How I Made My Wedding Invitations for under $150 {for a big wedding}

 

 

How I Made My Wedding Invitations for under $150 {for a big wedding} // Cue to Cue Mama

 

How I Made My Wedding Invitations for under $150 {for a big wedding}

 

I am a major fan of DIYing it in general. If there’s a way that I can figure out how to do it myself — I do it. Mostly because I like the challenge of it. However, as much as Pinterest would like you to believe it, DIYing is not always the most cost effective route.

When it came to our wedding invitations, I knew early on that I wanted to create them myself. At first I had the ornate vision of making my own pocketfold invitations, but then I realized the amount of work it would take (without any help), and with the amount of change and transition I’ve had in my life recently, I just wasn’t willing to do it.

So, then I thought of the graphic design/printable route. I scoured Etsy and found things that I liked but didn’t love (and don’t get me wrong, I think there’s way too much pressure on perfect when it comes to weddings. People, these invitations will get thrown away — stop looking for perfect).

However, I still wanted them to reflect us, and nothing quite made that cut. So, designing them myself was it. If I was gonna design them, I had to find a printer and frankly, it needed to take little to no effort (yep, sorry…wedding invitations have a purpose, but they don’t need to take up hours of my time, thank you very much). That being said, Vistaprint it is. I know, some people have their aversions to Vistaprint, but I’ve only had good experiences with them and they ALWAYS have coupons!

Side note: I’m having a big wedding (150ish or more). Don’t really know how it happened, but it’s happening, so trying to afford anything, including invitations for a wedding of over 100 people, is daunting. Sure, those wedding invitation sites look nice but they also cost you nearly $500. They may be practical for under 100 people, but certainly not for over…at least in my little budget-conscious world.

 

#1 Sign up for Cash Back & Instant Coupon Sites

 

First off, before you start making any purchases online, sign up for Ebates and Honey. (And  Swagbucks while you’re at it). Ebates & Swagbucks give you cash back for purchases (and they both had deals with Vistaprint) and Honey…oh Honey…my favorite plugin…EVER. Honey looks for coupon codes upon checkout on most sites — and this plugin ALWAYS finds me great coupon codes for Vistaprint (I got my Save the Dates printed for half off & it took nearly $40 off of my wedding invitations/RSVPs).

Now, that you’re all set up with those sites, it’s time to design your invite. This may seem intimidating. So, here’s my process (and I am NO graphic designer).

 

#2 Create a Pinterest Board

 

This is especially true for the non-graphic designer. Pinterest can be overwhelming, so I say go in searching for colors/themes, then you can start breaking it down to practicality. What info do you for sure need to share with your guests? What kind of look/theme do you want (color or theme like “starry night” or “rustic vintage.” I’m telling you, whatever keywords you can think of, there’s probably someone on Pinterest who has too. Once you have a hefty board, start deleting any invitations that don’t serve the exact purpose you need.

 

#3 Search for Fonts/Clip Art

 

I love doing this. In fact, if I’m not careful, it can turn into quite the rabbit hole for me. My favorite place to find Clip Art is on Etsy. Some of my favorite sellers are:

As far as fonts go, you can use free fonts on sites like

Font Squirrel 

1001 Fonts

Da Font

Fontspace

But I am a font fanatic, so I follow Hungry JPEG which has a ton of fonts that affordable (sometimes even free) and they offer monthly bundles that usually offer several great fonts. Plus, they always have great clip art and crafting resources too.

 

#4 Design on a Site like PicMonkey

 

I love Picmonkey. I’ve used Adobe Illustrator, Power Point, and Word to make invitations and printables in the past, but I love Picmonkey. They offer so much (even with the free version) and if you decide to upgrade to the royale version (which is super cheap – $3/month, paid annually), they offer an even more extensive font selection AND you can toggle between their fonts and your own too! They also have great backgrounds, clip art images, and filters. There is so much you can do. Just go to Design, then choose the size you want (most invitations are 5×7) and now PLAY. For my RSVPs, I made a 4×6 postcard. To make that on Picmonkey, just go to Design, Custom Size, and then enter 1200 x 1800 pixels. And if you want to make a different size, use this easy peasy calculator. Make sure to change the DPI setting to 300 DPI (that’ll ensure you get a high quality image).

