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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Invitations (15)


{$100 Giveaway!} Minted Sponsored Post

I’m a big ol’ fan of Minted, so I am pretty dang excited to have them as T30SB sponsor! And can I say I’m super-DUPER excited to give one of you crazy-lucky readers a $100 Minted gift certificate!?! Are you EXCITED?!?  Hm. Maybe I should back off on the caffeine this morning…

In case you aren’t familiar with Minted, it’s an online stationery store and community of independent graphic designers. They allow amazingly talented designers to showcase their wedding invitations, personal stationery and more in one spot ! It’s a T30SB-approved place for you to find the stationery that’s just right for you and help support independent designers too. We like supporting designers around here. *ahem*

Minted also has incredibly unique  wedding programs you can choose from to coordinate with your invites. They’ve also got menu cards and thank you notes and all sort of goodies that you can get with $100 Minted gift certificate! Want your stuff to be a little more personal? Want to add that handmade touch to your program? Cool, because Minted also has several DIY wedding program templates.  Simply download the DIY template, insert into your favorite Minted wedding program cover and make it your own by adding little doodads and such that coordinate with the feeling of your wedding.

They have a wide variety of styles and color choices to choose from. I could (and have) spent WAY to much time on their website.


Love Bird Wedding Invitations


Winter Flourish Wedding Programs


Bibliotheque Menu Cards


Sweet Linen Thank You Cards with Skinny Wrap Address Labels

So, how can you win the $100 gift certificate to Minted?  It’s sooooo easy!

1. Go have a look at their wedding programs or wedding invitations and let me know which one best suits your wedding by commenting below!

2. Get an extra entry by Tweeting this contest using this exact phrase: Enter to win $100 gift certificate from @Minted via @T30SB http://bit.ly/mSkhKr. Add an additional entry telling me you did this, because I will track it, yo.

3. Hang on until Monday, September 12th, when I’ll announce the winner, using Random.org to select.


*Minted is an T30SB approved sponsor and this is a sponsored post.


ROCK the Wedding World! The Name-Your-Price Experiment!

Let’s get a little dialogue going about value, shall we? I question this myself on a daily basis. I question the value of advertising space on this blog. I question the value of my hours of work on a veil. I am constantly considering and comparing my value of being an independent designer to mainstream designers. Sometimes this keeps me up at night.

Talk about things that kept me up at night... We aren't all like budgetless try-hards that toss numbers around like their wedding is a game of Party Bingo. Most of us actually want to know what we’re getting for our money and we all want to feel like we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck! In fact, in these times of economic stress I’m fairly certain that we’re all questioning value versus cost in every aspect of our lives – not just with our weddings! Right?

I also know how much time I spent comparing dollars to value when I was planning my wedding. Talk about things that kept me up at night... 

With the emergence and subsequent popularity of on-line everything there seem to be limitless options when it comes to weddings – options that can make a bride’s head swim! I know mine did. How many times have you seen something and thought, “Oh my God, YES!” only to see the price tag and alternately think “Oh my God, NO!”  I remember feeling that way about so many things that I got a little depressed at times. Boo to depressing wedding planning thoughts. Boo, indeed.

But what if? What if you could decide on the cost versus the value yourself? What if you could assign the value of handmade? The value of indie? The value of good design? The value of working one-on-one with an actual human being?   How much would you pay?

Well, enough what ifs. I think you know where this is going, right? The Thirty-Something Bride is really proud to partner with Up Up Creative Design Studio and Print Shop to bring you an incredible opportunity for all your invitation and paper needs!

For the month of September, Up Up Creative is going to ROCK the wedding world! Julie Green, the creative talent behind Up Up Creative is letting her customers set their own prices for wedding invitations! Can you believe it?

Now, as brilliant as I know all T30SB readers are, I will state the following for clarity: free is not a price. Furthermore, as the caring, socially conscious, indie-designer-supporting creatures that you all are, I know you will take into consideration the expense, time and expertise involved in creating these paper master pieces. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to NAME YOUR PRICE! 1

Up Up Creative is running this pricing experiment for the entire month of September and depending on the results, might even continue the pricing model beyond September. I mean, how freakin’ cool is that? Way cool, that’s how cool.

