Cheap 'n' Quirky Wedding

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DIY Return Address Labels September 15, 2011

Unless you’ve embraced the paper-free wedding, you’re probably mailing things all the time. Not just invitations and save-the-date cards, but many, many, many thank you cards, shower invitations, checks and contracts to vendors, etc. While I was in the midst of writing out my return address on what seemed like my billionth envelope, I wished I had registered for mailing labels (not such a bad idea, by the way.) It wasn’t until today, almost 13 months after my wedding, that I realized I could make my own and so can you. If you can make an address label in Microsoft Word, you can make yourself custom return address labels.

To make a simple address label in Word for Macs 2008, go to “Tools,” then “Labels…” and fill your address in the box. Make sure that you select the right label size or your labels will print all over multiple stickers. Label sizes can typically be found on the top or bottom of the sheet of labels, as well as on the package. To create a sheet of identical labels, click the option “Full page of the same label” under the heading “Number of labels.” See, that wasn’t so bad.

If you want to get all fancy and you have design software, open up your InDesign, Publisher, or your preferred program and set the document size to the size of your labels in inches. Design your dream labels, but keep in mind that it should be clear and easy to read. You may consider using a serif font for the address but a sans serif for an initial on the left. The options are endless, you could use a symbol from a font like Wingdings or place a photo on the left-hand side. Here’s a quick label I made in InDesign for Fakey Fakeperson; it only took a few minutes, it’s really that easy.

To print it as a sheet of labels, you’ll have to turn your label into a JPEG or TIFF and use Word. To make it into a JPEG, the easiest way I’ve figured out so far is to export it as a print-quality PDF, then open the PDF and “Save As” in the JPEG format. Once in Word, go to “Tools,” then “Labels…” and click “OK” without entering any other information. Copy and paste your JPEG design into the first label. if it looks good and is formatted properly, paste it into the remaining labels on the page. You’re now good to go and print your snazzy labels, you fancy label designer.

If you’re super busy, as anyone planning a wedding usually is, you’ll probably benefit from the convenience of ordering mailing labels like the ones from Vistaprint, but if you want custom, low-cost labels, you can do it. The DIY bride can have her finger in every metaphorical pie, even the mailing labels.

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Things Learned: RSVP Cards March 23, 2011

I knew printing your own invitations could be a tad frustrating, but I didn’t expect to be swearing at my printer for 4 hours. I also never expected it to re-frustrate me two weeks before my wedding. Allow me to explain:

DIY invitations, whether made from scratch or from a store-bought kit, can save you a lot of money. It also allows your creative side to come out. When you’re making your own invitation, you’re free make it say anything you want. Any wording, any layout, anything. Actually, you might be too free. I was. I ran into trouble when I realized that I hadn’t actually read many invitations and RSVP cards and didn’t really know what they were supposed to say. Naturally, I googled wedding templates and I came out with a perfect invitation.

My unclear RSVP card

I was equally pleased with the RSVP cards. I based it off of a template I found online and on the one I’d gotten for my coworker’s wedding. I figured that if multiple websites had it as a template and my coworker used it, it must be suitable. I’d found it clear when I filled it out for my coworker’s wedding. Here it is:

 

It was problematic on a few levels. Firstly, in how people filled it out. If it were filled out properly, it would read “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, 2 will attend, 0 vegetarian.” Not everyone knows the blank spots are for numbers. Some people just put a check mark next to “will attend.” That seems like an appropriate response when you look at the RSVP card, but it’s quite problematic when the Doe family is responding and you need a concrete guest count (are they bringing all of their kids? Are their kids assuming they can bring dates? Yes, it happened to us.)

There were some cases where we didn’t know the names of distant relatives’ children or spouses (shameful, I know,) and this format didn’t allow us to get the names. I don’t know about all banquet halls, but our venue required a list of the names of all guests.

On a similar note, when couples/groups responded and listed one vegetarian, we had no idea who in the pair/group couldn’t eat a meat dish. Luckily we had a buffet so it wasn’t an issue, but if you had to tell your venue exactly who needed the vegetarian dish, it might be difficult. Hopefully they only need to know the number of vegetarians at each table; it might be worth asking your venue about.

