You or a friend might have just got engaged—congratulations! Once you’ve set a date for the big day, you’ll need to let your guests know to keep that day free in their diaries. The best way to do this is to send them a stylish Save the Date card.
Save the Date cards are a really nice gesture, and can even incorporate elements of the wedding’s theme, if you have one, or just your own personal style. In this tutorial I’ll show you how you can create your own cards from scratch in Adobe InDesign, and give them a laid-back look with hand-painted floral illustrations and an on-trend brown paper finish.
You can also pick up some great inspiration for designing your own Save the Date cards with our feature on creative ways to design your wedding stationery.
Ready to get started? Fantastic! Let’s go...
1. What You’ll Need to Create Your Cards
We’ll be creating our Save the Date cards in Adobe InDesign, which will give us perfect control over the look of the typography and calendar on the front of the card. If you’re a beginner to the software, that’s no problem—we’ll walk through the process step-by-step.
You’ll also need to download the following images and fonts:
We’ll also be using the font Baskerville, which should be pre-installed with your Adobe fonts.
2. Creating Your Card Template
Getting the size of your Save the Date cards is important—too large or small and they might not conform to postal standards. If you’re planning to send your cards in envelopes, you'll also need to make sure that the cards fit inside perfectly before you spend time and money designing and printing them.
Here, we’ll set up the card as a maximum-size US postcard, which is 6 by 4.25 inches (152.4 mm by 107.9 mm). On the back of the card we’ll set up the design to imitate a postcard, where you can write the address of the recipient and attach a stamp. No envelope required!
Open up Adobe InDesign and go to File > New > Document.
Keep the Intent set to Print, and increase the Number of Pages to 2. Deselect Facing Pages.
Under Page Size, set the Width to 152.4 mm and the Height to 107.9 mm. Add Margins of 12 mm, and a Bleed of 3 mm.
Select the Page Tool (Shift-P) and click once onto Page 1 of your document to select it. Then head up to the top Controls panel and switch the Page Orientation to Landscape.
Leave Page 2 as it is.
We can add a brown paper texture to the background of the card to give the design extra warmth and an on-trend, rustic look. If you’re on a budget and looking to print the designs from home, it’s usually better to create the paper texture digitally, rather than print the design onto brown paper stock. In this way, you’ll be able to assess how the design will look from the outset.
Expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and double-click on the default Layer 1 name. In the Layer Options window that opens, rename the layer Brown Paper and click OK.
Select the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and drag onto the page, extending the edges up to the bleed on all sides. Go to File > Place, choose your brown paper texture image, and click Open. Resize the image by clicking on the Auto-Fit checkbox in the top Controls panel, so the paper fills the whole image frame.
With the image frame selected, go to Object > Effects > Transparency, and reduce the Opacity to 75%.
Expand the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches) and click on the New Swatch button at the bottom of the panel.
Double-click on the new swatch to open the Swatch Options window. Name the swatch Brown and set the ink values to C=28 M=37 Y=47 K=15. Click OK.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and drag across the page to create a rectangle that matches the size of the image frame sitting below. Set the Fill Color to Brown.
Then go to Object > Effects > Transparency, set the Mode to Multiply, and pull the Opacity down to 50%. Click OK.
Click on Gradient Feather at the bottom of the left-hand menu and set the Type to Radial. Adjust the sliders, and reverse the direction of the gradient if needed, to ensure that the rectangle has a subtle gradient applied, going from more transparent in the center of the page to darker around the edges.
Select both the image frame containing the brown paper texture and the brown rectangle and Edit > Copy.
Scroll down to Page 2 of your document, and Edit > Paste. Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Transform > Rotate 90° CW or CCW.
Fit the shapes snugly onto the page.
3. Add Romantic Typography to Your Card
Scroll back up to Page 1 of the document and, with your rulers visible (View > Show Rulers), drag a guide out from the left-hand ruler to the center point of the page, at 53.95 mm. This will help you to align text on the page.
Return to the Layers panel and create a second new layer. Name it Typography.
Lock the Brown Paper layer and click on the Typography layer to activate it.
Add a new CMYK Process swatch from the Swatches panel. Name it Ivory and set the levels to C=4 M=5 Y=7 K=0.
