Thursday, October 11, 2012

Project: DIY Western Union Save the Dates

"Do you need to send a Save the Date?" My first reaction was knee-jerk panic. 

In my head, it screamed "too much work."  For me, sending out this announcement meant compiling the guest list WAY ahead of time, coming up with a design that is us and communicates a theme we haven't come up with yet and then mailing it out to our peeps in the States.  

Save the Dates, while they can be intimidating, are actually worth their weight in gold for these reasons:

1) You get an idea of the size of your guest lists.
2) It is a way to announce your engagement.
3) It communicates important information about the event without specifics you don't have.
4) You won't be answering the same questions over and over (ie, Did you pick a date? Where?)
5) Gives friends & family time to plan - especially those out of town or needing to put in for vacation time.

Save the Dates can be as simple as an email to loved ones to customized or store bought invites.  There are several online DIY sites that offer templates for customizing and printing calender Save the Dates or even magnets featuring you, your honey and the date of the upcoming event. 

Searching for the right one got to be a bit overwhelming for me. Picture of us or text? Magnets? Calendars? So, I thought about what needed to be on it:

1) Our names
2) The fact that we were getting married
3) Date
4) Location
5) That we will be getting around to doing invites in the near future

In my opinion, I could put all of this into a Tweet or a Facebook posting.  But I think I would be breaking several rules of wedding etiquette . . . but I did seriously consider it.   And that's when I did a bit of a different search and stumbled upon an idea that merged what we needed to communicate in a short, sweet kind of way -- Western Union telegrams.

DIY Western Union Save the Dates

I found the Western Union StD on a DIY wedding blog site.  While the idea was hatched or perhaps borrowed from another bride, here are the steps and a few tips on our creation process.

What You Need:
  • Yellow or cream colored paper*
  • Kraft colored coin envelopes (preferable with window, measuring 3.5" x 6.5")
  • Paper Cutter
  • Branding stamp
  • Stamp Pad
  • Exacto or sharp-edged utensil (if window-less envelopes)
1)  Download the Western Union template (.pdf) or, for those with Photoshop, click here.

2) Writing the Telegram
I downloaded "CarbonType" from, a free font website. They have several typewriter options.  Or, print out the pdf on paper and actually type them out!

Here are a few tips for the message:
  • The first line of the Western Union telegrams were codes regarding where the message was sent from and how many words. Use this to have fun with the initials, date of birth, home states or even special dates for the bride and groom.
  • People were charged per word, so use them sparingly and to the point. 
    TIP: Our verbiage read, STOPs and all: 
    Breaking news! "Brides name" and "Groom's Name" are getting hitched  STOP
    The wedding is set for (Month, Date & Year spelled out) in (City, State)  STOP
    Details still developing. Formal invitations to follow STOP
    (website) STOP
  • Sometimes telegrams were handwritten by the clerk. Depending on size of your StDs list, writing out the telegram in longhand may be an option. 
3) Print out your StD onto cream or yellow colored paper. 
We used manila drawing paper which is available from most craft or office supply stores. This paper has the texture and feel of the old telegrams and is easy to print on. Card stock doesn't have the time-period feel -- and it is a bit harder to fold for our uses. We used Creatology Manila Drawing Paper from Michaels but Rose Art's from Office Max will work just as well.

NOTE: Make sure you have a document feeder that can handle 9" x 12" for it is not the standard printer size.  If you don't, it may be wise to cut your paper down to 8" (wide)  x 6.5"(high) before printing (view #6 below).

ONE MORE NOTE: If you are putting the address on the telegram, be sure to change it for every telegram. Just saying.

4)  Apply rubber stamps to the telegram.
Mike and I purchased a custom-made stamp of our brand from Stamp-Connection.  We also purchased a "Special Delivery" stamp to add a bit of authenticity to the telegram.  Feel free to come up with your own date or message stamp - such as "Urgent Delivery".  You can use the brand stamp on the envelope, invites and even future DIY wedding projects.

5) Trim the telegram down to 6.5" x 8"
Real Western Union telegrams were eight inches wide and 6.5 inches high. Also, when the StD is properly folded, it should fit into a #63/4 window envelope. 

6) Fold the telegram
Fold the telegram in half vertically. The WU top and address of the recepiant should be showing (Figure 1).  Then fold the right side back just after the last N in Western (Figure 2).

7) Create windows in your envelopes - if necessary
Using card stock or cardboard, cut a rectangle 3.5 inches wide by 1 1/4 high.  Put a spare piece of cardboard in an envelope and use the rectangle as a pattern. Place it about 1/4 inch from the side and about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Carefully cut out the "window".  Don't press to hard for you don't want it to go through the back.  

TIP: We were not able to find window envelopes in kraft paper or to the quantity we needed (about 60).  So, I purchased some coin envelopes via an Etsy shop, where the owner allowed for a custom listing of the amount we needed and opted to make the windows ourselves.

8) Stuff & Seal 
All that is left is to put the telegram in the envelope, seal it closed.  You can also add the stamps to the outside for additional flair or branding.  

The payoff comes when your family and friends mention that they got your "telegram" and not "your save the date" . . .

In regards to the budget, we spent about $5 on the paper, $25 on the envelopes (mostly shipping to Canada) and about $25 on rubber stamps -- so about $55 on 51 StDs.


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