Labor of Love

May I give you a piece of advice? I think you'll find it fairly useful. If you are considering becoming engaged, I would suggest that you become engaged to a designer. Sure, a stockbroker might make you rich and a doctor might make you healthy---or at least treat you to a little free liposuction now and then---but a designer? Well, a designer will, when the time comes, make you some really kickass wedding invitations.  

For example, here is what I said to Sean about our own wedding invitations: "I like turquoise. And maps. And this font." And here is what Sean, with these three relatively unhelpful pieces of guidance, managed to create. 

As far as the construction of these bad boys goes, they were pretty much as DIY as DIY gets. We bought square aqua pocketfolds from Paper And More and mounted the invitation on a dark gray square of card, which then sat inside the pocketfold on the left hand side.

On the right hand side, we had an information sheet and the RSVP card, both of which we printed on cream cardstock from Cards and Pockets, which is pretty much where we bought all the paper other than the pocketfolds. (Thank you, lovely reader Life of Primate, for the 20% discount code!)

The RSVP envelope was dark gray (or "smoke") and matched the main envelope. One week in May, I killed a few evenings in front of Say Yes To The Dress and stuck a tiny doily inside each one of these RSVP envelopes. I cannot tell you why I did this; there was absolutely no need for it at all. But, what do you know, I was compelled to do it anyway.

Since we had gone so far with the map/world/globe theme already, we eschewed the traditional "Accepts with pleasure / Declines with regret" and instead gave people the option of ticking off "Wouldn't miss it for the world" (get it? the world?) or "Will have to celebrate from afar."  We also added a line for people to suggest a song they might like to dance to; thanks to the very generous loan of a PA system from our good friends Leah and Simon, you see, we're skipping the DJ and putting together our own iTunes playlist. (Did you know that there's even a name for this, by the way? It's called "having an iTunes reception." No kidding.)

Speaking of going so far with the whole map/world/globe theme, we spent a long Sunday afternoon lining each of the main envelopes with vintage maps I bought on ebay. Again, I cannot tell you why I wanted to do this, just that I really, really wanted to do it. I swear, once this wedding is over, I'm going to take up scrapbooking or something. Maybe I'll turn a three-foot space in our 700-foot square apartment into a "craft corner," just like Tori Spelling's mom*, and spend all my spare time at Michael's. Oh wait, that seems to be my life already.

(*Actually, Tori Spelling's mom had a gift-wrapping room, not a craft room, but eh, same diff, right? Maybe I'll make my hall closet into a gift-wrapping room too and just store the winter coats on the bed year-round.) 

Anyway, to seal the back of each of the envelopes, we ordered some gorgeous---and very reasonable---stickers made from vintage maps of Asia, Europe, and California from Etsy seller Bella Mercato.

As you can tell, it was a whole bundle of laughs, sticking them onto 75 invitations. Look at me! I'm having a wild Friday night! Party at my house! You bring the prune juice and unsalted saltines, I'll provide the boring and repetitive activity!

Finally, I handwrote the names and addresses on the front of each envelope (yep, we sent one to Barack and Michelle; I just know they're totally going to show):

....and mixed and matched a bunch of vintage stamps I'd bought on ebay with some of the United States Postal Service's more attractive modern numbers. By the way, I'm also going to take up stamp-collecting when the wedding's over, and I'm not even kidding. I've now become entirely and unashamedly fascinated with old stamps. Look! They don't make 'em like they used to!

So all in all, our invitations ended up looking a bit like this:

And also this:

And I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the way they turned out. They were also super affordable, the most expensive part of each one being the aqua pocketfold, which clocked in at $1.30 each (plus a 20% discount.) The rest was just gravy, really---well, gravy and sweat equity. (Ew, gravy and sweat equity, doesn't that sound gross? Would you like a side of gravy with that sweat equity? The sweat equity is fresh today---want to add a little gravy for 59 cents? Gravy or sweat equity, sir? Oh, you're a vegetarian? Not to worry, this sweat equity is made of soy.)

