Category Archives: invitations

the details, part two: signs… of the times

Three weeks before the wedding, I suddenly turned to the beau and exclaimed: “Oh, shit! We’re gonna need signs and stuff!”

The beau looked at me. “Shit,” he said.

True dat.

We needed signs. A food menu sign. A bar menu sign. Signs for the table seating charts. Signs for the dessert table. Table name signs. Signs for the guestbook table. And so on.

Now, here’s where I developed a condition that could only be retroactively diagnosed as General Anxiety Regarding Prettiness and Details and Logistics Disorder (GARPDLD).1 How big did the signs need to be? Should they all maintain a similar look and feel? What should that look and feel be? Chalkboard or print? How to frame them? Huh? Huh? Oh god we are going to pick the wrong thing and we are all going to die and the wedding will be ruined.

We had a tense moment one afternoon when I pulled all our empty frames2 out of the closets and laid them in the middle of the living room floor and proceeded to talk at considerable length with the beau about what he thought of using them for the wedding. Sample conversation:

Me: “So what do you THINK?”
Beau: “I don’t know! They are all fine. I don’t really care.”
Me: “… but how do you FEEL about them?”

I finally decided, with very little help from the beau thank you very much, that no, these wouldn’t do at all. So then we went on a tense trip to Aaron Brothers to look at their frames, but they were all too expensive and confusing. Needless to say, things were getting… tense.

Then, something snapped. I must have inadvertently swallowed a chill pill or eaten some kind of magic wedding mushroom that caused me to just not care anymore. I decided — BAM! — we’d use chalkboards for the menus and as one of the guestbook props.3 I decided — BAM! — we’d go out and find plain and inexpensive photo frames in which to put the guest seating lists. I decided — BAM! — something else. I don’t entirely remember that period of time anymore. I probably decided to have a drink. Yes, that must have been it.

For the bar menu sign, I salvaged a large (roughly 16×20″) pale greenish frame from an old painting the beau’s parents had given us. For the guestbook prop, I dug out an 8×10″ ugly gold ornate monstrosity I’d found abandoned on the sidewalk down our block, and spray painted it a nice turquoise for no reason other than that was the color of available spray paint that I liked best. Then, for the dinner buffet menu, we found a 12×18″  black wooden frame in a thrift store for $3. We ripped out the fine artwork — a thoughtfully illustrated poem dedicated to an outhouse — it contained, and threw it away. I know. I don’t know what we were thinking, either.

Having carefully measured the interior dimensions of the frames, we went to our local hardware store and had them cut pieces of 1/8″ masonite down to size. Then we covered the masonite in a few coats of chalkboard paint, and stapled them inside the frames. Here they are, put to good use:

My brigadier was the one who kindly wrote out the bar and dinner menus out on the chalkboards. Here’s a bonus shot by one of our guests of (part of) the menu sign in action:

As for the guest seating, we went so far as to assign them tables, but not specific seats. We found some 8.5×11 metallic diploma frames on sale at Target, which ended up working really well, because all we had to do was print out the seating list for each table on letter-sized paper and slap it inside a frame. The ones we sorta liked were a brushed silver color, but Target tragically did not have enough of them in stock. So we got two extra black ones, because we just. Did. Not. Want. To. Think. Anymore. These frames really didn’t go with anything else in the wedding, but if you’ll recall my special magic wedding mushrooms, I was past the point of caring. Metallic! Wood! Antique! Modern! Black! Silver! Turquoise! Whatever! Hell, let’s do it all!

Here’s a shot of a table with many of the aforementioned signs at work during the wedding. Over to the left you can kind of make out the metallic frames in question. We ended up only needing to use one black frame, so we put our head table seating list inside of it, so that everyone would know we were Very Special Indeed.

The last thing I did, quite literally two days before the wedding, was make the table name signs and the other assorted labels that we needed. At first I waffled a bit on the table name signs, thinking that we needed to buy mini chalkboards to “go” with our bigger chalkboards. But then another part of my brain said: gurrrrl, pshhht. It was a fair point. So we got some basic metal card holders to display the printed table names instead.