Think it’s too good to be true? Well, check out just a few of the lovely, modern and wonderful examples of the creative genius that is Up Up Creative as well as her video that explains the process.





So now you know what to do, right? Trot your little self on over to Up Up Creative and start picking out invitations, STAT. You get to start naming your price on Thursday, September 1st (that's the day after tomorrow)! What a great way to start falling into Fall!

Here’s what you do:

  • Go to Up Up Creative and shop around.
  • Choose what you want.
  • Click on the “Name Your Price” button starting Thursday, September 1st (the button won't be there until then!).
  • You’ll be directed to a page explaining the process. You'll see the video and a link to name you own price via PayPal. You can pay via PayPal account, bank draft, or major credit card. Easy peasy!

So you don’t have to leave a comment to partake. You don’t have to follow me on Facebook or Twitter (although, those things would be nice!). All you have to do is shop online. I’m pretty sure y’all know how to do that. If not, I can teach you, real quick like.

So hop to and NAME YOUR PRICE!2 

1 That made me feel a bit like a game show host. No, more like Patty Stanger, “MEET MY MILLIONAIRES!” 

2 Yup. Definitely like Patty.


The Wedding Crest

That thing that I thought was a hang-over yesterday? Not so much. I went from feeling a little oogy in the early morning to feeling like total crap by 9am. Let’s just say that I think something from the July 4th BBQ did NOT agree with me. At. All. I spent the better part of the day on the couch recuperating and hydrating. It was actually kind of nice in a way because it gave me some non-computer time to catch up on the magazines accumulating on my night stand and to pay bills and pretend to balance my checkbook.

I was thumbing through the May issue of Brides and came across a one-page planning article regarding family crests, or more specifically, The Wedding Crest. The magazine described it as a “modern day coat of arms – or a wedding emblem.” The example in the magazine was nice. It was $750 for the design and $678 for 100 thank-you cards so it wasn’t THAT nice. What I thought was super cool was the idea of it.

My maiden family name goes way back in time. I have a copy of our genealogy and to tell you the truth, it’s effing exhausting. I just get completely confused by all the Earls and Dukes and Sussex this and Farthinghamshires that. We’re old. We’re English and we’re a bit royal. But royal is totally misleading because seriously, up until a few weeks ago, our girl Kate was a simple girl from the English countryside. Now she’s destined to be Queen. Keep that in mind.

Now, on my mother’s side of the family, we’re Scots. We know our family tartan, which is kind of cool. My mom and her sisters recently found out that we’re directly related to John C. Calhoun, who was vice-president under John Quincy Adams. This recent finding also places me as one of the decedents of the First Families of Charleston, South Carolina, on both sides of my family. Supposedly, this factoid is important to somebody somewhere. I have yet to reap any benefits from this, so if you know of any stakes or claims that I have there, please let me know.

So back to crests. My maiden family name coat of arms is pretty cool. It’s got four lions and is somewhat regal in nature. My brother has the lions tattooed on his back, that’s how much he likes it. Now, my married family name? I’m not sure of that crest. According to my husband, his family is simply a bunch of European vagabonds. I did a little research though and the family name first shows up in 1269 from Northumberland, wherever the hell that is! The crest is questionable. This does not surprise me in the least!

I went online to check out more of this wedding crest deal. The artist in the magazine is crazy-good invitation guru, Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York. Check out how she did these invites that include a crest:




Of course this is crazy amazing, holy gorgeousness, right? But I don’t think you have to pay a gazillion dollars to have a coat of arms done up right!