Anyway, for those of you who've asked to see our invitations, there they are in all their glory. More pictures are here, if you're interested. And for the other 90% of you who just want the wedding to be OVER ALREADY SO I CAN TALK ABOUT SOMETHING DIFFERENT, I can assure you that I know exactly how you feel. Why, when this wedding is done, I'm going to have hours and hours and hours to fill, hours I didn't even know I had. I shall have to take up hobbies in order to fill them! Scrapbooking and stamp-collecting will go part of the way to keep me busy, of course, but I may also need to look into fencing to kill some of this time I'll suddenly have at my disposal. Or model railway building. Or maybe Bunco.

UPDATED TO ADD: Thank you so much for all the interest in our wedding invitations! We've been blown away by how kind people have been about them; I'm pretty sure we have Pinterest to thank for that. Unfortunately, we aren't professionals at this—we're just people day who got a kick out of making our own invitations for our own wedding, which was almost three years ago now—so we don't sell the template or take custom orders. But we ARE crazy flattered that you like them. Thank you! 

Saucepan Man
Aug 10, 2009

They look brilliant. Big cheer for Sean as well for presenting them so well to us all.

When you've taken the course in fencing, I'd gladly have you come and put a new white picket around the garden. (That was it wasn't it? Not that stuff with face masks like a fly's eye and rapiers?)

Camels & Chocolate
Aug 10, 2009

They really were stunning. But holy cow, Burnsy, you're a tough act to follow! I'm thinking about just buying fill-in cards at Hallmark for my invites. (Kidding.)(Though tempted.)

michelle woo
Aug 10, 2009

I am in love. I'm now considering leaving the soon-to-be fiance, slipping into a low-cut dress and hitting up a graphic design convention.
You are amazing.

Aug 11, 2009

They're perfect! Way to go. Aren't you so happy you decided to DIY?

Aug 11, 2009

Oh my, I am in love with all of that, and I mean ALL OF THAT!

Like wow....really, wow...(This is me going into "at a loss for words" mode.)

That's amazing work. :-)

Aug 11, 2009

Oh my. i think i might be in love with that font.
if i had a 'spare' £69 i would be purchasing that, just to write in everyday.

and truly gorgeous invites.

Hairy Farmer Wifey
Aug 11, 2009

I am consumed by equal parts envy and total admiration!

Aug 11, 2009

They are beautiful and perfect, and so creative. I love them.

Aug 11, 2009

Wow. Just Wow.

What stunning invites!

Aug 11, 2009

Oh, Holly! How incredible! My eyes were just welling up at the sight of them. They are stunning and perfect.

I hope our president appreciates his. We should see it framed right next to his seal when he gives his next fireside chat.

And for the record, I'm going to miss the wedding updates. I'm living vicariously through you.

Aug 11, 2009

i am a bit in awe. this is all extremely lovely.

Aug 11, 2009

Just gorgeous!

Aug 11, 2009

You have restored my faith in DIY. We have a friend who got married last month and she printed her invitations herself, and well, let's just say she should have married a graphic designer. Or at least aligned her print heads before she printed them.

Anne in SC
Aug 11, 2009

They're even more beautiful than I thought (and I was building them up pretty big in my head)! Your guests must feel very special - they make me feel special just looking at them. I think in your spare time you should go into the invitation creation business. A hobby with the possibility of income.

ps - if this comment shows a lot it's because it keeps making me put in the "copy what you see" code. I am hardly ever getting it right and I double and triple check because my sanity is starting to go thanks to the code - ha.

now ugh

Aug 11, 2009

I love that you invited the Obamas. That made my morning. I hope they at least will send a gift!

They look lovely, Holly. Well done, both of you!

Aug 11, 2009

Two things:

Okay, that font was born to showcase the phrase "See you in sunny California." Love.

Is that your natural penmanship? (I don't like to brag, but in high school I was one of those girls with Cool Penmanship. And in college, I learned how to do that cool block-style printing that architects and interior designers and engineers are known for. I'm sure the fact that I brag about my handwriting tells you how exciting I was in high school.) If it is natural - HOW DID YOU LEARN TO DO THAT? I would gladly tune into to your blog for penmanship lessons and practice.

