You’ve got the guy. You’ve got the ring. You’ve got the date. So how will you tell everyone about your big day?
From the frilly and fancy, to low-key and low-cost, there are just as many options these days for brides on how to announce the big day, as there are design styles. Mix in the “extras” like save-the-dates, rehearsal dinner invites, welcome bags, and favors, and a relatively simple technique for communicating your wedding, can become an all out military level operation.
Before the printing press was invented and evolved into the mass producer of junk mail that it is today, word of mouth was primarily the form of communication used when announcing one’s wedding.
You have to consider that this was before the larger population really knew how to read or write, beyond those who were royalty and the well heeled, who could afford proper teaching.
While word of mouth may have been the only option, sometimes communication can break down – ever heard of the telephone game?
Imagine showing up at someone’s wedding back then, a journey that may have taken days, only to learn you have the wrong date. Wouldn’t you be embarrassed, waiting around with your wedding gift of three oxen and some gourds in a cart with no one there to receive them? What a drag!
Thankfully, with the advent of the printing press and now, the internet couples around the globe have a plethora of choices and price ranges, all very customizable, that ensures guests will know when to show up for the big event.
TRENDS FOR EVERYONE
According to Nicole Banar, Director of Client Services for Two Paper Dolls, a full-service brand and design shop in Philadelphia’s main line, the style trend for invites has had a decided lean towards vintage.
“I would say in the last three years, our clients have moved from engraving to letterpress. Part of it’s cost, because the copper plates that were created for engraving can be very expensive. Letter pressing is much more affordable and can offer a customizable range of options that the bride can really take advantage of.
“Add in the additional benefit of going to a shop like Two Paper Dolls, where we do all of our printing in house instead of shipping out to a third party and you can really save time and money, while also getting that hands-on service you really want.”
“The other trend we’re seeing is more of a vintage trend,” says Nicole. “The stock being chosen is a much softer, cottony, fibrous paper. We call it very `Anthro’ in relation to that overall vintage, organic look that the retailer Anthropologie really brought onto the scene. That look has blown up into so many design areas now which includes designs for invitations, cards, etc.”
These days, when everyone talks about how important it is to have your own brand, the trend is turning towards couples wanting the same. Folks are no longer just heading in for the standard invite, envelopes and RSVP cards, but a whole branded suite of items, from save the dates, to invites, to day of materials, like welcome bags, place cards, even a personal monogram.
The advent of online design technology means a designer can create a total look that can be utilized for years to come. Something truly personal such as a logo or monogram created for an invitation can be utilized for stationery, guest towels, or on a mailbox. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Utilizing different fonts on one page is also a neat way to give a special look to an invite. Keeping an invite clean, but utilizing dark ink on classic, crisp white stock offers a more classic feel that experts say seems to really connect with brides.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
So, when do you start the process of designing and selecting your invitations?
As a general rule, save-the-date cards, get mailed out four to six months prior to a wedding. Therefore, experts suggest getting started about eight to nine months prior to your big day. Only need invitations? Normally sent out six weeks prior, experts suggest getting those started about four months out.
“Extra time allows customers to have more time to really dig in and review all the possibilities,” says Batar. “We can accommodate a much shorter time frame…but the whole point of coming into the shop to us, is because you want to create something more custom and personalized – so the more time you have, you’ll be able to really flesh out what you want as well as have time to review and breathe.”
According to experts, having a real grasp on what your personal style trends to, as well as the taste of you and your fiancé, is critical to being able to verbalize your vision for invites.
Batar suggests doing your homework, by asking yourself some questions before you start meeting with a designer or going online and creating your story.
1. What colors do you like, what is your taste in décor? Is it classic? Whimsical?
Gathering looks, pictures, or ideas from magazines or websites, is also a really great way of putting an overall theme together. Don’t be afraid to show up for your invitation meeting with a file stuffed full of colors, pictures or other aspects that really speak to who you are.
Pinterest, an online pin board that allows users to organize and share their favorite online pictures and clips from all over the web, has become a hot way of hunting and gathering one’s style story. A good design firm will relish your sharing of such a site with them as it can really help steer your team in the right direction for customizing your invites.
2. What do you and your fiancé like to do? How did you meet? Are you outdoorsy? Or more black-tie?
“We sit down with our brides for a good 45 minutes to an hour and really try to get to know them. I would suggest spending a good amount of time, discussing your life and what you’re all about so you can build a story with your designer,” says Banar. “We ask them to share their story – whether it was how they met, or where they had their first date or the types of things they like to do together. We like to think of us as being storytellers, weaving a story through our suite of items, so their cards, invites and other pieces, really reflect their personal journey.”
Before you start looking online to order your proof, or meet with a vendor, it’s critical that you know as many details of the wedding as possible.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but think about it. If you don’t have your date and your venue chosen, you really can’t customize your invites into reflecting that event.
Plus, you can’t really go to print, without ensuring you have all of those critical details confirmed. A good tip – if you’re directing guests to a wedding website in your save-the-dates or invitations, make sure the site is up, active, and running. You’re welcoming disaster if your guests get the wrong web address on the invite or worse yet, the site isn’t working.
4. How will the invite be worded? Are your parents paying for the wedding? Is the groom’s family funding the wedding?
As tradition dictates, the parents who are paying for the wedding are usually part of the invitation. But do the in-laws get to appear as well on the invite? What about a stepfather and his new wife? What if you and your partner are paying for the wedding yourselves? Should only your names appear?
Experts say figuring out the answers to those questions now is a good idea. You don’t want to order up your invites only to hear from your stepmother, that she felt slighted for not being on the invitation. Have those discussions ahead of time, so you don’t have to deal with the emotional fallout later.
Additionally, if you order your proof, without confirming all of the relevant details ahead of time, experts say you could end up facing a costly error down the road, if your invites end up requiring changes to be made that are only your fault; an extra pressure no bride needs.
HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST?
At a custom shop like Two Paper Dolls, designers can create a complete story thread from save-the-dates to welcome bags for out-of-town guests in person. An order of 100 invitations, for example, with outer envelopes, RSVP cards, and response envelopes, starts around $1500.
After mapping out colors, numbers, stock, and other such planning details, most designers will be able to provide an initial ballpark estimate, in writing, that will cover all that you need to know. Make sure you get this estimate in writing, as it not only helps one see how much the bare minimum will cost, it can also be helpful in providing sort of a line item list of what additional customization may add.
Finding a designer that will work with you provides flexibility and piece of mind that any bride will tell you, goes a long way.
“Once they get that estimate, brides are really in the driver’s seat based on how they give us feedback.,” says Batar. “We’ll present options to them, so they have a range of pricing. This way they’re not locked into one set price. A package online or say from a book, that’s gets printed at an outside vendor, may have that price locked in. But because Two Paper Dolls is a custom shop, where we do our own printing in-house, we can suggest areas that we can pull back on, that won’t affect the overall integrity of the order.”
“We had a couple, getting married in Philadelphia, who really wanted to share their love of the city, with their out of town guests, friends and family, in a special way.,” says Batar.
“We created a special skyline scene that was utilized across the suite of their wedding papers, including a cut out on the invitation itself. Additionally, we were able to create a personal tour guide for their welcome bags given to out of town guests, that included a pop out map to various must-see spots across the city. Restaurants, historic sites, even places to get their hair and make-up done were featured on the map. The guests really loved this guide and of course the couple was pleased to know that their hard work was so well received. It was something people could keep as a great memory for years to come.”
Two Paper Dolls Letterpress & Design House
55 West Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087
All items shown in this article are available at Two Paper Dolls.