I got engaged during the summer before I graduated from college. When we chose the date for our wedding, I made sure that there was plenty of time for me to take on as many DIY wedding projects as possible.
I decided that I was going to make my own wedding invitations: here’s what you need to know to DIY your wedding invites.
How to Make Simple DIY Watercolor Wedding Invitations
It was really very simple and came down to time, rather than expertise and precision. By the time I had committed to making them and purchased all the needed materials, I knew there was no going back!
Step 1: Design the Print Part of the Invitation
There are a lot of small details (think: spacing, font, size, etc.) that make an invitation look polished and clean. The bad news is that when you are designing your own wedding invitations, you’ll need to make those decisions yourself. The good news is that the internet is full of examples to look at and use as inspiration.
I literally designed my wedding invitations on Microsoft Publisher. If you are a designer, you will cringe. (If you are me, you know that it’s what was available and it did the job) At the end of the day, you can make something that looks pretty legit without having expertise or expensive tools.
I knew I wanted to use a combination of cursive and print fonts, and I knew I wanted to make the invitations fit into a standard A7 envelope. I searched the web for a font that suited my “vibe,” and went to work squishing all the necessary words onto the page.
**IMPORTANT: If you plan on adding color or designs to the edges of your DIY invitations, be sure to leave space at the top and bottom, and potentially on the sides.
**EVEN MORE IMPORTANT: Have at least 5 people read through the invitations before you deem them complete and ready to print. Typos happen and they are the worst! (I had a typo. A really avoidable one.)
Step 2: Gather the Necessary Materials
Once the invitations were designed on the computer and ready to be printed, I had to gather a lot of materials that I would use to make them. I’m linking below to the supplies I bought and used, but these aren’t necessarily the best options out there. It’s just how I got the job done.
The four most important supplies I needed were:
- Watercolor Paper
It was important to get watercolor paper because it will not wrinkle (as much) with the addition of watercolor paint. I opted for watercolor paper pads and then tore the individual pages out to print on. This paper tends to be very thick and sturdy, so be aware that it might be tough on your home printer. It worked on ours, but was finicky if I tried to print too many pages at the same time.
- Liquid Watercolors
I used liquid watercolors so that it would be easier for me to measure how much of each color I was mixing. The colors for my wedding were eggplant purple and sage green, so I needed to mix a few different colors to make the right tone.
- Watercolor Paint Brushes
Watercolor paint brushes are very soft and absorbent. I wanted to make lots of different sized streaks, so I got a variety of sizes. It’s definitely possible to make a pretty invitation without liquid paints and watercolor specific paint brushes, but I love watercolor painting in general, so I knew I would use them again.
- A Paper Cutter
The paper cutter is also optional (especially if you have a steady hand or are not making very many invitations). I was making 200 wedding invitations and the thick watercolor paper would very quickly dull the blades. I opted to get a guillotine paper cutter so that my lines were straight and my edges were clean.
Step 3: Print the Invitations
Once I had all the tools I needed, the first step was hours and hours of printing. As I mentioned above, my printer didn’t love the thickness of the watercolor paper. Not only did I have to trim the 9×13 inch paper before it fit into the printer, but I had to monitor the printing of all the invitations, one page at a time.
Honestly, if I could do this again, I would have called local print shops until one agreed to let me bring in my own paper and print using their professional machines. It would have definitely saved me time, but would have cost a little more.
This was the least exciting and most time-consuming part of the whole process — if you can get through this part, you’re good to go!
Step 4: Paint the Invitations
It might seem natural to cut out the invitations after they are printed, but don’t do it! The key to the watercolor swipe look is to take the paint across the paper and right off the edge. I left the invitations (2 per sheet) on the paper and painted the swipes of watercolor across the top and bottom, before setting them aside to dry.
It’s important to mix the watercolor paints with varying amounts of water. I made three shades of purple and 3 shades of green: this allows me to make some swipes of color more saturated, while others were much lighter. Painting is the fun part, since watercolors are so pretty. Don’t focus on making things look perfect. Just swipe back and forth — you’ll love how it looks once you get to cut them out!