For the sake of ease, I made it so that the table names were half the size of a standard letter-sized sheet of paper (5.5×8.5″), and that the dessert signs were half the size of the table names (4.25×5.5″). I fretted briefly over how to display the dessert signs, but then the beau said, “Why don’t we just print them on cardstock, fold them in half, and stand them up like little tents?” Brilliant, beau. I knew there was a reason I was marrying you.

So it was fairly simple. I used a variety of the same fonts we used on our invitations, we had a copy shop print them on cardstock and trim them, and then we folded the labels over like tents. Done. See, look:

We had a multitude — dare I say a plethora — of various desserts, so we needed signs for them so that people would know what they were getting into. Unfortunately, we don’t have many pictures of them in use, so I guess you can use your imagination for the rest of them (Hint: they look just like the above! Except with different names and in different fonts!). In think they’re kind of cute for being half-assed. Then again I think a lot of it is because Christina Richards is an awesome photographer.

And here are our table name signs, replete with holders:

For those of you wondering just what the hell “Arcade Fire” is about, we decided to name our tables after bands we like who we’d seen play live. This is a great idea in theory, but a poor idea in execution. Really, it would have made more sense if we’d put in the show date and venue in smaller type below the band name. In fact, that’s what I’d originally intended to do, but when I went to make these signs I just completely forgot. My brain was scrambled eggs by this point. Like, old rubbery scrambled eggs that have been left in the pan too long and now they kind of have that weird skin. Yeah.

That’s it, kids. I’ll be back later with MOAR.

All photos by Christina Richards, except for the third one by Aaron Rosenblatt, and the fourth one by a guest.

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1 It was, how shall I say, a recurring condition throughout the wedding planning process.

2 Yes, I have this problem where I buy frames I love on sale and then never put anything in them.

3 More to come on that later.

looky-loo

Because I did that thing with the invitations recently? And they have finally arrived at the homes of the approximately four people I know who read this blog? Of course I am going to have to show them to you now. As a refresher, this is the part where I go LOOK AT THESE and some of you kind of nod sympathetically and pretend to like them. Then you turn to your friend and go, “I don’t know WHAT she was thinking.”*

Because my computer is powered by magical unicorns, I was able to change our names and other pertinent info in the source file before making it into a picture. Which is disappointing, because I so wish my fiancé’s name was Beau Beason. Oh well, now I can pretend!

invitation_forweb

I decided on a typography-based design pretty early on in the process, namely because I had all these FONTS and I LURVED THEM and I WANTED TO USE ALL OF THEM OMG. What? I think that’s a legitimate artistic motive.

I made it so that the big blue word “wedding” is jutting out and attacking the column of information on the right. This is probably some kind of subliminal message about how the wedding is like a dagger stabbing into the heart of my life. Or something.

We saved a bit of money by printing out fewer RSVP cards than invitations and sending them only to the older people on our guest list who aren’t as computer-savvy. We made them postcard-sized, slapped a stamp on the back, and sent them on their way. Here’s the front:

And the back:

I kind of went back and forth about including more information, like the addresses of the venues and a map and directions and a list of hotels with room blocks, but you know what? 90% of our guests are traveling from out of town, and from all different directions. We can’t possibly cover each of their bases. So we just made sure that everything is clearly spelled out on the website, and we let the rest go. No hand-holding. Most guests can fend for themselves from here on out. This is the digital age, after all. All they have to do is click on our Google wedding map and they can build their own directions in a snap. The rest can be helped out by family members.

I got a lot of pushback about this from various people — one told me that assuming her guests would actually bother to visit the website was her biggest mistake. She said she spent the last few weeks before her wedding fielding phone calls from guests who needed basic information. Me? I’m just hoping that our experience is different.

