Wedding Stationery Tips for Newly Engaged

The new year is upon us, and that means all of the engaged couples are entering into full force wedding planning mode for their 2012 weddings! Being in the wedding industry, we know there are so many considerations when planning a wedding from booking the perfect venue, to picking the tastiest cupcake flavor! Having to learn the ropes of each vendor specialty can be a daunting task so we thought it would be a great time to share some basics of working with a wedding stationer.

Stationery Items to Consider
A save-the-date should be used if you need to give your guests ample notice to attend your wedding. A save-the-date should always be used if you are planning a destination or out-of-town wedding to allow guests to plan for time off from work and to budget for travel expenses. See the time line below to find out when to start the order process and mail save-the-dates to guests.

The wedding invitation notifies guests of the date, time and place of your wedding. The invitation should convey the tone and formality of the event. Included in the invitation package, is an rsvp which is a request for reply so you are able to plan appropriately for the number of guests who will attend. The RSVP can be in a variety of forms: a postcard, a phone number or email on the invitation, or a separate card and addressed envelope. See the time line below to find out when to start the order process and mail invitations to guests.

Reception Stationery
Reception stationery are small details that create big impact for your guests by continuing the tone of your invitations into your reception. These products also help direct and clearly guide your guests through the events of the day such as finding the venue location with banners and signage and identifying their seat for dinner with a seating chart, table numbers, and place cards. See the time line below to find out when to start the order process for reception stationery. Items to consider when planning your reception stationery include:
- Programs give guests an itinerary to the day’s events. It is also a place where you can provide information about the ceremony, your bridal party, and where you can thank special people who have contributed to your wedding.
Menu - List of all the items included in the meal during the wedding reception.
Place Cards - Indicates at which place setting each guest should sit at their assigned table.
Seating Chart - A diagram or list of tables that indicates where guests will be seated.
Table Numbers - Label each table with a number or name (be creative!) to direct guests to the correct table.
Favor Tag or Sticker - Complete a favor with a personalized message using a sticker or a tag tied with ribbon. 
Guest Book or Guest Cards - Used for guests to leave the bride and groom best wishes and words of advice.
Display Banners - Create the perfect ambiance at your reception with custom display banners. A great way to show off those engagement photos!
Wedding Decal - Use these removable vinyl decals on your wedding day transportation, a wall or the dance floor! Wedding decals can be designed in any pattern, shape, or word that you desire!
Signage - Give directions or instructions to your guests so they can find their way around your wedding venues. 

Thank-you Cards
Proper etiquette says you should always send a prompt thank-you card to your guests for attending the wedding, and for any gifts they have given you. What better way to thank them than with a customized thank-you card matching your wedding stationary? Pinkpolka Design can also incorporate photos from your wedding day into the design of your card.   

Stationery Time Line
Local Wedding 
8 Months - Start thinking about what pieces of stationery you need and inspiration for design
5 Months - Start collecting names and addresses for your guest list to confirm quantity
5 Months - Meet with us for your save-the-date consultation
6-5 Months - Mail save-the-dates at 6 months
6-5 Months - Meet with us for your invitations consultation (if you did not order save-the-dates)
5-4 Months - Finalize wording, dates, times and location for all stationery items
4 Months - Review the proof of your invitation and give final approval to go to print  

3 Months - Receive your invitations 
3 Months - Address your invitation envelopes or send to calligrapher
3 Months - Take assembled invitation to the post office to weigh for postage amount   
9 Weeks - Assemble and seal invitations with proper postage
8-6 Weeks - Mail invitations
6-4 Weeks - Place reception stationery order
6-4 Weeks - Follow-up with guest who have not RSVP'd
2-1 Weeks - Pick-up reception stationery for the big day!

Destination Wedding
14-13 Months - If you plan to send save-the-dates book a consultation with us as soon as a venue and date is confirmed. If not planning on sending save-the-dates skip to 8-7 month step
1 Year           - Mail save-the-dates
10-9 Months - Start thinking about what pieces of stationery you need and inspiration for design
10-9 Months - Start collecting names and addresses for your guest list to confirm quantity
8-7 Months - Meet with us for your invitations consultation
6-5 Months - Finalize wording, dates, times and location for all stationery items
6-5 Months - Review the proof of your invitation and give final approval to go to print  

4-3 Months - Receive your invitations 
4-3 Months - Address your invitation envelopes or send to calligrapher
4-3 Months - Take assembled invitation to the post office to weigh for postage amount   
4-3 Months - Assemble and seal invitations with proper postage
14-12 Weeks - Mail invitations
6-4 Weeks - Place reception stationery order
6-4 Weeks - Follow-up with guest who have not RSVP'd
2-1 Weeks - Pick-up reception stationery for the big day!

