More Inviting Invitations

The new rules for selecting invitations, save-the-dates, programs, menu cards, and more



First Impressions

 

The ultimate guide to wedding stationery

 

By Kathy Ritchie

Photography by Cathy Pinsky

 

 

There’s a wonderfully funny scene in the 1995 romantic comedy, While You Were Sleeping, when the character played by Sandra Bullock walks into her boss’s office and hands him a wedding invitation—as though it’s no big deal—written on what appears to be a Post-It note.

 

 

Fall for This!

Perfect for an autumn wedding, this stationery suite created by A Most Creative Affair in Tarrytown features a tree motif. The components are printed on textured paper using offset printing, in earthy shades of brown and green that matched the wedding colors. The square invitation, which uses script and block typefaces, was placed inside a pocket. Other materials included a save-the-date card and a table card. Die-cut leaves with gold calligraphy served as place cards. A Most Creative Affair, (914) 631-7475. About $17 per invitation.

 
 

 

While it may seem easier to just scribble the details of your big day on a piece of paper or (cringe) shoot out an Evite, selecting the right stationery is a crucial component to planning your wedding. Besides providing guests with the always vital who, what, where, and when, stationery establishes a tone for the wedding: will it be a black-tie affair at Whitby Castle, or will it be an afternoon affair in your family’s backyard?

 

“You’re telling guests how you’re going to entertain them,” says Herb Leventon, owner of RSVP Design in Mamaroneck. On a more subtle level, your stationery will also do something else: It will tell your story. “It’s like the foreword to a book,” says Staci Rahamin, owner of Sincerely Staci in Pleasantville.

 

 

 

   

Hip to be Square

Lift the flap of this flip design crafted with handmade purple paper, and inside is a square invitation with script type and a green border, done with offset printing. Below that, a band of green paper holds the response card (in a silver envelope) and directions. A silver satin ribbon on the outside, tied to a card announcing the invitees’ names, matches the envelope. dnOriginals, (914) 844-4483. Cost: $12 per invitation.

 

What’s Your Timeline?

 

The sooner you select your stationery, the better. Most stationers agree that if you’re sending out a save-the-date, it should go out no later than six months before the big day and no earlier than a year.

 

As for the invitation, there are a few things to consider, starting with whether you’re having something custom-designed or choosing a look from a book (custom designs take longer, of course). “We recommend starting the process of picking the wedding invitations four months before they need to go out,” says Andrea Most Gottschall, co-owner of A Most Creative Affair in Tarrytown. Once you’ve got your invitations completed and in-hand, they should be mailed at least four to six weeks before your wedding date, though two months is preferable.

 

 

Bold and Beautiful

dnOriginals in Peekskill created this suite,  featuring handmade paper, a floral motif, and a red-and-greenish-gray color scheme. A pocket contained the invitation on the left and the response card, accommodations information, and directions on the right, all printed with offset printing in an elegant combination of script and block typefaces. dnOriginals, (914) 844-4483. Cost: $11 per invitation.

 

 

Endless Options

 

You only have to flip through your own mother’s wedding album to see what choices were available to brides in previous generations: white or off-white paper with black ink. Today, the choices in invitations seem limitless—but good taste should still prevail. After all, you don’t want your stationery to be something you’re embarrassed to show your own daughter a decade later.

 

“Think of your invitation as a timeless piece, just like your dress,” says Dawn Norris, owner of dnOriginals, a home-based business in Peekskill. “No one wants to look at her wedding pictures and wonder what she was thinking when she wore that dress. The same applies to stationery.”

 

With so many papers, letter fonts, colors, and styles to choose from, though, selecting stationery that reflects your taste and meets your budget can be daunting. Where do you begin, and how do you decide? To guide you, we spoke to some of Westchester’s top stationers about what you should consider before placing an order for 350 save-the-dates. 

 

 

Very Vertical

For a bride and groom who were looking for something unusual, dnOriginals designed this long, narrow invitation with an organic feel. The paper has an embossed leaf print, and the clip art was taken from floral and fruit designs created more than 100 years ago. The lime green and pink hues matched the wedding colors. The response card, tucked in with the invitation, was a postcard, which is becoming an increasingly popular choice. Cost: $14 per invitation.

 

 

The Right Stationer

 

Great stationers won’t pressure you to go with something you only like—not love. A fabulous stationer will want to know a bit about you and your future husband in order to help you create the perfect stationery.

 

Trust and honesty are key. “You need to make sure you’re on the same page,” Norris says. Maria Solazzo, owner of Impressive Invites in Mamaroneck, recommends finding someone who has a wide selection of stationery and price points and who’s willing to spend some one-on-one time with you to help you find what you really want.

