Monday, December 15, 2008

Please save our date!

May 24, 2009!

As mentioned previously, we are now at the T-minus 6-month mark, and the days continue to march by (when you go from 12 to 11.5 months to go, not having booked a DJ doesn't bother you so much; from 6 to 5.5 months, you stress a little every day...). What does that mean? It's time to send our save the dates!

(As a burgeoning Ob/Gyn, I could easily abbreviate "save the dates" as "STDs" and chuckle thinking about chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and strawberry cervix, but I'll save us all that awkwardness. You're welcome.)

One of the things that bugged me about our 21-month engagement was that early on there was little I could legitimately do to start making plans. The venue and date were gotten out of the way early on, and I chose my dress on my first-and-only shopping trip, but held off on ordering it until this summer. I was in a crafty designing mode and had nothing to design!

(Again, I'm now kicking myself that we still don't have a DJ, but one story at a time now...)

I don't know where I got the idea, but I really wanted to make a postcard for our save the dates, and I thought a photo of us would make for a good postcard. Postcards are good because they cost less to send than a card in an envelope, and they save paper -- cheap AND environmentally friendly! So after we had our free engagement session, there was one photo that immediately tickled my creativity neurons as being perfect for a photo postcard:

I envisioned a line or two at the top, and the bulk of the information at the bottom, among the grass. Plus, I'm still kind of embarrassed about a picture of us being all lovey-dovey hanging on everyone's refrigerators, so I liked this one because we're not the complete focus of the picture -- we're kind of small and blurry. In my head, I knew what I wanted it to look like, but I wasn't sure I had the proper tools to make it happen. I have accomplished many projects using PowerPoint to do what I want to do, graphics-wise, but I wasn't sure it was the best thing this time around, so I explored my (free) options.

I ended up downloading,, and Inkscape. I'm sure I used none of them to their full advantage, but I figured out which ones did what I wanted them to do, with some aggravation on my part, but with good results in the end. Let me know if you want more details. Essentially, I ended up using for adjusting the size and resolution of my image, and using Open Office Draw to lay out the text and overall postcard design.

I spent one memorable afternoon and evening downloading and evaluating free fonts from, much to my GPA's chagrin. After boucing some ideas off of Eric, we ended up choosing a script and plain text font: Renaissance and ParmaPetit.

And here's our final result!

I formatted it so that it could be printed using VistaPrint, which I chose after requesting samples from a bunch of different online printing websites. VistaPrint was the cheapest and I couldn't detect any appreciable difference in quality between VistaPrint and some of the others, which people on some of the forums had warned me about.

Things to keep in mind: Make sure your postcard is the right size for a postcard stamp; if it's larger than 4.25 x 6", it won't qualify for the 27-cent stamp. (Current postage size regulations can always be found at Since I actually placed the VistaPrint order back in May, I opted for super-slow, 21-day shipping because I had plenty of time. In reality, it shipped the next day and arrived well within a week. I have to imagine that the overnight upgrade fees aren't worth it.

Then they sat in the office for 6 months, waiting to be addressed and sent out, and over Thanksgiving break, when Eric came to visit, we gathered all of our families' and friends' addresses and had an addressing marathon. I got to use the purple calligraphy marker I bought at Michaels a few months ago (!) and here is the result:

I know I've blogged about my handwriting before, but I had to show it off again :) Using the calligraphy marker was so much fun! To be authentic, I know I should use calligraphy pens and real ink, but let's face it: that's just not going to happen. And my (platonic, just have him to help pay the bills) roommate just got a wedding invitation in the mail the other day addressed in ballpoint pen, with handwriting nowhere near as nice as mine (not that I'm judging), so I feel OK about my shortcut here.

The current postcard stamps are the tropical fruit ones that a lot of people seem to not like, but I think they're pretty and colorful, so I didn't lose any sleep over them.

Here's the final cost breakdown:
Photo session: free! (But cost a lot of mental anguish)
Design software: free! (But cost a lot of initial mental anguish to learn to use)
-100 postcards: free (troll around the internet for coupon codes, or sign up for their mailing list or request free samples and they'll give you discount codes)
-uploading the front and back design: $4.99 each side (this is where they get you!)
-slow processing and shipping: $6.48
-TOTAL: $16.46, or 16 cents for each postcard. Sweet!
Stamps: 27 cents each, and we bought 80 (we're only sending 1 card to each family/household unit)
Calligraphy marker at Michaels: a few bucks, plus I used a coupon, plus I'll use the marker again for the invitations, so I'm not even going to factor this in

GRAND TOTAL: 38 cents for each postcard. A bargain!

So there you go! We're waiting for one final address from a friend, and then we'll send them off. The only wrinkle is that I'm now on the east coast until January 4, but I really want to send them before then, and I really want them to have a Louisville postmark. To solve this problem, I'm going to mail them all as a package to the Louisville postmaster and have him/her process them through the Louisville post office to get the desired postmark. A little OCD? Perhaps. But it's not going to cost me much money or effort to accomplish what I need to, so I'm going to let it slide this time. So watch your mail!

The downside? I don't think we're sending Christmas cards this year -- this was a big enough mail project, and between this and having to write thank you cards for all of my residency interviews, I'm done addressing envelopes for the time being :)


Blablover5 said...

Those look really cool. I love the picture too, very summery in the cold evil winter.

It's a Snow Day in blog-o-land!

Lauren said...

Gorgeous! I'm so impressed you did all that yourself. :)