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One of my favorite tips about planning a successful party is to give your guests something to do when they walk in the door (it helps with the social anxiety until they’re warmed up). And my personal favorite of those activities is a DIY photo booth. I mean, I’ll also take a professional photo booth, but the parties I throw don’t usually have that kind of budget. When Michael and I got married, it was at the very beginning of the DIY photo booth trend. I had a DSLR, and a tripod, so I figured what the heck. I could probably make a professional-looking photo booth, right? Except, our venue was dark, and it turns out we had the wrong tripod mount. So what we ended up with was a fancy backdrop that mostly hid boxes at our venue. C’est la vie. In hindsight, I realize now that what we were trying to do was rig a professional-looking photo booth without being… professionals. Which might have been our first mistake.

So a few years ago we asked our now Associate Editor, veteran wedding photographer and general badass, Mark of LeahAndMark & Co. for his best tips on DIYing a wedding photo booth. At first I was surprised that his advice wasn’t chock full of fancy equipment and lighting equipment recommendations. But then I remembered—unless you know someone who owns and understands DSLRs and lighting equipment (or you have a burning desire to learn), trying to figure out how to use your uncle’s fancy camera (and then leaving said camera in the hands of drunk wedding guests) is probably more trouble than it’s worth, and renting or buying all that equipment can quickly get close to the cost of a professional photo booth. Plus, as technology has evolved over the last few years (hello iPhone with portrait lighting!), you really don’t need pro equipment to make a kick-ass DIY photo booth. So with that, here is Mark’s guide to an awesome, foolproof DIY photo booth setup, updated for 2018:

The FoolProof DIY Photo Booth

1. Make a backdrop. Your backdrop doesn’t have to be fancy. It definitely should not be complicated. Start with a blank solid-color wall. White. Black. Blue. Whatever. If you want a pattern—have a pattern. If you want a mountain landscape with cats shooting lasers, or unicorns wrestling dolphins—do it. You can buy pre-designed photo backdrops at places like Minted or buy custom fabric at places like Spoonflower. Though, a favorite affordable photo booth backdrop is to use those tinsel curtains you get at the party store. You can buy them on Amazon for about $10 a piece, and they look great just about anywhere. The trick is to layer them so that your backdrop is at least two curtains deep. But if you’re looking to get really creative with your backdrop, APW has a few amazing tutorials up our sleeves, not to mention a monster round up of the best backdrops we could find on the web. Beyond that, pretty much no one does a DIY backdrop better than our friends at Oh Happy Day. They have tutorials for everything you could think of, from this giant moon to this cool balloon marquee and this amazing giant wall of chocolates. Whatever you choose, make your backdrop 6 feet x 4 feet or larger, and it will match the dimensions of most camera formats automatically (which are 3 x 2 horizontally). You can either affix the backdrop to a wall using gaffer tape, or you can purchase a backdrop stand such as one of these.

2. Provide as much light as possible. Instead of fiddling with any kind of camera flash setup, just make sure your DIY photo booth area is very, very, very well lit. I’m talking strangely, glowingly, bright. It can be in a well-lit separate room or just partitioned off—but make sure you provide lots and lots of light. If your reception is during the day, then this won’t be a problem at all. If you need to bring in lamps and plug them in—do it. (For an easy and decent lighting hack, you can use one of those cheap dorm lamps with any bulbs that say “daylight” on the package or have a color temperature of between 5000K and 6500K for a super bright light that mimics daylight. Both are available for cheap at most big box stores and it should say right on the box what the temperature of the bulb is.) Oh and the lighting doesn’t have to be boring white light either. You can have colored light—just make sure the area is still very well lit. Or you can go a little more professional look with actual studio lights like these and make it feel a little less DIY.

3. Get some props. Toys. Costumes. Inflatable pool floats. Whatever you think will make it more fun and interesting for your guests. Animal masks are always a big hit, and so is anything that’s way too big or over sized like sunglasses or jewelry. The weirder or more unique, the better. Always. Except feather boas. NO FEATHER BOAS. Ever. (They’re just too messy.)

4. Make a hashtag for your wedding. I know. Maybe you don’t want to be those people with a hashtag for their wedding. But it’s okay! You’re only having the hashtag so that you can collect and find ALL of the photos that people took at your wedding. And they’ll probably post their photo booth pics on social media anyway—so you’ll want them to use your hashtag! (Because otherwise, if people are using their own devices, there is no way to get your own copy of these photo booth pics.) Here is our guide to creating a hashtag, while you’re at it. Just remember, if your guests have private Instagram accounts, you won’t be able to see their photos unless you follow them. So if it’s really important to you to get all of your photo booth photos at the end of the day, you may want to provide a camera to take the photos with (see our tip on iPad photo booth setup below) or look into one of those wedding photo sharing apps like WedPics that automatically gathers all your wedding photos in one place.

5. For printed photos, buy an Instax Share SP-2 photo printer. This printer enables anyone with a smartphone to print their photos right on the spot at your wedding reception. Sure you have to buy the instant film cartridges, but depending on the number of your guests, you’ll spend considerably less than you would if you rented a professional photo booth. It’s a super simple process that the majority of your guests won’t have a problem completing. They just need to download the app onto their smartphones. (Pro-tip: Have a simple sign that explains exactly how to do it, and maybe a friend standing around at the beginning that can help them out.) Then, using the app they’ll take a selfie photo (or have another guest take the photo for them) and then upload it to be printed. Boom. Done. DIY Photo booth! Of course, remember to purchase enough film and enough batteries for the printer. Oh and maybe task a person to periodically check up on the setup or post an instructional sign on how to change out the film. Still, all very easy and convenient.

6. Or buy any other Instant Film camera. For an even simpler, more lo-fi option, grab one of these cameras (fun fact: this is what the APW staff uses for just about every one of our parties). And since you already set up a great backdrop and lots of light—the photo booth pics are guaranteed to be badass. Guests can either take photos selfie-style or have the person behind them in line take a quick photo. AND THEN IT PRINTS OUT (I mean develops!). Photo booth DONE! (Pro-tip: If you’re using either of the printed methods above, your photo booth can double as a guest book opportunity. Just have your guests take two photos: one to keep, and one to put in the guest book. They can stick the photos into a regular album with washi tape or photo corners, or you even buy an album with instant film pockets already built in.)

7.ipad DIY photo booth setup. Using an iPad for your photo booth camera works great because it has a larger screen and is a centralized spot to hold all of your photos. There are a few photo booth apps out there but this one is really great. It’s simple, clean, and easy to use. You can even connect a wi-fi printer and give your guests the ability to print their photos right there as well. And since all the photos are taken with the single iPad, you don’t have to go hunting through a #hashtag collection.

No matter what camera you have, or how you decide to print or develop the photos, all you really need is a backdrop, plenty of light, and a little bit of courage.

Did you have a DIY photo booth at your wedding? Share your tips and best practices in the comments!

A version of this post was published on APW in 2015.

Credits
Styling by Winston & Main and Michelle Edgemont where indicated

The post 7 Tips For Creating A Simple DIY Photobooth appeared first on A Practical Wedding: We're Your Wedding Planner. Wedding Ideas for Brides, Bridesmaids, Grooms, and More.