I'm not entirely kidding. I'm sure this is rousing statement to how much I've grown, fun-wise, since high school.

Aug 11, 2009

Awe. Some.

Now I kind of want to marry Sean.

Aug 11, 2009

Oh, I love them! So fab!

Aug 11, 2009

Those are simply amazing.
You have inspired me to think outside the box with doing our own invites. Neither of us are graphic designers, but my fiancee is a photographer and I am an interior designer, so creativity is not lacking. Oh the ideas I have now for her to take photos of things dear to us and use them as you used maps!
Hope you don't mind if two girls in VA steal, umm...borrow...your ideas!

Aug 11, 2009

Those. Are. AMAZING!

Aug 11, 2009

They're absolutely stunning, Holly. You and Sean did such a great job of incorporating the theme, while keeping it a tempered mix of vintage and modern. Beautiful!

(And I'm so glad you invited the Obamas - they'll send a fun Congrats card, and then you'll have NO EXCUSE not to start scrapbooking.)

Aug 11, 2009

I love them! And I really love the idea of having people suggest songs they would like to dance to - should make creating the playlist much easier.

Aug 11, 2009

Amen to the graphic designer thing. I told my husband - "we got engaged in a forest so play that up! Make them look forest-y. And modern. A modern forest."

They turned out brilliant.

Aug 11, 2009

That font is absolutely gorgeous. These are amazing and a delight.

Aug 11, 2009

Those invites are gorgeous! I'm sure the Obama's will be showing up to your wedding - how do you turn down an invitation like that?

Can I hire you and Sean to put together adoption announcements for us? Because seriously, this uber precious bull is not working for me.

Aug 11, 2009

Beautiful. I love the font and the combintation of colours.

Aug 11, 2009

I love your invitation ensemble and can't wait for pictures of the big day!! Don't forget that some of your 'free time' apres-wedding will be taken up with thank you cards - which I"m sure will match and be perfect like the rest of the ensemble. :)

We just celebrated our 5th anniversary and for about 3 of those 5 years since the wedding, I was still in 'wedding mode' - "Oooh, this would have been a great centerpiece/favor" etc. thankfully I"m over that now, but it was rather odd after having been in the wedding mindset for so long.

Aug 11, 2009

Lovely! I think the white ink on the smoke envelopes is so elegant, and the stamp idea inspired! I got so absorbed in making our invites that I didn't think about stamps till it was time to send them, and the post office had just raised the rates. There was not a good stamp to be had. My hand calligraphed envelopes went out with a mish-mosh of basic stamps all up on. I should have played it up!
Also, for what it's worth... while it's a fantastic idea to marry a designer, it's a pain in the buttski to BE the designer and marry a traditional-minded engineer. Who thought every wedding had to be pink. I'm just sayin'...

Aug 11, 2009

seriously, just insanely awesome. *love*

Aug 11, 2009

WOWWWW! Your invitations are meticulously beautiful. Rest assured that all those hours of finger-aching work were totally worth it! The invitation sets the tone for the whole wedding, so you've definitely sparked your guests' excitement, no doubt!

Aug 11, 2009

They look AWESOME! The font is fantastic.

However, you misspelled "favour" and "honour".


Sensibly Sassy
Aug 11, 2009

Holly you need to quit your job right now and make wedding invites! I will be your first customer. Well after I get engaged that is....

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 11, 2009

Aw, thanks so much, you guys. This is all Sean, though! I just offered input, he did the heavy lifting.

Sarah, to answer your question, yes that's pretty much my normal handwriting. I fancied it up a little here and there (and having a good pen helped), but I like to think I've been practicing it for all those years in order to FINALLY have a use for it. Wasn't so effective on exam papers or filling out forms at the doctor's office.

Aug 11, 2009

I love that you invited the Obamas!

These are gorgeous! I love every part of them, especially all the details! You done good! Both you and Sean!

I think you need a side business!

