Wedding Stationery…to Buy or DIY?

What is it with girls and stationery? Ever since school I remember getting super excited as September drew near…not to be going back to class, but to be allowed to buy new stationery for the year ahead. I’d spend hours wondering around WH Smiths and Paperchase, fingering every little brightly coloured item, searching for the perfect kit that was both practical and exuded my ever-changing sense of style.

I think for girls this long-term love affair is why we see wedding stationery as such an integral part of our wedding day. It must be just right, it must be personal and it must look like a lot of thought went into it. In this budget-conscious climate, a lot of brides to be choose to DIY their stationery. Whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with this (hell, I DIY’ed the lot!) I wanted to ask an expert in this field to chat us through the importance of wedding stationery as well as highlighting the pros and cons of DIY vs buying your stationery…without simply writing the usual wedding-supplier-self-promotion-patter of “your stationery will set the tone for your whole wedding day” crap that you read everywhere else. Enter Lucy Ledger of the awesome Lucy Ledger Designs

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Stationery is often overlooked when considering the wedding budget; in fact it’s usually the first thing to go. The DIY option is often quite appealing in a quest to save a bit of money… but are you really saving …and more importantly; are you overlooking a potential key part of your wedding? In this post I will pass on my thoughts as a former bride to be and as a designer in the industry and I welcome any feedback or experiences you have to share.

The wedding world and its preconceptions seem to have a strange effect on us all. As soon as I was engaged I started to think about my stationery. Being a creative type, I decided to go the DIY route and found myself inexplicably thinking of pretty invitations with crafty bits on…I woke with a shock from this ‘mainstream’ wedding coma after finding myself in a craft shop looking at fake holly leaves. It was all a bit mad – what was I doing? This wasn’t ‘us’! Then it struck me… the stationery was the perfect opportunity to tell everyone about who we are and what we love! It can be ANYTHING we want – there are no rules!! That’s when it got exciting.

We live in a shabby little cottage loaded with junk shop finds and we love Christmas and nostalgia; a perfect starting point for stationery that our guests are still talking about almost a year later! I really can’t stress how important it is to put your personality in to your stationery, the comments we had about the invitations and throughout the day itself were just lovely. “This is just so Lucy and David” “I really feel so valued as a guest” You can’t ask for more than that can you? Yes we definitely made our mark on other aspects of the wedding but it’s the stationery that people kept and remembered.

Now, let’s talk about DIY. Hmmm DIY. What I’m going to tell you is purely based on my state of mind this time last year and not as a stationery designer. I was stressed! I loved the stationery I created and was unbelievably excited as I created mock ups and the first five of everything. I got to the 60th Invite/order of service/place name and I was suddenly yearning for the mani-pedis and bridal pampering that I could have been having instead of wrestling with a glue gun. My low point was three days before the wedding when I was still putting together Order of Services’ at 2am after a succession of ‘insert’ dramas. Now don’t get me wrong, the comments on the day made the time and effort all worthwhile but when I’m asked the age old question “What would you change about your wedding day?” it would be to hire a stationery designer who ‘gets us’!

OK, so lets look at the other option; hiring a designer. You’ve decided to invest in some stationery for your big day and you desperately want some thing reflects ‘you’. The same principals as hiring a photographer apply to choosing your stationer; Take some time to explore different options and styles, look at past work before parting with any serious money, there is often a chance to purchase samples so you can check the quality of the finished product. I also highly recommend getting in touch to talk though some of your ideas, be it in person, over the phone or (increasingly) via email. By doing this you will get an sense of whether this particular designer ‘gets’ you. There is nothing worse than a designer who railroads you into what they want rather than listening to your ideas – it’s arrogant on their part and disappointing for you.

When you have found a stationer and are going through the bespoke process don’t be afraid to ask for changes to get what you want. I always tell my clients to not hold back and let loose with their ideas so I can really produce their most perfect stationery – it’s lovely to share the excitement in the idea’s stage! One of my current couples; Spencer and Caroline are having a wonderfully quirky wedding with some fun surprises for their guests. They contacted me wanting to get that whole feeling across in their stationery without giving anything away. They sent me some great pictures (including images of their amazing engagement shoot with Eliza Claire) and links showing me what inspired them and although the consultations have been via email I feel I have got a great feel for who they are and what they love and have been able to come up with something that represents that.

As a designer, it’s an absolute dream to create a bespoke design for a couple who want their own unique wedding day. It is really worth investigating how much your favourite designer would charge for a custom range – you may be pleasantly surprised. I charge a simple flat fee for a bespoke collection because I really want to encourage couples to experience what I did on my wedding day and go for something truly unique and personal to them.