The problems listed above are only problems when people respond. The biggest problem I found with this format was that guests didn’t respond at all. I expected everyone to respond, not just because I’d spent so much on stamps, but also because I thought it was common courtesy. Some people who couldn’t come responded with a card that said “0 attending” or wrote a little note on the card expressing their regrets, but many more figured that we were only expecting cards from those who were attending. In an ideal world, only attendees responding could work, but not all attendees sent their cards back. There were people who assumed we knew they were coming without them responding, or those uncles who never respond to anything but just show up, or those relatives who were waiting until the last minute to see if they could get the weekend off/how their great-aunt’s health would be/if they felt like going, etc. No really, that all happened to us. On our deadline, we had received about half of the cards back. We had to follow up with all of the rest! Our deadline was a week before the venue’s deadline for our final guest list, but I never imagined that entire week would be spent tracking people down.

Remember my post on over-explaining your tosser? Same idea. Make the response card so simple that no one can make a mistake, not even that young single person who has never attended a wedding. I’d only recommend the last template on this list of templates. Remember that you should have a place to check yes or no (so the non-attendees know they have to respond too) and a place to list the number of guests. If you’re giving food options (choice of entree, vegetarian options,) you can present the choices with a blank spot and hopefully your guests will fill it out clearly.

In the end, there’s always going to be people who don’t respond, fill it out wrong, or say they need more time. There’s nothing you can do, it can’t be perfect. Just make sure that you put the deadline on the card at least a week before your venue’s deadline and try to make the card as clear as possible. And if all else fails, whoever wanted the non-responders on the guest list should be stuck with tracking them down (my parents and in-laws had a busy week of tracking people down, our friends responded.) Remember to delegate, especially since they should know the best way to get a hold of these people, especially if you don’t know them at all.

Good luck!

 

Yeah, I do graphic design too… March 18, 2010

I’m sticking my fingers in many pies for this wedding. Recently, I even dabbled in a little graphic design and now I have some DIY-designed, professionally printed save-the-date postcards. They arrived yesterday, I’m so excited!

I’m not exactly skilled in design, but my post-grad program involved a design course so I have a very basic background. I got to work with Adobe InDesign and I still have the program on my computer, so I put it to good use. I designed a simple postcard with our names, the fact that we’re getting married, the location, and the address for the WordPress blog we started (to act as a wedding site). I’m sure you’re a nice person who won’t stalk us, but still, I’m only posting the censored version for you:
Save the date postcard

I sent it in to Vistaprint. I’d been seeing a lot of people of bridal blogs saying good things about it and I’m impressed with them. They have pre-made save-the-date designs, but at about a dollar a piece (which is comparable to everywhere else I’ve seen), I was determined to submit my own design as a business marketing postcard and only spend $29.99 (plus design uploading fees) for 100. With taxes and delivery and everything, it came to just over $50 and was delivered within 2 weeks (even though I selected the slowest shipping option.) I was wondering why everyone was posting their own random link to Vistaprint on these sites. Turns out you get reward points or something for referring people and they get a discount. Well, I’d be giving them the good review anyway, I’m pleased with them and I’d use them again regardless of the future discounts (which they do have a lot of).

I figured postcards were great because they’re cute, fun, and I don’t have to spend more money on envelopes. Plus I love sending postcards, I try to send postcards from everywhere I travel. I feel like I’m including a little bit of me through the fact that I did it myself and that it’s a postcard. And it’s green, our wedding colour.

Here’s the but: as much as I’ve talked these up, if you don’t already have access to a design program and some background in it, I wouldn’t recommend this. The cost of Adobe Creative Suite is far more than you’d may for other save-the-date cards and it can take a little getting used to before you can use it without wanting to scream at your computer. But hey, if you have access to such a program or a designer friend, this is a great option. There are also plenty of pre-made options in plenty of colours. I just wanted to put this idea out there because I really hadn’t seen a lot of it (or a lot of inexpensive options) on the blogs so far.

Also, did you know they have clear mailing labels now? I didn’t. I am amazed by the advances in mailing labels since I was last down that aisle.

Now if I could just finish the guest list so I can send them out…