Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

The Stylist wedding blog: how to design and print your own wedding invitations

holding_red.jpg
logo

Art director of Stylist magazine and resident bride-to-be, Natasha Tomalin, decided to get creative when it came to selecting her wedding invitations. Instead of opting for the usual template style, Tash designed - and printed- her own.  

As a designer, I always knew I would want to create my own wedding invitations. I am pretty particular in my desires, and I knew that whatever I did would be exactly what I wanted and – more importantly – be utterly unique. Plus, it seemed a waste not to use my skills.

Additionally, having a gothic romantic-inspired wedding, I knew I wanted black invites, and unsurprisingly, no one offers black wedding invitations.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I once designed a friend’s wedding stationery and that was pretty stressful, but they had a fairly clear idea of what they wanted and I just had the task of making it look good.

But as an art director, doing my own invites is a completely different kettle of fish. a It’s the equivalent of being fashion designer and making your own wedding dress. Everyone (whether they admit it or not) will judge you, because it’s what you do for a living and judging is what people do best – so the pressure is on.

Here’s how I went about designing my own wedding invitations:

letterpress

The antique desktop letterpress all inked up ad ready to print the invitations

1) The idea

I started off with the romantic idea that I would hand letterpress all my invites on my friend’s antique desktop letterpress. I think: sure, this could be a lot of work, but the sense of achievement at the end when they are all beautifully crafted by my own fair hands, will be immense.

With my idea in mind – gold calligraphy on black card with a wax sealed envelope - I scoured Pinterest for ‘gothic romantic wedding invitations’.

2) Ordering 

I ordered reams of black card and envelopes from GF Smith who offer free samples on all of their paper ranges, and some gold letterpress ink so I’m all set.

botched invites

Before and after: the typeset metal letters on the left and the botched illegible mess of the first batch of invites

3) Design

Due to the nature of the old letterpress, I was limited by font and surface area, so I created a simple design. Turning up to my friend’s house with black card, gold ink and boundless enthusiasm (although slight trepidation), I was ready to go. We typeset the tiny metal letters, inked the letterpress up and started to print.

Unfortunately, the whole thing was a bit of a disaster – the ink didn’t take, we ran out of the letter ‘g’ and we discovered that the machine was just too old to produce anything of any sort of quality.

With only three months to go until the wedding, the panic set in.

4) The emergency Google 

I frantically emailed every letterpress company that a Google search threw up and waited for someone to get back to me. Most companies weren’t taking any more orders for this year and some came back with ludicrous quotes. 

stamps

Special edition Shakespeare stamps for Natasha's envelopes

5) Finding the right company

Finally a company called Blush took me on. They were incredibly helpful and accommodating and offered a pretty quick turnaround. In the end, I opted for gold foil blocking on black card (on their recommendation as gold ink on black could print badly – don’t I know it) and supplied them with my own design.

When they arrived they were so much better than anything I could have done on an ancient desktop letterpress.

calligraphy

Girl's got skills: Natasha's efforts after her two hour calligraphy class

6) Learning calligraphy

After a lot of drama with the printing, it was a relief to discover that the calligraphy for my envelopes was a much easier process.

Desperate to be involved in the design and use my creative prowess, I trotted along to a calligraphy class with À L'aise and Papier (they in fact have their own lovely range of ‘calligraphy inspired’ wedding stationery if you can’t be bothered to DIY) where I learnt the art in just two hours.

I would thoroughly recommend going to a workshop with Suzie from À L'aise; not only do you learn a skill, it’s also incredibly therapeutic. She also helped me with the calligraphy on my envelopes – again if you can’t be bothered to do them yourself, she offers an envelope writing service.

wax seal

Natasha's custom-made wax seals all ready to peel'n'stick

7) Making wax seals

Invites designed, envelopes scribed and special edition Shakespeare stamps purchased, I had just one more thing to do – the wax seal.

I sent my custom design (a lily by my favourite illustrator Aubrey Beardsley) to customwaxnseals.net. They suggested a nifty invention called peel ’n’ stick wax seals. You choose your colour, they hand-make the wax seals for you and turn them into stickers. No messing about with hot wax and glue guns, just peel… and stick – ideal.

It’s been a long process, but one I have most definitely learnt from. Don’t try and do it all yourself – unless you are well acquainted with a letterpress, don’t even think about attempting to print the invitations yourself. You just don’t need the stress. Cut corners where you can (peel ’n’ sticks), they will still look beautiful and no-one will appreciate the level of detail you put in anyway.

intvites

The complete wedding invitation suite

invite

The final invitation

envelopes

Calligraphy envelopes

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please post your comments below, or on Twitter @stylistmagazine and @natashatomalin, using the hashtag #Stylistweddingblog

Comments

More

Everything you need to know about growing your own vegetables

(Even if you don't have loads of space)

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Calling all vino fans: are you ready for red wine ice cream?

Ice cream and red wine, together at last…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Letters penned 100 years apart show unchanging attitude to abortion

"I'm in the family way again, and I'm nearly crazy..."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Woman opens up about having her grandmother as her bridesmaid

“She’s my best friend”

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Artist captures how mental illness feels with sketches of houses

“It belongs to our lives and we must not stigmatise it”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Pair cheese and wine like a pro with this incredible interactive map

Winchester Aged Gouda with a glass of Amarone della Valpolicella, anyone?

by Moya Crockett
21 Feb 2017

Elderly woman finds £5 note worth £50k, donates it to “young people”

She’s the hero we need right now, if not the one we deserve.

by Moya Crockett
21 Feb 2017

Watch Emma Watson sing ‘Belle’ in new Beauty and the Beast clip

“There goes the baker with his tray, like always…”

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

The worst date I’ve ever witnessed: waiters share their stories

From the toe-curlingly awkward to the jaw-on-floor shocking.

by Moya Crockett
20 Feb 2017

Men open up about “the one that got away” in thought-provoking video

But not all is as it seems…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Feb 2017