid back and immune to stress. Some of us have all the free time in the world and an army of friends who are wizards with scissors. You know you’re safe to embark on a bit of wedding DIY…

  1. when you’re designers or crafty types of people already. If it comes naturally, you’re onto a winner.
  2. when you have time! Will you have three or four totally free weekends in the months before your wedding? If the answer is yes, then you can spend them making your invites and reception stationery… Wendy Bell from WBD Designer Wedding Stationery advises, “Making your own wedding stationery can be a great money saving idea, though definitely not time saving. Ask yourself, do you have plenty of free time on your hands? Are you naturally creative? If the answer is no to these two questions then you should weigh up the pros and cons to saving money versus paying a professional. If you’re a perfectionist and you’re not enormously gifted at designing on a computer or hand making craft items, chances are you’re going to be sorely disappointed with the end result in spite of the fact that you have put your heart and soul into time consumingly making your wedding stationery.”
  3. when you plan carefully – we’re talking budgets, measuring and teamwork here! Know how many cards to buy, how much string you’ll need, how much glue or tape, and how long it will take to make 50 invitations and so on.
  4. when you save money.The more fiddly your invitations, the more you’ll spend on bits and pieces. If you’re buying online don’t forget delivery costs for all your bits and pieces. Will you need a guillotine, printer cartridges, custom stamps (expensive!), lace (ridiculously expensive!) or beads and buttons? Work out your budget and compare it to online sellers, who might save you money because they buy their bits and pieces in packs of 1000… Matt and Lisa from Olivia Samuel told me, “We made the decision to create all our ranges to be DIY because we have found more and more couples are looking to save money by making their wedding invitations, but often finding that by the time they have sourced all the materials and put all the work into it, they probably had spent more than they would have getting it made.”
  5. when you work together! I promise you that DIY wedding stationery takes longer than you’ll think. Don’t try and do everything yourself. Work together as a couple or with a few of your besties – you’ll appreciate the support!
  6. when you proofread! Only this week I heard about a bride who’d made her invitations and forgotten to include the time of her wedding. Little mistakes are very easily made – especially if this is your first time making invitations. If your spelling and grammar are excellent, and you’re prepared to proofread again and again you’ll be fine 🙂
  7. when you cheat just a little – think about buying a quality DIY wedding invitation kit instead of starting from scratch! Not the ones from Hobbycraft which are pretty goddamn awful quality, but something like Olivia Samuel or Mandalay. You’ll save so much time if your invitations are pre-cut, measured and planned for you!
diy wedding invitation Olivia Samuel UK

DIY wedding invitation kits will save you time and money! Photo credit Olivia Samuel www.oliviasamuel.co.uk

… and 7 clues for when your DIY wedding stationery might be about to go horribly wrong!

I think there’s too much pressure on couples, and especially brides, to save money by making wedding invitations. It’s not for everyone and there are better options if you’re not the crafty type! Think of those weekends you’ll be able to spend as a couple, which can be all too rare in the run up to your big day. If you’re wondering if you’re up to the job of a big DIY wedding stationery project, consider what happens when it all goes wrong…

  1. when you’re new to crafting. First time since GCSE art classes? Not sure how to glue ribbon to card or how to print funny card sizes upside down and backwards from Photoshop? If it’s sounding stressful already then it might get a whole lot worse!
  2. when you buy cheap card, tacky kits or poor quality ribbon, glueSaving money by making your own invitations is one thing. Trying to save even more by buying cheap components can be a nightmare. Think floppy card, tape that doesn’t stick, and ribbon that shines, frays or wrinkles up in all the wrong places. You could end up with second-rate invitations or having to start all over again when your hard work comes undone!
  3. when you overspend. It’s really important to plan what you’ll need. If you head to Hobbycraft with a vague idea of what you’re going to buy you WILL end up overspending on alternative ribbon colours and ‘little ideas to try’! When your wedding invitations are all made and ready to go, if you’ve spent £500 and have reels of ribbon and reams of paper left over will it really have been worth all the blood, sweat and tears?
  4. when you aim too high! Keep it simple. If you’re not a graphic designer don’t plan a complicated multi-folding bundle of clever inserts. A complicated design can turn out to look reeeally home made (in a bad way!) and leave you feeling disheartened.
  5. when you take it all on yourselfthe run up to your wedding isn’t a time to be spending on your own worrying about fonts and envelope sizes. If making your own invitations and stationery isn’t fun – don’t do it. But if you’re both creative types, you’ll have a ball working together!
  6. when you miss deadlines and it all gets really stressful. Easily done – complex plans, not enough hours in the day and ‘helpful suggestions’ from all of your aunties can all set you back. Focus instead on being in control so you don’t leave things too late and panic.
  7. when you cheat too much. There’s a fine line between drawing inspiration from styles you find online (vintage, rustic) and copying specific designs you’ve seen. Please be aware of copyright issues just in case one of your invitations turns up on facebook or elsewhere on the net (see this article about wedding designers and copyright)

Some of my favourite examples of DIY wedding stationery

DIY invitations – top tips and advice from UK wedding stationery experts

My personal top tip is to do your research before you decide to make your own invitations. Check out wedding forum examples both good and bad, and weigh up the costs carefully: both in terms of time and money. If you have busy lives and you’re not usually craft-loving people is it really worth spending solid weekends and getting stressed so you can save £200 on your invites? The professionals can make beautiful, quality invitations at affordable prices – for a fraction of your total wedding budget! I think they’re worth their weight in gold!
Claire, www.Calligraphy-for-Weddings.com

My friend Nathan at Artemis Stationery has just published a series of advice blogs with 39 great tips for DIY wedding invitations – they’re recommended reading! Here are a few examples:

  • For craft style invitations before finalising your design time yourself making it. Lots of people have given themselves huge battles by making a stunning prototype but then really struggled to find the time to build them in quantity.
  • If you need to send invitations through the post be careful not to make anything that can get crushed. Alternatively buy a posting box.
  • If you need 50 pieces of card cutting cut them all at the same time rather than when you make each invite. It’s much quicker.