There are plenty of on-line sites that offer up a myriad of gift-items to adorn with a crest. They’ve got everything from hand-painted parchment to engraved flasks (Groom gift! Groomsmen gifts! Father of the groom gift!). You can even combine two family crests together. Here some examples of that:




I thought these were pretty stiff looking. Fancy and regal and all that and as a stand alone, I like. But would anyone seriously incorporate these kinds of colors into a wedding scheme? Let’s see an inspiration board for that! What I did find was some cool folks on Etsy who might be able to whip up something pretty hip. Check this guy out:


Etsy shop Inkandar will tailor make your own coat of arms based on a series of questions he asks about who you are, your likes and hobbies and such. This is only $100!  This, I thought was super-fly.

And all those Etsy designers who do wedding monograms? Check out some of their work as you might be able to request a custom piece based on your families history! Search under Handmade and Family Crests and you’ll find all sorts of goodies!

So based on The Candyman’s um, questionable heritage, I think a new design might be in order! What about you? Are you into the family name thing (whether taking his or keeping your own)? Do tell.


Befriend Your Postmaster


What do your invitations look like? Are they crazy-beautiful letterpress? Are they uber-cool designs from an Etsy shop, printed with soy ink on recycled paper? Are they like mine, a DIY kit from Michael's? Whatever your poison, passion or budget allows you to invest in, invitations are just that: an investment. They can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Mine was definitely in the low hundreds and you can see that break down here if you're interested.

I spent a hellalotta time figuring out what wording we wanted. I spent HOURS formatting, reformatting, downloading free fonts, testing fonts and rejecting fonts. I spent more hours printing the actual invites, the RSVP cards, address labels, return address labels and envelopes (additionally, menu cards, programs, wine lists, cake signs, etc). I became one with the varieties of glue dots, spray adhesives and corner punches. The printing and assembly of my invites and other paper goods was probably the most difficult task I undertook in the DIY portion of my wedding so when I hear about invites getting mangled by the US Postal System, I get a little pissed.

My girl Marie is getting married soon, the end of April to be exact. I've loved helping her out where I could (I did her Holiday Save the Dates and her OOT bag design) and I'm just sitting on pins and needles, waiting for her wedding. It's at a gorgeous location, she's got a stunning dress and I just can't wait to see her and her beau get hitched. I got their invitation last week and while it arrived slightly rounded and a little bent, it was gorgeous. However, I got a surprisingly calm call from the bride the day before I got my invite. Marie opened the call with, "I've had my first wedding crisis." and I thought, "Oh no!" and settled myself in for a tale of woe.

So here's what happened:

The day before I got my invite, the bride's parents received approximately 30 of the invites back in their own mailbox, many of them totally mangled. When the FOB took the invites back to the post office to figure out what happened he was told that the invites needed extra postage and that the return address that was positioned on the center back of the invite was a) in the wrong place and b) too large. The invites that were returned to the sender were invites that the USPS (or their machines) basically read backwards, return address as sending address. I am not going to tell you about the horror the FOB had to deal with at the post office and getting these invites sent back out, but I will tell you it included a LARGE, BLACK SHARPIE. *shudder*

So what can we learn about this? What can we take from this experience? Here's my advice

1. Take ALL your invitation parts to the post office and weigh them for correct postage. Make sure to include the ribbon, tissue, everything that's going in that dang envelope.

2. Take a completed invitation to the post office, weigh them compared to the components (just in case) and ask about the THICKNESS of your invite. (Step 1 &2 can be done at the same time). I just happened to do this for my invites on a fluke. The Postmaster saw the completed invite and asked to see it. He told me that the price wouldn't change, but that the bow that was tied inside was creating a large bump. This bump would make it fine through any feed, he explained, but what it would do is make that passage slightly uneven, which could catch on any of the corners of my pocket fold invite and tear the edges, potentially ruining the invite (my pocked fold WAS the invite, no outside envelope). I ended up modifying the bow so that it was a ribbon cross-over with a glue-dotted flower versus the bow that created a smaller bump. This was an easy decision change for me because the simple truth us this: I HATE BOWS. I hate tying them because it takes me at least 47 tries to get it right. 