 

#5 Submit to a Printer like Vistaprint

 

So, for my invites — to cut down on waste (and price!), I decided to do two sided printing. Front side the invitation portion, the backside with Details (including reception venue info and website).

How I Made My Wedding Invitations for under $150 {for a big wedding} // Cue to Cue Mama

 

Then, I made the RSVP as a postcard (no extra envelopes!) I thought about going completely online RSVP, but I know several members of my family who wouldn’t do it/like it, so I figured I’d go the “let’s do both” route.

 

How I Made My Wedding Invitations for under $150 {for a big wedding} // Cue to Cue Mama

 

I created a jotform (I was going to use a Google Form, but I hated that I couldn’t create a custom link) and I earned more submissions (free accounts only get 10 submissions/month) by following Jotform on FB, Twitter, via email. That way, I can keep it free!

And after adding everything to Vistaprint and using Honey to find my coupon code, this is my grand total (and yes, it comes with 100 free 5×7 envelopes):

How I Made My Wedding Invitations for under $150 {for a big wedding} // Cue to Cue Mama

And there ya have it! What kind of tips and tricks did you use to save some cash on your wedding? Let me know in the comments below!

Amanda

3.5 Ways to Plan a Disney World Vacation

I have total Disney fever. Ever since we went on Z’s first trip to Disney World for her birthday, I have been planning to go back. I have gained a ton of knowledge about different ins and outs of planning a DW vacation, and figured it was time to share it! Planning a DW vacation can be extremely overwhelming, but it is not impossible. Here’s a few ways you can plan:

3.5 Ways to Plan a Disney World Vacation

  • Plan the conventional way. You can go through a a Disney travel planner (Small World Vacations is fantastic! We had Beth as our planner) or through Disney World’s website. This way you will stay on Disney property, be able to choose to have a dining plan (or not), and have access to things like Extra Magic Hours, Advance Dining Reservations (you can make them 6 months in advance), and Disney transportation. I really like going this route because I love for my vacations to feel all-inclusive. However, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to build up a savings for it (which is what I had to do), this won’t be the most cost-effective way to do it. However, you can put a $200 deposit down on it (the minimum required) and then just pay throughout the year up to 45 days before your vacation, which is when it must be paid in full.
  • Rent through a DVC rental site. This is a great way to get villas and high-priced rooms on Disney property at nearly half the price (sometimes even more). DVC stands for Disney Vacation Club. It’s basically a time-share type opportunity for members who can afford that sort of thing. DVC members will then rent their rooms out during the year at various rates (depending on season). They use a point system, and the DVC Rental Store offers a great point calculator which helps see how much it will cost for the time you’re wanting to visit. Another awesome part is you can still get all the benefits of staying on Disney property: Extra Magic Hours, ADRs, Dining Plan, and Disney transportation. If you decide to go this route, I suggest you go through the aforementioned DVC Rental Store. They are the only site I’ve found that doesn’t charge you for checking availability. Every other site I’ve seen charges up to $98 just to check availability (Crazy, I know…) Once they check availability, they have a representative contact you with cost, deposit requirements, and availability. The deposit is higher for these rentals (usually 50% of the total cost of the room), but again, you can usually get into great hotels like the Contemporary, Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Villas, and The Grand Floridian for HALF the price you would pay if booking the “conventional” way.
  • Rent a hotel/vacation rental off property. So, I’ve gotten to Disney World 3 times in my life. Twice I stayed on property, and once I stayed off in a rented condo. And it was great. The perks of staying off property are price (of course), you usually get a full kitchen so you can prepare your own food, and they are more spacious. You can also find Disney/Universal themed vacation rentals, which is the best of both worlds! Not having to pay the Disney price tag, but still getting some of the magic. This also gives you the opportunity to split costs with vacation buddies or another family, making it even cheaper. And while you don’t have access to the perks of staying on property, the amount of money you can save could be well worth it. Here’s a few links to get you started: Story Time Orlando RentalAll Star Vacation HomesVRBOMagical MemoriesLuxury Disney Vacation Homes.
  • And here’s .5, Shades of GreenThe reason I consider this a “.5” is because Shades of Green is only available to Active Duty Military, Military Retirees, and some DoD employees. They offer standard rooms and suites at very reasonable rates, and even can get you discounted theme park tickets. I’m still unsure if you can get the dining plan when staying here, Anyone know the answer to that? I’ll update when I confirm. Also, here’s the eligibility requirements. You will have to provide proof of your (or your spouses/relatives) service.

