When DIY projects fail…

Sunday confessional: My DIY invitations failed. Completely and utterly failed. I spent months designing a suite that I loved (featuring the prettiest little birds on each insert), bought paper, talked to printers… then bam! Out of nowhere, we find out that nobody could print on the paper we bought (oh, about $100 worth). And the PDF of the invites was incompatible. And there was a border on them that nobody could print. It was too late to change it because my laptop crashed and the entire template was on there. And so on…It kept going like this until I eventually wanted to poke my own eyes out.

I was so stressed with midterms coming up, and being so close to crunch time for invites (we’re at about 6 weeks now)…I just couldn’t handle it. So what did we do?


We called up Wedding Paper Divas, put in an order, and 5 days later, these pretties were in my hands.


I still wanted the invites to have a homemade feel to them and some personalized elements. We bought typewriter letter stamps from Michael’s and stamped each RSVP envelope with “oh happy day” (our wedding catchphrase!). The invitation suite by WPD also didn’t include the lovely green inserts you see above and below. We did those ourselves, and then embossed them all by hand. Dr. Dave had fun with the embosser! And I loved the way the birds turned out, a coppery gold and nicely texturized.


We then assembly-lined the invitations and tied them with green raffia ribbon. This is what the finished product looked like:


Finally, I hand addressed all of the envelopes using a calligraphy pen and a guide I found online. It was surprisingly easy, and after a bit of practice, I really hit my calligraphy stride! If you can’t afford a calligrapher, I would definitely recommend trying it yourself rather than printing out labels. It just looks much more personalized and even a bit quirky!


So, invitations are finally out! It really feels SO good to have that done; and even though I would have rather had them be designed by me and one-of-a-kind, this was a great alternative that really took the pressure off. I suppose that sometimes with DIY, we have to be flexible–things just come up that keep certain projects from working. And that’s ok too.

Did you make your own invitations, darlings? How did they turn out? I’ve seen some beautiful designs around the blogs lately…


19 thoughts on “When DIY projects fail…

  1. My fiance is finishing school for Graphic Design, and we’re planning to create our own invitations. Any suggestions from your failed experience of DIY invitations?

    Also, I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the tree motif from WPD on your invitations, and the suite is stunning with those green inserts!

  2. This is great work bc you had valiant plans to do them yourself, had to admit it wasn’t happening, and then completely regrouped with a quick fix idea that’s gorgeous… AND found ways to further-personalize the selection! A success story, not a failure story, in my book!

  3. Briana, can you share more specifically- what went wrong? I mean, to help us, who are DIY-ing avoid these road blocks. For example, how was your pdf file incompatible? What kind of paper were you going to print on? Do you recommend certain types of paper? I’m freaking out about my invites, now.

  4. I’m with you! First of all, your invites turned out beautifully (!!!) and I’m glad you found a good way around the issues you had. Secondly, I feel your pain. I designed rough templates of my invite (both actual invite and STD), ok they really weren’t rough, I spent LOTS of time on these and had created what I wanted. But a friend offered to help me with designing and printing and it turns out that because I’d created a design that included 4 color printing (I originally had a v small budget for invites and was planning to print them out at Kinkos or something) and that was mucho expensive for a professional printer, but she didn’t want to go the Kinkos route (since she is paying for these, she gets to decide where). So I had to scrap all my work and we went head to head this weekend hammering out the details. I really appreciate her help and don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I felt like I’d already made all the decisions and having to go through them again (with someone who just didn’t get my vision) was really tough. But in the end, persistence has prevailed and all is ready to send off to the printer. I’m focusing on the end result and going to forget the long, long path to get there. Yay for end results!

  5. Hi everyone! Thanks for the comments, I loooooove logging in and seeing people actually read my post!
    Here were my problems:
    -nobody could print on the pre-cut paper I bought from paper source: they requested I bring them in on 8.5×11 paper which they could then cut into the correct size.
    -the paper was slightly reflective and nobody would take it because they didn’t think the ink would dry on it (which was a little annoying, because Paper Source specifically told me a laser printer would be fine).
    -had they been able to print them on 8.5×11 paper, I would have had to go in and take the borders out because they can’t cut them accurately enough for them to look centered just right on the page. (sounds weird, right? I mean, come on! how hard can that be?!) I wouldn’t have minded so much other than my Dell completely crapped out this week and I can no longer access photoshop (which I had to use to alter the images I used for the invitations and then to design them), nor do i have the original doc: only the PDF that I transferred to my jump drive prior to printing.
    -They were 4-color printing…which (as Kristie mentioned!) Kinko’s couldn’t print.

    I think that pretty much sums it up. I drove around the OC to about 6(!) different print shops and got turned down by all of them. So frustrating! Let me know if you have any other questions.

    @ all: I think the biggest thing I learned was to go to the print shop directly before you start designing your invitations to get the lowdown on exactly what they can do, what paper they can take, and what file types they accept. Unfortunately I relied on the Paper Source associates who apparently were just trying to sell me a product…though I do still adore their products, I was a little disappointed with the help I got there.

    @ Lydia: Thanks!! We loved the tree too. It seems so appropriately symbolic…solidarity, family… we loved it at first sight.

    @Maggie: Thanks for the optimistic view! That’s a great way to look at it!

    @Nikki: thanks! I’ve been thinking about going into event planning or some sort of similar business, but at this point with the economy…eek! Your work is beautiful, I checked out some of it. Very lovely!

    Jennifer: I got my calligraphy pen from Target. I also tried one from Paper Source and one from Michael’s, but the Target one was the best, quite honestly. The guide I used was simply this alphabet for the capital letters, and then I improvised the lower case: http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/jennibick02568/UpperCal.jpg

    @Kristie: oh my goodness. That sounds like quite an ordeal! I hope they turn out as beautifully as you’d originally planned!

    Thanks again for the comments and support, ladies. I appreciate it more than I can say!!


  6. Oh, I feel for you — sounds like this was a frustrating process!! But, your invites turned out beautifully, and I’m sure people will enjoy the personal touches you added. I just finished mine (incl. DIY letterpress!) and while I utterly adore the result, it was definitely a LOT of work and stress. I think one of the hardest things as a bride is to decide what you are able to spend time on, and what you need to delegate to someone else who can do a lovely job. Sounds like you got in spot on with this one!

    Leika’s most recent blog post: The Invitations

  7. Doing my wedding invitations actually started my whole stationery business! It was such a blast getting exactly what we wanted, not to mention how good it feels when you make something yourself.

    As for yours, they look great! The hard work really paid off!

  8. This right here is why I offer DIY Rescue services. While I may not have been able to find a printer to print on the small paper (which is always a huge issue and I often wonder why Paper Source tells people to buy pre-cut paper) I could have Gocco’d them for you.

    In the end though, your new invitations are lovely and I am glad you got to incorporate some hand-made loveliness on them.

  9. We printed on the same shiny metallic paper through Kwik Kopy (they’re a national franchise). We didn’t cut down before printing though. You can’t use inkjet on it, but laser works.

  10. I’ll be creating my own invitations. With the help of some kits at Michale’s though. I haven’t started yet though and won’t for a while.

    Kristal’s most recent blog post: One Year!

  11. You incorporated such personal and lovely elements into your invitations! Thanks for the tip – I’m going to ask Kinko’s about printing and cutting guidelines before I print. Luckily I already based my template on an 8.5 x 11 page to be cut.

    Chic ‘n Cheap’s most recent blog post: Worst wedding toasts ever

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *