Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Laid Plans

I swear we had it all worked out.  The rules were simple.  And there was only one rule.  *Everyone* gets a +1, regardless of whether or not we've ever met the +1, no questions asked.

My oversight:


{Does that look like it says "+1" to you???}

{How about this one?  Would you think you could bring a guest if you received this?}

I thought this rule only needed to apply to invitation labeling.  Silly, thoughtless me didn't think of applying it to our save the date labeling.  It didn't even occur to me until I was home in Georgia talking to one of my cousins who was trying to politely, and subtly, see if her boyfriend could come.  Of course he could come, but how the hell would she know that since we stupidly sent the save the date addressed only to her?? 

Sure, we would have included "and guest" on the invitation label.  But the invitation won't be mailed until about 2 months before the wedding, which is pretty last minute to plan a cross-country trip for 2 people that will require taking at least one day off work.  Wasn't that the point of the save the dates in the first place - to give people almost a year of notice, so they'd have plenty of time to plan and thus be more likely to come?! 

Now I'm stuck sending pitiful emails along the lines of, "By the way, you can totally bring someone to the wedding if you want to.  But if not, or if you can't come, that's cool too.  Whatevs."  Moral of the story:  Do as I say, not as I do.  However you intend to label your invitations, DO THE SAME for your save the dates. 

What "oversights" (or, as some would call them, mistakes) have you made?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Too Few, Too Many, or Just Right?

I'm talking guests here, people.  Although there are about 125 people on our invite list, we've been guesstimating that only about 70 adults and 5 children would actually attend - and that's the number of people we've budgeted for.  Now, I come from the "more is more" camp when it comes to party attendees.  In fact, I've been known to invite way more people into my home than could possibly fit comfortably, and just let them work it out for themselves with the help of everyone's good friend, vodka.  So I've been secretly hoping that we'd have more, even *way* more, wedding guests than we've budgeted for.  In my mind, that makes for a better party, even though it also makes for a sadder wallet.


My worst worst worst fear is that only, say, 50 people show up to the wedding and then we've spent beaucoup money on a party that will fizzle early because there aren't enough people there to keep up the energy.  (Why it's not my worst fear that 125 people show up and then we're $10,000 over budget, I have no idea.)


We don't have a super huge social circle plus a smaller guest list is all we can afford.  Furthermore, we've chosen a ceremony space that can only seat about 30-40, with standing room only for everyone else.  With those calculations, it would stand to reason that 50 guests is too few, 125 is too many, and 75 is just right.  But I can't shake the feeling that a few more than 75 guests would be just right-er.

Well, imagine my pleasant surprise (on multiple levels) when several of my family members in Georgia (who I hadn't counted on attending since they live so far away from San Francisco, and whose lives I haven't really been a part of for a very long time) expressed a desire to come to our (non-traditional) wedding.  It looks like I might get my wish after all.  And the price tags for that wish, both monetary and emotional...  well, I'll deal with later.

Did the holidays present you with any wedding surprises?  And how did you decide your "just right" number of wedding guests?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Making Our Save the Dates, Part 3 (Materials, Resources, and Costs)

I know I always appreciate crafty blog posts where people spill the beans on the behind-the-scenes details like resources and costs for everything.  So here's my contribution, in hopes that it will help you in your craft journeys!  I'm including the costs for *everything* because, if you're anything like me, you'll want to stock up on craft supplies pre-wedding-crafting so that they don't have to be included in your wedding budget!  (I'm only half really not at all kidding.)

Keep in mind that some of these items I already had in my craft space, and some I purchased specifically for this project.  Almost everything can be reused for other projects, and I had leftovers of the paper and envelopes that could possibly come in handy for other wedding crafts.  When calculating the total cost and cost per invite, I will only count the materials I had to purchase specifically for this project.  All prices are taken from Amazon.com when possible.  You may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere.

Materials on hand:

Bosskut Gazelle Digital Cutter - $430



Sizzix Big Shot Die Cutting Machine - $72



EK Success Dotto Permanent Adhesive Dispenser - $11



Tombow Mono Permanent Adhesive Dispenser - $6



Quickutz "Rings" Embossing Folder - $6



Xyron XRN510 (5") Creative Station with Permanent Adhesive Cartridge - $34



EK Success Adhesive Remover - $4



Fiskars Rotary Paper Trimmer - $17


Purchased for this project:

Cardstock - 100 pack of 8.5"x11" Stardream 105 lb. Cover in Anthracite  (70 sheets remaining) from http://www.envelopemall.com/ - $22


Envelopes - 100 pack of Stardream Metallic A-6 Envelopes in Silver (40 left) from http://www.envelopemall.com/ - $15 (plus $9 shipping for cardstock and envelopes)


Stock Skyline Image - Full Size JPEG (15 mpix) purchased online from pixmac.com - $12.60



 Photos - 55 4x6 photos with matte finish from http://www.yorkphoto.com/ - $5 (including shipping)


Stamps - $24.20 for 55 forever stamps



Total Cost of Materials Purchased - $87.80

Cost Per Card (including postage) for 55 cards - $1.60

Wow - that's the first time I've calculated the cost per card, and I'm flippin' floored!  You can't even buy a greeting card for that amount, much less buy it and ship it!  WoooHooo!  Feelin' good, feelin' oh so good...

