When Should I Buy My Wedding Invitations

Lately I’ve had a lot of confused brides asking, “When should I buy my wedding invitations?” or  “When should I send my wedding invitations?” With all the conflicting information and misguided advice out there, it can be hard to know exactly when you should get buy your wedding invitations or when you should get your wedding invitations in the mail, but I’d like to share a timeline with you that will help you answer this question.

Wedding Invitation Suite. When Should I Buy My Wedding Invitations?

Save the Date cards are very popular these days and for good reason. More people are moving far from family and friends, yet they obviously want their family and friends to be there for their special wedding day, so sending Save the Date cards is a great idea that give guests a heads up that your wedding is going to be a spectacular event that you want them to be present for. This gives them the opportunity to start planning well in advance. They may need to save up some money for plane tickets, ensure they have adequate vacation time, or maybe even get in shape for the big day!

With save the dates going out for nearly all weddings these days, it changes up the invitation timeline a bit. Typically speaking you’ll want to send out your wedding invitations 6-8 weeks before your big day. People already know you are getting married by now, so they really just need the details (and the formality of being invited). For best case scenario, let’s go with 8 weeks.

Something a lot of brides overlook until the last minutes is that all of these invitations need to be addressed. Sure, you could print out some labels on your computer and stick them on really quick, but a hand-addressed wedding invitation is not only traditional, but it’s almost expected. Hand-addressing can take forever, especially if your hand-writing looks more like bubbly cheerleader writing on a pep-rally sign than gorgeous calligraphy. It’s a good idea to allow yourself 1 month to address your wedding invitations. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a whole month addressing wedding invitations in between dress fittings, gym sessions, and cake tasting. There are actually people in this lovely world that you can hire to do it for you! Yup, you can even hire me! Although most of these people will only take a week or two, it’s still a good practice to allow 1 month for addressing wedding invitation envelopes.

Now, if you are working with a stationer (somebody that designs stationary) for custom wedding invitations, you’ll want to allow at least eight weeks of working with them to get the perfect invitation. This can change depending on the stationer, but eight weeks is generally a good rule of thumb. When you start working with the stationer, it’s important that you know what you are looking for and have some good ideas. This will help so that you don’t waste your time or theirs. It’s also important because many times the more refinements or corrections you make, the more they could charge you. Knowing what you want from the start will help keep your costs under control. If you are simply planning to order invitations that are already designed, you can usually allow four to six weeks instead of the full eight, but remember:

It’s always a good idea to give your self more time than you might need in case of any unexpected surprises.

Lastly, you’ll want to add an additional month to two months. During this time period you will want to begin collecting ideas if you have not already done so. Make use of all different resources. It’s great to have magazine clippings, other invitations that you have loved in the past, and even a Pinterest board if you are a fan. Collect not only things and ideas that you like, but also collect things and ideas that you don’t like. This way, you can show your stationer examples of both so they can stay clear of the things that don’t speak to you while they design an invitation that is exactly what you hoped for.

Depending upon the time of year your wedding will be celebrated and the popularity of your stationer, it could be important to book them as early as possible. Many stationers will ask for a small deposit, but in exchange for that, they will book you into their calendars which ensures that they will have plenty of time to devote to your invitations.

Some advice I like to give to brides is that once you are engaged there are 4 wedding vendors you should book as soon as possible: Your photographer, your venue, your baker/caterer, and your stationer. This is solid advice because these are the 4 wedding vendors that book up the quickest. Just get it done so that you don’t have to stress over it later!

Alright, so let’s recap:Wedding Invitation Suite Timeline

I hope this helps to clear up any misconceptions or any confusion. I currently have two rush slots available for any January weddings and several 2015 slots are open, so get in touch and let’s get you on my calendar!

Big Hugs!
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Make Your Business Uniquely Irresistible so You Can Make Money with Digital Products While You Sleep

Last night I was just about to set my phone down and close my eyes when suddenly it went “Cha-Ching” like an old cash-register, and I got so excited! My phone makes that sound each time an order is placed in my Etsy shop, so obviously it wasn’t time to sleep. It was time to get online and check out what was happening in my shop! To my startled surprise, I had just sold one of my digital products! Talk about timing! After all, today I want to talk to you about digital products and selling them while you sleep.