So there it is, folks. Thank you once again for playing along as I show you things you can’t possibly be remotely interested in.

Did you or do you plan to do your own invitations?

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* After I mailed out the save-the-dates, I asked my mom what she thought of them, and she said, “Well… they are… interesting.” Yes, mom. They are incredibly interesting. Thank you for noticing.**

** ALSO: OMG, the invitations look nothing like the save-the-dates! I am surely going to wedding aesthetic hell for this.

fun with printers, or how to lose and regain your mind in just a few short days

We have a friend.* I’ll call him Dewey.** Dewey is a visual artist. Dewey owns a fancy printer. “You should come over and print photos on my printer!” he used to tell us enthusiastically, and repeatedly. Then after we got engaged, it turned into: “You should come over and print your wedding stuff on my printer!”

Fine, Dewey. You convinced us. Saves us from having to pay to print our invitations and RSVP cards, right? And so recently we commenced Project Printington: The Printness. What follows is the project’s trip report.

ROUND ONE

We pack up our preordered paper supplies and booze and head to Dewey’s house. Look out kids, WE ARE ABOUT TO PRINT SOME SHIT.

6:30 pm: We’ve arrived. This is going to be fun!
6:51 pm: Install printer driver.
7:05 pm: Test print!
7:06 pm: No? No test print? You want me to download a driver update first? Eyeroll.
7:29 pm: WOOOO! Finally! Test print!!!!
7:32 pm: Hmmm, the color is off.
7:37 pm: Adjust color.
7:44 pm: Adjust color again.
7:49 pm: Wait, why are there lines running through the text?
7:52 pm: Clean print heads.
7:54 pm: Um, it came out sideways. And there are STILL lines.
7:56 pm: Adjust color.
8:02 pm: THIS IS SIDEWAYS.
8:06 pm: THIS IS SIDEWAYS, TOO.
8:07 pm: How the #@*% does this thing work?
8:13 pm: Fine. There’s nothing we can do about the lines. Yeah, okay, you can only see them if you look really close. I know nobody is going to look that close. Let’s just do this thing already.
8:14 pm: Send batch of ten to print!
8:28 pm: BURRITO. MORE BOOZE. It’s a celebration, bitches.
8:35 pm: Another batch of ten! We’re rolling!
8:54 pm: Okay, next batch of ten. Printing slowly. Ever. So. Slowly.
9:12 pm: Wait, these ones are coming out super streaky.
9:17 pm: Clean print heads.
9:24 pm: Ooh! Better! Let’s do another ten!
9:41 pm: #$@&*$ LINES.
9:49 pm: Clean print heads.
10:07 pm: MORE. #$@&*$. LINES.
10:28 pm: Admit defeat. 24 more invitations need to be printed, not to mention all of the RSVP cards. Plan to regroup tomorrow. Maybe the ink just needs to be replaced?
10:36 pm: Home. Feel dejected. Eat ice cream bar in hopes that it will solve all of my problems.
11:11 pm: Problems apparently still exist. Screw you, ice cream bar.

ROUND TWO

Hey! Maybe I can print the rest of the invitations at work! And the RSVP cards too! In the middle of the day, without anyone finding out!

12:23 pm: Printer error.
12:37 pm: Printer error.
12:50 pm: Printer error.
12:51 pm: $%@* !&#$%!@*&#@!$*#@!&*%$@*&#@!$
12:58 pm: Printer error.
12:59 pm: [redacted]

ROUND THREE

Back to Dewey’s house, sans beau. He has rugby practice. Printer, I shall battle you alone. And boozeless.

5:57 pm: Printer has brand new ink. Print heads have been cleaned. Prepare to submit to my will.
6:02 pm: Test print. Okay. Not perfect, but not bad. Let’s roll.
6:20 pm: First round of ten done!
6:44 pm: Second round of ten done!
7:03 pm: Third rou… wait, there are more lines than EVER. On ALL of these.
7:06 pm: Clean print heads.
7:12 pm: Now the lines are multicolored! It’s like they are all having sex and giving birth to little baby rainbow lines!
7:16 pm:  Okay. Maybe it’s just tired. Maybe the printer is revolting against its suffocating lot in life. Let’s change it up by test-printing an RSVP card.
7:25 pm: Sob.
7:31 pm: Wail.
7:35 pm: Give up. Pack up. You win, printer. So long, you miserable bastard.

