Introduction: 35mm Film Save the Date

About: Learn more about me here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Featured-Author-shesparticular/ or follow me on Twitter (@shesparticular) (if you're into that sort of thing).
Please note: I'm not planning on getting married any time soon, but I'm thrilled to be able to share this idea/technique with folks who are!

Folks who gravitate towards older media (I am one of these folks) will always have a special place in their heart for things like film cameras and albums on vinyl. Using reloadable film canisters to send out "save the date" notices to your friends and family is not only an perfect way to show your love for whomever you're getting hitched to, but also for film.

These require some items you may not have around the house and take some time to design and put together, but in then end they're really worth it. The same technique could be used for a number of applications (moving or birth announcements, holiday greetings, or invites to any sort of super awesome gathering - even for the big day itself).


If you have any questions, need any advice/assistance, or would rather someone whip these puppies up for you feel free to comment, or shoot me a note here or on Twitter.

Step 1: You'll Need. . .

  • Reloadable film canisters (one per "save the date" needed - they are sold individually as well as in multiples and are available in metal or plastic)1
  • Transparency film (make sure to get the right kind for your printer) - you'll need one sheet for each 5 "save the date"'s2
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • Computer with photo editing program (and text editing program if you want to also make labels) and printer
  • Tape
  • Superglue, hot glue, or epoxy
  • Stickers/labels (optional) - Avery 5360 fits the outside of the canisters rather well
  • Small padded mailing envelopes (I used these)
1 I love B&H for these, but lots of other places online also carry them (B&H has them individually and in lots of 100). If you are going to order from B&H, please remember that their website does not allow online ordering on the Sabbath
2 You can use paper instead if you prefer - either plain or fancy

Step 2: Set 'Em Up

  1. Disassemble your film cartridges and measure the inner spool (most are just a smidge under an inch and a half, but it's better to be safe than sorry)
  2. Create a new file in your photo editing program that measures 11" x 1.38" (assuming your paper is standard (8.5" x 11") sized)
  3. Design your "save the date" notice making sure to leave at least 3" on the left side blank (this portion will be hidden inside the film canister) and leave .25" blank on the right side so that it won't get cut off when you print them. You can use whatever sorts of text or images you'd like and play with the opacity, etc. to get the look you think is best1
  4. In order to use fewer sheets of paper, create a new file that measures 11" x 8.5" 2 and replicate your completed design to fill the sheet
  5. Save the file as a PNG
1 The "film strip" design I created is attached here as a PDF, but it will need to be modified some to be used here (I've also attached a PDF with the leader countdown numbers that I used). In terms of images, I used a very tight shot of a kiss, text, and the leader countdown numbers (for motion picture film) - photos of you and your intended would also be a great idea.
2 In Photoshop, you'll want to go to Image --> Canvas Size. . . - I'm not sure where it is in GIMP, but there should be a similar option

Step 3: Print, Cut, and Tape

  1. Print one copy of the file for your awesome "save the date" on your transparency film or selected paper
  2. Make adjustments to the file (opacity, etc.) if needed
  3. Print out as many as you need
  4. Cut apart each of the strips using scissors or a paper cutter
  5. Open one of your film canisters and locate the inner core
  6. Affix the "bare" end of the strip to the core using a small piece of tape
  7. Wrap the strip around the core once and affix with another piece of tape

Step 4: It's What's Inside That Counts

  1. Place the core with the transparency film back inside of the outer portion of the cartridge so that the "tail" portion is through the slot
  2. Hold the top of the core and carefully twist the cartridge so that the film is coiled inside, leaving about a half an inch sticking out
  3. Run a small bead of glue (BE CAREFUL not to glue the film to the outside or use too much glue) around the top of the cartridge and pop the top cap back on (this will help ensure they don't pop open while in transport)
  4. Use a small sticker to attach the end of the film to the outside of the cartridge (optional but suggested)

Step 5: Dressing Up the Exterior (Optional)

If you don't like the look of the outside of your cartridges you can make stickers to cover them
  1. Using Microsoft Word or a similar program, locate the label preset for a 2.8" x 1.5" labels (Avery 5360) (a Word document with the template is attached)
  2. Design a label (sticking to text is probably best, and when laying it out make sure to consider how it will wrap around the canister)
  3. Position your text/images on the labels in a manner you find pleasing - if you want the text to be vertically as opposed to horizontally, go to Format --> Text Direction. . .
  4. Print!
  5. Peel and stick onto the canisters
Alternately, you can do it the "hard way" (I opted for this way):
  1. Create a new file in your photo editing program that measures 2.8" x 1.5"
  2. Design a label (sticking to text is probably best, but you can also make it look like an actual film canister if you'd like and when laying it out make sure to consider how it will wrap around the canister)
  3. Save as a JPG
  4. Import this into Word (using the template provided here) by selecting Insert --> Photo --> Picture From File. . .
  5. Resize the image if needed, and copy and paste into each of the label spots
  6. Print!
  7. Peel and stick onto the canisters

Step 6: Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

  1. Package each cartridge up (small padded envelopes work well and according to my local USPS branch it would cost $1.71 per to send them in the U.S. and slightly more for international postage)
  2. Address and add postage
  3. Send them off to all your friends and family
  4. Await calls, emails, and notes telling you how amazing, creative, and fun they are and how they can't wait to attend your special day and see what other tricks you've got up your sleeve!
If you have any questions, need any advice/assistance, or would rather someone whip these puppies up for you feel free to comment, or shoot me a note here or on Twitter.
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