The Best Day Ever

Most of you already know my story, so you know that life is a blur right now. Nothing is easy, time doesn’t exist, and we are on one crazy roller-coaster ride trying to keep our heads above water. Originally, when I opened my business, I wanted to focus on custom wedding stationary and decor. Well, I’ve booked one wedding in one year, and it was my cousin. Outside of that amazing opportunity to create all her stationary, programs, welcome bags, guestbook, tablecloth, and signs, I’ve had a lot of interest in my enormous glitter banners and my Trophy Wife t-shirts. In addition to those products, I’ve started developing some new products that are slowly gaining in popularity: printable unplugged wedding signs, printable social media hashtag signs, and some printable wedding invitation suites.

Unplugged_Wedding_Frame2 Flower_Wreath_Invite_1_MU1 Customizable_SocialMedia_Frame2

So why the shift between custom wedding stationary and decor to printable stationary and decor? Well,because digital products are selling right now. Everyone wants what they want, when they want it. They want the instant gratification that comes with the ability to download a digital product as soon as they make the purchase. People want to go shopping in their pajamas and get the product before they head to bed. And moreover, people want to pay less for products that rock!

People want to go shopping in their pajamas and get the product before they head to bed.

Adding digital products to my business has already begun to make a difference in my business success. I’ve had bunches of people liking my shop and favoriting my printable products. It’s gotten more eyes on my small business. However, they aren’t selling! I know these products are great or people wouldn’t be taking the time to check them out, to favorite them, to like them on Facebook, or to heart them on Instagram, but what am I doing wrong? They just aren’t selling like I want them to, and they aren’t making me the money I need to to fill in the gaps between the full on custom wedding design that I do. I’d say I need to adjust my strategy!

So what do I do when I need to adjust my strategy?
I turn to some amazing entrepreneurs and their expertise, that’s what!

In this case, I’m turning to April Bowles-Olin, whom I just adore. Why you ask? For two reasons:

  1. April is successful at selling digital products (I’ve bought some of them!)
  2. April is going to be at CreativeLive teaching two classes in November! One is Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep and the other is Make Your Creative Business Uniquely Irresistible.

I could not be any more excited! This woman knows what she is talking about. I just know that with her help, I am about to take Pretty Much to all new heights. Get ready because great new things are coming soon. I’ve already RSVP’d, cleared my schedule, and set my reminders because when April teaches, you have to listen. When you have an opportunity to learn from April, you take it!

In April’s class I am hoping to learn several great things, but I really hope to learn about better copy-writing and better marketing for my products. I want to find out what would take my products from good to great. Where could I make some changes in order to get better results? April talks about digital products making it possible to target more markets, help us make more money without working longer hours and price our handmade products higher. I want to learn everything I can about all of this, so that digital products can help me on my way to success and freedom.

Are you ready to make your creative work more lucrative, stable, and sustainable in the long-term? Join April Bowles-Olin for an introduction to digital products and how they can enhance your creative business. This course will show you how to produce and position viable products for generating multiple revenue streams and passive income. RSVP right here to watch it live and get access to the workbook for FREE. This post is part of the Create Digital Products blog tour.

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So, are you in? I sure hope so! I cannot wait for this class because I just know it’s going to be worth every second. If you are interested, you can check out April’s blog at www.blacksburgbelle.com. Even better, you can follow along on our blog tour too!

Hope to see you in the course chat-room on November 10-12th!
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Mondays are Magical : Stationary Collections & New Wedding Sationary Designs

As I work hard to develop a brand that catches the eye of newly engaged women, I’ve been brainstorming ideas that would step up my game. I recently had a gorgeous lady get in touch with me about a custom wedding invitation suite, and I’m really excited to work on these invitations for her. As we finished the conversation she briefly made mention that she would also like me to help design her bridal shower invitations and decorations. I could barely contain my high pitched squeals until I got off the phone!

Ladies and Gentlemen, she wants pink and gold!

All of a sudden it occurred to me that this would be the perfect start to a new ambition: Pretty Much collections! Yup, it’s happening. Each collection will be named after an amazing woman in my life and be designed with her in mind. I have two collections in the works right now that I am so very very excited about. Each collection will include stationary, decorations, t-shirts/sweatshirts, tote bags, and other wedding day awesomeness. Once everything is created, I’ll be doing photo-shoots and putting it all up on both the website and in the etsy shop.  I. CAN. NOT. WAIT!

In the meantime, I’ve developed a few adorable stationary suites. I wanted to share some of these with you all. They are up in my shop, so if you are interested, head over and swoop them up…

Oh Deer! Whimsical Bridal Shower Invitation Customizable with your wedding colors!

