Getting Started - The Art of the Invitation

I previously published a longer version of this article, and it has been very helpful to clients, and hopefully other DIY-ers over the years. I thought this was a perfect place to start - and then I will go into detail about each section in following articles.

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Doing it yourself, whether it's the design, the printing, can be a fun way to engage with your event and exercise your creativity.  It can also be overwhelming. Starting at the beginning: the invitation. When you set out to create the perfect invitation for any event, it's always good to know what you want. It also helps to know what you don't want, and to not know what you do want. (That sounds backwards - but bear with me...)

So where to start? 

Niche websites, social networking, and have all changed the face of party planning. You don't have to leave your living room. You can do it late at night, in the backyard, or over lunch with friends. You can plan invitations, favors, decorations, menus - and then order everything you need online and have it shipped straight to you. But, if you've attempted to gain inspiration online, then you probably know that it can be super overwhelming. Everything you see looks awesome (except a few weird things that look terrible) so how on earth are you supposed to choose? 
Take a deep breath.

Close your eyes. Imagine your space and imagine the possibility you are considering. Is it yours?

Know what you want.
Have a style in mind - modern, elegant, cute, fun, retro etc.
Choose your color palette.
Decide on presentation.

But, it's ok not to know it all. 
Be flexible and keep an open mind. If your idea is too specific, but you don't have something solid you can choose or order, becoming obsessed with details that then don't work out can be frustrating. Sometimes what doesn't quite match our imagination has a way of becoming just what we want. 

More importantly: know what you don't want.
I don't want to send a postcard, I don't want it too big, I don't want a block font. Do you want a card that folds, or something flat? Do you want to use envelopes? If the answer is yes for envelopes, I am going to give you some very important information right now.

1. Find your envelopes first.
No, seriously.  I learned this from a very wise woman: my aunt. "After I went all over town in a panic looking for the right size and color: Amy, you always find the envelopes first!" Trust my aunt - this is excellent advice. Invitations can be created to fit the size and complement the envelope color. It's much harder to go the other way.

2. Collaborate.
Choose a design shop rather than online printer. There are plenty to choose from these day - from Etsy to Creative Market, by choosing a shop that specializes in printable designs, you have access to a designer, and you aren't left fiddling with online interfaces that only sort of do what you want anyway. Work with your designer by providing descriptive words for the atmosphere you want at the party, and remember that words evoke slightly different ideas in different people. Try to be specific, provide examples if you can, and remember, it might not be perfect the first time. That's ok. It's a collaboration.

3. Be Specific.
Look at your proofs critically and be prepared to give specific feedback. When you say, "this isn't what I'm looking for," but can't say why, you have removed the initial parameters without providing further direction - and that leaves the designer something like one million possibilities. When you can, say: I don't like that font; I want something more "readable, fancier, swirlier, fun," or whatever, then you are giving a direction, and trust me when I say that is AWESOME. I don't mind if someone doesn't like something I have created the first go round; it's not about me, it's about them. But I LOVE when someone says, I don't like this, could you please make it more formal, make it less formal, make it more fun, make it more scripty, make it more pink, make it ______ (insert direction here). We have a starting off point, and now we have a direction. It's all about communication. 

4. Have fun!
While not everything is possible, with some direction, an open mind, and good communication, I guarantee it is possible to get just what you want in the end!

Don't forget to download this FREE PRINTABLE PDF to get started.

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