3. HAND CANCEL you invitations. Do this. Period. DO NOT let the USPS do this to your invites. DO NOT trust the USPS to do this, even if they say they will. Do it yourself. There are too many inconsistencies between Post Offices to know which ones to trust and which ones not to. My suggestion is to go to a small, satellite Post Office versus the big ones. The satellite offices are where I got my best service, advice and consistency in what I was being told. I will say it again: HAND CANCEL your invites. You just paid beau coup dollars on your invites, spent time on wording and formatting and all that crap. Don't flush all that down the crapper by letting the USPS mangle them with their auto-cancel machine-thingy.

4. Be mindful of your return address. The USPS standard for return addresses in the top left hand corner of an envelope. Many of us like to write them on the back. Lots of invitation designs have them on the back because of the large pretty font or calligraphy on the front. Makes sense, right? However, if you choose to have your return address on the back, make sure that it's a significant font size difference (meaning smaller) and at the TOP of the back of your invite, not centered. This will help ensure that the invite gets to the party it was intended for versus right back in your own mailbox.

5. Don't sweat it once they're out. Marie is a calm-planning bride. She's particular, but not fussy. She's planning a kick-ass wedding for a lot of people in less than 6 months (go girl!) and is amazingly serene. THe reality is when it comes to invites you've got three camps:

a. You've got people who will open them and save them as a memento.

b. You've got people you will open, write down the date and then toss the invite.

c. You got people who will open, stick on the fridge as a reminder for the next 6 weeks and then toss.

That's it. That's what will happen to your invites. It's one reason why I refused to spend a lot of money on mine, simply because I know what happens to them in the end. My invites weren't going to be any more special then anyone elses and would end up in the garbage (make sure you keep one for yourself!) eventually. Once the invites are out, that's it. Whether they get mangled in the post or arrive super-pristine, there's just nothing you can do about it. Time to let that particular task go. My friend Marie seems to have taken to the "letting it go" part of wedding planning like a fish to water. Good for her! Can you?

Am I missing anything here? What additional invite advice would brides from days of yore suggest? Got anything to add? Leave a comment if you do!


The Engagement Party

Recently I have gotten a slew of emails from readers with the most intriguing questions and ideas. I so love when y'all write me. I do really enjoy interacting with the people who read this little blog. One reader in particular sent me a question that gave me slight pause on how to answer. Reader Kristine wants to know:

If we are having a wedding with around 100 guests, can we invite people to the engagement party that we don't intend to invite  to the wedding? (childhood friends, parents' friends, etc.) And when it comes to the wedding, how to we handle families? For example, if I invite my childhood best friend, and I want to invite his parents, do I have to invite his college-aged sister also? And does she have to have a plus-one? I don't want to make decisions now that are going to bite us in the butt in 18 months!


Now, down to the nitty-gritty of things. The fact that you're concerned with this means you're thinking ahead (good for you) and have concern and consideration for the multitude of friends and family you'd like to share in your celebration. This means you are a Good Person and everyone here at The Thirty-Something Bride (all three of us, Less Kitty included) really like Good People. However, you will find that being a Good Person means zippo when it comes to wedding stuff. Wedding politics can turn into a very slippery, unhappy slope if you don't set ground rules NOW. And by ground rules, I mean expectations. You probably have an idea of who you want to invite, an image in your mind's eye of what you will look like, the vibe of your day. If not, don't worry - it'll come. Just make sure that these expectations are something that you share with your immediate family and fiancé. This includes who will be in attendance at the plethora of parties that can happen surrounding your nuptials.

The engagement party is traditionally the place where families meet and get to know each other. The engagement party is not a requirement, even by traditional standards. Common sense (and Emily Post) says that you should throw an engagement party 30-90 days after being engaged and at least 6 months before the wedding. Protocol also says that it is indeed very bad form to invite people to the engagement party who you do not plan to invite to the wedding. Look at your engagement party list as you would your invite list. But you can't think about your invite list without thinking about your budget. And you can't think about your budget without first sitting down with all parties involved in the budget contribution. It's like the Circle of Life - all things lead back to The Budget in wedding planning. Always. It's infuriating, so be prepared. If you're paying for the wedding, the guest list is really in your capable hands, with absolute consideration for who all the parents want to invite. Note that I said consideration. If it's a combined financial effort, everyone has a say but keeping in mind that it is you and your fiancé's wedding. If just the parents are paying, the same applies - it's still your gig, but the parental units have more leverage.