There are a TON of resources out there to help you plan your vacation. Even if you save change for 6 years before you go, it’s something that, for my family at least, was so worth it. Anyone have any other ways to planning a great Disney vacation?

10 Tips for a Laid-Back (and insanely fun) Disney World Vacation!

LaidbackDW

It’s no joke when I say that my little family unit is extremely laid-back (E & Z are high energy, but still very laid-back…believe me, it’s possible). We recently came back from a Disney World vacation which was an epic, incredible, magical time. I’m not exaggerating when I say I have been planning and saving for this for years, so to finally be able to do it was a huge reward. Plus, we celebrated Z’s 6th birthday down there which is just an event in itself. Anyway, I saw tons of families that looked…well, they looked miserable. And I just kept thinking, “Why the hell are you spending so much money to come and be miserable?” Some people looked like they were practically being tortured, and that just seemed so….avoidable to me.

So, here are some tips from my laid-back family to yours:

10. If you can save for/afford it, get a dining plan. I did tons of research before our trip, and there was a pretty big debate on whether or not the dining plan was worth it. For me, a person that is constantly thinking and planning, I can easily get overwhelmed with numbers and plans. So, the more “all-inclusive” my vacation is, the better. To just have to worry about the tip, and picking the restaurants, was pure gold for me and my over-thinking brain. And to really maximize our plan, we tried to get the priciest stuff on the menus. Don’t get me wrong, Disney can still be phenomenal without the dining plan, but for me, it’s a little extra luxury that I will always try and attach to our trips.

9. Chill the hell out. I mean this in more ways than one. If you feel your family getting irritable or tired, take a break. Whether it’s getting some lunch, a snack, going through Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean (which usually have a fairly short wait time compared to the rest of the rides), allow yourself to just relax. I can’t tell you how many breakdowns I saw…overly exhausted kids (and parents) trying to push through to try and do everything. It’s not worth it. Every afternoon, we’d go back to our hotel room, rest, go to the pool, take a nap, and head back to the parks at night. Some people might see this as a waste of money since we’re not in the parks every second of our trip, but I would much rather be rested and enjoy myself, then to be exhausted and overly emotional so I end up hating my life by the end of the day.  Plus, I saw way too many people being grumpy and know that if they would have just gotten a cat-nap in, they would have been in much better spirits. I feel like I fully maximized my Disney experience because I genuinely enjoyed every second of it.

8. Be kind. This goes along with #9, but you wouldn’t believe how many rude people I saw. At one point, they were closing off access to Cinderella’s castle for a parade, and a lady with a walker was furious and started yelling at the Cast Member and ramming her walker into the rope (no joke). These Cast Members have to deal with extreme weather, tons of people, crazy happenings, while having to maintain an absolute perfect attitude, BE NICE TO THEM. Also, be kind to other guests: move out of the way if you need to stop, teach your kids to be kind and thoughtful of the other people in line (show by example), be thoughtful about where you sit/stand during parades and such. It should go without saying, but just be nice and courteous.

7. Stop trying to do everything. You will NEVER fit in absolutely everything you want to do in one trip…well, unless you get to have a 3 week trip…which would be AH-MAZING! But if you’re like us lowly poor folk, you usually only have 5-10 days (at most) to fit everything in. Again, you will never be able to do it all, so stop trying. When we go back for our second family trip, I definitely want to spend a little more time in Epcot and Animal Kingdom, but we all were so enthralled with Magic Kingdom that we left every other park early to go back to it, and I don’t regret a single second of it. Have something planned, but then go with the flow.

6. Learn the FastPass game. The longest I remember waiting is 15 minutes. At the beginning of June. In Disney World. All because we figured out how to play the FastPass game. And you can reserve passes 30-60 days out (depending on whether you’re staying on property or not), so DO IT. Completely worth it. (Here’s a definition of what FastPasses are).

5. FOOD! Try a pork shank from Gaston’s Tavern or an Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow Inn (both in Magic Kingdom). Also, we really loved Columbia Harbour House because it had tons of seating (sometimes hard to come by at QS restaurants). I was dying to go to Be Our Guest, but unfortunately couldn’t get in for dinner, but they opened up for breakfast a couple of months before our trip. Let’s just say, they haven’t mastered breakfast, but the atmosphere is incredible, and made this HUGE Beauty and the Beast fan’s heart jump with joy.

