Fall/ Winter 2008: The Experts

The Messenger

The right invites make a chic statement. The wrong ones fall flat, or simply cost a bundle. A stationer talks about finding your style—and pushing the envelope.

By Blythe Copeland

If the invitation’s only function was to get guests to the church on time, many a bride would just Evite everyone. But as Amy Madanick of Rugg Road Paper Company knows, the invite offers guests a first glimpse at the festivities to come. "When someone puts together a really creative piece with interesting colors and papers and graphics, it builds excitement for the event," she says. Turns out, there are a surprising number of decisions to make before the invites are signed, sealed, and delivered.

For most couples, what’s the hardest part of choosing an invitation? Keeping within the budget. A lot of times, people fall in love with something that’s more than they’d hoped to spend. There are so many wonderful designs with layers and wraps and pockets—but because of the number of pieces and the labor it takes to create those, they’re a higher price. And when people host whole-weekend affairs, those separate cards add up.

What are some ways to keep the costs down? Print in one ink color, since there’s additional charge for more than one. Avoid using too many layers or wraps—your invites can still make a strong design statement even though they’re simple. You can also purchase some components and combine them yourself. If you loved a printed card with a satin ribbon over it, you can order the card, buy ribbon, and tie it up on your own. And you can skip the calligrapher—your own hand-addressed envelopes are a nice touch.

In a pinch, can you save money by making them from scratch? If you’re a designer, or really crafty, doing your own invitations certainly adds dimension to your event. But mainstream companies have begun hiring really creative people to develop unique stationery. Letterpress printing, for example, used to be strictly custom, but now it’s available through larger companies. So it’s a lot less work, and usually less expensive, to order rather than try to do it yourself.

Speaking of what everyone else is doing…what is everyone else doing?
Layering and pockets are really big. So are motifs—we had one couple getting married in Venice who used custom sketches of the city on all their stationery. We’re also seeing lots of delicate floral designs, and patterns that bleed off the page—and letterpress is really popular. Five or six years ago, the look was very crisp and modern. Now it’s a little softer, more romantic.

And do the bride’s parents, or whoever’s writing the check, still have to get top billing? With extended families and divorces and [older couples] getting married, there’s a lot of "Together with their families…" Names used to indicate who was paying, but not anymore. Even if an older couple is getting married and paying for it themselves, they’ll sometimes include their parents just because they want to. And people who want to include children from a previous marriage can use all the names: We’ve had wording like, "Please join Jamie and Chloe at the marriage of their parents," or, "The children of so-and-so invite you to the wedding of…" We’ve had international couples write the invitations in two languages; we’ve had people use poems. There’s such a range.

Is there a polite way to list your wedding website or your registry? Not on the invitation. Just give the time, date, place, reception, and whether it’s black-tie. A direction card is a better place for a wedding website. As for the registry, you could possibly include it on a save-the-date or a shower invitation, but not on a wedding invitation, not even on an enclosed card. The implication that you expect a gift is not considered tasteful.

Rugg Road Paper Company,105 Charles St., Boston, 617-742-0002, ruggroadpaper.com.

NO-SWEAT STATIONARY
Madanick breaks down invitation shopping for busy brides.

Do Your Homework

"Spend a little time researching online or in stores. We expect that customers will come at least three times to go through the books and find out what appeals to them—and what doesn’t. Meanwhile, talk to anyone in your family who might have strong opinions about the final product to avoid any post-order meltdowns (this includes your fiancé and both your mothers)."

Figure Out What You Need

"Check all the details. Do you have to include directions or hotel information? Is it a weekend affair with a lot of additional information cards? Talk to your stationery person and make sure it’s all there."

Don’t Overthink It

"A lot of times we see people going toward a certain type of invitation over and over. It’s like anything else: If you know in your gut that it’s right, then go with it." –B.C.