Monday, September 21, 2009

How to Create a Mail Merge- Printing Your Own Envelopes & Labels

In a few previous blog posts I've referred to doing "a mail merge" when creating your own envelopes or labels. If you've never done a mail merge before, this post is for you! Here's a step by step guide to creating your own printer labels, though this same technique could be used to print directly on envelopes, or even used to print variable data in standard documents as well.

1. Create a spreadsheet using a program like Microsoft Excel. For envelope addressing, I usually like to include columns as follows: 1st line guest (Which could be Mr. & Mrs. Bob Smith, if the names aren't too long and will fit on the line), 2nd line guest (Usually a guest of the person invited who's name you can't fit on the first line. Could also list "& Family for entire families that are invited), Street, Street Cont'd (for apartment numbers, etc), City, State and Zip Code. Granted, you could make the columns to suite your preference, I just find the described method works best for me. When your guest list spreadsheet is completed, save it.

2. Open Microsoft Word. Go to the Mailings Tab and select "Start Mail Merge". When asked what you want to merge, for this example select "Labels".

3. Then select "Select Recipients" and choose "Use Existing List".

4. Using the explorer window, find the spreadsheet you created in Step One and select it.

        5. Select the tab of the spreadsheet you have your guest list on. In most cases it's the first tab.

        6. The cells of the printer label sheet will then auto populate with some data. You want to build the way your address labels will look in the top, left hand cell first. You'll be able to copy this format to other cells later. Put your cursor in the top left hand cell. Then select "Insert Merge Field" and then highlight your first column title.

        7. Repeat Step 6, but include the other column titles. You'll want to insert the column titles as if you were actually laying out the address. For example:

        1st Line Guest
        2nd Line Guest
        Address One
        Address Two
        City, State Zip

        Also be sure if you want the format to have any punctuation, like the coma between City and State, that you manually type that in prior to importing in the State merge field.
        By importing in these titles, what the program will then do is pull the data below those column headers into each individual cell of the label printout sheet (or on the actual envelope if you set it up that way).

        8. Next you'll want to format the fonts and such to your tastes. Do so by selecting all the cells and then making the changes you like. For this example, I'm going to make the font Copperplate Light, center the text and reduce the space between the lines. You do all of this the same way you would editing a standard Microsoft Word Document.

        9. When you have everything formatted the way you like, then select "Update Labels". This will import all the modifications you made to the top left hand cell, and copy it into all the other cells on the merge document.

        10. Then select "Preview Results" to see an example of what your label sheet will look like after you merge it. You want to do this to be sure everything is formatted the way you like and that all the data from your spreadsheet imports correctly.

        11. After you've checked the preview, you can then either select "Finish and Merge" and select the Edit Individual Documents option (which will create a brand new Word Document you can then edit further and print from there) or Print Documents to just go ahead and merge and print in one step. If taking the latter option, be sure you're printer is loaded with your labels (or envelopes if going that route)!

        Learning to use the Mail Merge function in the Microsoft Office Suite takes some getting used to, but once you do it makes life much, much easier. If you have any questions on using the function or if I may have missed something in this tutorial, please feel free to drop me a line.

        Monday, September 14, 2009

        What Determines Stationery Costs? Part 1: Invitation Formats

        If you are planning any type of event and are in the market for invitations, sometimes it can be overwhelming that there are so many to choose from! Your budget and tastes can be determining factors as to the type of invitations that would suit you, your budget and your event best.

        Overall there are several factors that will determine the overall costs of your invitations. They include:
        • The Format of the Invitation
        • The Stock (or paper)
        • The Printing Method
        • The Design (pre-designed or custom)
        Prioritizing what for you is most important, whether it be the printing method of the format of the invitation will ultimately help you stay within your budget. I'll be reviewing all these different factors separately in detail and different posts, but for now let's focus on your invitation format.

        The format of is the actual layout and delivery of the finished invitation. You can find a variety of invitations from single card stock, traditional invitations to really luxurious invitations with multiple card stock layers and ribbons delivered to your guests in silk boxes.

        One quick thing to remember is the more stock (paper and/or other materials) that is needed to produce the invitation, the more expensive it will be. The costs of producing a single stock, 3.5"x5" piece is substantially less than let's say a 5"x7" pocket envelope invitation with multiple inserts because less materials are used to create the finished product.

        Below is a sampling of different format invitation ideas in the marketplace now, listed in the order of how budget friendly they are.

        Traditional Flat Invitation- The most standard size you see in the marketplace is 5"x7" but you can get smaller ones as well. You can have a more modern design that incorporates rounded edges or go with a traditional flat design that has multiple, layered cards for a sophisticated look.

        From top clockwise: cevd custom invitation design, Pearl & Marmalade, Invite Couture.

        Bi-Fold and Tri-Fold Invitations- Very similar to a traditional flat, but the card is folded in a way so you then have a cover and an inside to the invitation.

