1. Digital Save The Dates
We used Publisher to create our own 4x6 digital postcard which we emailed as an attachment to everyone on our guest list that we had email addresses for. The body of the email was bilingual and explained that we were getting married and provided information about the location and accommodations. Our digital save-the-dates were easy, eco-friendly, original, and of course, budget-friendly because they were completely free! It just took some time to design a classy digital postcard, but that was time well spent, because we liked that motif so much that we repeated it throughout the wedding process! Plus, an unforeseen benefit was that it provided immediate results; people got them quickly and were able to follow the link to our website. Some even went ahead and RSVPed right then!
2. Our Wedding Website
S set up a wedding website for us. His friend, A, helped with the programming of the online RSVP form, which was a little complicated because of what we wanted it to do. We included the link to the website on the save-the-date email and on the actual wedding invitation. The site included our design image, online RSVP, venue location map, Québec City weather forecast in F and C, hotel accommodation information, information on the band, photos of us, and registry info.
I loved the non-cheesy style (black and grey and pretty minimalist), and it had useful information on there. The photos were particularly nice for those guests who only knew one of us before the wedding. And another fun thing was that the online RSVP had a text box where people could write us a note; we enjoyed reading the personal messages that came in with the RSVPs. S did a fabulous job with this huge project and we so appreciate A's help!
3. DIT Wedding Invitations (Do-It-Together)
a. After researching the cost of nice looking traditional wedding invitations and DIY kits from crafts stores, we decided to go with the much more economic DIY kit. We bought one box to see what they looked like, and I was extremely disappointed with the quality of the paper. After some thought, we decided to spend a little more to buy quality paper and supplies and DIT our own invitations sans kit to get exactly what we wanted (which was an elegant, non-boring bilingual invitation). This ended up being a lot of work, with countless hours for designing, printing, cutting, and assembling. My parents and many friends gave hours to help cut/tape/attach.
b. We decided to forgo the handwriting/calligraphy tradition for the envelopes. The idea behind the tradition is that supposedly handwriting adds that personal touch and lets people know that we really do want them to come to the wedding. This concept provoked two thoughts in me. One, shouldn't the invitation let people know we really want them to come? And two, would my less-than-pretty handwriting send the opposite message? Then I discovered that some people pay someone else to do the calligraphy on their envelopes (at $2 an envelope) for "that personal touch." I also discovered the bridal concern about hand-canceling the stamps. So I researched what that was about then I actually considered trying to do that. But at some point, I made a choice to get off that crazy-train, and we decided we were just going to print our labels in a beautiful font, using our logo. And we would not hand-cancel anything. Our envelopes were black anyways and we were already breaking all kinds of traditions, so why not break a few more?
So that was the address label plan, but by the end of August, it had not happened and we were in the middle of my move. So some friends stepped in and took over the label designing (with the "to" and "from" addresses with the motif) and the stuffing of the invites into the envelopes. I do not think I could have survived this last stage without their help. LOTS of people helped me move and pack and do wedding stuff. I was carried through by our community. Amazing.
c. We did not use an inner envelope and had no RSVP card. (A green and budget friendly choice!) We included the website and asked people to RSVP there or by phone. This method worked pretty well for us. I am confident it was AT LEAST as effective as paper RSVPs. Possibly more effective.
All that to say...we made some non- conventional choices and were completely happy with (and proud of) the resulting invitations that felt like "us." Maybe I should do a post later with pics?
4. Our "Dessert soirée" reception
I love desserts and I thought the idea of a reception with coffee and dessert buffet sounded infinitely more interesting than a normal sit-down meal and traditional wedding cake. And thankfully, this vision was in line with our desire to not spend tons of money on a wedding. Serving only dessert did impact the timing of the wedding though; we chose to get married at 8 pm largely because we were not serving dinner and we wanted that night-time excitement energy for our soirée. Like how it feels on opening night of a play. And I am so glad we did fun cupcakes, instead of a traditional cake. I meant to have little toppers for two of the cupcakes for us, but that got abandoned when time ran out at the end. But yeah, a dessert reception can be elegant and fun!
5. How we chose to spend money
We tried to find the most economic way to do what we wanted and still have quality results. As one would guess, this took a lot of work and creativity. We chose to avoid some of the standard things like a traditional wedding cake or going to a salon for hair and make-up, and instead found alternative solutions. I tried to use things I already owned instead of buying new wedding-specific things. For example, instead of renting lots of white wedding tablecloths at $12 each, I used some black tablecloths and sheets I already owned, bought 3 new black sheets (for $15 each) that we can use on our bed later, and borrowed two black tablecloths. The sheets were great and even upon inspection, Bridemaid M was surprised it was a sheet and not a tablecloth. And, even better, using black for the tablecloths was a much more subtle choice in our darkened venue than white would have been. And the white and stainless servingware really popped against the black. We re-used my grandmother's mason jars and vintage antique bottles (thanks L and M!) for flower vases, used some of my serving dishes and borrowed some. We also had ceremony and reception music gifted to us by our amazingly talented musician friends. Friends and family helped in all sorts of ways- alterations, ironing, hair, make-up, officiating, video, helping with serving food, cleaning up, etc.
When we did spend money, we tried to support businesses we believed in. S got my engagement ring and our wedding bands at Joaillerie Zimm's. We hired Marie-Ève Laforte and Martin Dallaire, to do our flowers and photography, respectively. They are just starting out and were wonderful to work with! We chose to rent dishes from a local business recommended by a friend. Instead of throwing money away with a tux rental, we bought S a black suit, which he has already worn again (surprisingly!). And I chose non-wedding-specific jewelry and shoes that I have worn multiple times in the two months since the wedding. It took a lot of searching to find the right jewelry though, since I did not want traditional "wedding jewelry." We found it at Vintage Underground in Chicago.