Take the Type Tool (T) and create a new small text frame about a third of the way down the page on the left half of the page. Type in ‘Save’ and set the Font (from the top Controls panel or the Character panel [Window > Type & Tables > Character]) to Adorabelle, Size 43 pt.
From the Swatches panel adjust the Font Color to Ivory.
Copy and Paste the text frame, editing the text to read ‘Date’, and position it on the right side of the page at the same horizontal alignment.
Paste again, reducing the Size of the text to 25 pt, and editing the text to read ‘the’. Position it between the two other text frames, centrally on the page.
Create another text frame using the Type Tool (T), and position it at the top left of the page. Type in ‘Dear’ and set the Font to Baskerville Italic, Size to 9 pt, Tracking to 50 and Font Color to Ivory.
Set another text frame below this, centrally, with text reading ‘Please Kindly’, set in Aleo, Size 10 pt, Tracking 50, All Caps and an Ivory Font Color.
Open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Select the Line Tool (\) and, holding Shift, drag from left to right to create a straight line beneath ‘Please Kindly’. Set the Stroke Color to Ivory, Stroke Weight to 0.75 pt and Type to Solid.
Copy and Paste the line, placing this to the right of ‘Dear’, to create a line for writing the recipient’s name. Adjust the Stroke Type to Japanese Dots.
4. Create a Calendar
A calendar is a quirky way of showing your chosen wedding date. The quickest way to create the effect is to create a table in InDesign.
First up, create a normal text frame using the Type Tool (T). Let it stretch across the width of the page between the margins, and position it below ‘Save the Date’.
Click your type cursor into the text frame, and then head up to Table > Insert Table.
Set the Number of Rows to 5 and Columns to 7, and click OK.
Highlight the whole table with your cursor, and open the Table panel (Window > Type & Tables > Table). Set the Column Width to 12 mm and all the Cell Insert values to 3 mm.
Type in the full range of numbers for the dates for your chosen month (here, I’ve put in the dates for May 2017). Set the Font to Baskerville Regular, Size 12 pt, Align Center and Font Color Ivory.
Create a new CMYK Process swatch. Name it Berry and set the ink levels to C=26 M=77 Y=38 K=17.
Highlight your chosen wedding date with your type cursor and set the Font Color to Berry. Adjust the Font Weight to SemiBold.
Go to Window > Type & Tables > Glyphs to open up the Glyphs panel. Over on the pasteboard, next to the page, create a new text frame and set your type cursor into it. From the Controls panel at the top of the workspace, set the Font to Nexa Rust Extras and the Font Color to Berry.
The Glyphs panel will fill with all the available symbols you can use from the Nexa Rust Extras font. Track down the heart glyph pictured and double-click on it to insert it into your text frame.
Go to Type > Create Outlines to transform the heart into a scalable vector shape.
Move over the top of your highlighted date on the calendar.
5. Finish Up the Typography
Create another text frame, position it above the calendar, and type in the month and year. Set the Font to Aleo Bold, 10 pt, Tracking 60, Align Center and Ivory in Color.
Set up a few more text frames below the calendar in Aleo Regular and Light, with a line of text listing the names of the couple and the location (if you know it!) below.
Use the Line Tool (\) as before, to create two equal-width lines to sit to the left and right side of the top line of text.
Set a line of text at the bottom of the page reading ‘invitation to follow’ in Baskerville Italic.
Awesome! The typography on this page is finished, and it’s all starting to come together.
All we need to add in now is a bit of floral decoration...
6. Bring in Some Floral Decoration
Everything’s more fun with flowers! Embellishing your design with hand-painted flowers will make your design look extra appealing and evocative of your big day.
Return to the Layers panel and lock the Typography layer. Create a new layer and name it Flowers.
Create a square image frame using the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and position in the top-left corner of the page. File > Place and choose one of the floral PNG images from your watercolor flowers set (here I’ve gone for image 32, which has a nice shape for fitting snugly in a corner). Arrange the image proportionally in the frame.
When you’re happy, Copy and Paste the image frame, and then Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Transform > Flip Horizontal.
Position it in the top-right corner of the page.
Select both image frames, and Copy and Paste. Right-Click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) > Transform > Flip Vertical.
