The best thing about having a small, intimate wedding of 25 guests is you can afford to go all out with DIY wedding invitations. Okay, it’s not the best thing (having time to spend with each and every one of your guests is pretty amazing!), but I definitely wouldn’t have been able to have the wedding invitations of my dreams if we had had 100 guests. Hand-calligraphed agate slices paired with handwritten details on handmade kozo paper with gold flecks, all packaged in a jewelry box tied with silk ribbon and a wax seal, meant my sister of Jen Che Designs and I spent many hours making the invitations.
As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen more weddings than the average person, and am constantly surrounded by Pinterest-worthy wedding invitations. A couple of years ago, I saw Tina Multee’s beautiful hand-calligraphed agate slice anniversary invites and fell in love with them. When Sam and I decided to have a small commitment ceremony, I knew immediately that I wanted agate slices for the invitation, but I wasn’t sure if it would fit with the overall theme and concept! Luckily, my amazing wedding planner Elise of Brannan Events came up with an incredible design concept inspired by the beautiful opalescent colors of an oyster that I absolutely loved and knew would work well with gold calligraphy on gray agate slices.
One of the consequences of choosing to do invitations on unconventional materials is higher shipping costs. Fortunately for us, we were able to hand deliver the majority of our invitations. This did mean, however, that we had a hard deadline for some of the invitations. We were heading to Cape Cod to see Sam’s family the week after July 4th and needed to bring the invitations with us, or we would have to mail them.
After I sourced the gorgeous gray agate slices from Brazil, I struggled with what to write on them. There were a lot of details involved in our wedding weekend, and I wanted to convey them all in the invitation, rather than making our guests go to our website. I didn’t want to crowd the slices with too much writing, so I had to figure out a way to include the details in another way. I hated the idea of pairing a beautifully calligraphed agate slice with a details card printed on plain paper, but I didn’t have time to research fancier paper sources or how to print on them.
A few weeks before we left for Cape Cod, I remembered the papermaking set I bought from Share Studios, which included a beginner’s tutorial to papermaking, a gorgeous 11 by 14 mould and deckle and a pound of cooked kozo (mulberry bark) which had been sitting in my fridge for many months by that point. The germ of an idea began to grow in my head as I thought about how cool it would be to have our details card on handmade paper. I knew I needed to modify the mould and deckle to make four sheets of smaller 5 by 6 paper instead of one large 11 by 14 sheet in order to retain the beautiful deckled edges of handmade paper. Luckily Sam pulled through (so handy having a mechanical engineer around, haha!), so I spent the first weekend of July making handmade paper.
I started by sun bleaching the kozo for several days, then I picked the bark out of it, beat it into strands, mixed in gold leaf and started pulling sheets of paper. It took the entire day and part of the next morning, but I ended up with a beautiful stack of white paper with beautiful texture from the strands of kozo and gorgeous flecks of gold in it. My sister added her beautiful calligraphy for “the day before”, “the big day” and “accommodations” and then I used a micron pen and wrote in all of the other details.
Finally, I purchased gray jewelry boxes online to package the invitation in and we used a wax seal and silk ribbon to keep the boxes closed. The wax seal is actually one that I got designed for my business, so it has AC on it (for Alice Che Photography) instead of SA. I didn’t have time to order another one and I love the cherry blossom design that Paper Ocelot designed for me, so I filled in the AC with Sculpey and my sister calligraphed our initials on each wax seal.
So, as you might be able to tell, our DIY wedding invitations were a big labor of love, but I think they were worth every minute! I love that all of our guests have a beautiful keepsake and, more importantly, that we were able to show how much we love and value each and every one of our guests.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my process making my own wedding invitations! If you are looking for something similar, definitely reach out to my sister, Jen Che Designs. I know she would love to do it again!