If You Want To Letterpress Your Own Invitations…

Congratulations – and good luck!

I recommend consulting your local printshop and taking a class or two if you have the resources. But once you do decide to take it on, I recommend you work with Boxcar Press.

I used them to print our printing plates. Their professionalism and quality of product are pretty fantastic.

The prices are also quite fair (you know how some Etsy shops will charge $60 or more for a custom plate for an invitation or business card? Boxcar’s minimum is $30, and they charge by the square inch).

They have a highly comprehensive Q&A section and really know the business.

Our Invitations

As I mentioned before, my “easy” task of taking on the invitations turned into a LOT of work (learning Illustrator — well sort of), trimming down sheets of 30×22 paper by hand (the copy shops couldn’t trim anything larger than 20″), and sending design elements to Boxcar Press (I couldn’t recommend them enough!).

I ended up going with the fabulous Dick & Jane Letterpress in Saint Paul, Minnesota to do the printing. They found me on Etsy (Alchemy) and offered to print the invites for me for a low price, since I already had the paper and plates ready.

They were kind enough to let me run a few of each of the cards through (insert paper, pull the lever, print on card, release lever, remove card, insert new card, all while pumping the treadle with my foot — just like I’ll do with my Kelsey 7*11).

Here’s what the reception cards and response cards looked like upon completion.


I was a little bummed that I designed the copy too close to the edge, thus losing some of the tree trunk when the designs were printed, but I still think they turned out darned cool, and different than any other invite I’ve ever seen. The tree was taken from a stock photo and I edited it in Vector Magic. The fonts are Occidental and Scriptina.

Lessons in DIY

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make my own invitations myself. I planned to letterpress them, and figured I’d save myself some money. Turns out I was wrong.

Here’s the list of items I bought to D-I-Myself…

Crane Crest Pearl White envelopes = $49 (with shipping)
Crane 4-Bar envelope = $36 (with shipping)
Crane Lettra paper 20 23×30″ sheets = $90 (with shipping)
custom embosser from Etsy = $120
custom stamper from Etsy = $28
letterpress studio/guidance = $180
paper for lining envelopes = $25
paper for belly bands = $12
bakers twine to wrap envelopes = $18
adhesives, cutting tools, etc = $12
FedEx Office/Kinkos printing of ceremony cards = $32
custom letterpress plate from Boxcar Press = $48 (not even counting the 2 previous plates on which I ordered, then we changed details and had to re-order).

After all these expenses, I lost steam on this project twice. I’m finally mailing them today.

My lesson-to-self, Just because you want to do it and think you can do it, sometimes it’s better to leave it to the pros. I did get some help from a fabulous letterpress shop (Dick & Jane Letterpress) that let me help print, without putting all the stress on me to do it right.

Lesson-to-self #2: stretching the cost out over a longer period of time can make it difficult to keep the expenses in check.

Has anyone else done a DIY that ended up costing more than getting it done by a professional?

I Heart The Future Mrs. Darcy

I am in… shock, awe, love, amazement. I love The Future Mrs. Darcy.

Creative, fun invitations…. check
Classy, stylish invitations…. check
Amazing color combinations… check
Quirky, fun suites named after movie (and historical) couples… check
Wedding card suites that are amazingly awesome with cool maps… check

Tell me these aren’t amazing! I am stuck on this map from the Sloane and Ferris suite (Bueller!) and this incredible Adam and Eve set (the detail on the leaves is exactly what I was looking for, but couldn’t find before now).

Wouldn’t your guests love to receive these? Lovingly designed and created invitations that aren’t just inviting them to THE SOCIAL EVENT OF THE YEAR, but also mini works of art on their own. Honey, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill, throw-in-the-trash invitations (I’d show you what those look like, but I’ve, ahem, thrown them in the trash)!

I cannot tear my eyes away.

Check out the site, and don’t forget to visit the Jim and Pam invitations — perfect if you and your sweetheart met at The Office.

Cute, Stylish and Local

Another great stationary store nearby.

Lunalux is all shades of cute or classy and completely personalizable.

They’ve got some great samples of previous work on their site and blog, and seem to have some brilliant creative minds cooking up some beautiful things. I’m not sure what their pricerange is, but feel free to give ’em a call and ask!

The Cupcake Incident


Originally uploaded by KikiLaRae

The GTB and I headed into Letterbox stationary shop to see if they had a certain flavor of cupcake.