Place it in a mirrored position at the bottom of the page.
Cool! Page 1 of your card is done and dusted—nice work.
7. Design Your Postcard
On the reverse side of your card, we’ll set up a postcard-style design, complete with space for writing an address and attaching a stamp.
Scroll down to Page 2 of your document, and lock the Flowers layer. Unlock the Typography layer sitting below.
Take the Line Tool (\) and, holding Shift, drag downwards to create a long vertical line. Position it just shy of halfway across the page, towards the bottom, as shown below.
Set the Stroke Weight to 1 pt and Stroke Color to Ivory.
Create a second line, horizontal this time, and position it over on the right side of the page, as shown below. Reduce the Stroke Weight to 0.75 pt and set the Type to Japanese Dots. Adjust the Stroke Color to Ivory.
Copy and Paste the line repeatedly, setting each below the previous to create a series of horizontal lines on the bottom-right section of the page. Make the final fourth line slightly shorter on the left side.
Create a solid line beneath the final dotted line.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a small rectangle at the top-right corner of the page. Set the Fill Color to Ivory. Then head up to Object > Effects > Transparency and bring the Opacity down to 70%.
Add a new CMYK Process swatch from the Swatches panel. Set the levels to C=85 M=78 Y=62 K=96 and name it Off Black.
Take the Type Tool (T) and create a new text frame on the left side of the page. Type in ‘Save’ and set the Font to Adorabelle, Size 55 pt and change the Font Color to Off Black.
Copy and Paste the text frame, position it underneath, and adjust the text to read ‘the’. Decrease the Font Size.
Paste again, editing the text to read ‘Date’, and position it as shown below.
From either the Glyphs panel (Window > Type & Tables > Glyphs) or your keyboard, choose the tilde glyph from the Adorabelle font set, and insert it into a separate, smaller text frame. Set the Font Color to Ivory, and position it to the left side of ‘the’.
Copy and Paste the text frame, and position it on the right side.
Select the ‘Save’, ‘the’ and ‘Date’ text frames and go to Object > Effects > Transparency. Choose Multiply for the Mode and reduce the Opacity to 55%.
Lock the Typography layer and unlock the Flowers layer.
Take the Rectangle Frame Tool (F) and create a new square image frame at the top-left corner of the page. File > Place and choose a different watercolor flower image (here I’ve opted for image 31).
Rotate the image frame slightly by grabbing hold of the bottom-right corner and twisting up slightly.
The artwork for your card is now finished. Congratulations!
8. Printing Your Cards
All that’s left for you to do now is to print your cards. You can either do this by printing them at home (in which case just head up to File > Print, and use your own printer’s settings) or exporting them ready for sending off to a professional printer. If you have the budget to do the latter, I highly recommend it—you will be able to request a proof before printing the whole batch, the print quality will be higher, and your cards will be trimmed to size.
Go to File > Export.
Choose Adobe PDF (Print) from the Format drop-down menu, give the file a name, and click Save.
In the Export Adobe PDF window that opens, choose [Press Quality] from the Preset menu at the top.
Click on Marks and Bleeds in the left-hand menu, and check All Printer’s Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings.
Hit Export to create your print-ready PDF file. You can send this straight off to your printer of choice!
Conclusion: Your Finished Save the Date Cards
Your Save the Date cards are finished and heading off to be printed—fantastic work! The final job to do? Posting them, of course (as well as deciding on your guest list)!
In this tutorial, you’ve learned how to create an on-trend Save the Date postcard with a contemporary brown paper finish and floral decoration. This is a lovely style for more informal or countryside ceremonies.
As well as being able to claim that you DIYed your own Save the Date cards, you can also show off about your InDesign prowess. You now know how to:
- create a card template in Adobe InDesign
- develop texture and color in your design with a paper texture background, color overlay and gradient
- create new CMYK swatches for using on your designs
- format beautiful typography to create a romantic layout
- create a calendar using the Table function in InDesign
- use the Glyphs panel to incorporate quirky graphics into your designs
- work with placing and positioning images in InDesign
- export your final designs for professional printing
Phew! That’s a lot to cover—great work. If you’d like to share your card designs in the comments below, I’d love to see them.
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