Nathan, www.artemisstationery.co.uk

There used to be a fine line between homemade and handcrafted invitations. Now there is a huge gap and it’s increasing the amount of companies now available to make handmade invites because the quality of design is poor. Our top tips for brides and grooms who are determined to make their own stationery are to consider buying kits or using a professional company to print your designs. Best of all, how about speaking to a designer to say you like their design but want to put it together?
Jo, www.WeddingParaphernalia.co.uk

We’ve aimed to provide stationery that looks professional by providing kits that utilise card blanks with professional techniques that cannot be done at home such as foiling, embossed detail or professionally printed heavy card stock. We then provide the ‘recipe’ for how to make the stationery. The idea for these kits was to save customers money, because at the end of the day the biggest cost involved in making the stationery is the labour costs.
For those that want to have the handmade look and design and create their wedding invitations, the biggest tip we can give is that usually, less is more. It’s very easy to get carried away with sticking another embellishment on or add another colour so that you end up with a mishmash of styles. Research, choose a style and stick to it.
Matt & Lisa, Olivia Samuel wedding stationery

When it comes to weddings, everyone has different budgets and there are a vast array of professionals who can create your wedding stationery within different price brackets. There will always be someone to suit your style and requirements. Just remember that it’s not just the paper/card that you are paying for, it’s the professional’s time and expertise.
As a stationery designer myself, it seemed ridiculous to consider asking someone else to create my wedding stationery. However, whilst I was perfectly capable of creating my own stationery suite, I must admit that it took a vast number of hours from start to finish as I was incredibly critical of my own work. Can you honestly commit to spending your spare moments outside of work on such a time consuming project whilst juggling organising other aspects of your wedding?
Wendy Bell, WBD Designer Wedding Stationery

And the last word goes to Craig from men’s wedding blog Staggered

I wanted to get a man’s perspective on the whole DIY wedding invitations discussion, so I asked Craig why it always seems to be the brides-to-be that make the invitations?

I’m actually quite crafty myself. I like to sketch and paint, so I can kind of see the appeal of getting involved in the design – to a certain extent. I’m not sure I’d trust myself to do a decent job with crepe paper and Pritt stick. There are obviously a lot of notable exceptions, but quite often the choice of professional stationery veers between dull and obvious or cringe-worthily hipsterish.

The future Mrs Morris is quite crafty too and I can see her wanting to stamp our invites with some personal identity – not as a statement to our friends, but as a nice memento of the day for ourselves.

I suppose that would be surprising from the standpoint of DIY being more traditionally the man’s arena, but possibly it’s to do with the stigma – imagine all of the groom’s friends finding out he sat down with a calligraphy pen and some ribbon. Instant social pariah.

I bet men are more involved when it comes to digital design. If you can see your art taking shape on a web page, or an app, or in Photoshop and tweak it to your heart’s content, then it becomes instantly acceptable man territory.

Also, can it really be considered “DIY” in the proper sense of the word or is that just silly?

I don’t think it falls into the ‘Handy Andy’ bracket of DIY, which is something I for one am not into at all – in the sense of shed ownership, or being especially handy around the home – I’m not the kind of man to shop at B&Q, but I concede that if I did, I probably wouldn’t find any tulle on their shelves.

The thing is, it’s such a cliche that men don’t have the skill to live up to their DIY ambitions, but that doesn’t stop us from pursuing them. Maybe DIY is more about spirit than skill.

Craig Morris, www.IAmStaggered.com

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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3 COMMENTS
  • Wendy Bell
    7 years ago

    Fantastic post Claire. There’s some great advice for those looking for DIY inspiration and some wise words of caution for those who are less creative. Hopefully this will help any couples pondering whether they should or shouldn’t go down the DIY stationery route…

  • Absolutely fantastic post!
    Thank you so much for linking my tutorial on Boho Weddings blog too! Was a lovely surprise thank you xx
    Lots of great advice and I feel exactly the same about DIY wedding invitations, as long as its done to a good standard where it still looks and feels handmade and shows the personality of the couple then I’m all for it.
    I’m very much a DIY bride and will always promote it where I can, but its got to be done well and not stress you out. My little snippet of advice would be know your limitations, ask for advice from the people in the know and practise practise practise before you cut that expensive lace or ribbon. Always order a few more than you need, not only for if something goes wrong but also for a keepsake too. And never buy those little metallic stick on letters.. ever!!

    Becki x

  • Julie Dawson
    7 years ago

    This is an absolutely brilliant article. What an insight into DIY invites. From a planners perspective I can certainly back up the time it takes to make them. Don’t even think of leaving this to the last minute. You will be so stressed. I do love them though, such a lovely personal detail if you are so inclined. The kits shown here are a brilliant way of combining expertise from a stationer with your own details and taste. I do know how Brides love to pour themselves into their weddings. Thanks Claire another fabulous read. x

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