April 11, 2013

Handmade Wedding Invitations

I promised you a little tutorial on how I made my wedding invitations here.

I knew I wanted to make my invitations from the start. I have always enjoyed working with paper (and as obsessive as I am about yarn... paper and I go way back. I think it's still my favorite. Just don't tell that basket of wool sitting next to the stack of scrapbooking supplies.) 

I didn't get married that long ago... but Pinterest wasn't around for ideas when the Sailor and I finally tied the knot. Thankfully, Michaels and and other craft stores were. Nowadays, there seems to be no shortage of places to purchase supplies -- at least here in America. (For those of you who don't live near massive chain stores... I do still believe that sometimes the most creative projects blossom with using only what's on hand! I also believe in Etsy... and how easy it is to order something from across the globe.)

Nevertheless, I did have an arsenal of craft supplies at my ready. Because I married a sailor, and since we met on a ship, I wanted to somehow incorporate a sea theme into the invitations. I also knew that many people wouldn't make the wedding due to travel, so I spent extra time and money on the invitations. I wanted to give the people who couldn't make it, their own little keepsake of our day. 

I started by scratching out some ideas in my notebook. I find that some people are afraid to even sketch ideas -- like they will mess up. Impossible, I say... that's why you sketch the idea. 

Most of the time, my finished product only resembles the sketches in one small way. In this case, I took away the concept of putting the info on handmade luggage tags. The Sailor and I traveled a lot in our dating years, and we still do today, so I wanted that to be part of the theme. 

I knew I wanted to put all of the info on the luggage tags -- I've always loved scrapbooks and invitations that are very hands on. I thought it would be fun for people to pull out each tag for the information. 

Once I found the blue paper, it all kind of fell into place.

Each tag held various bits of essential information: 

Shore leave: I used a printed map of South Africa on the front, and on the back, listed the nearest transportation hubs.  

Navigation: The Sailor acquired some old navigation charts for me to use on the front of these. On the back, more specific details of where the wedding would be held and how to book rooms at the location.

Port History: The photo on the front is one of the Anastasis Mercy Ship -- where we met. You can see from the photo below, I listed the port cities we traveled to together. I also found small silver beads and tied them onto the hemp on this tag -- they reminded me of miniature wedding rings.

SOS: Life-ring on the front; RSVP contact info on the back.

Once I got the luggage tags together, I still needed a way to keep them all together with the invitation. A friend of mine helped and we came up with the idea to use a flap, and then we hammered little brads in to keep the flap from falling apart. 

I wrote the actual invitation by hand on the inside of the invitation, and the flap held all of the tags. I chose a Bible verse that seemed particularly applicable to our situation, and put the first half on the front, and the second half on the flap.  

For half of our dating life, and now our marriage, 
we have been separated by a sea.
"Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away..." 
Song of Songs 8:7

I tied everything together with hemp (I love using hemp for all kinds of projects, but this time, it looked a little like mooring lines) and I found little anchor trinkets to put on the front. I also used necklace clasps on the hemp -- I searched until I found ones that looked a little like a life-ring.  

I also tied the bottom of the invitation together with a little hemp knot -- you can see the brad, but I've already untied the bottom. 

Our wedding was on a serious budget. The Sailor was in navigation school right before we married, and I was working as a volunteer with various non-profits. I decided to splurge though on the invitations, but in the end, to make and mail 60 of them (many of them internationally), only cost about $200. 

I never bothered to price what it would have cost to have someone else print them for me, but I don't think it would have been much cheaper. Plus, I love how they turned out.

After the wedding, I ended up using the same luggage tag and blue theme for my scrapbook to showcase a few photos. 

Like the invitation, I used the tags to write info on the back. For these 'style' shots, I wrote stories of when and where I got various bits of my wedding ensemble. 

I also used the tags and leftover anchors as part of my thank you notes. 

I think overall, people 'got' the sea and traveling theme, and they felt included in the day, even if they couldn't make it.
Have you previously made, or are you currently creating invitations for anything by hand? I'd love to hear your ideas.  


  1. These are so, so cute!! I love everything nautical themed.

    1. Thank you! Nautical themes rock... these were fun to make, too.

  2. This is so cool! I'm making wedding invitations for my wedding that's coming up in July. I have more of a rustic chic theme, but I absolutely love the nautical theme! Great post!

    1. Thank you! Congrats on your wedding and good job making your own invitations!

  3. This is the appropriate blog for anybody who desires to search out about this topic. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

  4. Love those ideas! I've been looking at creating some bespoke stationery and this has really helped for inspiration. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome! Glad the invitations could inspire you :)

  5. I couldn't agree more. These wedding invitations are truly amazing! Thanks for sharing!