Hip Ink for the New Year: Looking Forward (and Looking Back)

December 31, 2010 § Leave a comment


That’s really all I can say about 2010.

Although Hip Ink has been around for almost 5 years now, 2010 was the year that I was finally able to give it my full-time attention (read: anytime I’m not looking after the kids!). And it has been immensely rewarding for me – from the clients I’ve worked with, to the other stationers I’ve met (yes, even on Twitter!), my mind is full of possibilities and my heart is full of gratitude.

It wasn’t always easy – nothing worth doing ever is, right? I am busier now than I have ever been in my life. I read a quote the other day that said “being your own boss is great – you get to choose which 18 hours a day you work” – never have I read anything more true! The past few months has been a whirlwind of planning, designing, production…and dreaming. Dreaming about where Hip Ink is going to go and knowing that I can made it a reality by busting my butt – and that is the greatest reward. Even though sometimes my 5 year-old has to amuse himself while mommy takes a nap, or my 21-month old gets a seriously stern talking-to for touching Mommy’s “work stuff”, I know that I am teaching them something valuable about going for it, working hard and having no regrets. Then again, when my 5-year-old was asked by his teacher what I do, he said that Mommy “works downstairs”…*facepalm*

One of the best things I did in 2010 was start this blog! Although, I am consistently amazed that people are reading it, LOL. In 5 months, we’ve had 53 posts and 3200 views, and we’ve been doubling our number of vistors every month. Our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series was really fun and very successful, and we’ve had over 560 views so far of our post on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Wedding Invitations. It’s truly awesome, and I’ll make you a deal – if you keep coming, I’ll keep providing you with my best in 2011.

What else is up my sleeve for 2011? LOTS – some of it is still a secret, some of it…not so much. Here’s a taste though,

In 2011 Hip Ink is:

  • revealing a brand new client meeting area
  • doing even more bridal shows and events
  • offering monthly DIY invitation workshops
  • launching a full social occasion invitation line
  • introducing brand new invitations options (silk boxes, wood invites, letterpress and more)
  • keeping the rest under wraps, for now…

On the The Invitation Blog you’ll see more of our work, we’ll be introducing a “Real Weddings” series, following couples from consultation to wedding day, and we’ll bringing you more of the best information, tips and opinions on everything invitation.

Watch out world, ’cause I’m in it to win it.  I’m ready to kick 2011 right in the you-know-what – 2011, Hip Ink is taking *you* on a roller-coaster ride, so hold on tight!



Day 31: DIY Invitations – Wrap-up and Workshops

December 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

Whew! We’ve made it! Day 31 of our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December!

It has really been an unbelievable challenge, but a lot of fun, and it has been great to see what a fantastic reaction we’ve had to this series. Thanks to everyone who has been following along!

I thought it was only fitting to wrap up DIY week that I post this handy-dandy DIY flowchart which really does sum up the process perfectly – use it on all your DIY projects and save your sanity!

Created by Rachel at Heart of Light

Couldn’t resist sharing that one with everyone 😉

Also, since we’re still talking DIY, I couldn’t resist reminding everyone about Hip Ink‘s upcoming DIY seminars, the first being held on February 26, 2011 from 2-5 pm at the Hip Ink Studio in Burlington, Ontario.

For a limited time, we’ll be offering a special launch rate of $75, which will include a 3-hour workshop at the Hip Ink studios, directed by owner Sarah Spano (that’s me!). You’ll enjoy the company of a small group of fellow brides (a maximum of 6 participants will be accommodated for each workshop), a discussion on all the pertinent topics relating to creating your own wedding invitation, the opportunity to create and assemble a sample invitation, followed by questions and one-on-one consultation with each participant. Of course, you’ll have a chance to view our selection of papers, tools and supplies, and you’ll be treated to yummy refreshments and a take-home guide packed with all the tips and tricks you’ve learned. Best of all, you’ll receive a special discount on any and all supplies you purchase!

DIY invites can be fun and rewarding, but there can be pitfalls along the way, and what often begins as a way to save money can end up just the opposite. Mistakes are costly, both in time and money, and there are few local resources which can compete with our paper selection and prices.

Think of your $75 investment as “invitation insurance”. You’ll leave with the confidence and know-how to create your very own invitation masterpiece to dazzle your friends and family.

If you are interested in attending one of our workshops, drop us a line at workshop@hipink.com.