And now it's your time to spill the beans with ME - so what are your go-to locations (online or brick-and-mortar) for good deals on craft supplies?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making Our Save the Dates, Part 2 (Wrap-Around Labels)

With the save the date inserts completed, now it was time to move on to something not-at-all important - the labels.  Ah yes, the little detail that ensures our guests will actually get to receive these little gems.  Or, at the very least, that the post office returns them to us in the event they can't be delivered.  The wrap-around labels were Mr. NM's job, and he spent a long time researching appropriate sizing and possible designs.  We bought a stock SF skyline image from pixmac.com to use on the labels.


We opened the image in Publisher and cropped it so that only the top skyline picture was showing.  For our A6 envelopes, we decided to make each label 6 x 2.25 inches, which breaks down to 4" for the front address and 2" for the return address.  Mr. NM drew a black border this size to facilitate cutting them later on.  He then resized the image inside this box and played with the brightness/contrast to give us enough white space to write out names and addresses.  Copying and pasting the layout several times gave him 7 labels per page. 

{screenshot from Publisher}

After they were all printed, I trimmed them down into sets of 3 because that's how many could go through the Xyron at the same time. 


This was our first time using the Xyron and we went into with only a basic understanding of how it worked.  And when I say basic, I mean something along the lines of, "This machine puts adhesive on the back of paper."  But how it worked, we had no idea.  For those of you out there in the same boat, I'm including these next pictures just for you.

Load your paper into the machine and turn the crank until it paper comes out the other side.




Once it's all the way through, you push down the clear plastic lever and slide the orange piece (the cutter) across the paper to cut it.



Now your original paper has a plastic film on top, and on the back the adhesive is covered with a waxy piece of paper like the paper stickers are attached to.

This is a good time to trim these apart into 3 separate stickers.


Remove the plastic film.



Now your sticker is ready to be removed from the backing.  Tip: remove it slowly!  Otherwise the paper has a tendency to roll up on itself, meaning you have to carefully pry it apart or, worst case scenario, reprint the whole thing.



Next, there's the anxiety-provoking process of sticking them on the envelopes.  Perhaps we could have made this more exact by marking the envelopes in some way, but it also would have been more time-consuming.  So instead we just eyeballed it, and most of the time that was totally sufficient.


We slapped a simple forever stamp on each one and dropped them in the mail.  



It was nice to be able to collaborate with Mr. NM and two of my Party People during the process, and I am beyond thrilled with how the whole thing came together!  We haven't had any returned to us yet *knock on wood* so it seems that these label measurements and the font sizes we used worked well.  And after all that hard work, it's SO incredibly gratifying to hear people say that they thought your save the dates were gorgeous!  I mean, I certainly thought so, but it's nice to know the sentiment is shared. 

Up next: cost and resource break-down

Have you ever used wraparound labels?  If so, what was your method?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Making Our Save the Dates, Part 1 (Cards and Envelopes)

Because Mr. NM and I are enamored with the San Francisco skyline, and since so much of the feel of our wedding is based on the city-at-night vibe, we wanted to find a way to include skylines in our Save the Dates.  Truth be told, I'm not always that creative when it comes to generating unique ideas, but I'm pretty damn good at taking someone else's idea, putting my own spin on it, and executing it flawlessly.  When I found this post on Weddingbee, I knew we had our winner. 

Armed with way too much information I had researched about envelope sizes, I decided we would use A6 envelopes (measuring 4.75" x 6.5") and make our final card size 4.25" x 5.5".  This means each card, unfolded, would measure 8.5" x 5.5" and that is exactly half a sheet of 8.5" x 11" cardstock.  So we could get two cards from each piece of cardstock, saving us money.  Then we could further reduce costs by printing our skyline inserts as basic 4x6 prints and then trimming about .75" off one side.  (At the end of this tutorial, I'll provide a list of materials, costs, and resources.)

Having figured out the specifics, I now needed a skyline picture to use.  I found this one online and thought it was unbelievably gorgeous.


Through the magic of Photoshop I cropped it, skewed the overall colors towards bright blue, and pumped up the vibracy a notch or ten to give me this.



Adding text in Photoshop is pretty easy.  Agreeing with Mr. NM about which fonts to use is not.  Eventually, though, we had some frontrunner fonts and we were well on our way.

{It *kills* me to blur out the lettering.  If only we didn't have such identifiable first names...}

Next step was to order the prints, which was harder than it sounds.  First I ordered from my go-to place, yorkphoto.com.  They're cheap, reliabele, and consistent - but when my prints came the measurements were way off, which cut off some of the text.  They refunded my money, so then I tried snapfish.com.  When those prints came, the image quality was awful plus the cropping of the text was still a problem.  They also refunded my money.  I decided to re-work the text alignment in Photoshop and send the images back to York Photo.  I'd had so many good experiences with them (literally thousands of images over the years) and I didn't want to give up on them too soon.  Plus the image quality itself was actually far superior.  This time, the prints arrived and they looked great.  Ugh, what an ordeal...  But the outcome was *finally* similar to my original design.

