You Are Invited

I looked at wedding invitations online for a couple of days (no, really – that was all I did for two days straight) and was absolutely enthralled. So beautiful, classy, and elegant. I we couldn’t decide what I we wanted. Should we go with simple and refined? Or colorful and bold? What about the wording? What font? How many inserts do we want to include? And you want us to pay HOW much?

The lightbulb finally came on after seeing this blog post. Ridiculously adorable and just our style. I absolutely LOVED the idea of typing each invitation by hand. And with just a little over 40 to send out, why not? That’s why people have small weddings, right? To be able to make each invitation by hand? No?

The first birthday gift I received from my dear mom after moving to the United States was a sweet Smith-Corona electric word processor. My favorite hobby as a child was writing and I typed so many stories and plays on it. That thing actually stayed with me through sophomore year of high school, if you can believe it. I wrote all of my book reports and papers on it until we finally got a computer around 1997.

Weirdly enough, my mom has held on to it all these years and it still works PERFECTLY. She was really trying hard to convince me that I needed to bring it back into my life. “But Belle, you never know – you could still write the Great American Novel on it!” In 2011. Oh, Mom.

So, typewriters are near and dear to my heart. We took the general idea of a typewritten letter as the invitation and ran with it!

The typewriter took a little bit of work to find (this was before I discovered that my old Smith-Corona was functioning quite well!), but we lucked out big time. Thomas works in a newsroom and figured someone would have access to a typewriter. He turned out to be quite right. He found out that a co-worker, Peter, keeps at least 2 or 3 machines in his cubicle – apparently this guy’s handwriting is so terrible that he typewrites on Post-it notes (!). He lent us 2 vintage typewriters – a manual and an electric, both from the ’50s. Thomas drafted the letter (doesn’t it just sound like him?) and did most of the typing. The electric proved to be much easier to use, in the end – Thomas was zooming after getting used to the keys.

We bought the “From the Desk of Belle and Thomas” stamp from Notetrunk on Etsy. We chose turquoise ink as that is one of our wedding colors.

To go along with the personal, vintage vibe of the invitation, we enclosed a small photo of us from this past spring, taken by Thomas’ extended arm and my very favorite Instagram-type app on my phone, Vignette. We’re at Roozengaarde Tulip Gardens in Mount Vernon, WA. I handwrote that information on the back of each photo, since that seemed like an appropriately old-fashioned thing to do.

Now, the envelopes. Did you know that I used to collect stamps? Yup, I did. I was a child obsessed. In fact, I probably still have my favorite old stamps tucked away in a trunk at my mom’s. It’s not so unbelievable then that I had a blast picking out vintage stamps for the envelopes. I made a special trip to Champion Stamp in New York just for that reason. I specifically wanted to look at face value stamps only – old love stamps would have been nice, but those are all super marked up (because lots of people buy these up for their wedding invitations).

Did any of you figure out that each stamp means something to either Thomas or me? He was born in Kentucky, and took up dancing a couple of years ago. I was born in 1980. We live in Virginia. Yeah, okay – so the special meanings aren’t really all that great. But I tried.

The “calligraphy” (really just fancy writing with a fine point Sharpie) was the most time consuming part of these invitations. I wanted something big and bold that would stand out on the envelope. It was a challenge fitting some of the letters in, but I just made sure to place the stamps (didn’t glue them yet in case of mistakes!) on the envelope before writing the names and addresses.

We used an old embossed stamp for our names and address on the back of the envelopes.

We layered in one more sheet of onionskin paper on top of the original letter, folded them together, then tied them up with bright orange yarn. Orange is another wedding color, and the yarn is a shout out to my newest hobby.

Cost Breakout:
Stamps – $23
Paper – about $10
Envelopes – $7.98
Yarn – $3.14
Photo Paper – $9
Total for 43 invitations: $53.12 or $1.24 per invitation
We saved on postage by not including any additional inserts and asking guests to RSVP online. I don’t think anyone minded too much – and it was an excuse for people to go check out our site!

Click. Clack.

I played with one of these last night:

Granted, this is not the best photo, but you can tell how beautiful she is, right? Or am I just that dorky? I derived so much pleasure from tap-tap-tapping away on those keys last night – before I knew it, it was 11 pm and I had not showered from my step class 6 hours earlier. Oops.

The typewriter is a Smith-Corona Skyriter from the 1950s. It’s portable and lightweight – in fact, it was designed to be taken on the road. It still has its original case – a brown, classic, and musty old thing.

Now, while I am generally a fan of the idea and aesthetic of vintage, I am actually quite boring when it comes to what I buy and own. I like things that are new and modern. Yawn, right? For instance, I badly desired a “vintage bike” for the longest time. When I finally took the plunge to purchase this long-awaited wish list item, in May – I discovered that I didn’t actually want something old and potentially falling apart. Bleh, old things. Bleh, repairs. Bleh, things with personality and history. So I ended up with a brand new, totally modern bicycle that just LOOKS old-timey and vintage. I know. Cheater! That’s how I roll, though, and I’m okay with that.

That was a totally roundabout way of saying that I don’t usually bring old things into the house and toy with them for hours at a time. Typing on the Skyriter is a totally foreign experience for me. It freaks me out that the thing is twice my age. It makes me want to imagine all of the different people who have typed on it. A young writer working on his first novel? An elegantly dressed secretary typing up letters? It’s sort of funny that old typewriters immediately make me think of Mad Men.

So, I never explained why I’m tinkering with the Skyriter to begin with, eh? Well, I don’t want to reveal too much here, but let’s just say that it will be cranking out some wedding invitations in the near future. Wh-wh-what? Yes, indeed. That is the sound of me doing all of our wedding invitations by hand (or technically, by key). It’s a good GREAT thing this is going to be such a small wedding, and the guest list is totally manageable. Even then, I love doing this kind of stuff. You may know that I am obsessed with anything paper. I never considered for a second that anyone other than me would be creating our wedding invitations. Well, except maybe for that day or two that I was lured into the world of pretty, pretty pre-made wedding invitations. I managed to pry myself away, thank goodness.

I will most likely post a little sneak preview of the finished invites before they go out in the mail, but again, I don’t want to spoil too much before August 21st!