Polygon Colorful Confetti Wedding Invitation Suite

Floral Wreath Wedding Invitation Suite

Each of these are fully customizable with your wedding colors. The wording can be altered as well. If you are interested in any of these wedding stationary suites or in the bridal shower invitation, please head to my Etsy shop or get in touch through social media. These are available in printable versions as well as professionally printed versions.

I’m also available for completely custom designs. I’m able to print, letterpress, foil, emboss, or laser-cut any custom order for you.

So, what do you think? Are you as excited as I am to see these new collections? What do you think of these new wedding stationary designs? Do you love them?! Let me know in the comments section. Then come back tomorrow for some great information about the lovely April Bowles-Olin and her amazing upcoming course on Creative Live. This is another thing I just cannot wait to participate in!

Love you all!
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College is a Waste of Time – Spoken by a Lifelong Learner

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn
I’m nearly 30 years old, and for most of my life I have been in school. As a little one, I was in preschool for two years before kindergarten.After I graduated from high school, I’ve managed to sprinkle in 16 semesters of college education. If you know much about college, you know that equals 8 years of college and well over the amount of credits one needs to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, however, transferring schools and transferring programs means that I’m still an undergraduate. With that being said, I have instructors that are younger than me! It’s crazy, but that’s not the problem I have with them. The problem I have with college instructors can best be summed up by a recent quote from one of them:

“I should point out that for Explorations, the highest achievable grade is B+, as there isn’t the scope in those assignments to exceed the requirements for assessment in each case.” – Instructor

In that class we have an exploration assignment due each week, a midterm, and a final. Can you see a flaw in the grading structure here? If I get a B+ on every weekly assignment, that gives me a “perfect” grade for that part of the course, but it’s still only a B+! Perhaps this quote from another instructor would be a better representation of the decline in education:

“I’m not here to teach you. I’m here to grade your work. I give you an assignment and it is your responsibility to figure our what you need to learn in order to complete the assignment. Then it is up to you to learn it, complete the assignment, and turn it in on time.” -Instructor

I don’t think it would be so hard, if the assignments actually had detailed instructions, if the instructor made it clear what he expected, or if when we received a poor grade on an assignment, he told us why.

In my English class we have three papers to write for the entire semester. The grade we receive on the ROUGH DRAFT – which is graded as if it is a final draft – has just as much weight on our final semester grade as does the final paper. We turned in our rough draft, and the final was due two weeks later. The day the final was due, the instructor finally gave us back our rough drafts and extended the final deadline by ONE DAY!


I struggle each day to decide what to do for my business. I struggle to prioritize my life because I still want to do pretty much everything. In addition to being a full-time student, I am also a full-time wife and a full-time business owner. Currently, I am dealing with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which is a form of orthostatic intolerance that is associated with the presence of excessive tachycardia on standing. Many POTS patients experience low blood pressure on standing, fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, exercise intolerance, nausea, diminished concentration, tremulousness (shaking), syncope (fainting), coldness or pain in the extremities, chest pain and shortness of breath. If that wasn’t enough, I’m also recovering from a brain surgery in March which effected my balance as well as my ability to do normal every day tasks. The hardest part of this recovery was learning to walk again. We wouldn’t want to leave out the fact that I have extreme back difficulties for a 29 year old woman. For this, I go to 1.5 hours of therapy 4 times a week. So, as you can tell, I’m a very busy lady.

The truth of the matter is being this busy is not working for me. It is far too stressful, and we all know that when you are trying to regain your health, extreme stress is not going to help. We can’t always dictate what our health will do. Sure, we can eat healthy, exercise, and take care of ourselves, but sometimes or bodies just do their own thing. the best thing we can do about it though is keep working to make it better, continue going to therapy, eating right, exercising, and treating our bodies well, so for obvious reasons I can’t get rid of that from my life right now.

Another area of life that requires attention is the fact that I am a full-time wife. Relationships require work and love in order to grow. It’s important for me to spend time nurturing my marriage and spending time with my husband. He deserves that! Part of this nurturing requires that I put in just as much effort around our house as he does. It’s not fair to expect him to mow the yard, do the dishes, clean the clothes, vacuum the floors, take care of the dogs, take out the trash, and cook the meals. We are partners and therefor we work together to keep the relationship and our home maintained. I can’t alleviate this from my life either.

