The rolled parchment looks like it's been squirreled away in an attic for ages. It's stiff, discolored, wrinkled, charred around the edges. But the text, written in artful calligraphy, is legible. It begins
From The Throne of A King"
Hear Ye ~ Hear Ye
Let it be know to All
The Lady April Louise Theresa Sherry
will unite with
Sir Robert Marion John Pitura
A relic from the Renaissance? Not even close. This ancient-looking invitation was created in 2006, by Bob Pitura and April Sherry, of Niskayuna, for their April Fool's Day, court jester-themed wedding.
Pitura and Sherry join a growing number of couples who have decided to make their own wedding invitations. Some do it for the fun of it, others to express their creativity, still others to save money. Home printing capabilities and the ever-increasing selection of invitation-making supplies has made the project very doable.
Michele Bombard, of Glenville, purchased a do-it-yourself wedding invitation kit at a Michael's craft store. The kit came with everything needed, right down to dainty bows made of blue ribbon. "I just fell in love with this paper," says Bombard, fingering her invitation. Under a translucent sheet of velum is hand-pressed paper laced with blue flower petals.
Bombard designed the layout for her invitations on her computer, and printed them at home. "The vellum was micro-perfed, so you could run it through your printer and rip it at the perforations," she explains.
She created 40 invitations in a single day with no issues. "I think they're just as pretty as the professional invitations I had for my first wedding," she says.
Computer-generated invitations are probably the quickest and easiest type to make. And the results are often quite professional looking. But there are many ambitious souls, like Pitura and Sherry, who venture into the wedding invitation creation process sans computer.
"Printmaking is probably the easiest and most traditional way to hand-make wedding invitations," notes Karen Schupack, owner of Albany Art Room, a store that sells all of the supplies needed for printmaking, and just about any other invitation-making technique imaginable.
Printmaking, Schupack explains, is a process that involves making your own stamp by carving a design into a block, commonly made of linoleum or wood, then rolling the block with printers' ink, and transferring the design to paper. Schupack used that technique on her own wedding invitations, and then hand-colored them. "I know a lot of people who have framed our wedding invitation because it was like a little piece of artwork," she says.
The imagination's the limit with custom-crafted invitations, from wording to paper type to artistic embellishments.
"The formal invitation is one thing, but when you're able to write your own copy, there's more creativity involved. There's more of a bond and an attachment to what the words mean," says Pitura.
The DIY invitation-maker has a universe of materials to choose from: decorative papers made from a range of fibers, seeded paper that will grow into a flower patch if planted, fabrics, photos, glitter, rhinestones, charms, buttons, lace, stickers, stamps, natural elements like pressed flowers and leaves; the list goes on.
Pitura and Sherry chose 11- by 17-inch parchment paper for their invitations. "Once I finished the lettering, I got them copied at the copy store," recounts Pitura. "Then I filled the kitchen sink with warm water and dumped coffee and tea in there, and soaked them, and that's how they got their color. I dried them in front of the fire, so that's how the paper got wrinkled. Then I burned the edges." Pitura added an additional light-hearted touch: he rolled the invitations up and slipped each one into a toilet paper roll, with a few sheets of toilet tissue still attached. The ultra-untraditional invites, he reports, were mainly well received.
A hand-created invitation can be a true expression of personal style, and it can be made for a price that won't break the bank. "Paper is expensive, so whether you're making them yourself or buying them [custom-printed], there's a chunk that is going to cost you for the paper and the envelopes and the cardstock or whatever you start with," notes Schupack. "On top of that, for making it yourself, the cost could be very little. I think there's potential for a lot of savings."
The drawback: creating a slew of custom invites takes a slew of time. Schupack recommends starting the process six to eight months prior to the wedding day. Pitura and Sherry started their project about six months ahead of time. "We didn't know exactly what we wanted," Pitura explains. "We wrote some copy and then changed it. I guess we kicked it around for probably a month-and-a-half or so." Physically creating the 25 invitations took about a day, he estimates.
Often, a large amount of time is consumed just collecting the supplies. "It's hard to find what you want," Schupack says. "You don't just typically walk into a store and buy paper and matching envelopes that look like wedding invitations. That part sometimes ends up taking longer than you think."
The Internet, she notes, is a great resource for such supplies. Michael's craft store features 19 different wedding invitation kits on their Web site; Invitations by David's Bridal offers over 50. And a Google search will turn up reams of other options.
When planning what your invitation will look like, don't go overboard, Schupack advises. "Don't make a design so complicated that replicating it is too difficult," she says. "Getting over the hurdle of creating one card is manageable for most people, but then, when you think, 'Oh, now I have to make 200 more,' that can get pretty intimidating."
"If I had to make 150 of them, I might have thought about doing a professional buy," admits Bombard. "You have to weigh the cost plus the time. Time is money."
No matter how many invitations you decide to create, you can help keep the stress level down by working on them in a space dedicated solely to the project. "It's kind of an overwhelming task on your own, combined with all the other things going on at your home at that time," says Schupack, who recommends working on the invitations somewhere other than your own home.
"You can come to our open studio, either with our cards and envelopes, or something you purchased somewhere else, and we would be able to actually help you create the invitations themselves," she notes. Schupack also recommends enlisting a group of friends to help with the project.
Another way to keep invitation-making stress to a minimum: don't obsess about perfection, she says.
"The idea of making it by hand is that it looks like it's handmade. Don't expect it, or don't even want it to look like it was purchased at the store, because the beauty of it is that it's handmade."
Despite the workload it adds to the wedding planning to-do list, making your own invitations can be a fun way to create a sure-to-be-cherished memento. Pitura looks back fondly on the entire process. "Most of the time, it was over a bottle of wine and lots of laughter," he says. "It was fun."