Friday, July 5, 2013

Wedding Tutorials: Escort Cards

Although there were lots of cool little vignette's through the barn, one of my favorite projects turned out to be the escort cards.  You know... those little cards that tell you what table you will be sitting at for dinner?  If the wedding couple is amazing, they will carefully assign seating so that you will be with others of similar interest and intellect.  If the wedding couple is not amazing or they just don't care, you may find yourself hitting the bar ...a lot.  When I was the bride I spent a lot of time assigning people to the EXACT right table.  I was rewarded for my effort when several people commented on how much fun they were having getting to know their table mates. 
For Brandin's wedding, I wanted really cool escort cards.  I've always thought this is an area that really can help set the mood of the wedding reception.  They can go formal, whimsical, fun, romantic, pretty, artistic, elegant.....  Or you can go with a plain white, tented card. 

When making handmade escort cards it's important to consider how many you need.  I needed to know what kind of number we were looking at before I got too elaborate with my plans.  If you have a huge wedding and need to make 400 cards you probably want to go with something that will be pretty easy to make and assemble.  Keep in mind that if you invite 150 guests that doesn't mean you need 150 cards.  You can give every guest own card but usually couples and families are together on the same card.  I don't recommend giving each guest their own card because there is going to be a rush of people trying to find their cards at the same time as everyone arrives at the reception.  If they have to search through 150 cards vs. 50 it will obviously take longer.  For my project, with 120 guests attending I needed about 50 cards.  This meant I could be somewhat artistic but nothing too crazy. 

I knew that I wanted the escort cards to be tags right from the beginning. The question is how to make them look professional and still be on a tag.  The issue is the personalization.  There are 3 ways to get that information on the tag
  1. Use a Word processing program like MS Word and your computer printer
  2. Rubber stamp each name using a system like that made by Just Rite or Martha Stewart that allows you to line letters up to form words on a track and then stamp all the words all at once
  3. Hand letter the names and table numbers.  If you know someone who does beautiful lettering, NOW is the time to for his or her help because there is nothing more beautiful than hand lettered work

Stamp system by Just Rite.

My handwriting isn't pretty so that just wasn't going to happen;  nor do I know anyone who does beautiful work.  Individualizing with rubber stamps for 50-60 individual tags? Again, wasn't going to happen.  That leaves the computer.  

Using the computer to print the information on the tags brings its own set of problems and decisions that must be made.  One option is to set up the information-on in the Word document-formatting it correctly to fit on the tag- and print it off on a piece of regular computer paper.  Affix the tags OVER each name/table number using temporary tape and run the sheet with the tags affixed back through the printer.   With this technique you begin with the tag already cut out and line the tag up to the printed information.

The other option is to print the information-formated correctly- onto a piece of cardstock and then run that cardstock through the die cutting machine to cut the tags out.   With this technique you start with the printed information and line that up on the die in order to cut the tag.   

I decided that option #2 was the only viable one.  I often use the first technique and it does work.   The issue here is the number of tags I needed. There is just too much room for error with this method. 

Once I decided which method to use,  I had to decide which of Tim's Alterations tag dies I would use.  Tim has 3- Tag and Bookplates (which cuts a #8 tag), Tag and Tie (which cuts a #6 tag) and Tiny Tab and Tags (which cuts a #2 tag ).  After thinking about it, I decided to go with the smallest of the 3-anything larger would have required a lot of embellishing and I wanted the table decor to be the item with the biggest impact, not the escort cards.  Here is the moment I knew I made the right choice... a day or two after I decided this I was at Hobby Lobby and I kid you not... the exact die was on clearance.  Weird right?  I grabbed it and never looked back.  In the end I used that die over and over as I made the wedding decor and it is by far one of the most versatile of all of my Sizzix dies.  I love all of the little tags on it and making them out of old book paper or decorative paper is just....eye candy.
You can see how well loved this die is from all the paper stuck in the holes.
To make the escort cards, I started by measuring the tag size.  Then I made a MS Word document with a "table".  I asked my math-loving hubby to help me format the page so that I had the perfect sized "cells" that would maximize the number of tags I could get out a page of cardstock.  This allowed me to figure out the font size as well-remember some names are longer than others.  We decided to make each cell 3 1/2" wide by 2" long.  I added the names and the word "Table" but left the numbers off.  I always intended to add the table numbers using rubber stamps.  Because Brandin was still making changes to her seating chart-and I didn't want to have to redo any- I took the stamp set to the barn and stamped the numbers while she sat with me and she read me the correct infomration.  ***I wanted to make the document downloadable from this blog but I can't figure out how to do that easily on Blogger.  If you want the document, email me ( and I will email it to you.***