 

“I Want Something Different”

 

Most every bride-to-be wants her stationery to be unique. “People do not want the same invitation they just received,” says Richard Koh, owner of Royal Press in Hartsdale. “They want theirs to be special.”

 

This is a reasonable request, after all, because stationery is a reflection of your personality. The danger here, however, is going so over the top when it comes to being “unique and special” that, in the end, you’ve created something that says nothing about you. “The most important thing is to stay true to who you are,” Rahamin says. “When a traditional couple comes in wanting something trendy and different, we will spend hours trying to make them an invitation that ultimately is not them. We will spin everyone’s wheels and then come back to a fairly traditional invitation in the end.”

 

 

Hearts on Fire

This burgundy-on-white stationery suite designed by A Most Creative Affair in Tarrytown set a beautiful tone. Printed in thermography on shimmer paper and tied with a burgundy ribbon, the elements featured a script font and a custom-designed heart-and-orchid motif. Place cards were enclosed in envelopes, and the calligrapher alternated the style for the table numbers (some were numerals, some were words). A Most Creative Affair, (914) 631-7475. About $40 per set.

 

 

What’s Hot Now

 

A trend currently gaining momentum is coordinating the invitation with a “suite of stationery”—your menu, place cards, programs, thank-you notes, and so forth. “I think the additional pieces add to your décor,” says Gottschall of A Most Creative Affair. For example, if you decide to create a custom monogram, you might use the monogram as a theme throughout your wedding, from your invitation to your programs to your cake. It’s your logo, in other words. “Branding your event plays a key role in tying it all together,” Norris says. “You want your guests to pick up on your overall vision.”

 

If your budget allows just one additional element, Gottschall recommends dressing up the tables. "Menus are a really nice option," she says. "It’s a great way to enhance the overall décor on the tabletops.”

 

 

Touch of Color

Black-and-white gets a lift from sea-mist accents in this suite of stationery from Encore Studios, available at Impressive Invites in Mamaroneck. The flip design features a ribbon on the front and opens to reveal the invitation and response card, printed in thermography with a mix of script and block fonts. Other elements include a save the date card, menu, place card, and thank-you note. Impressive Invites, (914) 698-4088. About $16 per set.

 

 

Setting a Budget

 

Most stationers aren’t going to tell you what you should spend on your stationery. But a rule of thumb is: from two to eight percent of your overall budget. A good stationer will work with you to come up with options that fit within your budget. If you feel pressured to purchase something out of your range, speak up before it’s too late or try another stationer who will work within your budget.

 

When you estimate the cost, do consider the cost of stamps for the save-the-dates (if you’re using them), invitations, response cards, and thank-you notes. Another consideration? The shape and weight of your stationery. “If you opt for a square invitation and square reply card, you need to factor in the extra postage required for square correspondence,” says Jackie McVick, owner of Write On! Larchmont.

 

Botanical Garden

Letterpress printing adds elegance to this stationery designed by A Most Creative Affair in Tarrytown. A script typeface on textured paper enhances the sage-green botanical print; the pocket design features an invitation in the center and response card and directions on the right. A cocktail-hour invitation, menu, and program complete the suite. A Most Creative Affair, (914) 631-7475. About $26 per set.

 
 

 

Paper and Printing

 

Don’t depend only on your eyes when choosing stationery. “Always touch the actual paper,” Norris says. “Texture plays a key role in stationery.”  

 

Once you’ve found a paper you love, talk to your stationer about ink color and ask for samples of the ink on different papers. “Different paper qualities hold inks differently,” Gottschall notes. “Not all colors look the same on different types of paper—especially metallic stock. The inks can look very different than they do on non-metallic stock.”

Once you’ve settled on paper and ink color, you’ll want to talk to your stationer about the various printing methods available. There are four methods: engraving and letterpress, which are two of the oldest (and, consequently, more costly) methods, and thermography and flat printing, which are less expensive. Letterpress is making a huge comeback right now. With this beautiful method, the text or an image on a raised surface is inked to produce a physical impression on the paper. Thermography is also popular and has a raised look similar to engraving. Flat print is just what it sounds like—flat, not raised or impressed.

 

If you’re still worried about getting it right, don’t be. “There is something for everybody and every budget,” Gottschall says. The keys to finding what you love—like most things in life, whether it’s your perfect job or your perfect partner—are being patient and staying true to who you are.

  

Kathy Ritchie is a freelance writer and editor (and bride-to-be) in Queens, New York.