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As APW’s junior staff member, I am one of the few people on staff who has never planned a wedding. So when it came time to plan APW’s Ten Year Anniversary Party, I got my first taste of what you all go through. And OMG NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY Y’ALL ARE SO STRESSED.

So let me tell you a little about how I planned APW’s (killer) Ten Year Anniversary Party in a month:

  • First Step: Panic a little because of high expectations.
  • Second Step: Think about all of the great resources I have at my disposal.
  • Third Step: Panic a little more over budget and timeline. (For a little context, I was working with about four weeks of time before the event. And lucky for me, I live in the Bay Area where venues are plentiful, albeit pricey.)
  • Fourth Step: Get on with it.

Given my short planning timeline, it seemed like I only had a few options. Fancy dinner party, adult sleepover in a baller Airbnb, or a party in our studio. All of these have been done before, and well, this was APW’s Big-Deal Ten Year Party, and I wanted to do something cool and different. So, as I was walking through our well-stocked prop closet, I found a pair of Meg’s roller skates hiding in the back and a light bulb went off. I needed to call up the local roller rink, which unfortunately happens to be non-existent in the Bay Area—or so I thought. That’s when I remembered my friends telling me about this super-cool roller rink in a converted church in San Francisco. After a quick Google search, The Church of 8 Wheels popped up, and I knew this was our place. Our target party date was available, so I booked it before we lost the venue.

So, I had a venue. What’s next? A million questions of course! (Spoiler alert: There is a reason you should ask a million questions before booking a venue.) Because it was APW’s Ten Year Anniversary Party, it had to be extra. I was imagining a fabulous sit-down dinner at the roller rink with an epic balloon installment, photo booth, and fancy decorations. So I gathered my list: What can I actually pull off within my budget? What is capacity for this space? Can I bring in food? Can I serve booze? Can I decorate? How much time do vendors have to set up and break down? Can I have balloons? Alllllll the questions, so many questions.

While The Church of 8 Wheels is actually affordable—freakishly affordable for the Bay Area—I found out firsthand that a good price (always, inevitably) comes with limitations. Yes, we could bring in a catering team, but all the food needed to be pre-assembled (no hot plates or portable oven allowed). But we could serve alcohol. No decorations—which was actually a blessing in disguise, because that was one less thing to worry about.

And then I learned the kicker: we were only allowed 30 minutes for setup and 30 minutes for breakdown. WHUT. Had I know what the limitations were beforehand, I probably would have shied away from this venue and the whole roller rink idea. (Though given how well it worked out, maybe it’s good I didn’t think to ask before I booked the place.) But lesson learned: before you start your venue search, you need to figure out what your own limitations are, and then start with that list of questions… not go in blind and then freak out and try to reverse engineer your party.

When I came to terms with what my limitations were (no extra decorations, no sit-down dinner, no long load-in and load-out time), that’s when I realized that the focus of this party was going to be all about roller-skating. Everything else after roller-skating was secondary. As soon as I shifted my expectations, I really hit my planning stride. Guests were joining us to celebrate ten years of APW (aka, a lifetime in internet years) and to get a taste of nostalgia.

With the limitations I had, I knew I had to go big where I could. The food had to be amazing; we needed a delicious cake and a kick-ass photographer. Shifting the focus to these things and making them extra special truly made the night a spectacular one.

Once I got over the party we were not having (because yes, a dinner party in a deconsecrated Catholic church turned roller rink would have been cool, but it’s also not the party I was able to plan), I was really able to get into what was happening. No sit-down dinner? That’s fine, we had amazing passed appetizers from Fogcutter, including their delicious chorizo albondigas and adult grilled cheese (I’m still craving them). We also had a delicious chocolate cake from The Whole Cake that left our guests going back for seconds, with some of the tinier guests at the party licking their plates clean. And we had the amazing Laurie from From SF With Love capturing all the special moments of the party. And it should be known that ALL of the vendors in attendance ended up throwing on a pair of skates. (Special shout-out to the staff from Fogcutter serving and skating, WE SEE YOU.)

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I have been collecting wedding quotes since I was an angsty teen—scrawled in my various notebooks alongside my angsty (and terrible, but you knew that) teen poetry. I mean, I suppose at the time I just thought of them as “mushy quotes about love,” but now that I’m a wedding designer, I realize that I’ve been collecting wedding quotes all along. And lucky for you all, my taste in literature has always been pretty consistent and my taste in poetry has improved immensely over the years. Mostly because I stopped trying to write it. Of course, given that weddings are now my job, my crush on good love quotes abides, and I think your wedding is a fantastic place to splash around your own love of the written word with quotes that speak to the truths of marriage. (But only good wedding quotes, of course.)

Bonus: It’s like showing off your top-shelf books (Infinite Jest anyone?).

So while it might seem impossible to sum up your ridiculously amazing, complicated, and fantastic wedding in a neat little sentence (heck, that’s what marriage is for—you get a lifetime to figure it out), here’s a list of some great wedding quotes to get you started. I’ve divided them up by length, as well as breaking the more literary quotes out from the pop-culture quotes.

And then, for bonus points, I’ve given you design ideas for how you can use these quotes during your wedding.

Very Short Wedding Quotes

(Perfect for signs, napkins, banners, backdrops)

Literary Quotes

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. —J.M Barrie

The only magic I still believe in is love. —Unknown

If I know what love is, it is because of you. —Hermann Hesse

Who, being loved, is poor? —Oscar Wilde

I have found the one whom my soul loves. —Song of Solomon

Pop Culture Quotes

“You make me feel like I am home again” —The Cure, “Lovesong”

A party without cake is just a meeting. —Julia Child

Can I get a witness? —Marvin Gaye

You give good love. —Whitney Houston

I walk the line. —Johnny Cash

No parking on the dance floor. —Midnight Star

Slightly Longer Wedding Quotes

(Perfect for programs, favors, invitations, vows)

Literary Quotes

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered. —F. Scott Fitzgerald

You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person I have ever known and even that is an understatement. —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than is necessary? —J.M Barrie

Being in love is simply a presentation of our pasts to another individual, mostly packages so unwieldy that we can no longer manage the loosened strings alone. —Zelda Fitzgerald

Laughter is holier than piety, freedom is sweeter than fame, and in the end it’s love and love alone that really matters. —Tom Robbins

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world in my arms. —Mary Oliver

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. —Antoine de Saint-Exupery

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through… You won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. —Haruki Murakami

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering. —Nicole Krauss

Pop Culture Quotes

“With a love like that, you know you should be glad.” —The Beatles, “She Loves You”

“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure that I’m arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.” —The Hobbit (Movie)

“Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love.” —Star Wars, Episode II

“She is the only evidence of God I have seen with the exception of the mysterious force that removes one sock from the dryer every time I do my laundry.” —St. Elmo’s Fire

“Since the invention of the kiss, there have been only five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” —The Princess Bride

“And we’ll collect the moments one by one, I guess that’s how the future’s done.” —Feist, “Mushaboom”

The sweetest thing I ever saw, was you asleep and dreaming” —Magnetic Fields, “Asleep and Dreaming”

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” —Almost Famous

“That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.” —Pulp Fiction

“Yes, I’m drunk. And you’re beautiful. And tomorrow morning, I’ll be sober but you’ll still be beautiful.” —The Dreamers