4 Ways Stationery Can Transform a Reception Venue

When a couple is looking for a wedding reception venue many factors influence the decision of what type of venue they will choose. Each venue has pros and cons (which a wedding planner can help you evaluate), but one of the major complaints of many banquet halls is that the décor and ambiance is boring. By adding a few simple stationery elements you can disguise a banquet or reception hall that at first glace might be dull and boring. These are our top 4 suggestions:

Printed Fabric Backdrop
Create a backdrop for the head table or ceremony with a custom pattern or monogram coordinating with the rest of your stationery. These fabric backdrops are also great to frame a cake or candy buffet table. If you are having a photo booth use printed fabric to customize the backdrop of the picture. The backdrop can be a pattern and color from your stationery or get creative and use a special scene that reflects your personality.

Banners can be used for both decorative and functional purposes. If your venue is difficult to find or is it in a building with multiple floors, banners can help point your guests in the right direction! Set the tone for your guests as they arrive by placing banners at the entrance of your venue and at the guest book table. Banners are also a great way to utilize your engagement photos. Look for spaces in your venue that you could cover a boring wall with a row of banners displaying multiple engagement photos and your monogram and stationery design.

Dance Floor Decal
Create a gorgeous photo opportunity for your first dance by adding a removable vinyl dance floor decal. These decals can be made in any custom size including a full dance floor cover! Display your monogram, names or stationery design in your wedding colors to create a focal point on dance floor!

Framed Graphics
This option is great for couples willing to take on a D-I-Y project to personalize their wedding décor. Have a custom poster-style print created with a monogram, message, or pattern and frame it to create a focal point in your decor. There are lots of places to find simple or unique frames that can easily be spray painted to coordinate with the colors of your wedding décor. My favorite place to start looking for frames is flea markets, antique stores, and Goodwill. Ikea is also a great place to find frames in a variety of shapes and sizes on a budget.

Tips on making your wedding stationery unique

I was asked by Canadian Living Magazine to provide some tips and tricks that I offer my clients that are trying to create unique wedding stationery. Below are three tips I would suggest to clients that want to have distinctive wedding invitations & stationery.

1. Infuse your personality into your wedding stationery.
I feel it's important for couples to be true to themselves throughout the entire process of planning a wedding, especially when it comes to their wedding stationery. Too often, I have clients that have a strong preference to certain colors and styles of invitations, but want to make sure they conform to conventions they think are proper. Social standards have evolved greatly and it's more common for wedding invitations to be creative and customized with the couple's personality.

2. Use color, texture and shape in your stationery to standout. 

The beauty of paper is that it comes in so many colors and textures. To create a distinct invitation mix different styles of paper such as metallic with matte to create texture between all the pieces. A simple way to create impact is to use a colored sheet of paper which is less common than standard white. If you have the budget, there are endless production methods like die-cut, laser-cut, embossing, and letterpress that will stand apart from standard digital printing.

3. Little details make big impact.
There are small stationery details that can be added to a wedding invitations that create big impact. Try adding a envelope liner that reveals a color or pattern when your guest pulls out the invitation. Using a return address sticker with a details of your invitation design will intrigue your guests for what they will find inside. Another special touch is creating custom postage from that coordinates with your invitations.

Using Your Wedding Invitation as Cake Inspiration

Yes that's right, you can use your invitation as a starting point for the design of your wedding cake. Obviously, I adore this idea and have seen it done with an amazing end result. I had the opportunity to collaborate with Gloria of The Art of Cake for a stylized photo shoot organized by Rebecca of High Culture Weddings & Events, where Gloria used my artwork as inspiration for her marvelous creation. I absolutely love the final product she came up with!
This is the hand-painted watercolor design I created for the invitation.

A close-up of the design from the invitation.

This is the marvelous cake Gloria design using my invitation as inspiration. So beautiful!


With the new year finally here I thought this would be the perfect time to remind engaged couples getting married in 2011 about save-the-date stationery!