Last week my husband and I talked about my business. We discussed what our life goals were and what needed to happen to accomplish those goals. For us, Pretty Much is one of the most important pieces of my life right now. It is the one piece that makes the most sense and makes me the most happy.Despite the business taking a lot of love, dedication, time, and work, it seems to be a stress reliever more than a stress creator. Owning and operating Pretty Much keeps me sane and makes me feel good. It’s such an important part of my life, and of our future that I would be crazy to cut it out of my life right now.

This brings us back to the talk of school. I’m supposed to devote 10 hours a week per class. That’s 40 hours a week devoted to school. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this expectation, however, that number doesn’t even come close to the amount of work that I have to put in. Last week I was required to create a 108 page document for one class in one week. It took me 20 hours just to work on that class, and I still had three other classes to work on. Did I learn anything from creating that document? nope! That’s when I realized that school is taking up way too much of my time and not giving me anything back. I’m not really learning anything, and it causes way too much stress. It needs to go.

So for me, I’ve decided that right now in life, college is a waste of my time. I’ve decided that this will be my last semester for a while. The crazy thing is that several of my classmates have actually said the same thing. At least I don’t feel so bad.

The great news is that this means tons more time to focus on Pretty Much! Hooray! I’m so excited because that means that I am about to have a ton of time to make pretty things! I’m about to have time to blog, create pre-made party details, develop some new stationary collections, and even start making some videos. I cannot wait for this new era to begin with Pretty Much. On Tuesday, I’ll be sharing a bit more about upcoming plans, so come back and find out more!

Best!
Renay

What’s in a Business Name – Why Pretty Much Rocks

“When you find an idea that you just can’t stop thinking about, that’s probably a good one to pursue.” —Josh James, Omniture CEO and co-founderLong before I opened my business, I knew I wanted to own a business in which I created beautiful things. I’m such a collector of skills and a lifelong learner that it was hard for me to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my business. I enjoy making things, crafting, designing, photographing, and so much more. How on earth could I possibly narrow it down?

Whenever I would talk about it with my husband, I found myself telling him that I wanted to do Pretty Much everything. Then one day, it struck me – why not call my business Pretty Much? Then, I could do pretty much everything! So, about 3 years before I ever opened my business, I knew exactly what I wanted to call it. I liked the way I could play with the name. I could create Pretty this or Pretty that. When somebody asked me what I did, I could tell them Pretty Much everything. The more I said the name out loud, the more it felt right. Pretty Much always seems like an answer to a question, too! I find myself using the phrase all the time. Why wouldn’t I name my business Pretty Much?

As time continued by, I started to wonder if it would ever be THE TIME. You know, the right time to stop everything in my life and open a business. I started to get discouraged because life just kept on happening and more times than not, I found myself carried on in other directions. I was always too busy, too tired, too involved to worry about setting up a business. but then, in September 2013 something happened. The world stopped spinning around in crazy wild busy circles. I stopped, took a few breaths, and sat down on the couch to rest. This literally happened, and in a way it also figuratively happened.

In September 2013 my life changed in many ways. I got sick, went to the doctor, and got told to stop going to work. It was time to sit still, time to meditate, to think, and to dream. I couldn’t go to work, and I could barely do much of anything, but I could sit and dream. That’s exactly what I did. I dreamed about what I wanted to do. I pretty much just wanted to craft and create. I pretty much just wanted to stop working my life away at a job I hated. I pretty much just wanted to make pretty things, make people happy, and make my life more enjoyable. I decided to plan it all out. I had the time now, why not get started.

On January 1st, Pretty Much was officially born and open for business. Pretty Much became real, and I was pretty much ecstatic. 9 months later, my baby is still growing. It’s still morphing into the business that I want it to be. Each day I make conscience decisions to make the business better than it was the day before. Pretty Much is a work in progress as most small businesses pretty much always are, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Three years before I opened my business I knew I wanted to do pretty much everything I could do. As I know that is not a very specific business identity, I narrowed that down. What makes me happy in life is celebrating. I am happiest when I am celebrating life, celebrating accomplishments, people, friendships, holidays, and most of all love. I decided that when it comes to celebrating, that’s where I wanted to focus my time and energy. So when those doors opened, Pretty Much was a business based on celebrating. I am focused on celebrating pretty much all of life’s wonderful moments and creating pretty much anything and everything to make it easier for people to celebrate those wonderful moments. Pretty Much rocks because it is a business all about celebrating, throwing confetti, happy dancing, and being lovely. It is pretty much the best business that I could possibly own!

