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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wedding Anniversary: Paper

Wedding anniversary celebrations, disclosed to the world on Facebook, have always annoyed me slightly. Given so many of my friends are single or divorced, having other smug married friends rub it into their faces with outpourings of emotion over their soulmates is a little mawkish, in my view.

That said, Mr Mermaid and I do love to celebrate our wedding anniversary (and keep it on the down-low). True, we have been married just three years but it is fun to mark the anniversary of the day we both became tax-incentivised adults with the full legal and financial – I mean, the day we celebrated our love publicly in the honourable institution of marriage. Ahem.

Apart from the smug satisfaction of having outlasted the Kardashians in their various marital endeavours, it is good to be able to use the nearest weekend as an excuse to get away from everything and everyone else and focus on our gratitude to God and each other.

That said, finding appropriate gifts can sometimes be problematic. If one follows the traditional rules around giving - paper, cotton, leather, etc, then getting something good for a reasonable price is not easy. Correction: it is easier for men to buy for women than the other way around.

For our first year, paper, I wanted to get Mr Mermaid some bespoke, quality stationery. I explored some of the high-end options from boutiques he appreciates, such as Smythson, Aspinall and Liberty.

But the price tags for what I wanted were phenomenal. No discounts - and a starting price of at least £100. By the time all the bespokery (is there such a word? There is now) would have been completed, I would be looking at a bill of nearly £300.

Now I love my husband greatly but there is no way I would spend £300 on paper. The very idea was ridiculous. Notwithstanding the fact we had just got married and were, therefore, broke, I have always laboured under the principle that if you can feasibly make something yourself, then do not pay for it. I am a card crafter. I am artistic. Therefore branching out into stationery did not seem too high a leap for me.

Cue Amazon. I had seen in various high-end stores boxes of luxury cards from a certain company, retailing for about £40 for blank notelet cards (not folded). I figured I could get the same blank cards for less on Amazon. I did. 50 cream Crown Mill luxury cards with matching lined envelopes, for £26.99 plus P&P. 
Crown Mill laid paper in Cream
I also bought one tiny wooden-handled rubber stamper of a star, and a square inkpad in military green. On a different site I paid just under £5 for a personalised black-ink stamp with my husband’s details on it. A few day later, all my materials had arrived - for less than £50.

It took a few practice runs on scrap paper to get the right pressure and, having carefully marked in faint pencil straight lines on each card front, created a bespoke set of stationery that looked professional, felt professional and cost barely anything. I have had to remove our address from the below, of course.. so you can only get a rough idea of how nice this looked. 

What's inside the box? Personalised Stationery, of course!
As I had some money left over from my original budget of £70 for gifts for George, I meandered to my local picture framing store, which has won many awards for its creative framing. I spent £24 getting five hearts cut out of the stiff card by their laser cutter (I got to keep the bits of heart-shaped card), and printed out in colour five Google maps: where we both grew up, where we met, where we married, where we live (this bit was free).

Wedding Anniversary gift idea: personalised maps
This now adorns my husband's study wall, and he loved his stationery. And all for a bargain, whereas if I had opted for ordering all these things from another artisan, I could have spent between 300-400 smackers.

So I am now in the business of making bespoke stationery, as well as cards and jewellery! Oh and with those cut-out hearts, I made several Valentine's Day cards in various styles, which I sold for approximately £2 each.