4. Find your family’s rhythm. This kind of goes along with #7. In all my pre-trip research, I read things like “Always get to the park at least 2 hours before opening.” And believe me, my family tried, but I quickly found that we just needed to find our own rhythm. I’m an early riser (like up by 6am most days), but E & Z are night owls and need a solid 20 minutes to wake up (and be pleasant…okay, E is almost always pleasant…Z is a different story). Needless to say, we only made it to MK before park opening once, and it was because we had breakfast reservations at Cinderella’s Castle. I will say, walking through the park with no one around is incredible, so I’m glad it happened, but for our family, it’s not necessary every day. To each their own.

3. Get your kids to start a DW savings (if you don’t have kids, you start one). One of my favorite parts of leading up to Disney World was seeing Z so excited about saving. She saved a whopping $41 (I know, it didn’t get her much of anything, but she was 5 at the time, so $40 was a big deal). She shocked me quite a bit with how much focus she placed on saving and then how careful she was with her money once we were down there. It was a big learning experience, and I loved watching her mature in that way.

2. Be flexible. It feels like I’ve said this a few times in different ways, but it’s really one of the key pieces to why my family never fought, we always enjoyed each other, and we got the most of the trip for us. The day we went to Hollywood Studios, it was a Star Wars Weekend, so it was insanely crowded, and we weren’t huge fans of the park to begin with. We were supposed to have lunch at Hollywood & Vine, but realized pretty quickly that we just wanted to go back to MK. So, I called, switched our reservation (and they were gracious enough to not charge me the cancellation fees since we were celebrating Zo’s birthday. Little disclaimer: don’t expect them to do this for you. Just be appreciative if they do)! There were a few other times I needed to have a flexible attitude (Particularly with Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique…sigh…), but by being flexible, we all were just able to enjoy moment to moment.

1. Just buy into it. Disney World is going to be super lame if you don’t just invest in the magical nature of things. Yes, things are over the top…yes, the Cast Members and Characters have to practically be perfect, but just allow it to be magical. E & I were just as much kids during this as Z was. When Z got to meet Princess Jasmine, you better believe E jumped in for a picture with her (I’m still kicking myself for not getting a picture with Belle…) And there was actually a point, while watching the Festival of Fantasy parade that I looked over at Z, and her eyes lit up with pure joy, and I just cried (I’m really glad I had sunglasses on). You will enjoy yourself so much more if you just allow yourself to give in to the experience and take it all in.

What tips do you all have?!

Clean Eating & Not Being Pretentious

cleaneating

So, I’m attempting to slowly convert to clean eating. This is not an easy task.

For one, I don’t want to be a pretentious asshole. And a lot of “health nuts” tend to be this.  This is one of the main reasons I haven’t converted to clean eating before — I don’t want to be lumped into a group of snotty moms who turn up their noses whenever they see a kid with a popsicle or lunchable. Or the parents who send their kids to eat lunch at their schools, and the kid can only eat from the salad bar, and not only that, but they can’t eat it with any dressing or condiments because they’re not “clean.” These type of people really piss me off. I want Zoey to be able to eat a freakin’ cupcake in her classroom, if they’re celebrating a birthday. In fact, I give you all permission to kick me in the face, with no warning, if I ever become one of those.

Luckily, I have recently found a ton of helpful, unpretentious (is it unpretentious or non-pretentious? ….eh, whatever) blogs that offer clean eating recipes, grocery lists, and the like. (More on that later…)

Second, I live a life of a working mom, who attends school full time, and spends a lot of time in the theatre. A lot of factors are against me.

Third, I live on an extremely tight budget. So tight that I’m not even sure you can call it a “budget.” And I don’t care what anyone says, eating healthy is expensive…at least more expensive than the alternative. (This is another reason the pretentious a-holes I talked about earlier make me so angry…try living your fantastic clean eating life on my budget and see how that works out, jerk).

So, what is clean eating going to look for me?

– Couponing (the iBotta app just started working with Whole Foods, hooray!)
– Trader Joe’s and Costco!
– Preparing my week’s meals on Sunday.
– Crockpot meals.
– Making a slow conversion.
– Allowing Zoey and I to “cheat” and not feel bad about it.

I’ll keep you all updated on my progress, and hopefully be able to share some yummy recipes along the way.