“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life mean? But, in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all the time, every day.” —Shall We Dance

THE BIG GUNS

(Perfect for vows, readings, or badass backdrops)

Literary Quotes

For her I changed pebbles into diamonds, shoes into mirrors, I changed glass into water, I gave her wings and pulled birds from her ears and in her pockets she found feathers, I asked a pear to become a pineapple, a pineapple to become a lightbulb, a lightbulb to become the moon, and the moon to become a coin I flipped for her love. —Nicole Krauss

They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the “blaze of passion” often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw in their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did. —Doctor Zhivago/Boris Pasternak

Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free. —Tom Robbins

When two people meet and fall in love, there’s a sudden rush of magic. Magic is just naturally present then. We tend to feed on that gratuitous magic without striving to make any more. One day we wake up and find that the magic is gone. We hustle to get it back, but by then it’s usually too late, we’ve used it up. What we have to do is work like hell at making additional magic right from the start. It’s hard work, but if we can remember to do it, we greatly improve our chances of making love stay. —Tom Robbins

Love is fed by the imagination, by which we become wiser than we know, better than we feel, nobler than we are: by which we can see life as a whole, by which and by which alone we can understand others in their real and their ideal relation. Only what is fine, and finely conceived can feed love. But anything will feed hate. —Oscar Wilde

Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature. To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take… If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation… It takes a lifetime to learn another person… When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected. —Madeleine L’Engle

“Finnick!” Something between a shriek and a cry of joy. A lovely if somewhat bedraggled young woman—dark tangled hair, sea green eyes—runs toward us in nothing but a sheet. “Finnick!” And suddenly, it’s as if there’s no one in the world but these two, crashing through space to reach each other. They collide, enfold, lose their balance, and slam against a wall, where they stay. Clinging into one being. Indivisible. A pang of jealousy hits me. Not for either Finnick or Annie but for their certainty. No one seeing them could doubt their love. —Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love. —John Muir, Mountain Thoughts

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love. —Robert Fulghum, True Love

Pop Culture Quotes

“I love that you get cold when it’s seventy-one degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”—When Harry Met Sally

“Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.” —Juno

“Good luck finding somebody to put up with your shit for more than, like, six months. Okay? But I accept the whole package, the crazy and the brilliant. Alright? I know you’re not gonna change and I don’t want you to. It’s called accepting you for being you.” —Before Midnight

“Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice, it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs and get in my bed.” —Moonstruck

“In the darkest night hour,
I’ll search through the crowd.
Your face is all that I see,
I’ll give you everything.
Baby love me lights out.” —Beyonce, “XO”

Now is a good time to mention that my love for a good quote and my mantra as a wedding designer are very much aligned. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

AKA be a ruthless editor. AKA be a #lazygirl—someone already said it perfectly. That’s the beauty of a good quote, it hits you somewhere right between the heart and the stomach, and just seems so obvious, so true, and so you. Even the mundane seems spectacular in a good quote. And I know none of y’all are having a mundane wedding. So when you find the perfect quote—be it a heavy hitter or a joyful (or sassy, or funny, or smart) little reminder—throw that shit around like confetti. Just remember, a little goes a long way!

Programs, menus, and vows are obvious (and legitimate) places to use a quote or two.

Ways to use wedding quotes in decorations:

1. Use Glittery Welcome Signs

2. Make a big statement with vinyl

3. Create An Aisle Backdrop With Book Pages And Vinyl Lettering

4. Or Follow Your Quote Up The Aisle

5. Say it with letter balloons

6. Or Say It With Balloons And Vinyl Lettering

7. Make a welcome sign that tells it like it is

8. Wave festive Little Flags

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If you’re looking for creative wedding guest book ideas, it turns out that the internet does… not really have you covered. A few months ago, I decided to round up the best wedding guest book alternatives the internet had to offer. So I hit Etsy, which is normally the purveyor of good things. But as you might know, if you’ve started looking for wedding guest book ideas, when you get past the more traditional options (which we’ve already rounded up for you here), the going gets… grim… and very, very rustic.

Full disclosure, we did not have a guest book at our wedding. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, but in the wild shuffle of putting together a DIY wedding, it was never something that crossed my mind. And nine years later, I would love to have guest book on our shelf. (I mean, #noregrets, but still.) In the years since, we’ve lost my father-in-law, my Grandmother, and more than a few other wedding guests. I wish we had a place where we’d gathered all the love notes and signatures from that one, bright, beautiful day when we were all together. But if I had to do it all over again, I’m not sure I’d do the traditional guest book route. Instead, I’d want to find a way to gather all those love notes and memories in something that was a beautiful keepsake that we could leaf through for years to come. But also, at the end of wedding planning, money was tight, and we were not about to invest in any kind of $250 guest book.

So because we consider our job to be the wedding laboratory of the internet, we set to work coming up with cute, affordable, and really low-effort options for those of you looking for creative wedding guest book ideas. I love what we came up with, from metal prints to cheater (and cheap) art books. I hope this provides some inspiration for collecting all those signatures of your beloveds, while they’re still here with you.

(And pro-tip: If one of these wedding guest book ideas doesn’t speak to your soul, consider finding a meaningful and useful item for loved ones to sign, whether it’s a guitar that you use to play songs to your kids one day, or a vintage quilt that you keep at the foot of your bed for the next forty years.)

Wedding Guest Book Ideas

A Signed Photo Frame: Remember those old (sort of awful) signed photo frames from the ’90s and early aughts? Take a traditional idea and give it an upgrade with a precut, off-center mat in your frame. We further upgraded with this lucite easel, which we bought on a whim but is now possibly the sexiest thing we have in our studio. Totally worth the investment if you feel like getting fancy (also there is a much cheaper baby version). Have your guests sign away and print out a wedding photo to add later for this update on a classic framed guestbook. (Off-Center Mat, $19.99 | Large Lucite Easel, $199 | Small Acrylic Easel, $16.95)

Sign Beautiful Wall Prints: Every time I go to my local gift shop or bookstore they have these amazing prints that I envy every time I stop in. They’re technically wrapping paper (so super affordable), but they’re as lovely as prints that you would spend a ton of money on. They come in a variety of designs that happen to go with many personal interests or potential wedding themes, so why not use them as a guestbook? Have your guests sign your favorite poster and display it on the wall for all to see. (Pro-tip: Use half circle metal bars like these and glue them to the top and bottom of the poster, then hang it with fishing wire if you want a floating effect or with your favorite color string for an extra pop.) We used the botany, bird, color wheel, and gemstone prints. Other particularly great prints include: bicycles, the stars, the periodic table, palmistry, pasta, New York… we could go on and on, but check them all out here. (Poster, $4.95 | Metal Bar, $2.25 each)

A Book Of Poetry: Feeling romantic? It is your wedding after all. Get a couple of your favorite books filled with love poems and have guests sign their well wishes next to their favorite quote. These are perfect for tucking on your bookshelf and looking over years later. (Love Poems by Pablo Neruda, $7)

Sign an Art book (Or an “Art” Book): If you can find a perfect art book or vintage book to have your guests sign, more power to you. But if you can’t we found you this stunning botanical book in the children’s section. They also have books in the series on animals, evolution, history, and dinosaurs, that are all equally beautiful (and cheap). Have your guests hide their sweet notes in them, to find for years to come. (Botanical Book by Kathy Willis and Katie Scott, $30)