{The prints were pretty close to the Photoshop rendition above, which was impressive.}

Party Person L came over to help me with the next step.  I had already designed the file for my digital cutter that would cut the 11-11-11 twice per sheet of cardstock then slice down the middle to separate the two cards.  We took turns loading the cardstock onto the cutting mat and clicking the "start" button...  over and over and over again.

{Please note the million leftover 1's, on the right.  Any thoughts about how I could use these??}

While the cutter worked its magic, we trimmed the photos.

{Measure twice, cut once - especially if you don't have many to spare!}

When the cards came out of the digital cutter, they needed a score line so the top fold would be a clean one.  Party Person L simply used the scoring blade (not actually a blade) on the rotary cutter.



{For the scoring to work as it should, be sure to score on the inside of the card, not the outside.}
We made quick folds on each of them prior to attaching the insert.

I could've used a Xyron for the inserts in order to cover every square inch of the photo with adhesive, but I scrimped a little by only using my adhesive runner on the oustide edges.  Seems to have worked just fine.


After carefully centering and sticking each one of them, I then went over the folds with a bone folder for good measure. 



At this point we could've stuffed them in envelopes and called them finished.  But I just couldn't let go of the idea that they needed a little extra oomph.  So I invited over Party Person K to bring the oomph! 



Mr. NM said he didn't mind if I added something extra, but he wanted to leave the card part alone.  Apparently he liked the more minimalstic look we had achieved in Round 1.  Knowing what we had decided to do for labels (up next in Part 2), I thought maybe the back flap was a good place for some embellishment. 

I love the look and feel of letterpress, but we certainly aren't able to afford it for any of our paper goods.  But that doesn't mean we can't include some incredible textured paper of our own.



This is the Quickutz "Rings" A2 embossing folder.  K slipped the envelope flap into the folder and then fed it through the die cutting machine.


There are several methods to emboss with a die cutting machine.  When using an embossing folder like this one, you just need to sandwich the folder it in-between the clear cutting plates and roll it through.  If, however, you're using a texture plate, remember to use your embossing mat.  It's a piece of rubber that allows the paper to"squish" onto the texture plate.  Whatever method you use, if the stack of things you're sending through the machine is a bit too thick, the paper may get cut rather than just textured.  So I suggest sending some test paper (of similar thickness as your envelope) through first before you move to the envelopes. 


Work goes so much faster with 2 people, and after just a little while we finally had a stack of envelopes to go with our stack of save the dates.  Stuffing and sealing all of them was a breeze.





That gorgeous flap was just the extra oomph I was looking for!  Not that anyone else will necessarily notice...

Up next:  the awesome-tastic labels!

Will you be sending out save the dates?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sock-cess!

If anyone ever asks me why I am light-years-beyond-certain that Mr. NM is the right guy for me, I will show them this picture:



Yes, oh yes, Mr. NM tracked down eight pairs of the holy grail socks!!  (For backstory, see here.)  I'd had a really emotionally tough couple of weeks (including my sock-related meltdown) when Mr. NM told me that he had a "wonderful and thrilling surprise" for me because he thought I "could use a boost."  He knew that seeing these ridiculously elusive socks would make my day, and he was so, so right!




They don't take away the other stresses of my life, but they do make me giddily joyful in a way that socks probably shouldn't - though it's really not the socks that are doing it.  What makes me smile and brings me great comfort is this simple but extraordinary enactment of Mr. NM's love for me.  He saw I was hurting and he made special efforts to relieve my pain in a way he knew would be meaningful to me.  There's certainly a place in relationships for grand romantic gestures, but it's these every day kindnesses that really count in my book. 

What do simple but extraordinary enactments of love look like in your relationship?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life Imitates Wedding

Each year since we've been together, Mr. NM and I pick a "theme" for our holiday tree by sticking with a particular color scheme for all of the ornaments and (sometimes) the wrapping paper.  Admittedly, this tradition is primarily driven by me, but Mr. NM has become a willing participant.  This year, there's something about our tree that's just the tiniest bit familiar...


{the tree Mr. NM calls "our best ever"}

We could plunk this tree down at our wedding and it would fit right in! (Except for the actual tree part, which wouldn't really fit in at the beginning of November.  But you know I wasn't talking about the tree... sheesh!)  I really thought this was going to be the year we had a white tree with brightly colored neon ornaments, but when we arrived at Target and layed eyes on the black/white/silver multi-packs, we were sold.  I almost wanted to save these until next year because I thought it would be nice to re-live our wedding colors during the holidays (only 6 weeks after the wedding!), but we couldn't stop ourselves.  We had a brief debate over whether to include the cobalt blue somehow, but in the end we opted to keep it simple. 

It's a lotta gorgeous, a little bit modern, interestingly unique, deceptively simplistic in appearance, heavy on the chic, and completely *us* -  just like we hope our wedding will be.

What are the ways that your wedding style has crept into other areas of your life?