Aug 11, 2009

I've been so excited to see these and they totally exceeded my expectations. I knew they would be cute, but these are amazing. I love all the details - the doilies and maps in the envelopes, especially. I really love the font too - very whimsical.

I'm getting married next year and I don't think any invitation I make or buy could live up to those!! Well done!! And thank you so much for posting the pictures.

Aug 11, 2009

I love them, Holly. They are so perfect. We are planning to use the pocket style ones aswell, I really like that sort of invitation. Hey, maybe you'll get a cool gift from the Obama's...with your tax dollars of course. They are lovely though, you did a great job!

Aug 11, 2009

Oh my, really and truly those are the loveliest invitations I've ever seen. (The last one I received was an Evite. Please.) Every detail—from font to stamps—is perfect.

And I completely did an LOL when I saw the Obama invite. If they come (and I have to assume they're smart enough to attend), where will you seat them?

Aug 11, 2009

I've been lurking for a couple of months and just wanted to say I LOVE your wedding updates. I'm getting married in October - it will be a very small immediate family-only event which has our friends pissed off, but will make us happy as clams. So in a very strange way, I've loved seeing all your wedding fabulousness and couldn't be happier for how great its turning out for you. At the same time, I'm super happy I'm not the one gluing tiny doilies into envelopes. LOL! A hearty and early Congratulations to ya!

Aug 11, 2009

These are gorgeous! I love maps and globes and anything travel-related too, so I'm pretty much swooning over these. Props to you and Sean for your design and craft skills!

Aug 11, 2009

Gorgeous! Simply gorgeous!

If I had married a graphic designer and/or if either of us were creative AT ALL, I totally would have gone the DIY route. Alas, neither of us are graphic designers or creative, so we had to pay an arm and a leg for our invitations. However, they were awesome, so I can't complain. P.S. I made sure to memorialize them forever by scanning an invitation and making it the first page of our guest book and you better believe I still look at it and admire it every so often.

ANYWAY, enough about me. Oh wait, I have more...

Looking at how you addressed the envelopes reminded me of how much research I put into addressing my invitations properly. I would ask my fiance questions, such as, "Well, does your cousin live with his girlfriend or not? Because if he does, then her name needs to be listed first. Yes. I know HE'S your cousin, but it's proper etiquette for the girlfriend's name to be first." Or, "I don't care if your uncle will think it's weird that I'm listing his wife's name first, that is PROPER ETIQUETTE." Or, "How should I address the invitation to your aunt who has her PHd? Doctor? Dr.? Yes, it matters, she went to school for 5 years for that!"

In the end, only about five of his THIRTY SOME-ODD relatives even RSVPd AT ALL (ARGH), so I suppose it was all for nothing.

Aug 11, 2009

WOW. These are fabulous, Holly! If the invites alone are this impressive, I cannot wait to see how the rest of your wedding turns out!

Aug 11, 2009

Love the Tori Spelling Mom Gift Wrapping shout out. I was fascinated by that. I believe I saw it on But anyway, I LOVE your invitations. They came out beautifully.
Good luck with everything else :)

Aug 11, 2009

wow, Holly, these are gorgeous! I love all things stationery-esque and will definitely take your bit of advice re: marrying a graphic designer into serious consideration...!

She Likes Purple
Aug 11, 2009

You've made it ridiculously hard for President Obama to even think of declining.

Aug 11, 2009

I want to wallpaper our house with your invites. Amazing job!! Was it easy to line the envelopes?

Aug 11, 2009

They are so gorgeous I can hardly even stand it. I reckon Sean just inadvertently got himself into the wedding invitation business.

Aug 11, 2009

Oh, these are so beautiful! You and Sean should totally start an invitation business - just beautiful.

I never in a million years would have thought about inviting President and Mrs. Obama - so cool!. Is that something people do, or did you guys just do it for fun and wishful thinking?

Aug 11, 2009

These are soooo beautiful and creative! And I love the collage of how you portrayed them here. I can tell a lot of time went into it all. Congratulations!!

