Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to Buy Paper

Shannon (I think. The bar is getting to me.) commented that the purchasing of paper is what freaks her out about DIY invites.  This was my favorite part, although I made it more complicated than I had to, so I figured I would write in a little more detail. 

I originally wanted to use an online printing company to print our invites for us, but after ordering a number of samples, I was disappointed.  The online printing companies I found all used very "high gloss" techniques and didn't deliver a nice matte finish like I wanted.  (Note: when it comes to this part of the invite process, I means I. I doesn't mean "we". I means "I micromanaged and obsessed." I'm not proud of it, but this was the thing that I cared about more than anything else.)

I ordered samples from and almost went with them but ultimately didn't because they didn't have a recycled paper option and if we were going to order the paper ourselves, it was cheaper to get them printed locally. 

I looked into several places for paper, but would up getting samples from only one -  I almost went with which has a wide variety of eco-friendly paper and uses renewable energy but I felt daunted by their selection and couldn't find a flat recycled navy cardstock to use as a backer.  Plus, Paper and More had flat rate shipping, which was very important to me. lets you purchase individual sheets of cardstock so that you can test run them through a printer.  I ordered 3-4 types of cardstock and ultimately decided on the Recycled Bright White Cardstock for the invites. I used the recycled cardstock for the backing, and sold out my environmental side to my aesthetic side and ordered regular cardstock (which turned out to be 30% postconsumer recycled just like the other papers anyway) for use with our table numbers, place cards and other wedding related projects. 

There are a few things you should understand before you go and order paper.  I'm not a paper expert, but this is what we found:
80# pound cardstock was easy to run through a printer but still had a good heft to it
100# pound cardstock was difficult to use with a cricut and probably would have been even more difficult to fold. 
A linen finish means the paper has a texture to it in kind of a fabric-y/crosshatch pattern.  Smooth means the paper does not have texture to it. 
You should make sure you have extra paper in case Staples prints 25 sheets of your rehearsal dinner invites, instead of the 10 they asked you to.  (Did I not mention this in my I hate Staples post?  No, we didn't get money back or new paper. I hate Staples.) 

I obsessed over the paper because I was unreasonably concerned about our invites looking like a cheap craft project.  Our invitations will be people's first view of the wedding and  I didn't want to look cheap, or boring, which is why I didn't just order lovely plain invitations.  I was afraid that cheap looking invites (which I have never received) would say, "we will serve lousy food but still expect gifts."*  I wanted our invites to be creative and quirky, but still classy.*  If you are also unreasonably concerned about this, I think that the most important thing is to pick the right paper. The easiest way to pick the right paper is to order samples and test print - which means start your paper search at least 2-3 months in advance of your invite printing and assembly process. 

*Nobody I know would think this. I don't like people that think this. Hence the unreasonable concern. Regardless.
**I'm none of these things.  Isn't it funny how weddings make us want to be totally different people?


  1. We went through a similar process as you. We ordered samples from a few places (Blue Dot Paper Shop, which is now shutting down; Paper and More, and Paper Source). We test printed on all of the paper we liked so we could see what our design looked like with each type. We actually almost went with the recycled linen paper from Paper and More that you used, but ended up liking the pre-cut recycled card stock from Paper Source. I'm with you--when doing DIY invites, the paper is important because you still want it to LOOK like it was professionally done.

    Can't wait to see how your's turned out!

  2. Another post filed away for when we finally get around to DIY invited time. Thanks for all the advice!

  3. We used recycled cardstock from Paper and More for our wedding. I really had a great experience with the paper and the company. I am glad that they have added more color choices in their recycled line because it was limited before. Just like everything else. . . your starting materials make a huge impact on your finished product!

  4. I think this is the one thing that makes me wish we did traditional invites as opposed to the postcards. Our postcards are lovely and they were free, but pretty paper is so fun.

  5. For our DIY letterpress invites, we went with Crane & Co's Lettra paper, which was beautiful. The thicker paper we used might not be awesome if using a printer, but the thinner paper is just as beautiful. We also ordered the samples in advance (months, like you) and it was def worth it. It gave us the opportunity to practice on a few also, before we started with the "real" paper. I think they turned out beautifully.

  6. Thanks so much for all these tips! I'm thinking of following your lead and using the 80lb recycled linen -- but no backing. Do you think the paper is heavy enough sans backing? Also -- just curious, what did you like better aesthetically about the regular cardstock (for your other paper products)?

  7. intimidated me, but I feel ok about paper source and Thanks for the heads up on the 80# pound vs. the 100#.

    I need to just break down and order samples, play with it a bit. I found Cards and pockets website very helpful.

    I was really disappointed in our engagement announcement postcards because of the high gloss finish you mentioned when ordering them online.