Step 5: Flatten & Cut the Invitations
Once the individual sheets have dried completely, you may notice that they are a little wavy (or more than a little, if your paper was on the thin side). This is no big deal, but you’ll want to flatten them out before you cut them. There are probably better ways to do this, but I stacked mine up and set a bunch of heavy books on top for a couple of days.
After taking the flattened, water-colored sheets of invitations out from under the books, it was time to cut them out. I sat down with my paper cutter and got to work. It was all about carefully lining up the blade and taking the excess paper off from around the invitations. This is where the watercolor swipes really start to look gorgeous!
Step 6: Assemble the Invitations
After all the invitations were cut out and stacked up (for me this included 2 pieces: the invitation and an RSVP postcard), I brainstormed how to assemble them. Some people tuck them into pockets, but I loved the idea of wrapping the two sheets in a ribbon. I went to the store and found some purple and green ribbon to use as an “invitation belt” and bought a stamp with the first letter of my new last name.
I stamped the letter onto some of the watercolor paper scraps, cut them out, and then used them as the anchor or “belt buckle” to seal the ribbon belt around each of my invitations. It turned out super cute! It was also a great way to use some of those paper scraps I thought I was going to throw away.
Step 7: Address & Send the Invitations
Finally, it was time to stuff the envelopes, put on the stamps, and address them. I have neat enough handwriting to get the job done. If you are not confident in your own, find a friend or family member to help you write out addresses. To save time, I had the return address made into a self-inking stamp.
Once the invitations were in the mail, I felt like my biggest DIY project was complete. In the end, I had saved serious cash by spending my own time and energy to put them together. My little sister helped me paint, and my mom, future mother-in-law, and sister-in-law all got together to help assemble the invitations. It was a huge project, but it was so fun to send guests something that was unique and handmade.
7 Tips You NEED to Know if You’re Making Your Own Wedding Invites
These are my additional tips for those of you considering making your own wedding invites. It’s not a difficult process. It’s mostly time consuming. If you’re lucky there will be people excited to help! Here are 7 tips for DIY wedding invitations that I’d use if I could do it all over again:
- Keep it Simple: When it comes to details on a wedding invite, remember that the information is the most important part. Keep the rest simple and you’ll decrease your stress and keep yourself from an over-the-top look.
- Don’t Focus on Perfection: When you’re making something yourself, you shouldn’t aim for perfection. If it looks like you made it, that can be a great thing! It means so much more to receive something handmade, and any small imperfections make it unique.
- Be Flexible: If you get to a certain part of the project and run into a problem or have to change direction a little bit, don’t lose your mind. It’s all good. Find a solution that works and run with it. Nobody will know it wasn’t the way you wanted it to be and it might even turn out better than you planned.
- More is Better: Make a few more than you need, order a bit more paper than you need, have extra paint brushes on hand, etc. You never know what will happen and it’s better to avoid last-minute orders or runs to the store.
- Avoid Comparing: One of the great things about invitations is that you’re usually only sending one to each guest household. This means that if some are cuter than others, or your paper cutter took a little too much off an invite or two, nobody will know. People don’t compare their invitations. So don’t worry if a few end up a little wonky.
- Enjoy Your Style: You might look at your invitations and think that they are less stylish or trendy than some of the ones for sale online, but they are uniquely yours. Enjoy that what you made fits your style. Do yourself a favor and stop looking at the trendy options online. They all start to blend together anyway!
- Remember Retro Weddings: At the end of the day, wedding stuff will look dorky in a few decades. Old wedding photos and invitations look retro and goofy to us now. Everything we do now will have that same appeal to future generations. Relax and enjoy the fun of planning your “big day” without worrying about what anyone else thinks.
More Fun & Crafty Posts You’ll Love
If this huge DIY project seemed like a great idea, be sure to check out my adventures in crafts and hand lettering. Yeah, it’s mostly penmanship and hand lettering. But it’s a really affordable and useful hobby!