ROUND FOUR

Duck out of work and go to the local copy shop.

2:34 pm: Check out available paper. Choose one.
2:42 pm: Hand over PDF files.

*** next day ***

12:10 pm: Check proof at shop.
12:12 pm: Hmm. Color is way off. Can it be adjusted?
12:13 pm: Do I wanna come back and look at a new proof? No. You know what? Just do what you can. At this point you could change it from teal and yellow to red and purple and I would probably just shrug.

*** next day ***

11:20 am: Fork over $79.
11:22 am: Leave with invitations and RSVP cards.
6:47 pm: Assemble invitations, RSVP cards, stamps.

*** next day ***

7:59 am: Deliver finished envelopes to post office.

SO. After being a week late getting out the invitations, we managed not only to extend the lateness several more days with our printer woes, but to also pay more for our troubles. What a privileged bunch of jerks we are.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. Start earlier.***
  2. Don’t trust a fancy printer.
  3. Be suspicious of people named Dewey.
  4. The color on the screen will never look remotely like the color on the paper.
  5. Ice cream doesn’t solve anything, but I will continue to eat it anyway.

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* Shocking, I know.

** I’ve begun watching syndicated episodes of Malcom in the Middle at the gym every morning. Sue me.

*** Story. Of. My. Effing. Life.

in which the details escape me

I tried, you guys. I tried to be normal. I walked to the post office, waited patiently in line, and when I got up to the counter I expressly asked for the “King and Queen of Hearts” stamps. The USPS employee looked me dead in the eyes. “Oh, we don’t have any of those,” he said. “We haven’t had them for months.”

Okay then.

He pulled some samples out of a drawer and pushed them in front of me. “Is this for a special occasion?” he asked. Yes, a wedding. He showed me a stamp with two gold bands on them. Eh. He showed me a stamp with some purple flowers and the word “love” on them. Eh. Then I spotted the ones. “This,” I said, plucking a sheet from the pile. “This will do nicely.”

I purchased four sets of “Cowboys of the Silver Screen.”

Do Hollywood cowboys of yore have anything to do with our wedding theme or location? No. Do they have anything to do with our wedding invitation design?* No. Do the beau and I share an interest in old western films? Not in the least. But you know what? They make me happy.

And at the very least, my grandparents will get a little thrill out of seeing Tom Mix on their envelope.

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* To make matters worse, the only stamps they had for postcards had polar bears on them. So yeah. Polar bears and cowboys will be adorning my invitations and RSVP cards. When will the horrors ever cease?

D-I-WTF

DIY in the real world is pretty self-explanatory: Some things you do yourself, instead of hiring someone else to do them. What exactly you choose to do yourself depends on a myriad of factors, including budget, tools, time, and ability. This is why I “DIY” my car’s oil change, after all — I have an off-street place to park, I have the basic supplies, I have the know-how, it doesn’t take very long, and it saves me money. Changing my own oil works for me. Hell, I even like it a little.

This is DIY in the real world.

DIY in the wedding world has been, for me, another thing altogether. I’ve long been flummoxed by the term, because it seems that “DIY” gets trotted out the most when describing a wedding that has a lot of handmade elements — think pinwheels, bunting, goccoed invitations. Hence, I’ve come to equate “DIY wedding” with “crafty.”

I don’t do crafty.

Two of my best friends are among the craftiest people in the world. They can knit you a scarf, make you a purse, cross-stitch the crap out of anything. Their skills continue to amaze me, for I wouldn’t trust myself to sew a button on. One of these friends once brought her sewing machine over to help make some curtains for my bathroom, and that thing scared the shit out of me. My poor pal was baffled at my horror. “It’s really easy,” she assured me. “It really takes no skill whatsoever, you just have to learn.”

