Thursday, June 7, 2012

Making invitations

** Sorry this is so belated! I got the post about these invitations started and then forgot about it until a couple readers reminded me. This is the process I used for making Emily's shower invitations. I hadn't planned on a tutorial, so it's more words and suggestions than pictures. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the comments and I'll answer. **

I love messing around with paper, so I make invitations regularly (we still send paper invites for the gingerbread house party every year, just because it's fun).

For Emily's shower I wanted to do something special. I started with the idea of watercolors and moved forward from there.


Watercolor postcards (similar to these, but I used the 5x7 size)
Watercolor paint (you don't need much at all)
Paint brush
Plate for paint + water
Paper for backing the cards (I used a gorgeous gold I found in a large sheet at Paper Source)
Spray glue
Decent printer (we have this one and we've been really happy with it)
Hole punch (for adding dots, optional)
Tacky glue (for adding dots, optional)
Paper for lining the envelopes (optional)

 - The hardest part is always designing the actual invitation and unfortunately that's the part I can't help with! I design using Adobe Illustrator, but I know you can make it work using Word or Powerpoint and patience. - 

Paint your cards: I painted each postcard individually and set them aside to dry. You could also use larger sheets of watercolor paper and cut them down, but getting the edges all even is time consuming. I love pre-cut cards. I liked the effect I got when I painted a darker line of watercolor along the horizontal edge of the card and then gently painted over it with water, letting it bleed across. Play around.

Once the cards were dry, I stacked them and weighted them down under some stacks of heavy books until I was ready to use them. A couple days really decreased the amount of warping you sometimes get with watercolor.

Print your design: Once I had the design ready, I printed the cards by running them straight through my printer. My printer has a setting for 5x7 (many do, so check your settings) and I used the rear tray and didn't have any trouble with jamming. I always use the best quality setting option when I print invitations, because you get crisper text.

Back your cards: The downside to the post cards was that they had printing on the back (yeah, didn't realize this until I opened them, even though it was stated on the package). Luckily, I found some large sheets of gold paper at Paper Source and they were perfect for backing. Working with 6 cards at a time, I would spray the backs with spray glue (outside, on newspaper) and then quickly lay them down on the wrong side of the gold paper and smooth them out carefully. Spray glue dries almost instantly, so I trimmed them to size as soon as I was finished. I saved the scraps of the paper and ended up using it for the dots.

Add the last touches: I used a regular old hole punch to make the dots and then affixed them to the invitation with dots of tacky glue. My method for tacky glue is to make a small pool of it on scrap paper and then dip a toothpick in it and use that for adding glue to the dots. This part was the fussiest, so I made up one with the general layout I wanted to use and then kept it in front of me as a guideline while I did all the others. Note - this was super time consuming and this is the detail that I would have had to drop or modify if I were making a ton of invitations. I wouldn't recommend this for a wedding!

Enclose: The envelopes were from Paper Source and I picked a soft grey that went with the text and didn't clash with the gold accents. I lined the envelopes with a gold patterned paper from Paper Source. I used leftover stamps from our wedding (and much later realized that the postage had gone up - many thanks to the kind post office employees who delivered all of these despite my mistake).

{finished invitation}

Tips for invitations:
* Give people the critical information - in addition to the obvious date, time, contact info, response requested stuff I try to include food info, because as a guest prone to hangry attacks I like to know if I'm expecting snacks or a full on meal so that I can eat beforehand if necessary.
* You can include registry information on a shower invitation, but I still steer clear of it. Everyone has to contact the host anyway to RSVP, and they'll usually ask then. That's a personal preference, though. I know some guests prefer getting that information in the invitation.
* Triple check the date/time/address text and have someone else check it as well, if possible.
* Know the mail rules - square envelopes and/or any envelope over 1t oz require additional postage.


  1. oh gosh these are gorgeous! they're actually one of the most creative invitations i've ever seen.

  2. Such a cute idea! I love sending invitations and cards!

  3. These are amazing! Dying to see Emily's wedding photos!


  4. Absolutely gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing! You have some serious creative talent.


  5. they are just adorable! i really really love them. i want to try something similar, but because i'm not so patient, i might dip a pencil eraser in matte gold paint and stamp the dots on. you think that would work?

    1. That does work! I tried it in my first variation (with both gold paint and gold ink) but the edges aren't quite as crisp and the perfectionist part of me got frustrated. That said, I think it would be a great idea, and probably if I'd been willing to check out a couple different paints I might have found one that worked even better (I didn't want to have to brave Michael's or Joann's, so I was limited in supplies).

  6. I looove the hangry comment! And such a genius idea to include the food info, since I am also prone to hangry attacks. Beautiful invites too, of course!

  7. Wow, these are gorgeous!!! Great job.. so creative!

  8. LOVE! So perfect! THANK YOU so much for the tips/instructions. This will be so helpful as I attempt my own version soon :)

  9. I use the same method for tacky glue! Sometimes I get teased because of how ridiculous I am with toothpicks, but it's so helpful!

  10. LOVE the watercolour effect! Especially now when everything is done digitally! Will definitely try this and will pin it on my pinboards! :)

  11. Um these are super fabulous, and amazing, AND I can't wait to try them out! :>) lovely!

  12. These are so adorable! I need to give this a try! I notice in picture #1 the paper is warping b/c of the wet paint is drying. How did you flatten them?


Trying captchas this time - better or worse than having to log in to comment? Let me know! Sorry for all the hoops but the spam has been terrible lately!