"Protocol" also states that a couple shouldn't throw themselves an engagement party - generally it's the parents of the bride or groom who host. This doesn't mean you don't contribute though, particularly when the outcome of who is invited to the engagement party affects who is in attendance on your wedding day. So does that mean that you can't celebrate your engagement with your childhood BFF? No, it does not. The great thing about weddings these days is that you can occasionally flip the big, fat finger at protocol and do what you want.

Ask yourself some questions. Do you really want to have party that celebrates your engagement? Do your respective parents? Would you rather save the money and apply it to your wedding so that you can invite a few extra distant friends? You can throw a small engagement party for family/close friends only - those people you know for sure you want to invite to your wedding. Keep the "maybe" people off that list. If you want a bigger soiree for everyone else, I'd consider just throwing a regular ol' party and invite everyone. Don't call it an engagement party. Have it around a holiday and disguise the party that way: a Groundhog Day Bash, a Memorial Day BBQ, a Fourth of July Fiesta. Keep it casual and flash your new ring as often as possible. Just remember that this will add to your budget woes (if you have them). Even a BBQ can end up costing an arm and a leg if you've got 100+ people there.

As for the college-aged sister of the childhood BFF? No, you do not have to invite her or a plus one. In fact, you don't even have to invite the parents unless you really want them there. You're not throwing a huge wedding - you'll be surprised at how 100 people can add up super-duper fast - keep your invites for the people in your life who are there for you through thick and thin. These are the people you want at your wedding, not the peripherals of people who are related to your rock-steady friends (unless they are spouses of the rock-steady friends). 

Very soon after I was engaged I attended a party for a friend who was releasing a book she wrote. I was definitely planning on inviting her and her husband to our wedding. I also know her parents. At the book signing, her mother congratulated us and said she couldn't wait to see me all dressed up on our wedding day. I think the look on my face said exactly what was in my head: OH MY GOD. I TOTALLY WANT YOU AT THE WEDDING BECAUSE I THINK YOU ARE WONDERFUL, BUT YOU ARE NOT ON OUR GUEST LIST. My friend's mom graciously let me off the hook (Southern women are so classy) but I felt terrible. However, it didn't change the fact that it was her daughter and husband who I would invite and not the parents.

So in case my ramblings are unclear, here is a final synopsis:

Engagement party? Keep it small. No friends of friends or plus ones or anyone you do not plan to invite to the wedding.

Wedding? Inviting a friend does not mean you have to extend an invitation to the friend's entire family. Additionally, plus ones should be reserved for spouses or people who are in a committed relationship, particularly if you're having an intimate wedding.

Sadly though, lots of people don't get this. I didn't get it when I was younger. I actually had the audacity to ask for a plus one once so I could bring a date. I know, I know.  I was so lame. I just didn't get it. I didn't understand anything about weddings. In hindsight though, I think it was probably OK because that couple is now divorced and the groom (my friend) is now living with his male life partner. *Ahem* I think everyone involved probably wants to forget that wedding ever happened at all....

The answer is that there is no solid answer. There is a lot of bending and swaying that you will have to do. You'll be maneuvering around the guest list up until the last minute too - verbal invites a la the groom, distant relatives who think they deserve an invite even though you're closer to your hair stylist than them, people who refuse to RSVP or change their answer every other minute....the invitation thing can be a bear. Hold fast to your wedding intentions, but also be a little flexible - it will save you stress and hair pulling. Choose your battles carefully and with thought.

Having said all this, I'm sure Kristine would welcome any additional advice on her engagement party invitation issues. Discuss....