The instant film guest book: For the most #extra of crowds, break out that instant camera and provide some snazzy props to create a mini photo shoot for your guests. Our favorite thing about this guest book is that the options for customization are endless. Guests can go to town with printed washi tape or keep it classic with solid colors. All you have to do is assemble the photo album at the end of your event. We took our photos with props from Target, #LazyGirl style, and a photo album from Amazon. (Instant Camera, $57 | Instant Film, $45 for 60 | Printed Washi Tape, $7 | Solid Washi Tape, $1.50 | Photo Props, $6 | Photo Album, $40)

A Signed Record: For those that prefer analog to digital, we see you! Take your favorite record (maybe the one containing your first dance song?), and add even more sentimental value by using it as your guestbook. Buy some metallic or white sharpies and have guests sign away! Record frames can be found on Amazon for cheap, but we found these brass frames at CB2 that are worth every penny. You can top the look off by using your favorite paper, fabric, or even the record sleeve as a background when you’re ready to frame it. (Record Frame via Amazon, $12.95 | Record Frame via CB2, $39.95 | Record, around $1 from your local music store’s bargain bin)

Metal Prints: If you dig industrial-chic but don’t own the modern loft of your dreams, it’s easy to achieve that vibe with these metal prints from Parabo Press. Get your engagement photos printed on some of the squares and get the other metal squares printed with your favorite pattern of choice or with a simple solid color for your guests to sign. BONUS: Each of these metal prints comes with an acrylic stand to display your guest book on your favorite table! (Metal Prints, $25 each)

Sign A Comic Book: When you and your partner are huge comic junkies, why not add to the obsession by getting your favorite comic book for everyone to sign? Bring your favorite characters and the people you love together and have quite literally the best of both worlds. (Wonder Woman Comic Book, $2.99)

Sign A Kids Book: Who said the kids have to miss out on all the fun? Find your favorite children’s book with some ample blank space or really colorful pages and have the kids sign away (the adults can get in on this too)! You never know what funny doodles or notes you’ll find later. We used the great book Press Here, which has tons of color and white space, but pick a favorite book from your childhood and get in on the fun. (Press Here by Hervé Tullet, $12.79)

For those of you who had creative wedding guest book ideas, what did you use? What half-baked wedding guest book alternatives are you thinking of that we can help you figure out? Hive mind, let’s do this.

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You’re engaged, you’ve picked your wedding date, and now you’re looking for Save the Date ideas, so you’re friends and family can mark their calendars! Save the Dates are like pre-invitations with logistics (like the date and wedding location) so that guests know that: 1. they’re invited and 2. not to make any other plans that day. Save the Dates can also be a fun way to show your personality since they don’t have to match, well, anything. Not the formality of the wedding, or your other paper goods, or your families opinions. The great thing about Save The Dates is that they’re a recently modern invention, so chances are your grandmother has no opinions on them. That means that if you’ve been looking for a creative wedding project, this might just be perfect, because you want something quirky and non-traditional, like balloons or chocolate, with no complaints.

If you’re looking for Save The Dates Ideas that you can just you know, buy, and be done with it, scroll to the end of this post for our best ideas. (And yes, Save the Date etiquette says you can totally just send an email. But let’s be real, if you’ve come here looking for Save The Date ideas, chances are you’re not gonna send an email.)

So, now that we’ve all admitted that we’re a little bit into over the top Save The Date Ideas, and maybe you want to DIY your Save the Dates, start by thinking of things you can buy in bulk! Things like playing cards, maps, balloons, and buttons are easy to repurpose or personalize so that you don’t have to break the bank for a cute idea.

We’ve split this post into two handy sections: nifty new ideas that you can craft or recreate and super cool and (mostly) affordable save the dates you can buy.

But first, here’s a list of the 50 save the date ideas we’ve dug up (plus plenty of inspiration pictures).

Save The Date Ideas
  1. Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4 Ticket
  2. Cassette Tape Stationary
  3. Caricature Stamp
  4. Colorful Letterpress Cards
  5. Personalized Pencils
  6. Metallic Boarding Pass
  7. Boozy Lollipops
  8. Customized Balloon
  9. Hand Painted Lotería
  10. Customized Chocolate Bar
  11. Illustrated Map
  12. Personalized Magnet
  13. Tea Towel
  14. Crossword Puzzle
  15. Felt Flag
  16. Mini Easel
  17. Holographic Heart
  18. Paper Airplane
  19. Fancy Footwork Card
  20. Twisty Straw & Map
  21. 3D Anaglyph
  22. Ferris Wheel
  23. Drink Umbrella
  24. Custom Paper Doll
  25. Flowchart
  26. Childhood Photo
  27. School Note
  28. Board Game
  29. Seed Packets
  30. Holiday Ornament
  31. Ouija Board
  32. Finger and Ransom Note
  33. Laser Cut Stationery
  34. Word Search
  35. Library Book Checkout Slip
  36. Old School Windows
  37. View-Master
  38. Photostrip
  39. Scratch-Off Ticket
  40. Knot Tie Card
  41. Secret Message
  42. Floral Wreath
  43. Trifold
  44. Happy Heart
  45. Let’s I Do This Thing
  46. Love Story Infographic
  47. Beach Adventure
  48. Simple Flowers
  49. Happy Together
  50. Blooming Vines
Save The Dates Ideas You Can DIY

Stamp by Stamplifier (starting at $43.44)

caricature Stamp: Okay, we cheated a little bit with this one. You’ll have to buy the stamp, then you can DIY whatever you want with it! This crazy cute couple caricature stamp is a great way to turn super cheap tags into something fun. Plus you can use it on decor for the wedding.

Finger via Jane Beljo on Flickr

Finger & ransom note: This is hands down the creepiest Save The Date we’ve ever seen. And unlike the prototype here, we’d suggest you add your names, and the fact that you’re having a wedding, or you might get a few upset phone calls after you send them out. And, honestly, you might still get a few after. But these Save the Dates are a couple with a dark sense of humor’s dream.

Photostrip via Annie Franceschi

Photostrip:  Keep your photo session simple with DIY photo strips. You can even make and print them from the comfort of your own home.

Tea Towel via Uncommon Designs Online

Tea Towel: At first this will make some super special kitchen décor, and then later it will be functional and remind people of that joyful day.

Mini Canvas and Easel by Brooklyn Bride

mini Easel: Want to keep your Save the Date minimal (like really really minimal)? Consider creating mini art!

Let Love Grow by MillstoneCrafted ($20 for 25 without seeds, $37.50 for 25 with seeds)

Seed packet: You can choose to buy the packets san seeds (so you can choose your own) or buy them with seeds already included. We included this one in the DIY section, however, because we thought it would a fun and personal detail to include your favorite flowers seeds inside so everyone who gets them can grow a little bit of your love. Or at least your favorite flowers.

Encrypted Save the Date via Paper Truly (DIY – $180 for 25 or Buy – $220 for 25 )

Secret Message: Test your guests’ spy skills! Your friends and family will have to break out their decoder glasses (included) to find and save your date.

