Wednesday, October 12, 2011

in which my soul dies a little but maybe i win a gold medal

OK, people. Invitation time. YES. Yes. First...we designed. My initial design was reminiscent of stage props. It's hard to explain, but I promise it would've been very cool and probably less labor-intensive than what we actually did. Eventually some event will come around for which stage prop invitations will be entirely appropriate, and when that day comes LOOK OUT WORLD.

Mom and I brainstormed (while The Foliage sat nearby, helplessly trying to keep up with the idea blizzard) and eventually arrived at our plan. A board game. A motherf*cking board game. We decided it would have three panels, bust-style game pieces, and a telegram RSVP card.

Since I never use photoshop ever, that was Mom's detail. She completely designed the game and the instructions and hand-drew the map of Northern Delaware. The board game dimensions were in keeping with the three-panel junk mail that had inspired this paper choice to begin with, and she bought a ream of paper to print them on.

We had a self-designated deadline of July 4th weekend so that my paternal relatives would receive the invitations before the annual reunion the next weekend. Read: so we wouldn't have to hear about how no one had received invitations yet all day at the reunion. It should be noted that on the way to said reunion was the day that our car broke down on the Jersey Turnpike, somewhere between New Jersey and New York, rendering us abandoned by justice. And air conditioning. And shade. We were a little late to the picnic, where everyone had already ranted about the un-awesomeness (read: not from Crane's) of the invitations to one another, and had nothing left to say to us. Which was, you know, handy.

So the weekend of the 4th we arrived at my parents' house on Friday night, and Mom and I wrapped up the final details of the board game squares. Then it was something like 2 in the morning and we decided to close up shop for the evening.

This is how the board game looked after it was printed and trimmed at Kinko's:

 The next morning we designed the reception card, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner card, day-after-BBQ card, local information and the RSVP enclosures. Yeah. This ish was a SUITE, people. We do not half-ass our paper products. Also I'd been made to feel guilty about "taking" people's Labor Day Weekends, so we organized a ton of events to keep them busy. Because that's what people like. To not relax. I'm pretty sure they enjoyed all the events in any case, so that all worked out.

 Here it is with the enclosures:

 But I'm skipping ahead, oh, 50 hours of work here. Per person. FIRST. First we bought fabric. A bunch of fabric that reminded us of Romanian gypsies. (For the record, I would totally marry a fabric surplus store. Those places make me so happy.) Then we went to Kinko's and printed the board game and enclosures.

This is what your youngest sister will look like while you hand-trim 100 of the non-aligned enclosure cards from large sheets of cardstock, using the sub-par Kinko's slicer, alone, while she's supposed to be helping:

 In her defense, there wasn't much she could do. But falling asleep on the floor?! Seems like a bit much. Also, FYI, all of the sisters that witnessed this weekend firsthand proclaimed their intention to elope/send evites/not ever make invitations ["again," as if they made invitations this time]. Loudly. I can't wait for these hoes to get engaged.

Once everything was printed and sliced, we went home and start gluing fabric to cardstock. Not the board game cardstock, a different cardstock. We measured and cut fabric, and then glued it on, book-cover style.

This part was hard. Really hard. Probably THE most time-consuming part of the whole weekend.

 These things...were everywhere. I think we spent almost all of Saturday at Kinko's (then The Foliage and I went back at 1:30 in the morning to have them re-trim the board games just a leeeeeeettle bit, because they were too big for the cardstock covers. Luckily the guy did this for us for FREE because we'd been there ALL DAY and we looked crazed and red-eyed and didn't even realize there were fireworks outside. That's when the customer is most definitely right: when they maybe have a gun and no more reason to live. Discounts, discounts, discounts. That guy might be the reason I'm alive today. Thanks, Kinko's guy!

Sunday was fabric-gluing day. And GUESS WHAT there's only ONE gluing implement that works for this. I don't even know what it's called. It's some multi-purpose glue stick, but it's the only one I'd ever heard of in my life. Liquid glues didn't get sticky fast enough and also warped the cardstock. Other glue sticks weren't thick enough. We cleaned out several craft stores of these particular glue sticks, and when it was all gone, I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried. Or maybe I just leaned back in my chair and scrunched up my face. Crying seems too energetic for that point in my life. Some of the fabrics were thin and absorbed glue easily and were great. Others...not so much. What can I say? I like upholstery fabrics. I got excited. I DIDN'T KNOW. Now I know. If I did this project again, I'd use only lightweight fabrics. NOT VELVETEEN or CRAZY POLYESTER FAKE SILK. Yeesh.