Want to attend one of our DIY invitation workshops absolutely free? Lucky you – we’ll be giving away one spot each at Mix, Mingle, Marry on January 16th at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto and the Burlington Oakville Bridal Show, January 29th and 30th at the Burlington Convention Centre. Come visit us for your chance to win!

Day 30: DIY Invitations – Hip Ink’s Top 10 Tips

December 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wow! Day 30…can hardly believe it’s been almost a whole month of 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December already. In fact, I can hardly believe that 2010 is almost over already!

At the end of the year, we are often forced to endure a truly ridiculous number of  “Best of” and “Top 10” lists – you know the kind I mean: “Best Invitation Blog of the Year”, “50 Fantastic Mullets of 2010”, “Top 10 Embarrassing Celebrity Flatulence Moments” etc. and I don’t want to miss out!

As we wind down our week of talking DIY invitations, I wanted to post something that brings together 10 of my best tips for do-it-yourself invitations – some of them we may have already discussed, some might be new, but all are guaranteed to help you make your DIY project a success!

So without further ado:

Hip Ink‘s Top 10 List of DIY Tips

1. Start Early.
Without a doubt, it will take longer than you think. Way longer. At least twice as long, probably three times as long, maybe four times as long…you get the idea. Don’t believe me – use our friend Google and do a search for DIY invitation experience and just read other people’s stories. I wouldn’t lie to you – start as early as you can!

2. Plan Ahead.
Fail to plan, plan to fail. It is so important to make sure you plan ahead with every aspect of your DIY invitations. Make sure that the design of your dreams is doable, affordable and within your skill-set (or that of your faithful helpers!).

3. Start With The Envelope.
Yes, I’m not kidding. Work backwards from the size of your envelope when planning your design, to ensure that when you’re done, it will actually fit in a standard sized envelope. Sounds like common sense, but really easy to overlook.

4. Test, Test, Test.
Make samples. Make more samples. Print everything out before you finalize your design. Practice putting everything together to make sure it actually works. Make sure you put it in the envelope and make sure it all fits. Seriously.

5. Get the Right Materials.
Pay attention to the kinds of materials you need to get the look you’re after. Want a rich-feeling single panel invite? You need at least 110 lb cotton paper – 80 lb won’t do. No idea what I’m going on about? My point exactly. Make sure you do your research on exactly what kinds of papers, envelopes, embellishments etc. you are going to need.

6. Get the Right Tools.
No, you can’t use a glue stick to put together your invites (they will fall apart). No, you probably don’t want to cut them out with scissors (a paper cutter is so much easier and more accurate). Printing on metallic paper? You probably don’t want to use an ink jet printer (laser is way better for metallics). The right tools can make or break your project, so make sure you know exactly what you need for your particular type of invitation.

7. Ask for Help.
Need help with something? Design? Printing? Assembly? Ask for it. Don’t be shy – find someone who knows what you need to know, or can do what you need to do, and ask them for help. The worst they can say is no, but the best case scenario is you save yourself a huge amount of time and headaches.

8. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread.
Did I mention you should proofread? Yes, you seriously need to. Lots. A lovely invitation becomes sort of pointless if you spell your future husband’s name wrong, or include the wrong address for your wedding reception. Check it. Check it again. Get someone else to check it. Then…check it.

9. Proper Postage.
You worked hard on your invitations, right? You’d probably be unhappy if they all got returned to you, yes? Then make sure you take one full invitation to the post office *before* you buy your postage to make sure there are no last-minute surprises. In fact, take one of your full completed samples with you the the post office before you even begin your invitation project so you can make sure you’re not blowing the budget on extra postage.

10. Send Yourself an Invitation.
And while you are at the post office with your sample invite – send it to yourself. When you receive your invitation in the mail it will give you a good idea of how it will arrive – if, after the short trip from your local post office to your house, something drastic is wrong, try again. If is still arrives in poor condition, you may need to consider altering your design or using a double envelope etc.

*sigh* Only one more day to go…kinda sad actually. Will you miss our daily posts? Me too…

But I’ve got a good one for tomorrow, especially for our local Southern Ontario/GTA brides. Don’t miss it!




We interrupt 31 Days of Blogging for…

December 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

A very quick annoucement 😉

For those who follow lots of delicious wedding (or other!) blogs like I do, I just found about a very cool online tool to help you keep up!

It’s called Blog Lovin’, and you just type in the name of the blog you want to follow and it’ll alert you to any new posts – awesome!