Aug 12, 2009

I have to agree! My (now) husband is design inclined and it made SO many aspects of planning our wedding that much easier! From gorgeous invites to place settings and orders of service!
And I LOVE yours. The vintage stamps are totally gorgeous.

Aug 12, 2009

Those are without a doubt the most beautiful invitations I have ever seen. You guys rock!

Aug 12, 2009

can i just ask which font you used here. i managed to find the veer feel script, but it is more scripty than the one you have used. has it just been adapted?
my friends having a tattoo and she has now decided thats the font she has to have!
thanks in advance.

Aug 12, 2009

They turned out just beautiful..
I really really hope my daughter....
(Who also reads your blog & is getting married) doesn't get any bright ideas from this...ugh !!!
Congrats on it all!!

So glad your Mum found a dress !!

Aug 12, 2009

Echoing the others: by far the most beautiful invitations I have ever seen. Seriously. I also adore that you invited Barack and Michelle- I wanted to but felt a bit silly- now I wish I had! Your wedding is going to be phenomenal.

jasmine lew
Aug 12, 2009

Wow. Seriously gorgeous. Seriously creative. I'm totally jealous.

Aug 12, 2009

Woot woot! We got a shout-out!

I am sure that Leah has told you that the ONLY reason we haven't sent back our attendee card is that she can't bear to not hold onto it. She says it's because she has to photograph it, but I know her well enough to assure you that she just can't bear to break up the package.

We will will WILL be there, however. When doing your lists and seating and whatnot, you may just have to use a 3x5 card for us instead of the card that matches all the others.


Aug 12, 2009

We had an iTunes reception, and had no idea that there was a name for that sort of thing.

I love the invites. So wonderful in every possible way. Good job, Holly.

Aug 12, 2009

I LOVE them! Love, love, love!

Please let us know if you hear from the Obamas. :)

Operation Pink Herring
Aug 12, 2009

Goddamn, those are a thing of beauty. I did a LOT of things for no reason other than "I feel compelled to do this". Most of these things involved color-coded spreadsheets.

Paris Gellar (Gilmore Girls) had a craft corner!

Aug 13, 2009

These are just so beautiful. I can't wait for the reveal of the actual wedding details!

Aug 13, 2009

The invitations are lovely. Good on you both!

When we got married, we invited President & Mrs. Clinton (waaay back in 1999). We got a lovely little congratulations card with the presidential seal that we put on display at the wedding(everyone thought it was a fake, that we mocked up in Photoshop). I wonder if they're still sending the cards out. A couple of months ago, I sent a baby announcement to the Obamas, and am still awaiting a reply. :)

Aug 13, 2009

These are just wonderful! I whish I could get married just to design the invitations!!! ;)

Aug 13, 2009

um these are amazing invites! i only hope i can be so crafty when i start planning my wedding and send mine out. so fun!

Aug 14, 2009

I've been around a lot of printed items (I'm being vaguely vague on purpose, my apologies), and these are some of the most unique, stylish, thoughtful, and quite simply, beautiful collection of bridal items I've seen.

Take my word, that is quite an accomplishment, and I hope your recipients treasure the love with which each invite was crafted - to know that they were special enough to merit this amount of thought to detail and the time you invested is quite touching.

Best wishes for a beautiful and memorable day surrounded by the people worthy of this endeavor!

Aug 14, 2009

Those look FANTASTIC! Did you make an extra to put in a wedding album?

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 14, 2009

We did, but then we had to send it to someone! Whoops.

Aug 15, 2009

Those are gorgeous. How very clever of you to marry a graphic designer. I married a photographer so as to have art for the walls, which was good, but I must admit your invitations are much, much cooler than ours were.

Aug 17, 2009

I love these invitations, especially as you included a pocket for all the loose slips of paper to go in. The amount of invitations we've had where everything falls to the floor as soon as you open the card!

The equivalent in this country of inviting the President would be sending an invitation to Gordon Brown, and quite frankly, there is no way I would want him showing up at my wedding. Obama is much cooler.

Aug 17, 2009

Although, Helen, you can also invite the Queen! We're going to do that too. You have to be a UK citizen and apparently she sends back a very nice card.