Fancy Footwork via Martha Stewart

Fancy Footwork Card: Let your guests know that they’ll have to break out their best moves for your wedding party. Martha’s got you covered with a DIY you’ll just have to scroll down into the comments on the post for the PDF.

Wine Bottle via Mighty Girl

The Twisty Straw (And Wine Bottle): Our friend Maggie made these invites for an event. And while she later told us that the cost of mailing wine bottles is… regrettable… the twisty straw made to look like a river, over a map of Russian River? You can take that one to the bank, my friends. (Seriously though: no shipping wine bottles unless you have 10 or fewer guests.)

Paper Doll via Happiness Is Blog

Paper Doll: Channel old-school playtime with DIY vintage paper doll save the dates. This bride worked her photoshop to make the dolls look like her and her fiance.

Word Search via Edyta Szyszlo

Word Search: The couple that created this gold foil stationary took a different approach to save the dates. Guests didn’t know the couple was engaged so this doubled as an engagement announcement. Hidden within in the letters was their surprise message!

Scratch Off via Martha Stewart

Scratch off ticket: Share your luck in love with these DIY scratch-off Save the Dates. If only all scratch-offs were this easy to make.

Tying the Knot via Smitten on Paper

Knot tie card: Tie the knot, literally. These Save the Dates are a fun spin on a classic saying and an easy DIY.

Save The Dates You Can Buy

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Two summers ago, my friend Maggie got married at The Madonna Inn. Given that I look at wedding pictures all day, I obviously have a dream list of weddings that I want to be invited to, and a wedding at The Madonna Inn was at the very top of that list. For those of you that don’t know about this hotel, it is a BONKERS pink hotel on the Central California Coast, where each room is a (beyond over-the-top) theme room.

Maggie also happens to be one of the people who got me into the Internet game. Long before I ever met her, I was reading her work from a miserable tiny office, where I was a twenty-two-year-old underpaid receptionist who was really into blogs. This was back in 2002, when almost nobody was really into blogs. Maggie’s taste was impeccable, and back when she ran one of the first-ever shopping blogs, I basically bought every single gift based on her recommendation. (And David bought all my gifts that way too. “Well, what does Mighty Goods (RIP) recommend?” he’d always ask.) So, Maggie has impeccable taste, and we knew the wedding was going to be awesome.

One day soon I’ll get to show you the whole wedding, including her layers of pink tulle gown, but today I’m here to talk about her centerpieces.

I’m always on the hunt for cool and affordable non-floral centerpieces. You know, the kind that you don’t have to pay a florist a fortune for or worry about keeping alive. In the past, we’ve crafted some good ones, but when I walked into Maggie’s reception, my jaw dropped. She had created what she called “Party Terrariums” for each table. Each one was different, and each one was themed based on a room at The Madonna Inn (endless inspiration, even if you’re not getting married there). They were super affordable, super easy to put together, and that kind of brilliant but seemingly simple idea that made you wonder why you’d never thought of it.

Maggie happens to be a hoarder collector of amazing vintage things. (I have heard rumors that she has a magical storage unit somewhere, but I have drunk wine in her basement, and I can attest to just how good and random its contents is.) She filled her terrariums with a collection of vintage party supplies, which were sourced in large part from the Alameda Flea Market. If you want to use vintage party supplies, but don’t have a million years to ransack flea markets, you can do some sourcing from your desk on eBay and Craigslist. (Watch out, there goes the afternoon… and any extra space in your garage.)

The container for the party terrarium is this simple (but surprisingly large) glass jar from IKEA for just $14.99. The two other key elements are honeycombs (sourced below) and Mexican confetti, which you can grab for $11.50 on Amazon. These centerpieces are brilliant in their simplicity, super affordable, and offer endless options for customizing based on your wedding colors, wedding theme, and general interests as a couple. While your creations can be anything you dream up, we wanted to highlight some of the coolest ideas Maggie came up with, to get your brains whirring. We’ve sourced supplies where we can, so you can knock this out from your desk, in one sitting. Because good shopping is the #LazyGirl’s DIY.

This amazing collection of amazing vintage memorabilia was inspired by The Madonna Inn’s Time of Your Life room. But the vintage party hats plus a vintage clock are cool even if there is no reason. (Similar: Party Blowers, 6 for 10 | Party Hats, 8 for $17.50 | Vintage Clocks, various prices | Honeycomb Mini Balls, 10 for $7 | 8-inch Honeycomb Balls, $3 each)

It turns out, I am obsessed with vintage noisemakers. Plus they look really (really, really) cute when put in a jar with a sprinkling of confetti. Maggie already owned all of these (because of course) as part of her collection of vintage party supplies. But with a little Internet digging you can find your own. (Similar: Etsy, various prices)

It’s a balloon party! Or really, a vintage plastic balloon party. Plus a vintage cake topper never goes badly. (Similar: Plastic Balloons, 12 for $5.95 | Pastel Plastic Balloons, 3 for $3.50 | Vintage Bride and Groom Cake Topper, take your pick on Etsy, various prices | Honeycomb Mini Balls, 10 for $7 | 8-inch Honeycomb Balls, $3 each)

I don’t want to say that one of these terrariums is better than the others, but this one is legit my favorite. (My son took one of these tiny donkeys home, and it lived on his bedside table for at least a year.) These mini piñatas were made by my friend Jordan at Oh Happy Day, and she has a full tutorial right here. But if you want to buy instead of craft, that’s totally a viable option. (Similar: Mini Piñatas 6 for $39.22 | Finger Traps 12 for $5.35)

Ain’t no party like a disco party, so this terrarium is filled with disco balls of various sizes, along with mini honeycomb balls and other shapes. (Similar: Honeycomb Mini Balls, 10 for$7 | 8-inch Honeycomb Balls, $3 each | Mini Disco Balls, 6 for $11.99 | 4-inch Disco Ball, $8.99 each | 8-inch Disco Ball, $12.85 each)

Tassel it up. This terrarium is filled with a Mexican Pom Pom Garland and hot pink tickets. (Similar: Pom Pom Garland, starting at $9 | Hot Pink Double Raffle Tickets, 20 for $2.98)

Cool centerpieces are hard. Cool centerpieces you can afford are harder. And centerpieces that don’t wilt are the new gold standard. These centerpieces do it all. Adapt them to your needs, themes, and colors. (And send pictures.)

Share your best centerpiece ideas in the comments. (Or better yet, what you’d put in your own party terrarium.)

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The post How To Make A Party Terrarium Centerpiece appeared first on A Practical Wedding: We're Your Wedding Planner. Wedding Ideas for Brides, Bridesmaids, Grooms, and More.

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Wedding backdrops: when it comes to DIY wedding projects, this is the one project that I always recommend as worth it.

Because when it comes to big, impactful, multi-use decor items, it’s hard to beat a wedding backdrop. They’ll make a huge splash in your pictures, and you can get double use from many of them by using them for both your ceremony and a photo booth (or a display behind your head table). While we have a bunch of awesome wedding backdrop tutorials that you can find right here, we also wanted to round up some of the best tutorials from around the web.

But before we get to that, here are our best tips on constructing wedding backdrops and sourcing materials, without reinventing the wheel.

