The Invitations

Right after Phillip and I were engaged, we hit the public library on one of our usual visits. What did you know, but a DIY wedding book was sitting on the new arrivals shelf! I checked it out and found a great idea for wedding invitations–wood veneer! I had no idea where to begin. All the directions said was to buy wood veneer… OK. I googled it and eventually found a website called Cardsofwood.com. That’s all they do, manufacture and print on wood that has been specially treated to run through an ink jet or laser printer. They have the option on their website to buy remnants in packs of the same size. We ordered large sheets of “poplar” veneer in business card weight (they have the veneer available in regular paper, card stock and business card paper weights). We decided we’d cut these large sheets down into half sheets. Shipping was cheap and the cost all together for the veneer was less that $60.

In less than a week, a FedEx package of wood veneer showed up at my doorstep. We figured we’d print half sheet invitations so we ordered enough sheets to cut 150ish half sheet invitations out of them. Lots of boring math that I let the accountant do. When we set out to cut them, we realized that we didn’t calculate quite right so we would need to make the invitations slightly smaller to get that many out of the veneer we ordered. No worries! Easy cheesy! So Phil spent an evening cutting the veneer with a paper cutter while I played with our music play lists for the reception. The first step was done, which was stressful because I’ve never worked with this stuff and didn’t know how it would respond to a paper cutter (even though the DIY book said you could cut it with scissors, a rotary cutter, or a paper cutter). It cut beautifully, just like card stock. Amazing. Poplar, the wood we purchased, is a  very light colored wood, with pretty knots and waves in it. Little did I know, however, that it sometimes has streams of a greenish yellow tint, so some of the sheets came a little greenish.

Next step was to design the invitation. I played with images of trees I found on-line in Photoshop, making them gray scale and then playing with the brightness and contrast. I pasted them in InDesign (a design program that could be substituted with Microsoft Publisher or even just Word) to create the text and layout. It was rather easy to create. I found examples of the text for the invitation on websites like weddingbee.com, theknot.com and other random wedding invitation websites. I made the text my own by tweaking the wording and went on a search for the perfect font. I found a few that I liked from dafont.com and got a few opinions of friends before choosing one. Then came the test print… no problems whatsoever! It printed in my little Brother laser printer at work without a hitch!

The invitation, rsvp card and the feather.

I purchased 2 boxes of Ivory A9 Greeting Card envelopes from Office Depot for cheap and 2 packs of brown card stock from Joann’s for $3.99 each. I bought 150 post card stamps for the RSVP postcards and 150 $.44 stamps for the outer envelopes. I decided to go with post card RSVP response cards because it was way cheaper. I also included all of the wedding details on our blog, instead of all in the invitation. Each invitation was only $.44 to mail because we had cut down so much on the weight! So don’t be hesitant to use wood veneer for fear that it is heavier, it’s not!

Next, I had one of my bridesmaids organize an invitation making party to put them together. The day before I still hadn’t created the RSVP cards, so that was a fun last minute dash. I used the same tree image, but just blacked it out and printed the RSVP cards on what looked like recycled brown paper. Then we tied them together with green ribbon and a peacock feather that I got in bulk at Shinoda Design Center.

Phillip at Office Depot, cutting the invitations.

A lot of time spent at printing shops…

The invitation party

While ordering and designing the invitations was easy, printing the invitations was a chore and a half! I decided to take the job to FedEx Print Center. Since we were printing them last minute for the party, I was stressed out to the max. Laura took our project and set up the machine without a problem. They were about to close so we had to come back the next morning. We showed up early Saturday morning and the woman at the counter told me she couldn’t have them printed by 3 pm because she’d have to manually feed them… lies… all lies. We took it to Office Depot and the woman there had it done in about an hour.

WARNING: if you choose to do DIY wood veneer invitations, you get some of the strongest reactions in both directions. Friends will love you, people who work at print shops will hate you.

I’m leaving out some misprinting drama with the RSVP cards, but the moral of all this is to find a competent printer and don’t wait until the last minute. Also, when buying and printing on wood veneer, make sure the grain of the wood matches the way it will feed into the printer. Veneer doesn’t bend against the grain, only along the grain. Lastly, check your test print jobs carefully before you give the thumbs up.

Here are some samples of the first design, that we scrapped and redesigned. I don’t have pictures of the final draft, you’ll have to wait and see. Just know that the invitation is a hand crafted labor of love. :) I’m extremely happy with the outcome and want to print everything on wood veneer from now on!

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