Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stamping the Night Away

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall

The funny thing about wedding planning is that you can't control the thoughts that enter your head and their timing. I'm about as far as you can get from being a morning person, but I have never seen so many early mornings since I got engaged. Who knew the sunrise cast such beautiful light on my tiny window sill?

I'm not saying I awake many a morning breaking out in a sweat; anxious and overwhelmed about all that needs to be done. Because that would imply that I have actually gotten some sleep (half joking). And while I don't normally greet the a.m. with wedding on the brain, every so often (like today) I do. And when I do (no pun intended), there is no going back to sleep. The thoughts must be addressed! 

This morning I awoke with ideas, fantasies (I'm a craft nerd), and half a dozen semi-solid plans for creating invitations for the wedding. It was bad enough that I stayed up until 2 a.m. last night sketching ideas and searching online for inspiration. But to awaken a mere 4 hours later after visions of card stock and ribbon, glue dots and stamps wouldn't allow me to settle down enough to sleep in? That hurt. And so, I left my deeply sleeping and snoring mutt (and lover!) and raced to the computer.

For what? 

Stamps! When I first started researching DIY invitations, it quickly became clear that one of the easiest, most elegant and simple ways to customize your invitations was to purchase or make a stamp that would serve as your theme or "brand," if you will. You can stamp your "Save the Dates," invites, napkin holders, favor cards, place cards, thank you cards, programs--whatever you include in your wedding can be stamped with the same, cute, simple, elegant design that you choose. Piece of cake! need to find a stamp, right? And this is where the search begins. Luckily, I can save you some time and tell you that all the millions of stamps on the stamping sites and stores get repetitive. I suppose this is not great news for those of you who don't find what you are looking for right away, but I assure you--there are so many beautiful choices that even a non-stamper (Jake) can find plenty of designs about which to get excited. In fact, a normally laid back Jake is now gung-ho about the stamp idea. (There was a bit of confusion for a few days when he thought I meant postage stamps, but it's presently all cleared up and he is undoubtedly enthused about the whole thing.)

Oh! Did I mention that stamping can be super cheap? All you need is:

[Drumroll...] A stamp! These range anywhere from $2 to $30. But it is a one time cost and you're done!

 Ink pad. They average about $4 and one should last you well through all your wedding requirements and beyond. If you're going for broke and are indecisive, they even have 12 colors ink pad sets which can run about $60. 

  Paper. The cost of paper can add up, but it is surprisingly cheap if you do a bit of research and price comparison shopping (requires patience and time unfortunately). I plan to use card stock for my invites and have only done a limited search for the best quality and price , but will keep you posted. So far, I have not found it to be too expensive. A really nice quality, medium weight, semi-textured card stock like a white card stock with a linen finish will run you about $14 for 50 8.5 x 11 sheets. Not bad. Especially, as when Jake pointed out, even though we plan to have about 100 guests, many of them are couples/families and will only need one invitation. (Why I didn't figure that out on my own...I don't know, but thanks Jake!) Check Aylee's site for great resources for paper (among many other things!).

Next time you see one of those fancy shmancy invitations, love them, and think how expensive the paper must be, think again! It's likely that it is not the paper at all, but rather a series of really nice stamps that make the surface special.

Let me share with you some of the resources I have found useful and hopefully save you some time, if stamping is something in which you are interested. Keep in mind that these represent just the tip of the iceberg to get the juices flowing. There is so much more out there!

About stamping in general:
  • The mother-load of stamping techniques can be found here. If you thought stamping was about some dinky little boring black ink stamp, hold on to your seat, you'll be amazed!
  • Though there are many kinds, the most common types of stamps are either rubber stamps or acrylic/polymer (clear) stamps: Generally speaking, based on several reviews and artist statements, rubber stamps are best for stamps with a great deal of detail, while acrylic/polymer stamps are best for simpler designs. There are many pros and cons for each. The major difference is that clear stamps allow you to see through to your paper for exact placement, and can be much cheaper than traditional rubber stamps. However, clear stamps are not as resilient and do not last as long. For a complete description of the pros and cons (with sample images!) look here
Really cool stamps:

There are SO many sites for stamps (just google: rubber/clear stamp!) so here are just a handful that offer lovely choices and that I feel are reliable and have received great reviews.
  • Stampin' Up! offers really nice stamps for sale with a huge variety of designs from simple to very intricate. 
  • Remember the good old Joann Fabric stores? Well she's online now, and has lots and lots of nice craft items including stamps (hundreds). And I find her to be cheaper than many other places. I just ordered my first shipment from her--I'll share my purchases with you when I receive them! [P.S. Use this promotional code for free shipping: CCABINFEBF. Note that this expires March 15, 2009 but check here for more recent coupons.]
  • For fun, modern and not too expensive choices, try the Paper Source.  Even their "wedding" stamps are not too corny.
  • If you have a design in mind, or think it would be meaningful to co-design it with your wedding co-pilot, don't bother trying to find someone else's stamp--make your own. It's really not that hard. Like with most crafts, it just takes patience and little practice to perfection. Start with this tutorial. Or try this very simple instruction at DIY Weddings with very cute results!
DIY card tutorials & galleries for inspiration:
  • Splitcoaststampers--The place to go for stamping ideas, projects, tutorials, and forums. They showcase a new tutorial every Wednesday, archives of which can be found on the Resource Page. The projects can be super simple or get quite complicated. What I like to do is just look around their galleries for ideas. Remember not to overlook a project just because it isn't exactly what you want--you can take bits and pieces from each project and turn it into your own crafty design. Just take a little from each idea to get the creativity flowing. Another benefit? You won't see the word "wedding" too often, if at all, and yet they have SO many ideas that would be perfect for a wedding, like this adorable and relatively simple project that could work perfectly for wedding favors! It gets even better. Following every tutorial, readers submit their own versions of the project with their own additions and adjustments. I mean, could this be any more inspirationally awesome? Now you see why I can't sleep.
  • Here you can find a YouTube video describing some general stamping techniques. Sit back and let them do all the work while your imagination runs wild visualizing how cool your invites are going to look! You even get the sexy British accent as a bonus.
  • There are millions of sites that offer ideas for stamping specifically related to the Big W (the Wedding, not the ex-president, silly!). This will get you started thinking about it. This, that (look here especially for a nice breakdown of paper types and textures), here, and there, represent only the tip of the iceberg. She has really great ideas! Misolee also has great invitation/card ideas for a wedding, which include stamping ideas (keep scrolling down for more and more samples). While most of the stuff shown there is for purchase as opposed to a tutorial--who cares! Just use it to get ideas and make them yourself. You have all that you need inside that little head of yours, you just need a little creative nudge in the right direction!
Good luck, and don't forget to get some sleep!


  1. I really enjoyed this post! I thought about stamping our invites early on but couldn't find a stamp I really loved. Perhaps I should search a little harder :)

    I'd also like to thank you for pointing out the fact that 100 guests does not = 100 invitations. I don't know what I was thinking but our invitation budget just got a heck of a lot easier to work with. seriously. thank you.

    Have you played around with Martha's pretty paper punches? I bought the lacy one and its so much fun to play with - I can't wait to use it on wedding related paper goods.

  2. So glad you found it useful, Amanda. I do have some paper punches--you are right. They really turn something simple into something elegant. As far as stamps, I will try to add some of my top choices on the blog...maybe you will like them too!?

    Good luck!

  3. What a wonderful comprehensive post. Thank you for submitting your article to my crafts carnival. You will find it here.


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