Aug 17, 2009

Beautiful beautiful!

If I promise not to copy your invites, can you tell me the name of the font? :)

Aug 20, 2009

Is this 20% discount still available? It would be SO wonderful if it was!! Please let me know!

Aug 20, 2009

okay, i just peed in my pants a little bit. where was all this cool stuff (ie ideas, aka inspiration) when i was getting married?!!?


also, what in the WORLD is that font?! it's dreamy!

and lastly, where can i learn to print like you?

Aug 21, 2009

The Queen and Obama? You've got the best of both worlds! I need to marry an American (as well as a graphic designer).

Aug 21, 2009

oooh la la. be still my heart. you've done all of my favorite things. maps. check. fancy fonts & killer design. check. darling envelope liners. check. handprinted envelopes. check. vintage array of stamps. check. am in la la la love with these invitations. doomsday to whomever dares to throw one away. hopefully you don't have any guests who'd think of such a thing.

so happy to find your blog.
best wishes on your big day.

Aug 22, 2009

I was thinking of getting engaged to a graphic designer and after getting the wedding invitations done up, I'll dump him for either the stockbroker who might make me rich or a doctor who might treat me to a little free liposuction now and then. Both of both worlds. Hooray! Oh wait, I realised I could have just paid for the invitations or lipo without breaking anyone's heart. Now, why hasn't that stockbroker I met last night at the bar called yet?

Aug 23, 2009

I LOVE these invitations, and am OBSESSED with feel script!

Also, would you mind telling me what font the other (the plain font in all caps) font is?

Thank you so much!

Aug 26, 2009

I love these! Using a bunch of stamps was a great idea.

Aug 27, 2009

I just saw your comment about having a craft corner in your 700 sq foot apartment. After taking over our dinning area with wedding stuff, I finally accepted that it wasn't going away after the wedding. We sold the dinning room table & bought a desk on craigslist. So now I have my lovely craft corner in our 660 sq foot apartment. Sometimes weddings are just what it takes to get intouch with a crafty side you didn't know you had :)

Sep 01, 2009

I think the doileys were a stroke of genius. These invitations are seriously gorgeous!

Sep 23, 2009

Hi there may I know where you bought the doily liners?

Sep 30, 2009

LOVEE these!! i am obsessed with maps and am likin the theme idea. how else did you carry it throughout your wedding/reception? was your main color similar or the same as the teal folder?
I think im pretty crafty and hope i can create some invitations that compare to yours!!!
(my finance is, unfortunately, NOT a graphic designer... but i do have a bridesmaid with really nice handwriting!!!)

louis vuitton watches
Jun 10, 2010


Jul 01, 2010

LOVEE these!! i am obsessed with maps and am likin the theme idea.

Sep 25, 2010

This is exactly what I had inside my head as my vision for my invites/wedding theme...too bad my fiance isn't a GD and I have to figure out how to get it done! Do you happen to have the ebay website that you purchased the maps at? I have looked and looked...

Jan 25, 2011

These invites are absolutely brilliant. My theme is vintage maps and my colors are aquas, pinks and peaches. I am using your design as an inspiration piece. I truly hope you don't mind! Everything in your wedding photos looked wonderful!! Congratulations on a job well done!

lilian grae
Feb 13, 2011

These are absolutely gorgeous. Where did you get the invitations printed?

Mar 02, 2011


Where did you get the invitations printed? Is that...letterpress that I see?! Did you do the custom cutting across the invitation mat yourself (around your parents' names)? TIA!

Mar 13, 2011

Beautiful invites! What did you use to adhere the maps to the inset of the envelope?

Aug 02, 2011

Absolutely gorgeous!! Was wondering where and/or how you got the custom cut around the top line of your invites. If you get a chance, I would really appreciate if you'd share:>

Susan Seim
Nov 18, 2011

Love this!! This is inspiring for my own wedding!

Nov 21, 2011

Where did you get the invitations from?

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

Just to make sure you have a pulse
Enter the characters (without spaces) shown in the image.