Once you have your table formatted and all the information has been added, you want to print a test print on regular typing paper to be sure it looks like you want it.  If it looks good then I recommend you run it through the die cutting machine.  It is much less heartbreaking to make adjustments now rather than on your prepared cardstock.  One thing I learned after the test print was that I hadn't accounted for the hole that would be punched at the top of the tag (or in my case what would be the left edge).  When I ran the test print through the die cutting machine the hole cut off the first few letters of all of the names.  I fixed this by moving everything 6 spaces to the right.  This was not the most efficient way to do it and someone with better skills could have formatted the entire document but it worked.
To make actual cardstock I started with 8 1/2x11" Manilla cardstock.  I colored them using ink and an Ink Blending Tool .  Yes, it is time consuming to color an entire page this way but have we met?  It was the only way to get the look I wanted.  I ended up using two colors- Archival Ink in Vermillion and Distress Ink in Scattered Straw.  I made 4 of each color then I ran the pages through the printer, printed out all the names.  Because I included the border lines on my table, I had an outline of each "cell".  This allowed me to cut along this line with a paper trimmer and load the strip into the die cutter.   I was able to carefully line up one "cell" at a time and run it through my Vagabond.  No, this wasn't overall the easiest way- again, have we met? because the result was worth it. 
A single strip of cardstock with a row of cells cut out ready for the die cutting machine.
The single row of cells lined up and ready to be die cut.  You want to start with the first cell on the paper.
Carefully place the plate over the die and paper.  Some people use Post-It notes to hold the paper in place but with 50+ to do it was just too time consuming for me.
Run the entire thing through the die cutting machine-here you see my Vagabond. 
This is what you end up with.  A pretty little tag. 

Once I had all of the tags cut, I cut the hole reinforcers using a decorative paper.  I  glued the hole reinforcers quick dry paper glue.  Next I stamped each tag with a small peony stamp and the edges were all distressed using Brushed Corduroy Distress Ink.  I added self-adhesive pearls or rhinestones to the tags in random configurations and tied seam binding- in the wedding colors- through the hole.   

We had not decided EXACTLY where we were going to hang the tags until I was returning from the restroom on Friday morning and found an awesome bed spring sticking out of the one of the junk piles.  BINGO.  A quick wash at Brandin's mom's house and we were in business.  We made decorative clothespins to hang them with and the look was AMAZING. 
Brandin's niece helped hang them all. 
We topped off the display with a few rosettes.  Perfect Vintage Chic.

The clothespins....
First, we've already established that I do things a tad over-the-top.  I bought what I call medium-sized clothespins at Hobby Lobby.
The first thing I did was throw them in a bath of Walnut Stain for an hour or so.  The look is subtle but it added to the vintage feel.
After they dried I took these horrible photos of them.  What I am trying to show is how to glitter them.   The 1/4" WonderTape fits perfectly on this size clothespin and allow you to add glitter or decorative paper very easily.  This tape is so sticky, it will hold anything in place.
Here it is all glittered. 
I love the way this look. 

Have a day filled with Sunshine and Glitter....

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1 comment:

  1. Oops - my comment for this got added to the tag post. The tags are a great idea and you did them beautifully.


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