Wedding Backdrop Frame Options
  • Seamless Background Frame ($49) If you don’t feel like building a frame, and you don’t need something that will hold a heavy load, a seamless backdrop frame is a simple solution. It’s light, super portable, and easy to set up. These are used for backdrops in photography, and APW owns one (that we use all the time). They’re great functional frames, and you can sell it on Craigslist when you’re through.
  • Pipe and Drape Backdrop ($139) If you don’t feel like building a frame but want something heavy duty that you can hang anything off of, this is the way to go. Pipe and drape is often available to rent, but if you want to buy one, you can sell it on Craigslist after your event or hang onto it for future parties. The plus, no hammer or nails required for assembly!
  • Make a (beautiful) Wooden Frame (Use our wedding arch tutorial.) This won’t be considerably less than buying a seamless frame (and it will be way more expensive if you buy expensive birch poles), so only build it if you’re dead set on making something super pretty for the frame itself. Also, make sure you stability test before the day of.
  • Make a PVC Frame (Around $25) You’ll want to make a taller frame than this tutorial, and keep in mind this kind of frame will only hold something as lightweight as fabric. But if you want to save money and are up for a little extra legwork, this is a cheap way to go!
Wedding Backdrop Supplies
  • Pretty paper can be expensive, and the price can add up quickly. If you want to make a backdrop that requires a lot of paper (and some serious effort—see the paper crane backdrop below), check out your local Daiso, where you can purchase a box of origami paper: 480 sheets of gold highlighter paper for $22.56. If you don’t have a Daiso near you, Amazon also has a huge selection of paper on their site.
  • And let’s be real. Flowers are not cheap. But there are ways to get around paying an arm and a leg so that you can create some flower magic. Support your local farmer or go to the nearest farmer’s market. You can guarantee that the flowers will be super fresh, local (meaning less stress on the flowers), and cost efficient, since they won’t be getting shipped from half way across the world.
  • If you are looking for unique or traditional fabrics for that PVC pipe and drape system you just built, Etsy has a ton of options (like this pink sequin backdrop for under $35). And don’t forget about my personal fave, eBay for used or new craft supplies, among them I found these sheer backdrop panels that come in a variety of colors, starting at $29.
  • Party supplies, like balloons, streamers, washi tape, or paper lanterns, can be found at many places, including your local dollar store. If you’re looking for more options color and material wise, Oriental Trading and Party City should be able to suit your needs.
Wedding Backdrop Tips To Keep In Mind

It is easy to get wrapped up in the world of DIY projects and Pinterest, so our best practical advice is to know your limitations. If there is a huge floral installation that requires days of set up with expensive product, or if there is a hot air balloon involved (see below), it might be best to leave it to the professionals. The last thing you need is lost time and money, not to mention loads of unnecessary stress (unless you like that type of thing), added to the other moving parts of planning a wedding.

Wedding Backdrops With Lush Greenery

Photo by Helena and Laurent via A Practical Wedding

Photo via Ampersand

Photo by Debbie Lourens via Confetti Daydreams

Photo by Heather Waraksa

Photo via A Practical Wedding

Colorful Wedding Backdrops

Photo by Just For Love Photography via The Wedding Playbook

Photo via Style Me Pretty

Photo by James Melia Photography

Photo by Martin Vielma

Photo by Ben Q Photography

Tropical Wedding Backdrops

Photo by Kama Catch Me

Photo via All Lovely Party

Photo by Jennifer Sosa via Ruffled

Photo by Bryan Gardner via Martha Stewart Weddings

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Do you want to know the dirty secret behind all those gorgeous styled wedding decorations you see on Pinterest and Instagram? It is really, really hard to replicate them in the real world. While it is surprisingly easy to decorate a stunning table that seats eight people on a $1,000 budget, it is nearly impossible to duplicate your efforts for twenty tables of eight people on the same budget. Shocker, I know. And sadly most of us are not planning weddings inside one of those money wind machines.

When I was planning my own wedding, I felt like my budget really limited how cool I could make my venue look. Which is why at APW, one of our core goals is figuring out how take all the inspiration you see floating around the Internet, and then reimagining things for a whole lot less money (see: our paper flower wall tutorial). Because we want you to be able to take our ideas and apply them to your fifty-person wedding or your five hundred–person wedding. And part of that process is having a treasure trove of destinations where we source creative and affordable materials.

It occurred to me recently, as I was helping a friend find wholesale crystals for her wedding, that it might be helpful if we shared that information. (I mean, it’s no good to you just sitting inside my head.) So today I’ve pulled together a handful of our favorite destinations for finding affordable, creative, unexpected wedding decorations and DIY materials that you can use in your wedding.

Teacher supply stores: One of the challenges of making your own escort cards or place settings is having to make so damn many of them when most stores aren’t set up for wholesale. But at teacher supply stores, just about everything comes in a set, and is affordably priced. Our favorite items from Learning Resources include geometric shapes (how cool are these wooden ones?) and animal counter sets (tiny animals perfect for spray painting!).

Online Party Shops: If you hear party shop and you think giant warehouse filled with Spongebob balloons, well you’re not wrong (most of the time). But when we need cute paper goods, we hit up online shops like Oh Happy Day, Paper Mart, or Harlow and Grey. The prices are more or less on par with your average party store, but the options are way better. (I’m talking statement balloons, honeycomb decor, fringe garlands, crepe paper rolls, the works.)

Hardware Stores: One of the single best DIY materials we’ve seen around is flagging tape. It comes in an assortment of bright colors and looks like ribbon, but costs, well, way less than ribbon. You can find it at hardware stores, along with our other favorite DIY material: spray paint.

Amazon: I know, I know. Everything comes from Amazon. But that’s the point. When in doubt, check Amazon first (especially if you spring for Prime. Two day shipping, hello my old friend), because you never know what they’re going to have stocked wholesale. Need a bunch of crystals for your tablescape? (Or for your crystal crown? Please say it’s for your crystal crown!) Got it. Or how about marble tiles for your place settings (like the ones above from Marketing Manager Kate’s wedding!)? Done.

Minted and Paper source: Paper goods are an easy way to add personality to your decor, and it’s a bonus if they don’t require a ton of work. And for all the little wedding day ephemera, we usually look to APW’s favorite stationers, Minted and Paper Source. Their table numbers, menus, cocktail napkins, coasters, you name it, are all impeccably designed by artists from all over the world.

Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods: If you’re looking for super on-trend but affordable decor, head to your local TJ Maxx, Home Goods, or Marshalls. Because here’s the best thing about these stores: when they find a theme they, like, they stick to it. Last time I was in TJ Maxx, it was like pineapples exploded all over the shelves. If my wedding had even a hint of tropical to it, I would have been set (I also stumbled on the exact terrariums my friend was trying to find for her wedding for next to nothing.)

Wayfair, HAYNEEDLE, and Lulu & Georgia: As you’re well aware, Wayfair, Hayneedle, and Lulu & Georgia legit have everything you could ever need for your house. But when it comes to affordable accents that you can use at your wedding, and heck, even at home afterward, they’re your best bet. If you’re looking for a quick and easy ceremony or photo booth backdrop check out Wayfair’s selection of wall tapestries. Personally, I’m loving this abstract print. Super cute votives sold in big sets? They have ’em. Need an easel for your escort signage? Check out this gold one. And someone please get these champagne flutes for toasting in style.