Still not sure what you are looking for? Well lucky for you – you’ve found Rock n Roll Bride – a perfect form of inspiration whether you choose a designer or the DIY route for your stationery! I want to thank Kat for filling my head with creative ideas during my first year of business. Most recently I was amazed by the Rock n Revolution Shoot – so much so, it inspired me to create a new range of stationery that I’m very excited about!! Inspired by the colours (does the pink colour remind you of anybody?!) and styling of the shoot, with a feel of the opulence of the French courts of the 1700’s and a dose of Sophia Coppola’s cult film ‘Marie Antoinette’ – here is an exclusive look at the new collection ‘Rock n Revolution’! It will be available to order from January 2011.

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Mucho love to Lucy for not only sharing her thoughts on this subject but for designing a stationery range insipred by Rock n Roll Bride! How awesome is that!? I really hope some of my readers order this new range for their weddings, words can’t express how excited that makes me!

For more on Lucy Ledger Designs, be sure to check out this interview I did with her in April, as well as her gorgeous photo shoot with Emma Case AND her fabulous shabby chic website. This chick is everywhere!

So, will you be DIYing or buying your wedding stationary?

22 comments

  1. Pie

    Hmm. It’s a tough call. I’ve ended up making all of ours apart from the table plan which an artist friend is making. We did look at ideas and stuff and were going to have them made but when we realised that what we wanted was so simple and basic we decided it was much easier to make them ourselves. We only needed to make around 40 invitations and with a Mac and a decent printer that we already had for Ray’s work we managed to make really lovely invites that everyone thought had been bought.

    Having said that, if we’d wanted something complicated or felt we didn’t have the basic skills I would have had them made. There’s few things less appealing than opening a wedding invitation to be greeted by a bit of card with 2 sequins, a tatty ribbon and the residue of some pritt stick on the front.

  2. Post author

    “There’s few things less appealing than opening a wedding invitation to be greeted by a bit of card with 2 sequins, a tatty ribbon and the residue of some pritt stick on the front.”

    hahah! made my laugh out loud!

  3. MrsEtoB (aka Hayley)

    As Pie said, this is a tough call. I don’t know anyone who has had a designer for their stationery (apart from some clients of my wedding planner maid of honour) and, whilst they unquestionnably look fab I think the cost can just be huge and over the odds.

    Designing and making our Save the Dates has been one of the best parts of the wedding planning for me. The night where my fiance and I, and his parents sat in a production line stylee was one to remember & helped bring us closer together in the wedding planning. The comments we’ve had from people were great & I loved it when people opened them!

    That said, you need to have a certain amount of creativity to make your invites – I’m not massively creative but can manage a certain level. Also, (don’t mean to be a wedding b*tch but…) I have seen some awful/boring/mediocre/badly made specimens which have made me cry a little inside…the worst was a friend of a friend’s generic supermarket bought “Just for you card” with the contents hand written seemingly by a spider…

    Another of my friend’s made her and they looked out of this world but she doesn’t think they actually saved any money and 3 years later thinks she’d have been better off getting a designer in…

    Tough call indeed!!

  4. oh wow thanks for the comments everyone. Great feedback Pie and Hayley – really interesting! I think you both hit it right on by saying – quality finish and creativity = great stationery – after all I did the DIY option too. I am totally with you Hayley when you say there is such “awful/boring/mediocre/badly made specimens” SO SO true!!! It upsets me when I see people calling themselves ‘designers’ when they are using premade embellishments on their stationery!!! I totally think If you have a great idea and you enjoy doing it – go for it!! Pie I loved your last comment SO SO true again!!!!

    All you DIY brides out there – if ever you need some advice when designing your own stationery just drop me a line at lucy@lucyledger.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

    Lxx

  5. i’m reading this on my break from DIY’ing my own invitations. i’m very glad to be doing it, since i really do want it to reflect me and my fiance. i don’t think we’re necessarily saving a ton of money over something pre-designed, but definitely over something personalized. i don’t think we’ll be doing anything too complicated for the rest of the stationary though. anyway, back to work for me, i’ll report back and let you know if i think it’s worth it.

  6. I LOVE lucy’s work, she is great talent in the wedding stationary world! I have had the pleasure of Lucy design a few bits for me this year and she has been a pleasure to work with. She has come up with great ideas, been highly profesional and everyone has commented on her great results.

    Yes DIY is great to save money, but having made a few bits and bobs for my brides myslef I can strongly recomend highering in a profesional to do this for you. Stationary isn’t just something you send out to your guests, it’s someting you keep afterwards, most of teh things you buy for your wedding will get thrown away or eaten but the stationary with the photographs will stay forever, so it’s great if you can invest in it as your inviations, table plan, order fo service will all be keep sakes.

    xxxx

  7. Rebecca

    I don’t think it’s necessary to say DIY-ing will mean you’ll miss bridal pampering. It depends how organised you are.

    I’m lucky in that a very dear friend is a designer and we have access to cost letterpress printing. I intend on designing everything and having them professionally printed. DIY can be a compromise between expensive designed invitations and buying out the whole of hobbycraft.