And of course, you can follow my blog with bloglovin…just sayin’ 😉



Day 29: DIY Invitations – Do-it-Yourself Calligraphy

December 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last week in our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December we talked about wedding invitation trends for 2011, and one of the hottest is calligraphy.

Calligraphy is a serious art form, and makes a gorgeous first impression on your guests when they receive their invitation envelope with the beautiful lettering. I have the utmost respect for calligraphers, because I sadly do not possess the steady hand that calligraphy definitely requires.

Just like custom invitation designers, I believe the calligraphers are worth every penny for the amazing work they do. Some of the scripts that I’ve seen lately are just unreal, ranging from super formal and traditional to hip, funky and modern.

But, today, we’re talking DIY right? And understanding that not everyone has $2-3 per envelope to spend on calligraphy, I’ve got some ideas to share with you for DIY calligraphy to spiff up your envelopes!

The first option is, of course, literally doing it yourself.  Get yourself some calligraphy pens, maybe buy a book or two on calligraphy and get to work practising your lettering. In reality, unless you have amazing handwriting skills already, it will take you a while to practice and develop your own style of script to the point that you would want to address your own invitations. But, the upside is that it is a pretty cool skill to learn and one you can definitely re-use!

Another option is something a little different, but a really smart idea (wish I thought of it!). The basic premise is to pick a font you like in a calligraphy-type script style (maybe something like Sloop, Bickham Script, Burgues, Feel Script etc.) and print out the addresses on your envelope in an extremely light shade close to your envelope colour. Then, grab your pen of choice (it doesn’t need to be a calligraphy pen, but should have a very fine point) and trace over the lettering. Voilà! You’ve got faux-ligraphy! Is it the same as real hand calligraphy? Of course not! But it is still a pretty cool option if you want the general look without the expense.

Again, Google is your friend here if you are considering either of these options, but you can see step-by-step instructions and photos of the “faux-ligraphy” idea on the Weddings & Cookies blog.

Now, it might just be time for me to go out and get some calligraphy pens 😉

Day 28: DIY Invitations – Design Tips and Resources

December 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Woo! We’re in the DIY groove – only a few more days of our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series to go!

Today we focus on a very important but sometimes overlooked aspect of DIY invites – the design/layout/typography/graphics of the invitation.

It seems like many brides will spend time agonizing over exactly which papers and embellishments to use, and then casually whip off some text on Microsoft Word and call it a day. You probably know by now that I’m always honest, and I’ll tell you honestly that no amount of sparkly paper, adorable twine or glittery crystals is going to take away from an ugly invitation. Period.

In fact, I would say that what makes an invitation the most easily recognizable as DIY, for me anyway, is the layout and typography (ie. the fonts/lettering chosen and how it is spaced out on the page).

But, you aren’t a designer, so how do you avoid having your invite scream DIY (and not in the good way)? Never fear…help is here.

Tip #1: KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly!)
Avoid the temptation to go overboard with “design” – stick to one or two fonts, one graphic, one or two colours and lots and lots of white space. Check out invitations created by designers you like and notice how they are laid out, the style of type etc. (but resist the temptation to copy, pleasethat’s never cool).

Tip #2: Know your fonts
There are literally thousands of fonts out there, and it can be tempting to fire up your computer and pick the craziest one in there, but don’t do it. Stick to tried and true classic fonts – for example, every computer will have Times New Roman, Georgia or Palatino (or Arial or Tahoma for a more modern look), and these are all common but perfectly acceptable fonts. If you really love me though, don’t use the truly hideous Comic Sans, please and thank you. If you are feeling adventurous, there are many sites where you can download free fonts, but again, choose something simple. If you are combining fonts, make sure you choose fonts which are drastically different, contrast is best – for example, a standard text font with a script. I could probably write an entire post about this, but someone already has – for great advice,  check out 10 Rules for Type in Invitations.

Tip #3: Go easy on the graphics
When it comes to graphics, one is usually enough. Pick something that fits your theme or that you really like, and repeat throughout your invitation suite and day-of wedding stationery – an easy way to personalize your invitations. There are a number of free clipart sites out there, but to be honest I find the quality can be pretty low in most cases (one of those “you get what you pay for” sort of deals). A really great idea is to use a rubber stamp, rather than print your graphic directly on your invite. There are about a gazillion options of gorgeous rubber stamps out there, and they are fairly inexpensive.

