The case for mass-produced invitations

So, OK, I was kidding at the time.

I took this photo of a pack-of-20-tear-off-and-send invitations as a bit of a gag.

The truth was, the joke was on me. I should have bought them, not taken a lame picture of them thinking ‘hahaha, aren’t these HILARIOUS?’

They are not hilarious.

They are genius.

The thing is, if only I had bought them and used them, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I would’ve avoided the panic attacks, tears and mentalness and the invitations would be in my guests’ hot little hands by now.

But they are not.

This is why.

About six months ago we headed to a cute indie wedding fair, coincidently at the same place where we’re getting married. This time we weren’t there to perve, we were there to get serious about which vendors we wanted to do business with.

The first invitation place we came across we booked. No messing about. Their product was divine and they were open to what we wanted and could pull it off… on a turn-of-the-century letterpress machine.

So we got to work on the wording. Think about it, an invitation needs the following –

Guest name

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Occasion
  • Dress code
  • RSVP

Everything else is just a flourish.

Cute poems, tiny 3D stones, graphics and magnets are additional extras that, let me put it this way… we’ve all had that invitation that spills glitter all over the carpet. People can go bonkers over this stuff.

Anyway, the job was lodged and we were pretty chuffed.

Then the phone calls started.

Every single detail had problems.

The graphic bled too much, there was too much grey in the background, there wasn’t enough grey in the background, did we want grey in the background, the font was too big, the font was too small, there were too many words.

These were all separate phone calls or emails.

I was losing my mind.

So I decided the best thing to do was to visit in person and talk through what we wanted.

This place was a decent drive from my house and is located inside like this national park-type place. I understand that the bespoke letterpress machine is a bit of a tourist attraction among the other ye olde paraphernalia that Father Time has left behind.

It was a bit of a nightmare to find this joint, but thanks to Google maps I found the place.

It was completely deserted. You could see that if it were full of people it would be great fun. But there was not another soul. It was like the set of a horror movie, like all of a sudden a child’s merry-go-round was going to start all on it’s own. Oh god, I started to have visions of Pennywise the clown.

I did this weird almost-run to the print shop.

It was shut.

It was a Tuesday.

They kept unorthodox hours to accommodate for tourists. Fair enough. So we went back that following Sunday. The park where the print shop was located was full of picnickers and the like, no psychotic clowns at all.

But the only person who was manning the fort was the man who operates the huge letterpress. Our graphics person only worked part-time, and she wasn’t there that day.

I nearly cried.

Then he dropped another bombshell.

She wasn’t a graphic designer at all.

OMG. All along I had been so tough on her as I thought she was just being uber-careful in the process. Now it all made sense. My expectations surpassed what she actually did for a living, a part-time living. I felt terrible.

I just about cried in the car. I just wanted the invites finished and posted so I could just get on with everything else.  It was just becoming unnecessarily overwhelming.

About two weeks later, we had them. And they’re gorgeous.

But it also made me shy about getting this place to do the RSVP cards and another small insert called ‘a note about gifts’, basically telling guests if they didn’t want to buy us anything they didn’t have to.

For our engagement party in July of 2010, the invitations were printed without a hitch. I just used some awesome Word templates, chucked it on to a USB stick and hoofed it down to Officeworks to be printed out.

So I decided that’s what I’ll do.

I spent hours after work designing these two things, to the exact measurements of the envelopes.

Popped it all on to a stick and headed to the East Perth branch – the one where I had such a good experience the first time round.

The job was written up by a sweet young thing, I’ll call her Sarah. She said to come back tomorrow and they’ll be ready for pick up.

I returned the next day. The measurements were wrong. She gave me a couple of  free templates to work from, but they didn’t speak to my Mac very well, and I was reluctant to head back into the office to spend even more time on Photoshop.

I sat in the carpark and thought about those pack-of-20-tear-off-and-send invitations. I wasn’t laughing anymore.

I rang The Mister and he could tell I wasn’t having fun anymore. He took over the project and designed everything so it fit the templates and was ready to roll.

He took it in so Sarah could print it all out so we could just put this all behind us.

‘No, she’s not here’, a manchild told The Mister.

‘She’s on a plane right now, to Broome’.

She probably took one look at the job and jumped on the first available plane to anywhere.

So The Mister explained the job to the manchild and left him to it.

He headed back there the next day to pick it all up.

He told me he took one look at the finished product and simply said, ‘mate, we’re not paying for this’ and absolved Officeworks of any more involvement.

The business-card sized RSVPs were half the size and had white flecks and stripes through them. There is meant to be no white on them whatsoever.

But the ‘note about gifts’ slip was an absolute corker.

It was meant to be about the size of a coaster.

When The Mister went to pick up the order, the guy said ‘yep, here they are’.

They were not much bigger than a postage stamp, complete with microscopic writing.

I must admit that when The Mister relayed the story to me we were in fits of laughter. The mental image of this poor guy at Officeworks guillotining all those tiny sheets of paper.

So what happened next?

The Mister returned to work and one of his graphic design staff came to his office saying if it was alright, she was happy to help us.

Not only did she totally clean up the work we started, she got us a great deal with a commercial printing company she has an arrangement with.

But would I do it all again?


This has become an expensive exercise, especially with my time.

Also, whenever someone would merely ask how the invites were going, I would end up getting frustrated and a bit upset that I had failed to ‘keep it simple’.  That then would lead to feeling outrageously shallow.

I remember watching the first Australian episode of ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ where Aaron didn’t send out invitations, he just rang everyone. At the time I was appalled, now I’m not so sure.

As I write, they’re still not finished. As you can see…


I salute you, pack-of-20-tear-off-and-send invitations.

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