Hmm. My grandfather put it a bit differently when he described his attempts to teach my dad and his sister to play the accordion. “It takes nothing at all,” he insisted. “They just didn’t have no talent. They were awful.”

Yeah. See, that’s me with crafting. Just plain no-talent awful.

So here I was, starting to bite my nails, because I knew I wanted to DIY some elements of the wedding in order to save money, but I also knew that any project that involved a trip to Michael’s and/or the purchase of a hot glue gun was going to send me screaming and kicking into the dark recesses of hell.

Then I experienced a newsflash: DIYing my wedding doesn’t have to involve crafting if I don’t want it to. All ya’ll probably already know this, because you are smarter and wiser than I. But this was my call to get back to DIY basics. A reaffirmation of the “do what works for me” philosophy.

I started by trying to bring it down to street level. What are my skills? What do I actually like to do? OK, I’m a designer. I like to design. That means I can… you know, design things. Things like the save-the-dates, the invitations, and the wedding website. I already have the entire Adobe Creative Suite sitting right here on my MacBook Pro, after all. And I already have web hosting set up — all I have to do is purchase a domain name for our wedding site. Good! Right?

But I still felt conflicted. What with my perfectionist tendencies, designing these things is going to suck up all my free time. Moreover, save-the-dates and websites have been called out recently by the blogosphere as two of the least important wedding elements. Did I really want to waste a lot of effort and energy on things that I already know won’t matter in the long run?

Then I decided: Yes. Yes, I do.

Yeah, I know I could save buttloads of time by just picking out a readymade invitation suite. And I can’t even argue that building my own website will save us any money, because I can go out to the Knot, pick some colors and upload some pictures, and have a wedding website in under an hour for free. But do you know. How much. That would make me. HURT inside? My pride couldn’t stand a blow like that. My type-A personality would chafe under the knowledge that rrrrrghhhh this is just a template that somebody else made, and oh my god, I don’t even like this stupid scroll pattern but it’s the least offensive design of all of them.

So this is my DIY plan of action. It won’t save me much on time, but it’ll save me a little bit of money. I already have the tools on hand, and I’ll get to exercise my skills on something that’s important to me. This is what works for me.

What works for you?

i caught you a delicious bass

The beau was thinking about potential themes for our overall wedding look.* The beau does that kind of thing.

See, we don’t strongly share any particular interest. It’s not like, say, we met while rummaging through the bargain bin in the basement of the local record shop, and as we began swapping our music collections we gradually fell in love, and now our whole house is chock full of stacks of vinyl, and we’re engaged, and so it makes utter and complete sense to mock up an album cover with our faces for the save-the-dates, and to mail guests little round cards with holes punched through the middle and our names and the wedding date on the label as the invitations, and to build a playlist with all our favorites on the website, and to string old records up above the courtyard so that at the reception they twist gently in the breeze, and so on and so forth.

Yeah, so it’s not like that at all.**

I mean, a theme is not the point. It’s not going to make the wedding. But at this point, it sure as hell feels like it would be easier to create all this stuff if only I had a simple idea to latch onto.

So, we’ve been racking our brains, searching for the commonality between us. Both of us. Which brings me back to the beau, and his Napoleon Dynamite-inspired idea. Do you remember the opening scenes of that movie? Of course you do. Who can forget creative writing with condiments?

napoleon_dynamite
Hell yeah, tots!

We kind of think this approach would work best for the save-the-dates, and maybe the website. And we’d adapt it to suit us, of course (even though tater tots and ketchup already suit us pretty damn well). Anyway. It’s just a thought.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Napoleon Dynamite was only the entire reason we ever met. But that’s a story for another time.

* Did I just type “wedding look?” Yes, yes I did.

** But now I so wish it was.