The making of the Save the Date sign: Let there be light(s)



If you’re a loyal reader, you know I have been determined to create a clever Save the Date for our pending (as in, “Holy cow, fast approaching, someone slow this thing down!”) nuptials. I wanted it to look as cool as something the hipsters would’ve devised, although they would have done it minus my angst, my gotta-get-this-right stress, but with the addition of their, “We could be doing something so much better right now” blank-faced flair.






I was after something like this. (See my absolute favorite Save the Date*, below). Although, to be fair–or accurate, really–these people can’t be hipsters; their faces convey too much human emotion:  an oxymoronical combination of worrisome glee.






Literally saving the date copyImage via Lydiasnextstep






*Excuse me, but I must interrupt my blog post to make a very important aside. When one is doing a lot of talking and thinking and scribbly note making about materializing Save the Dates and sending out Save the Dates, etc., one soon finds it is easier to resort to shorthand and discovers the handy acronym: STDs. And then one bursts into peals of laughter over the hilarity. I mean take the word “sign” off this blog post title, insert acronym, and it has a very different meaning, indeed. Come on, tell me that made at least someone smile, if not just guffaw.








Back to the scheduled post. I think I liked this Save the Date so much because they were actually saving the date. So I racked my brain. Dates. Saving. Thoughts, thoughts, chin tapping, brow scratching. Nada. Then I decided I could play the date and pretend to be tied to train tracks, like a damsel (or date, in this case) in need of saving. I could pull off looking delicate and distressed. (I think.) However, my idea also sounded like the other “D” word. No, not dumb: “DANGEROUS!”





So I came up with this, instead…






Hand holding save the dateYes, you are witnessing my real hand. No models were involved. And, you guessed it, that is an authentic dried date.  Points for originality. Am I right?






Because I recently tried a brussel sprout recipe that involved dates, (I do have a hipster moment now and then), we happened to have a box of dried dates in our fridge. So I whipped up a toothpick-inserted sign for my date and headed to…where else? The railroad tracks.





Save the date with real date




The problem, as though I need to tell you, the perceptive viewer, is obvious as witnessed above. But, I’ll spell it out for you anyway: my date and “Save me!” sign were so tiny, in order to show enough tracks to give context, the date and sign became but a speck of something resembling a small sausage or animal dropping. So I picked up my turd-shaped date, watched as a train zoomed past us, and then crossed the tracks to my car and drove home with my head hung low.





Save the date on tracks



Not to mention, (but to totally mention), before I left the house JB declared my literal sense of humor was likely a sign of having a really bad sense of humor or no sense of humor at all. Nice. But, rest assured, despite my fizzling ego, the wedding is still on.



I arrived back at home, so unenthused, I surely could’ve been mistaken for a true hipster.



Enter: JB, who has these moments of brilliance. This was one of those moments. While I was out tramping on the tracks (as in walking, no midriff baring shirts were worn on this day, or any day, really), he was at home making a mock-up of a sign we could use for the STD photo. (Tee hee.)




Cardboard save the date signInspiration a la Lite Brite, cira 1985.





I loved it. So JB cut a piece of plywood to size to create the sign we’d use for the actual photoshoot. I wrote in chalk (and evidently dark pencil) to loosely mark the numbers and used a 5/16″ drill bit to create holes that were large enough to fit Christmas light bulbs through.





Wood save the date sign




Once the holes were drilled, I painted the sign with black acrylic paint. When the paint had dried, I popped a bulb through each light, plugged in the end of the strand and we had this…






Save the Date signWho has a Redwood tree in their front yard in So Cal? We do.




Insert humans (us) and we had this…





Save the date poses 2




and this…





Save the date poses 1




to choose from. And we chose this one….





Save the Date final with datePhoto credit goes to Lyn Gianni (aka: Mom).



In retrospect you can hardly make out that there is an actual date in JB’s hand, only the “Save Me!” sign which makes it look a whole lot like he is requesting to be saved from…marrying me? While that certainly wasn’t our intended message, this was the only one in which we both looked generally excited, not too posed–so unhipster, it was probably hipper than hipster. Not to mention, in this one JB looks like he just spotted a unicorn and is waving hello with his single jazz hand.




Save the Date card




We used a template from (see above) because JB liked the idea that if you’re going to send out STDs (chuckle, chuckle), it should be done the ecologically-minded, paperless post way. And did I mention it’s inexpensive? Many of the templates are free, including the one we chose, but to send the posts is another story. You can send out as many as 75 invites for free, but they will be accompanied by an ad. For $10 they offer a single-use, ad-free premium design that you can send to up to 2,500 guests (I’m guessing this option is for really popular people). We decided to be big spenders and choose the deluxe $30 package that includes the use of ad-free premium designs (although we happened to pick a free one) that can be sent for one year to 250 people (because we’re not that popular?). This package also includes two free printed post cards to be sent to yourself, or a friend, as a keepsake or to your parents who are wondering what you have against paper.






Happily Ever After light sign







Yes, I know this is a design blog. So here you go. You don’t really need plywood to make one of these signs; you could use cardboard or stretched canvas. I was inspired by our sign and decided to quickly make another one that said “Happily Ever After” out of a plywood scrap we had lying around. I figured it could hang on the wall or lean against a tree as a prop at our outdoor wedding. Unfortunately, I made it so quickly I forgot my own advice of plugging in the strand before popping each bulb into a hole. Save yourself a headache–and from your results looking as spotty as mine do above–and keep the strands plugged in as you insert them through the holes so you don’t bother wasting time with a busted bulb.




Note: You will end up with a scraggly bundle of Christmas light cords on the back which you can flatten to a manageable lump by using long strands of duct tape taped across the back of your board. If you use plywood, you can insert screw eyes to attach wire and hang the board. If you want a more finished look, you can purchase trim molding from Home Depot and spray paint it any color you like–think gold for a gilded look. Use a miter saw to cut the corners. Use brads and hot glue to attach the molding to the front of the frame. Or, large-scale rope (left natural or spray painted gold) can be attached with brads to the perimeter of your board to create a rope “frame”.


The possibilities are almost endless: “Peace” or “Noel” at Christmas; “Boo” for Halloween, “Love” for Valentine’s Day–or any day. A simple word like “Wonderful” or “More” would be intriguing and kind of Pop Art-ish, as well.



One last design thought while we’re on the subject of drills and design. The other evening, JB and I went to Chipotle (because their food is yummy and all their meat is Humanely Raised) and, while there, I noticed this wall…





Chipotle hole wallChipotle Wall. La Cumbre Shopping Center, Santa Barbara.




It’s really a simple concept: a wall of raw plywood in front of a lit niche that has been painted a contrasting color. However, you could take it so much further. You could customize it by painting the plywood, using the holes to spell out a word, phrase, line from a poem–or even a family crest or company logo. In other words, by using a drill bit, plywood, and lights, you can get a whole lot of “wow” for not much money.



And that’s something to get excited about!




Chipotle wall detailChipotle wall detail.




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