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Tales of an Extremely Amateur “Invitation Designer”

May 19, 2011

Sorry, guys. I didn’t mean to make you wait so long for my second invitation post. Our invitations went out on Saturday and I think most people have received them by now, so all I need to do is take some pictures and then I can share them with you! Hooray! In the meantime, let’s get back to the story of how they were born.

When we left each other, I was stuck in a bit of a rut with a peony background and whole lotta Feel Script. After staring at my designs for hours and just not loving them, I set them aside. After all, this was a year ago. I hadn’t even done the Save the Dates yet. It was time for a break.

I kept stalking the stationery blogs (my favorite are Oh So Beautiful Paper and Paper Crave), and I found myself more drawn to bold, text-focused designs. Sans-serifs! Starbursts! Drop shadows! These were a few of my early favorites:

I loved the poster-style layout of this invitation, and was instantly obsessed with the starburst:

Poster by Elum Designs

Kristin from Twin Ravens Press sent me a sample of this one, and it’s even more amazing in person than in it is in the photo. I LOVED it:

Victoria & David’s Suite by Twin Ravens Press

Kristin also made another poster-style invitation with a starburst and drop shadow that I got a sample of. It’s so frigging cool:

Cherie & Larry’s Suite by Twin Ravens Press

So, with all of these in mind, I designed and created our Save the Dates. Remember these?

I incorporated the sunburst and graphic sans-serifs, but kept the fancy shapes and Feel Script from my previous loves. I loved how they came out, but I knew I’d want to go a little more formal for the invitations.

Unfortunately, a little while after the Save the Dates went out, I decided I was over Feel Script. This was a bummer because I had already had a custom Feel Scripty stamp made for our thank you cards, and also, because I’d wanted to use the same font through all our paper products. Oh, well. I had a new love and her name was Memoriam.

I think I saw Memoriam first on this gorgeous piece of paper. It’s by Bella Figura, and was also a favorite of Mrs. Cheetah’s:

Tara by Bella Figura

But I really fell head over heels when I saw these.

JP & Kiera’s Suite via Oh So Beautiful Paper

I still just die for that suite. It’s so bold and modern but so romantic at the same time. I knew Memoriam was my new official wedding font, and that was that.

My other Dream Design was this one.

Bryan & Christina’s Invitation designed by Rabe & Co. via FPO

I loved this invitation so much, I actually considering getting over my DIY idea, and emailed Rabe & Co. to see if they could design one for me. They seemed great and really nice, but ultimately, we just couldn’t afford it, so I went back to the drawing board.

Here was my first attempt to incorporate my new obsessions. Design 8:

I was fairly happy with it. After some deliberation, I sent it over to Kristin and told her it was ready. But I had this nagging feeling. I couldn’t get Bryan & Christina’s invitation out of my mind. I was actually losing sleep at night because of it. It was pathetic. I decided I had to see if I could come up with something close to it.

Unfortunately, it was a little too close. Design 9:

I know. I know. It was a complete and total rip-off. I loved it, but I just wasn’t comfortable with it. I agonized for days. It was one thing to send out this invitation to our guests, who probably would have never seen the original and would never know. But I knew I couldn’t post it on Weddingbee. Of course, I would have been very open with my source of “inspiration”—but I know you guys still wouldn’t stand for it. Within the Weddingbee community, we’ve got a great group of actual designers, and as you know, that shit just ain’t cool. And could I really send out a wedding invitation that I wasn’t even comfortable with posting on my blog? No way. Finally, I decided I had to let it go.

Armed with a new sense of humility, I tried to combine what I loved about Bryan & Christina’s invitation with what I had loved in my original designs. My first hybrid was this one. Design 10:

No. The lines were too much with the floral background, and it was still too close to the original. Next. Design 11:

Getting closer. I added notches to my rectangle for fun, switched the secondary font to a sans-serif, and tried to make a drop shadow with our names. I liked how it looked on my screen, but I knew it probably wouldn’t work in print. As I learned from Kristin, printing a drop shadow is hard enough with blocky text. I knew in my heart of hearts that scripty fonts with thin lines just aren’t meant to have drop shadows, and I needed to either switch fonts or get over it. I couldn’t get over it, so I switched fonts. Design 12:

Better, but our names looked like they belonged on the back of a football jersey. I went back to full names and smaller text:

DONE! That was it. There’s our wedding invitation design, ladies and gents. Do I love it as much as Bryan and Christina’s? No, I do not. And that’s because Bryan and Christina’s invitation was designed by actual professional designers. I’m just a writer who happens to be fairly good at teaching myself how to use computer programs. But I saved a lot of money by making my own design, and at least I have access to all the elements to use in future stationery pieces. And, well, even though it’s totally amateur and I borrowed liberally from many internet inspiration, I’m proud to tell people I designed our wedding invitations. Not that I’ve been bragging about it. Just if people ask.

And for fun, here’s all my designs next to each other, so you can see the evolution.

So there it is! Next up, I’ll show you how my design translated to letterpress, and what I added for our RSVP cards, directions cards, website cards, belly band and envelope adornments. Woohoo! The full reveal!

Anyone else struggle with copyright infringement while trying to design your own invitations? Did you pull yourself back from the brink?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Lauren permalink
    October 28, 2011 1:12 pm

    Wow, this is amazing! I am trying to teach myself how to make invitations and came across your site. I even have the same wedding colors! Thank you for posting this, it is nice to know I am not alone! 🙂

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