(backstory: we’re catering our cake — or cupcakes to be exact — for our wedding with Miel y Leche. We adore Sheela, she’s funny and kind and innovative and willing to go the extra mile to make sure our wedding cupcakes — and display — are nothing short of amazing. We had decided on three flavors, but there’s one left to choose. We just HAVE to try that flavor before we sign on the dotted line. Of course it wasn’t one of the flavors available, so we decided to try 3 other flavors, for fun. The chocolate raspberry is AMAZING. Strawberry coconut is light and delicious. Cherry almond is, as we expected tasty.)

As we stood in line to pay, 2 women in their mid-to-late 60s (clearly from one of the more affluent suburbs, based on the amount of jewelry, designer duds and perfectly coifed hair) were commenting on the cupcakes. One of the women reached her hand out and actually touched one of the cupcakes. If she didn’t walk away with frosting on her finger, I’d be shocked.

This is when the woman working (I’m going to assume it was the owner, Kimberley, though I’ve never actually met her) was like, “Hey, lady, come back here. I can’t sell that cupcake now that you’ve paid for it.”

Older woman #1 (I’ll refrain from the word lady) – “I’ll pay for 1/2 of it and we can share.”

Older woman #2 – glances back and walks away.

Older woman #1 – follows her

Kimberley (I think) – chases them out of the store – “Lady – get back here! You just ruined this cupcake.”

It escalated. I was thinking (hoping) that that stupid older lady would have a cupcake thrown at her head, but it never happened.

Moral of the story: Letterbox is not only awesome, but people who mess with them don’t escape unscathed. This is a business at which I actually want to spend my money!

(image from Cupcake Takes The Cake

May I Have The Invitation, Please?


Originally uploaded by KikiLaRae

I am working with dear friend to develop our invitations. She a graphic designer (and thus has Illustrator, which I do not) and does some pretty sweet stuff.

Anyway, the plan is that I will be doing our invites myself, on the letterpress. It’ll be a lot o’ work, but it’ll totally be worth it to have beautiful, extravagant-ish invitations.

This is one of our drafts. The image will be different than it is now, but the font is perfect, and it matches our custom-designed embosser for the envelopes!

Of course the colors will be different as well, as they will be imprinted on the press (and I’ll be mixing them myself). The process for getting this all done is… slightly time consuming (but I’ve got time baby, check the date!)

Oh Joyous Day

I never thought today would be a joyful day…

I have my own letterpress (had I mentioned that?). Its about 110 years old but in pretty darned good condition.

I haven’t been able to use it because it was missing some major parts like the ink rollers (and a core for one) and the chase which is the frame-thing that the text fits into (is locked into) when you print.

Anyway — I had never given my press a serious once over, just made assumptions and went about finding a way to fix them. So, this morning, I went to measure the printing plate and whatnot and discovered a little tab. This tab actually held my chase in place! I feel so foolish — but all I need now is a core for a roller and 2 rollers and I’ll be workin’ it!

Perhaps its sad that I’m psyched about “fixing” my press, but… I’m thrilled!

Why Should He Care?

Thinking of doing the invitations myself, I ordered some samples from Crane’s Letra letterpress line of papers.

I brought the little folder to the GTB and asked him how he felt about the 220# paper (which I adore). He was like “good, nice.”

Then he dug deeper into the folder and found the big boy — double paned 600# — it was like friggen carboard. “I want this,” he says.

Hmmm… so I ended up spending some time explaining to him (his eyes glazed over) why the nature of the press I use doesn’t allow me to use the super-heavy cardboard-like paper.

When I finished my speech, he was like, “Hmmm, I guess the invitations are one part of the planning that I can honestly say I don’t want to have input on, its all yours.”

So… I could do hot pink and purple invitations with kittens! LOL

Smart men know when to just let it go.

Make Your Own Invitations?

letterpress-2.jpgletterpress-3.jpgI love letterpress. Love, love love it. I love the look of colored images impressed into a thick, yummy piece of paper. Is this description grossing you out? Are you thinking, “its just paper and ink, its just an invitation?”

Look at these samples I’ve found in a quick online search. See how rich and luxurious they look. I fear I must have letterpress inviations… and I hope against home that the GTB doesn’t come chasing after me with his wallet and a stack of other wedding bills.

I mean, I’d like to do it myself… rent studio time at the Minnesota Center For Book Arts, but I must say that I am scared of screwing up… majorly.

What do you think? Letterpress or printed? Hire someone or do it myself? Do you have any tips? Suggestions? Send ’em my way!