Tip #4: Be careful with colour
What you see on screen is generally not what comes out of your printer. If you are trying to match a printed colour to the paper you are using, it can be a very difficult and time-consuming process. Again, this is a situation where using a rubber stamp can be beneficial – with stamp pads, what you see is what you get when it comes to colour. Consider just printing your text in black, charcoal or a similar dark colour and adding colour in another way.

Tip #5: Get professional help
If you are really stuck, get professional help. Pay a designer to do just the layout of your invite (great if you know someone who is a designer or can find a student), or check out some of the free and paid invitation template sites out there. Some that I’ve checked out and seem cool – Download & Print (many templates are free), One Heart Weddings (not free, but worth the fee) and Uniquity (also fee-based). Using a template can take a lot of the guesswork out of creating your own invitations.

An extra tip for you, if you are designing from scratch – if you can, avoid using MS Word. I love Microsoft, really (please don’t sue me Bill Gates), but Word was not meant for wedding invitations. It has very poor layout functionality, among other deficiencies when it comes to design. If you have time, consider downloading a free trial of Adobe Illustrator – it can be challenging, but there are lots of tutorials out there to help you learn the basics you need to know to create an invitation.

Happy designing y’all!




Day 27: DIY Invitations – Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

December 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ok, so it may sound harsh, but it’s true – fail to plan and you might as well plan to fail.

Today on our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December DIYapalooza, we’re talking about how to plan you DIY invitation project, to give yourself the best chance of avoiding disaster (or a padded room).

So, you’ve decided to DIY – you have a zillion photos downloaded, pages bookmarked, ideas swirling around in your head and now you are ready to go.

So, you start off by…um…what?

Well, most people either start with the paper or the design – bad move my DIY friends. You need to start off with the PLAN.

First, you need a dose of realism…how much time do you have? How much talent/experience do you have? How much help do you have? How much money do you have? You seriously need to consider these issues when trying to decide on a design for your wedding invitations. If your budget is $100 for 100 invitations and you have a weekend to get them done, then you aren’t going to be sending your guests pocketfold invitations with six inserts. If you have a very small budget, you need to think simple – DIY does save you money (technically), but it doesn’t suddenly made a $12 invitation a $2 invitation. Not very crafty – again, keep it simple, simple, simple. Pressed for time – DIY is basically a trade off – your time for your money, so you better have one or the other. No one to help – time to scale back, because it is really difficult to go it alone with a complicated project.

So, you need to plan a design that fits your situation – not just your desires. Fail to consider the above and you run the very real risk of being six weeks out and not having invitations completed to send to your guests, going way over-budget, or not sleeping for two weeks (which I guarantee is something you should wait to experience ’till you have a baby!).

So now you’ve considered carefully, you’ve planned, and now it is time to design. Before you run off to the paper store, this is the most important thing you need to know:


Yes, you heard correctly…envelopes. Probably not the most exciting part of the design for most people, but it is extremely important you start with your envelope. Why? Allow me to elucidate…

Envelopes come in specific standard sizes. That’s it and that’s all folks. Paper can be cut to any bizarre size you like, no worries there. Design any kind of wacky sized paper layering you want – but – make sure it fits in a standard envelope. The last thing you want is to design a 7″x8″ invitation and the only envelope you can get is 9″x12″. Nothing says “homemade” like an invitation that is swimming in the envelope (or one that requires a vice grip to remove from the envelope). Extra important if you want a particular snazzy kind of envelope (let’s say vellum, or cardstock, or string/button closure etc.), as they come in even more limited sizes. Need a particular colour envelope – again, better check and make sure you can get the size and colour combination you’re after, before you start designing and assembling.

So, you’ve got your envelope figured out – now what? Now you have permission to go wild with all kinds of crazy design ideas…BUT…

Samples, samples, samples, test, test, test. Before you go out and invest in tons of paper and embellishments etc., make sure your design is going to work. Do a mock-up, or two (or three, or…) and make sure it is exactly what you want. Send it to yourself in the mail and make sure it arrives looking the way you want it to. Check and double-check that you can get the quantity you need of the components of your invitation (and at a reasonable price) – some things are only available in very small or very large runs. Make sure you know exactly what tools you need, what kind of adhesive will work best, how to put your invitation together – all of this is stuff you definitely need to figure out before you jump in to printing and assembling.

And speaking of printing, make sure you have enough ink for your printer, make sure your printer will print on the paper you’ve chosen and at the size you’ve chosen, make sure…well, you get the idea.

Believe me, there are no good surprises when you are creating invitations 😉



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