I dished, now tell me, Where are your favorite places to snag affordable wedding decorations? Show us your pics of your most creative FINDS!

The post 14 Places We Love for Affordable Wedding Decorations appeared first on A Practical Wedding: We're Your Wedding Planner. Wedding Ideas for Brides, Bridesmaids, Grooms, and More.

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So you want to make your own wedding invitations. Fantastic! This makes perfect sense. Because back when I got married, we wanted the feel of custom invites without the budget for custom invites. So we improvised. It involved a bit of a struggle with our home printer (there was no solid information online on best practices those days). But after some trial and error, we got good results. So to save you from jammed printer trays and bleeding ink, the folks at LD Products rounded up all the information you need on how to make-your-own-wedding-invitations-without-tearing-your-hair-out-or-even-crying-once.

Want To Make Your Own Wedding Invitations? Start Here.

Pro-tip: If you’re just getting started on this whole making-invitations thing, we’ve got everything you need to know to get started in our comprehensive guide on DIY Wedding Invitations. And for those of you who want to print your own wedding invitations (without, you know, designing them), businesses like Printable Press (pictured above) and E.M. Papers offer affordable—and gorgeous—printable designs, customized to your specs.

But first, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what you should know (and what I wish I had known) before you print your own wedding invitations:

The Failsafe Guide To Printing Your Own Wedding Invitations

Picking Your Printer and Ink

The very first question you need to ask yourself is what kind of printer do you have, and what type of ink does it use? Most inkjet printers use dye-based ink made up of small, colorant particles dissolved in liquid, (usually water or glycol), which is absorbed into the paper. Dye-based ink is well known for its wide color gamut, deep blacks, and brilliant saturation. These inks will produce vivid images when printed on semi-gloss or gloss-coated paper. The only downside? Dye-based ink doesn’t have the longevity of other options, such as pigment-based ink.

Pigment-based ink contains very fine colorant powder suspended in a solution rather than dissolved, so the color is left on the paper’s surface instead of being absorbed. The visual difference can be subtle, but the results are great: prints that last much longer (especially when paired with archival papers). A downside to using pigment-based ink is that it’s more expensive, as there are printers that typically come with several color pots to accurately re-create a range of colors.

If you’re printing an elaborate background that’s heavy on color as part of your invite, keep in mind that this will not only affect your paper choice but drain your ink reserves quickly. You’ll likely need to buy replacement cartridges to keep getting the colors you want. A smart alternative to name-brand ink replacements is to look into reputable distributors of compatible cartridges and double check with your printer manufacturer to find out how many pages on average you can expect from each. Then you’ll have a better idea of how much ink you’ll need for the job.

Everything You Need to Know About Paper

Picking your paper is one of the more important decisions you’ll make when printing your own wedding invitations. Much like fabrics for dresses, there are dozens of different kinds of paper, each with different features and looks that can radically augment the whole look and feel of your design as well as determine its print life.

When it comes to wedding invites, make sure you choose a durable material whose paper weight is no less than 80 pounds or 12 point stock for the heft and feel that invitations usually possess. You’ll also want to consider how much color your design will use—some types of paper don’t take large ink coverage very well.

If your design involves mostly photos, pair dye-based ink and any type of photo paper to bring out the sharpness and color of your shot. Generally, choose paper with coating, such as semi-gloss, gloss, matte, resin, or polymer, when printing with dye-based ink. The coating helps soak up the ink, greatly reducing bleeding or runoffs. You can use swell-able papers with dye ink, too—the coated surface “swells” as it absorbs the ink.

Of course, printing your invites with pigment ink opens up your doors to a whole selection of textured paper. Linen, feltweave card stocks, and cotton rag are popular choices for wedding invites. You can find different varieties at any office supply store, and your local stationery store will have an even wider range of paper finishes and weights available too.

Some paper types might be too heavy for your printer; printing with paper that is heavier than around 85 pound stock may not work with your standard front-loading printer (it’s too thick to bend around the print head without damaging the page). A quick way to avoid this drama is to check online and make sure your printer can handle the paper stock you’ve chosen before you start.

Cost and Quality

An easy way to save on your printing is to set your printer to produce several invites, R.S.V.P. cards, or place cards on each sheet. Size your invites right to help make printing two or three on each page not just easier, but also more cost-efficient. That way you end up with less paper waste and more money to get heavier paper stock. Plus, smaller invites will hold up better in the mail, as they are less likely to get folded or bent during processing.

Also, if you want to keep your invitation framed for posterity, consider getting paper designed to preserve your print for decades on end. Look for paper described as acid-free, archival quality, or gallery quality when you are shopping. These papers are designed to interact with the ink on the page and keep it looking fresh as the day you printed it for forty, fifty, a hundred years. Keep in mind that many of these specialty papers will cost more than your average paper, and many more are designed to interact with just one brand of ink.

Design Considerations to Remember

Design anything you will be printing with bleeds. “Bleeds” is a printing term for when images or other design elements deliberately extend or “bleed” beyond the trim edge to avoid the appearance of unwanted white spaces on the finished product. This is particularly applicable for invites with photos. It will make cutting your invites a lot easier as well.

Calibrate screen for color balance. Modern high-definition screens do a good job of replicating colors, but in spite of modern print technology, advancements in getting true-to-life image quality, especially for fields such as photography where many had been lagging, there is still often a disconnect between the two. Be on the safe side. Make sure your screen is color-balanced and calibrated before you print. Otherwise, you may find yourself wondering why the printed blue is different from the blue you’re seeing on screen, despite all the legwork you put into making sure everything was proper.

Foil lettering and accents shimmer. Applying them at home is a lot easier than you’d expect. While you can’t print foil accents direct from your printer, with a little extra elbow grease and some creativity you can really make your invites stand out.

You can DIY and make it fancy. Want to include letterpress, embossing, or die-cutting to your invite for an extra special professional look? There’s an affordable DIY solution called the Cricut Cuttlebug machine available on Amazon. If you’re looking to do some foil printing on your invites, consider this $20 laminator as shown on this DIY video. And yes, you can even print letterpress invitations yourself! Check out this video.

Stay away from scissors. When it comes time to trim your invites or table placeholder cards down to size, do not use scissors! That’s one way to guarantee uneven cuts. If you have a lot of invites, invest in a paper cutter to start trimming, or use an X-Acto knife to make sure you get clean even cuts. Cut each invite individually to make sure you get the results you want for each and every guest.

Be ready to make adjustments. One great benefit to printing your own wedding stationery and invitations is you have the utmost control over the process. Rather than waiting for the print shop to deliver before you see your results, you have instant access to proofing your design, correcting colors, and making sure everything is perfect. That, of course, means test prints galore so make sure you take this into account when shopping for the right amount of paper. It’s more work and takes a level of creativity and you probably won’t succeed at first, but if you’re prepared to try out some things you will have a lot of fun AND love the results.

Did any of you make your own wedding invitations, Or print them at home? What did you learn in the process?

The post Want to Print Your Own Wedding Invitations? Here’s What You Need to Know appeared first on A Practical Wedding: We're Your Wedding Planner. Wedding Ideas for Brides, Bridesmaids, Grooms, and More.