        From top to bottom: Cheree Berry Papers, Liz Hager Design,
        Lilah Paper.

        Pocket Invitations- Pocket invitations are the more savvy cousin of the traditional invitation. It's basically a traditional invitation, but layered onto a card or envelope with a pocket designed into it. The pocket is perfect for RSVP's and other insertion cards. Because pockets use more paper to create them than standard, traditional flat invitations expect these to be a bit pricier. Pocket invitations are perfect for events where you want to give your guests a lot of information, so you typically see them used more for weddings than anything else.

        From top to bottom: top and middle by Invite Couture, bottom by Gourmet Invitations.

        Box Invitations- Box invitations are probably the most luxurious invitations you can find. They are basically a traditional, flat invitation and insertion cards (sometimes also in a pocket envelope) that are sent to guests presented inside a beautiful box. Boxes can come in a variety of colors or even in fabrics, such as silk.

        Clockwise from left: Lela NY, My Personal Artist, Revelry Invitations.

        Stay tuned for part two of this series, Budgeting Your Event Stationery- The Stock.

        Friday, September 11, 2009

        Top 10 Ways To Improve Your DIY Invites

        1. Don't use the same fonts your job makes you use on emails. Comic Sans is ugly on emails and is just as ugly on your invites. See my previous post on where to find cool fonts and how to download them to avoid having to use boring word processor fonts.
        2. Do incorporate color choices you've made on decorative elements for your party into your invitations. It makes for a cohesive, well planned look.

        3. Do use the internet to find royalty free images and photos to incorporate into your design. A good free source is Flikr's Creative Commons section. For low-cost purchase options iStockphoto is a good choice.

        4. Don't include additional insertion cards for the sake of including them. You're better off editing your wording down to be clear and consise for your guests as opposed to making them read lengthly cards full of information that they can find elsewhere.
        5. If you don't have the best penmanship, ellicit the help of a friend with beautiful handwriting to address your envelopes. Otherwise either print or make labels using the same fonts you designed your invitation with on a mail merge program. Not that this will make or break your invitations it just adds to the overall elegance of what you're presenting.

        6. Don't put glitter or some other item some folks might consider "messy" in your envelopes. You don't want angry OCD guests. If you are creating a box invitation where the glitter/fairydust etc. is contained and won't dump out as easily when opening, that's a different story.

        7. Do consider your envelope when factoring postage. Square envelopes cost more money to mail than standard A7's (5"x7"). Also consider if your invitation has additional embelishments that create a "bump" in the envelope or your envelope is very rigid once you insert the invitation that the invitations will probably have to be hand cancelled at your post office, so don't just drop them in the mailbox.

        8. Do be sure to order extra stock and materials for any errors. It sometimes takes several print runs even on a home inkjet printer to get your margins just right, and having the extra stock available allows you to get it just perfect.

        9. Do remember to proofread! Typos happens to everyone. Nothing's worse than people receiving your invitations to Brian's Birthday party but it's written "Brain's Birthday Party" and you're the only one who's not aware of it.

        10. Do make your invitations have personality. One of the easiest ways to do this is with the wording. Use the internet for inspiration on different phrasing and wording that suits you and your event best and use that to create an invitation that's perfect for you.

        Custom Design Giveaway!

        Got a big event coming up? Need some invitations, announcements or holiday cards? This giveaway is for you!

        Enter to win a custom invitation/announcement/holiday card design from Invite Couture! It includes three original design concepts to choose from plus one hour of revision time and is valued at $200.

        We can then either set up your design so you can print and produce it on your own (so you can go the DIY route) or we would be more than happy to create a quote for you on what it would cost to have us produce the invitations or announcements for you.

        For each of the following items you do, you get an additional entry:

        • Become an Invite Couture Fan on Facebook and leave us a comment about what you would use the design for, example: a birthday invitation.

        • Follow Invite Couture on Twitter and tweet or re-tweet about this giveaway.

        • Subscribe to the Invite Couture Blog and leave a comment on this post letting us know you did. Also let us know what you would use the design for, example: a birthday invitation. Please be sure to include your email address so we can let you know you won.

        • Blog about the Custom Invitation Design Giveaway and link back to this post.

        This contest will only run until midnight Friday, September 18th at which point a winner will be drawn at random, so hurry up and be sure to fan/follow/comment on Invite Couture today!

        Wednesday, September 9, 2009

        Wedding Registry Items for Cramped City Kitchens

        It's been almost a year since my wedding and over a year now since my bridal shower. Initially right before our wedding my husband and my original plan was to move out of the apartment we've been sharing for the past 4 years and move into a new place right after our wedding. A fresh start for our new lives together so we thought. So with that in mind, I left many of our wedding gifts in storage at my parents home, who have plenty of space compared to Mr. Feld and my tiny Brooklyn apartment.