 Once the fabric was all glued, we left the covers to dry while we went to the store to get closures. Our initial plan had been clasp dealies like on super secretpants diaries. But we couldn't figure out how the eff to attach these without committing suicide. Eventually we decided on stretchy gold thread. BAM done. It wrapped around the right-side panel, from top to bottom, and when the invitation was closed, the left-side panel slipped underneath. Self-closure. Love.

Then we started the ever-so-joyous task of gluing the board games into the covers. I almost called off the wedding a few times during this.

That stack of "completed" items grows so. so. slowly. And hey! There are the magical glue sticks! I still can't read the brand. And next to them is the last-resort glue. We used two tubs of that ish, and it made me want to hurt small and innocent things. Once those were allllll glued, we folded them to make sure the folds were scored.

Then we took self-sticking photo corners, and used them to make our enclosure pockets. I don't have any pictures of this step-by-step, but here's how we did it:

-Hold the enclosure card(s) in one hand
-With the other hand, peel off two or four photo corners
-Place those photo corners on the applicable corners of the enclosures (our ceremony card - on the center panel - got four photo corners, and the side-panel inserts got two photo corners along their bottom edges)
-Flip it over and stick it down.

This method ensures that the photo corners are flush with the edges of the enclosures. Otherwise you're doing everything right-side-up and accidentally sticking to and destroying your beautiful board game. And then setting things on fire in anger.We affixed our game pieces to the fronts of the invitations using the photo corners, as well. Instead of a monogram or logo. HEY GUYS IT'S OUR FACES GUESS WHAT THIS THING IN YOUR MAIL IS. Was more the aesthetic we employed.

THEN. Oh my gawd then. Then we realized that MAYBE THIS DIDN'T FIT IN A STANDARD ENVELOPE. Because we used a standard-sized mailer as our initial template but GEEZ there had been a lot of changes since then! Eventually we figured out that we could shove them (even the super thick ones) into standard-sized envelopes, and shove them we did.

Luckily the RSVP cards fit into a smaller version of the same envelopes, which was handy. And we printed the main invitations' return address labels on clear sticker label paper, which were the perfect size to address the RSVP card envelopes. Multitasking! We were originally going to have the RSVP cards formatted as postcards, but then we worried about something labeled "Western Union" going through the mail. Seemed risky.

Buuuut then we noticed that we had no idea what order the names were in the database. Oh, did I mention there was a database? I highly recommend having a nerd in your life (in this case, my dad) who can build you a database to track your guests. Invited to which events? What restrictions? Have they responded yet? Do you HAVE the RSVP card in-hand? This thing CONTINUES to save my life. Anyway, we knew we wanted to track the cards by guest, but by this point it was preeeeeetty late on Monday night. And we still had to drive home to Maryland.

Mom and The Foliage try to figure out a system of keeping the invitations straight.

It didn't work. The RSVP numbers (which we penciled on the back) matched NOTHING. So. Only a couple came back without guests' names, though, and they were easy enough to track down. Thanks to the database. Shyeah! As we numbered stacks and loaded them into a box to take home, Mom hand-lettered the names and addresses on the envelopes. She's a calligrapher and we'd had grand calligraphy plans...but we were super sleepy. And she has super nice handwriting. And also now I kind of think envelope calligraphy might be a waste, anyway. Inadvertent time-saving decisions! Hooray!

We loaded them all into our car, and then stuffed the envelopes when we got home, unable to stop working on these damn things.

Then The Foliage spent half his Tuesday at the post office, paying something like $2 per envelope because they were considered "packages" due to the rigid edges. To say they were well-received would be a crazy understatement. Our photographer specifically posted about them on Facebook. We got tons of compliments via text, phone call, RSVP card, and in-person. Apparently they looked Wild West inspired, though? Probably because Mom insisted on putting a gun graphic on the rehearsal dinner card. Of course.

If I had to do this all over again, I would

-Design earlier (DUH this is my self-promise after every craft project ever)
-Use thinner paper for the board game (this was too rigid and buckled, especially in the ones that had thick fabric covers)
-Use thinner and non-unravelly fabric
-Maybe use thicker cardstock for the cover. Maybe one that's got a two-score fold.
-Order five cases of the magic glue sticks
-Not spend several hundred of my dollars
-Plan layouts for easier cutting out of components and making SURE inserts fit in chosen envelopes

But in the end they're pretty awesome. I'm pretty sure we won the Invitation Olympics, and really that's what it was all about for me. So. BAM.


racheL said...

well. you're insane.

but those are amazing. I would like to play that game.

Laura said... - they'll eat this up.

Jenn said...

these are awesome!!!

Robin HitchDied said...

Those invitations are hardcore awesome but this post gives me PTSD!

ceejus said...

Thanks, guys! Minus the PTSD. To which...I'm sorry, I think.