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Here’s the first thing I will say: do not feel pressured by anyone, especially the Internet, to fancy up your invitations to impress your loved ones. When an invitee opens an envelope and pulls out a grandly embellished wedding invitation, sure, they may say, “How beautiful! I can tell they put a lot of time into this. I’m so impressed!” When an invitee opens an envelope and slips out just a simple card inviting them to your upcoming nuptials, they will still clutch their hand to their heart and say, “Oh my God, they’re getting married! I’m already getting teary… Sniffle.” All that matters is that you want to include them.

That being said, embellishing your stationery can be surprisingly easy and affordable. So if you’re the type of person who drools over paper goods, who scrolls endlessly through Pinterest, or just plain loves crafting, then this post is for you. Because there are tons of ways to do so that won’t make your fingers bleed or break the bank. And to make it even easier I’ve created two types of printable belly bands and two types of printable tags.

COMMON SUPPLIES

If you’re the crafty type, you might be familiar with a lot of these supplies already, or even own them. If not, go to a craft store and get inspired by the paper and hand punches you see. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

  • Variety of ribbons and twine
  • Decorative paper
  • Circle punch
  • Corner punch
  • Glitter spray
  • Metallic spray paint
  • Washi tape
  • Good scissors
  • Bone folder
  • Cutting mat
  • X-acto knife
  • Glue dots
  • Double-sided tape

BELLY BANDS

Belly bands are a traditional way to dress up your stationery a little and hold various cards together. They are incredibly easy to make, and the variations are endless. They are like the perfect little black dress for an evening party, or perhaps the perfect simple clutch that magically fits everything you need.

How to make a paper belly band

  1. 1. Choose your paper. It should be regular weight paper rather than card stock, to make it easy to fold around your cards. Try out decorative paper, even good quality wrapping paper!
  2. 2. Cut strips that are 11” long and anywhere from 2” to 4” tall. You can use a paper cutter, rotary cutter, or just an X-acto knife and a ruler. Tip: If using an X-acto knife, always start with a fresh blade, and use a cutting mat if possible. Cutting mats keep your blade sharper than cutting on cardboard (or your table top!).
  3. 3. Center on your cards and wrap around to the back. Tip: Use a bone folder to make sharp creases on the sides. I’ve had my bone folder for literally twenty-five years. Trust me, this is not the only project you will use it for.
  4. 4. Adhere with glue dots, double-sided tape, circle stickers, or a glue stick. Tip: Glue dots make it very easy for your guests to remove the belly band.

How to make a ribbon belly band

  1. 1. Decide on your type of ribbon. A wide satin ribbon gives a luxurious feel, grosgrain a high-end feel (since it’s the thickest and most expensive type of ribbon), thinner satin ribbon a more delicate and fun feel, and twine and baker’s string give a rustic hint. I avoid places like Paper Source and Kate’s Paperie for ribbon, and instead go to Michael’s or A.C. Moore.
  2. 2. Decide on how you want to wrap it around your stationery. Thinner ribbon and string can be tied in a bow, or wrapped several times around. Wide ribbon should be cut rather than tied in a bow, treated more like a paper belly band.
  3. 3. Always cut ribbon ends on an angle, to avoid fraying. Use the sharpest scissors you can. You might even consider investing in a pair of high-end Allex scissors—I’ve had mine for over twenty years!

Here are two free printable belly bands that you can customize with your initials and wedding date, to make it extra easy for you!

  1. 1. Download the template onto your desktop.
  2. 2. Type in your initials and wedding date into the text fields.
  3. 3. Print out on 8-1/2” x 11” paper. In the photos I actually use construction paper, which has a lovely weight and softness.
  4. 4. Cut out, wrap, seal with glue dots or tape, and send!

TAGS

Little tags give an extra dimension to stationery; they’re perfect for both formal invitations and whimsical ones. And if you get yourself a circle punch, they are easy as pie to make. You can rubber stamp them with your names or initials, cut out photos of yourselves, attach photos of your location, or put a quote on it (“We hope to see you there!” “We love you and hope you can be part of our celebration.” “Join us as we eat crow and actually get hitched.”)

I’ve made two free printables that are very simple to use!

  1. 1. Download the PDF onto your desktop.
  2. 2. Type in your initials and date into the text fields.
  3. 3. Print and cut. The hexagonal one can be cut out with scissors or an X-acto knife, and the circle one can be used with a circle punch. Tip: I recommend a heavier paper for tags to stand up to the postal system.
  4. 4. Use either a standard size hole punch or smaller hole punch to thread your ribbon or twine through. I used a standard one for the circular tags, and a small one for either side of the hexagonal tag.

EMBELLISHMENTS

Adding embellishments to your stationery is like adorning it with little bits of jewelry. Bedazzle your invitations with possibilities!

Clockwise from top left:

  1. 1. Spray your invitation with a sheer coat of glitter. I found the best way to do it was to spray from about twelve inches away, in just two very light passes. You can decide afterward if you need a thicker coat.
  2. 2. Crop your corners for an unusual look with a corner punch—this one is a simple quarter round punch but there are many other kinds of shapes you can use.
  3. 3. Tie on little objects (as long as they’re flat enough to go through the mail). Bits of lace, paper cut outs, leaves, twigs, sprigs of pine needles, the possibilities are endless. Shown here is a leaf spray painted gold (DIY instructions below).
  4. 4. Spray paint the back of your invitation in gold or silver for a truly glam look. Just make sure to air our your invitations for at least a week before mailing, as metallic spray is stank-tastic.

You can make your invitation subtly sparkly or super-sparkly, depending on how many coats you choose to give it. Just remember that Grandma might have a little trouble reading through too much glitter.

Making gold leaves is incredibly easy.

  1. 1. Go into your backyard or nearest woodsy patch and find a bush that has nice firm leaves.
  2. 2. Line up the leaves and spray one side heavily to coat. When dry, flip over and spray the other side to coat. I’ve found that you don’t need more than one coat.
  3. 3. Once the leaves are thoroughly dry, you can choose to press them flat between heavy books, since curly leaves might crack in the mail.

Now, these embellishments are for those who want to take it a step further, who want to add a dimensional detail. They go beyond the little black dress, they are the strappy sequined New Year’s Eve dress. Clockwise from top left:

  1. 1. Try out some experiments with objects and different ways to tie up your invitation. This little arrow was made from a toothpick and gold washi tape (DIY instructions below).
  2. 2. Use a plain belly band as a backdrop to garland. There’s tons of pre-made garland on Etsy, but you can also make your own with washi tape flags or circle stickers.
  3. 3. This invitation not only has a gold back, it has a ¼” rhinestone indicating the location for this destination wedding. Rhinestones don’t have to be tacky!
  4. 4. Wax seals give things a royal flair. You can purchase initial wax seal kits or an image (like the tree in the stamp shown above). There are also lots of posts online on how to make your own.

This little gold arrow is an adorable AND affordable decoration, but it’s only for the truly crafty and determined. Supplies are just your favorite washi tape and toothpicks.

  1. 1. Cut two strips of washi tape, each 1″ long.
  2. 2. Fold the strips over the ends of the toothpick lengthwise, pressing the tape closed firmly, especially close to the toothpick.
  3. 3. Use..
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