        Fast forward to now, and we're still in the same apartment so I finally started moving all my registry and gift items little by little from my parents home on Long Island over to my apartment. Going though the gifts, there were several items I forgot I registered for which are perfect for our tiny city kitchen. They pack all the convenience of items every foodie would want in their kitchen without taking up a ton of space. Here's a quick sampling of my top picks.

        The Cuisinart Smart Power Duet Blender and Food Processor

        I love this appliance! Not only is it a great quality blender, it also has a scaled down food processor attachment that goes with it. No need to have two appliances. Photo from Bed Bath & Beyond.

        Collapsible Funnel
        I can't tell you how many times I've needed a funnel for random kitchen jobs. This one is great because it folds flat so it stores easily in a kitchen drawer. Photo from Bed Bath & Beyond.
        SleekStor Collapsible Measuring Cups and Spoons
        I only have one drawer in my kitchen, and it previously was taken over by bulky measuring cups and spoons. These as the name says are sleek as well as heat proof, and are a great addition to any tiny kitchen. Photo from Bed Bath & Beyond.

        Dexas POPWare 2.5-Quart Expandable Collapsible Silicone Colanders
        By far these are my favorite kitchen space saver. Colanders are a major space hog in any kitchen never mind a tiny one. These are great in that they fold totally flat to easily fit in your kitchen cabinet. Photo from Bed Bath & Beyond.

        Seville Classics Bamboo Cutting Board with Plastic Inserts
        I can not tell you how convenient this cutting board is. There is a different color plastic insert for each type of food item you prepare (which you should keep separate anyway). So there's a meat insert, a poultry insert, a produce insert, etc. What makes this cutting board great for small kitchens is when you are done cubing your meat, you take that insert and toss it in the sink and then pull out your produce insert and put it on top of the cutting board. The inserts take up no room in the sink at all being they are so thin, and they are also dishwasher safe. Photo from

        Friday, September 4, 2009

        Elegant Casual Beach Wedding Inspiration

        My upcoming trip to Jamaica has my creative juices all flowing and in a way has me second guessing my approach to my own wedding. Don't get me wrong, I had a wedding to die for. It was huge, grand, beautiful and everything most little girls dream of. But all that did come at a price. It was ridiculously time intensive to plan, plus we had so many guests at the wedding my husband and I never really got to enjoy the day. We were constanting running around the entire evening. I love t0 dance and I think I had maybe 5 minutes to dance the entire night (and that's including my first dance!). Knowing this now, there is something very appealing to me and romantic about exchanging your vows in front of only your closest friends and family, surrounded by the beautiful, calming graces of nature on the beach.

        How would things have been different if my husband and I instead had decided on a small, casual wedding in our beloved Jamaica? My tastes have a tendancy to lean more towards elegant yet somewhat modern and sexy. So for my beach wedding I would want it to be in all neutral tones, with all the color in the wedding coming from nature via the beach, ocean, surrounding tropical greenery, etc. I'd also want to incorporate very simple, clean lines and majority of my design elements from natural sources, like sea shells, corral and driftwood.

        Check out my "Elegant Casual Beach Wedding" Inspiration board below and let me know what you think and what you would do for your dream beach wedding. As a fun note I have to say, I LOVE the wedding gown below and might just buy it to wear at a later date (maybe my vow renewals?), it's only $155.00!

        Photo Credits: Reception Photo, Farfalla Wedding; Color Palette, Colour Lovers; Wedding Gown, Dragon Orient; Salt & Pepper Shell Trays, Floral Arrangement and Sea Shell Place Cards, Martha Stewart Weddings; Sea Shell Candles, Wedding Things; Bridesmaid's Dress, Beach Wedding Ideas; Wedding Cake, Pink Cake Box; Sandals in Bucket, Wedding Moo; Groomsmen Photo, Style Me Pretty (photo by Studio Foto)

        Tuesday, September 1, 2009

        Where Did You Honeymoon?

        When planning our honeymoon last year, my husband and I had initially narrowed down our choices to either a European vacation, or something in the Caribbean. After going on a family vacation cruise which stopped in Jamaica, we were instantly hooked. I personally loved the weather. I hate humidity and Jamaica is not humid at all yet very warm and lush. We knew it would be the perfect place to relax and recharge after our crazy huge wedding (photos and blog post of said crazy, televised wedding soon to come). Europe suddenly seemed like it would be too much work. You know, all that sight seeing and all.

        We knew we wanted to do something all-inclusive, so after much research on Trip Advisor we finally settled on Couples Swept Away, which is an all-inclusive, adults only resort in Negril. To make a long story short, let's just say that our honeymoon was one of our favorite vacations ever! The service was great, the food delicious and had so many included activities there was no shortage of things to do. We had the best time.

        Our big, one year anniversary is coming up on October 4th so to celebrate it this year Mr. Feld and I decided we're going to vacation at Couples Swept Away again. I'm so excited!

        Here's a few photos of the resort for all you brides to be deciding on your honeymoon destination. I highly recommend it.

        Where are you planning to honeymoon? Or if already married where did you honeymoon? I'd love to hear.

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