Pink Hair for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Mondays are Magical: Take Care of Those Boobies!

Pink Hair for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We all know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As it should be! However, we shouldn’t need a special month each year to remind us that 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. These statistics are scary! Very scary!

The good news is that death rates from breast cancer have been declining since around 1990, in part to better due to screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options. When breast cancer is detected early, at a localized stage, the survival rate is 98%.  Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

My mother, my great maternal aunt, and my (step) grandmother are all survivors of breast cancer. Currently my aunt is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and we expect her to also be a survivor. Early detection is key! It’s so important to give those boobies some TLC every single month. In case you need a little more bribery, check out the eye candy in this video reminding you to check your boobies to save your boobies!

Cover your bases, Cover your assets, Cover your ass. Small Business Bodyguard

Everything Small Business Owners Need to Know About the Legal Stuff

Cover your bases, Cover your assets, Cover your ass. Small Business Bodyguard

Is your blog legal? Is your small business legal? Is your online business legal?
Guess what bloggers? You have to pay taxes too. Calling all bloggers and small biz owners – don’t do business without reading this first. (IMPORTANT.) Everything an online biz owner needs to know about THE LEGAL STUFF.


I’ve had a lot of questions lately about my terms & conditions, my privacy policy, and my disclaimers. I’ve also had a few questions about my contracts. Yeah, I know they are pretty great, and no, I didn’t hire an expensive lawyer in a fancy suit. Since opening my business it’s been really important to me that I cover my ass. In fact, one reason it took me so long to open my doors is because I was scared shitless that I was going to do the wrong thing and get into a legal battle. Being a business owner carries with it a lot of responsibility, and with that responsibility comes a lot of stress.

Thankfully, I don’t have to stress too much, because I found an amazing resource to help me with all the legal stuff of running a business. This resource is a legal reference tool and probably the greatest investment I have made in my business. The best part is that this non-negotiable business expense is one that I can write-off! In the long run, Small Business Bodyguard is saving me money, stress & anxiety. I know that if I do business with a bad client and don’t have a contract, there is always that chance that I might not get paid, or if someone doesn’t like the way I do business and tries to sue me over it, I am covered because I do business the right way and the smart way.

The TMFproject If you are not familiar, then you need to get familiar right now!) edited & wrote this resource it in its entirety, with the goal of making it USER FRIENDLY, EASY TO DIGEST, AND EVEN AN ENJOYABLE READ. I read it start to finish over the course of about a week, and the whole time I was laughing and smiling and actually enjoying it. It wasn’t just some intimidating, bland, jargoney resource. It’s written for the average small business owner & blogger. People like you and me! Seriously! On top of that, this arsenal was lawyer-drafted and peer reviewed. Seriously!

So what am I trying to tell you? Well, take the time to cover your ass now, so you can do business like a responsible adult. If I had paid a lawyer to draft the contracts & agreements that are included in Small Business Bodyguard, it would have cost me over $5,000 alone. During the affiliate push week, the additional $3,000 in bonus contracts & templates makes this an $8,000 value. Now, compare that to the cost of $275 for Small Business Bodyguard, and it’s an obvious no brainer.

Did you see that little bitty price tag compared to the enormous value The Small Business Bodyguard contains? It’s a no-brainer. Remember this: If you own a business, you are legally responsible for it. Getting your business ducks in a row is a non-negotiable business expense. You MUST do it one way or another or your ass won’t be covered when somebody tries to steal your work, sue you, or not pay you.

Again, I can’t stress this enough, you need this resource. I use it every single day that I am in business whether it be here on my blog, over on my website, as a seller on Etsy, and in each contract I sign with a client.

At a minimum, you should at least get your hands on the FREE smart, simple, and surefire steps checklist to becoming legally legit. Yes, I said FREE! You can do that by clicking right here!

Do you still have questions in regards to what exactly this resource is? Fear not, check it out here.Need some more testimonials from business owners that use the Small Business Bodyguard? Check out tons of testimonials by clicking here. I seriously cannot say enough about this great resource, and I abslolutely think you need to check it out.

Small Business Bodyguard
FREE smart, simple, and surefire steps checklist.

With that, I leave you to have a wonderful weekend! Enjoy it!

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This post includes affiliate links, however, I only link to products I personally have used and love.