  8. Thank you for the lovely comments Kelly!

    Rebecca, I was very clear when I said that was MY experience- I did miss out! I’m sure you will be very much more organised than me and this won’t be a problem 🙂

    Miss Alix – yes please let us know how you get on! I think that was where I went wrong – our stationery was very elaborate! It would have been easier if it was simpler.

    Thanks for the comments all – its lovely to hear from real brides too! x

  9. I made my own invitations, order of services, table plan etc. It was a NIGHTMARE! I was up til 2am on the day of my wedding tying ribbons onto OOS’s, and planning the table plan (couldn’t have done it beforehand as it was a surprise F1 theme for Rich – got him GP tickets in Montreal as a wedding present). For me, it wasn’t fun, it was just so stressful.

    I wish I’d known you back then, Lucy!

  10. Nikki

    I loved this piece you covered all the basis! I’ve been teaching Irish brides to make their own for the past few years and it really is a cost thing lately. Most people who made their own used to be original folks like yourself who didn’t want the boring old ivory/gold card you see everywhere, now everyone is getting into it. I’m so pro Diy, you can get your own personality across and if you visit a diy shop the girls will help you design, give you tips so it does have the high finish you’d get with a designer.

  11. Kelly

    I have been making invitations and stationary for friends, family and myself for a few years just as a favour and to be honest the thought of making my own for my wedding is making me feel ill. I love designing it, making the first 5 and then I’m so beyond bored I end up making mistakes and the perfectionist and control enthusiast (no freak I’ll add) in me looses the plot. Not what I want or need in the run up to my big day.

    The only designer I have considered is Lucy, I have ordered a greetings card and invite sample from her and both were exquisite. I’m over 2 years away from my own wedding but will be in touch with you soon Lucy (saw your wedding story on YAYW and it was all amazing)
    xxxx

  12. Jennifer

    I love your style Lucy!

    I am doing a cherry themed wedding, and we are definitely DIYing the stationary. I am just afraid that they will look DIYed, (example: what if I miss a glue splotch, what it something falls off because of lack of glue, etc) I want my guests to have the second guess as Are these homemade or not. I’m just finding myself getting frustrated with trying to find exactly what I am wanting to do. In the end, I know that all the work will be worth the effort!

  13. Annie-Blake Lavender

    loved this post! i think it is boring opening the standard DIY invitation (rectangular with multiple layers of different paper all held up the top by a love heart)… i feel it has been done to death!!! an invitation should be a refelction of a couple.

    In saying that, i prefer the professional option, due to printer quality and the abilty to make the inviation into any shape, which is perfectly cut by machine!!! + i am no DIY genius hehe!

    for those who love crafts and find it stressfree, i think DIY would be perfect (unless you have a HUGE guest list!!!)

    To Jennifer:
    if you are already a little worried about the inviatations why don’t you sit back and have a re-think? If you’re worried something will fall off, why not keep the design simple and not glue anything to it? instead, you could use those love hearts etc that go through the invitation and butterfly clip back? then there is NO WAY it is going to fall off!!!

  14. Eliza – Thank you! I wish I knew you before my wedding too, I would have loved you to be our photographer!!

    Well, I’m really glad some of you didn’t have fun DIYing – I thought I was alone!! Nikki – it sounds great what you are doing and I’m sure so many brides are loving the help!

    Kelly – you are lovely! Thanks for the nice comments and I would love to work with you on your wedding stationery 🙂

    Jennifer – if you need any advice about the best adhesives and some helpful links (from one DIY bride to another!) drop me an email anytime and I’ll tell you what I found works best!!

    Thanks everyone- keep the comments coming- its great to hear all your points of view xxxxxx

  15. ooh Annie I missed your comment – but thanks for that and I think you are right about getting quality from the professionals xxxxxx

  16. Nikki

    Kat if your ever in Dublin I’d love to invite you to come visit us, our shop is a handmade, eco friendly, ethical, paper shop, our mission is to teach brides to make all their own stationery (we help a little). Its like an aladins cave of paper and crafts. We’d love to invite you to come play with us, make a few rock and roll invites! We want to spread the love of DIY to everyone and I think you’d have fun.

  17. Post author

    sure thing nikki! my family (mum’s side) actually live in Dublin. I dont get to go over often but if i do soon I’ll come say hi!

  18. I absolutely adore Lucy’s designs – the retro, vintage, quirky, nostalgic themes are right up my street. That said when I got married (nearly a month ago now) I designed my own wedding invite but that was purely because we had a sort of New York elopement and my sister and brother-in-law were the only guests!! When she got married several years ago she had asked me to draw a caricature of her and her husband which she then had made into the invites and order of service, so I did a caricature of myself and my husband and made it into an invite to send to them when it came to our turn!

    That said, if I had been having a big wedding at home with more than 2 guests I would definitely have ordered my stationary from Lucy – I’ve looked around a lot and have yet to find anything remotely in the same league as her beautiful designs.

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