Save the dates should be sent at least 6 months in advance with the invitation to follow 6-8 weeks in advance. If you are planning a long-haul destination wedding I suggest sending save-the-dates up to 12 months in advance so guests can make travel arrangements, schedule time off work, and plan financially. You don't have to send save-the-dates to everyone. If you only have a few guests that will be traveling from out of town you can send them to those guests only. Remember, local guests only need 6-8 weeks notice in the form of a wedding invitation.

The information included on a "save the date" card is the couples name, the wedding date and location, "formal invitation to follow" and a wedding website if you have one. Some of the most popular formats are a small insert in an envelope, magnets and postcards.
Here are a couple of guidelines and tips when considering your save-the-date:

Keep it consistent
I know it's tempting when your in a time crunch to quickly throw something together for your save-the-date, but you should make sure this piece is just as considered as your invitation. Keep in mind this will now be the first glimpse into your wedding and it should have a consistent "look" with the rest of your stationery. It might seem like a small detail, but doing it right will make a big difference! 

Be creative
Are you getting married in a unique location or venue? Are there certain aspects of your wedding that you can link to your save the date? Below is an example of a couple getting married July 2011 on Pender Island, B.C. The bride decided to incorporate a ferry ticket since all the guests will be taking a ferry to the Island. I designed the ticket similar to a photo she found of an actual ferry ticket and used a heart hole punch to note the month and day of the wedding.

Make a Statement
Even though save-the-dates usually come in small packages there is no reason you can't wow your guests. I love the idea of creating something usable that your guests can interact with. What about doing a mini calendar that the guests can use at the same time as counting down the days until your wedding!

Utilize Engagement Photos
If you have engagement photos that you want to feature in your wedding stationery, save-the-date cards are a great way to do so.

Get Creative with Guestbooks!

With all the customization happening now in weddings there is no exception to the guest book. I find a lot of couples are deciding to prompt guest to respond with more than just "name" and "message". By using unique page layouts in custom hard-cover guest books or using wish cards with a specific question guests are required to dig a little deeper for meaningful messages. See below for some examples of recent guest books pages and wish cards.
Custom page layout from a hard-cover guest book, including photo insert
Single guest book page on 8.5"x11" sheet of paper

 Custom wish card
Custom wish card

Travel Packages for Destination Weddings

One of my clients this year had a destination wedding in Mexico. The groom was from Mexico, but all of the brides guest were traveling from Edmonton. They decided to add a very special touch and create a travel folder with useful information for all of the guests coming from Canada. The thought and planning involved in this package was spectacular and if I was a guest at this wedding I would have felt pretty special. Since the groom was an "insider" on the culture they provided the travelers with useful Spanish translations, along with Mexico traveling tips. They had also arranged numerous activities aside from the wedding which were included in the wedding week itinerary. The bride kept one side of the folder for the inserts I designed and then put a pocket on the other side so they could put in brochures from the hotel for other activities that were available! Genius! I loved getting to work on such a unique project!

Bridal Stationery Trends: Martha Stewart Weddings

I was one of the attendees of the National Stationery Show who were the first to hear these exciting new findings delivered by Darcy Miller, Editor of Martha Stewart Weddings. These trends were determined from a survey done by Martha Stewart Weddings in partnership with the National Stationery Show.

Trend 1: Personalization
This is a continuing trend for the past few years. Couples are bringing more unique and personalized details to their wedding so why wouldn’t they do the same for their wedding stationery. The invitations set the tone for the wedding and this is the perfect opportunity to reflect the couples personality and style.

Above: Travel was a key characteristic of this couple’s relationship leading up to the wedding as the bride was from Texas and the groom from Calgary. Not only did the bride want the invitation to reflect a boarding pass, but also wanted to include a collage of items that defined their relationship. Items in the leaf collage include popcorn, a camera, suitcase, along with many others!

Trend 2: More Colour
Using more colour in stationery is something brides indicated was important. This trend definitely did not surprise me, as the majority of my clients are enthusiastic to incorporate lots of colour in their stationery. Traditionally, invitations were only created using white paper. As tradition and etiquette evolved with culture, it was no longer a faux pas to use colour in wedding invitations. Today we see bright and vibrant colours used to emphasize the couples personality and tone of the wedding day.

 Above: The first thing this bride told me was that the invite had to be bright pink and blue. She had a clear vision for the invite and was not afraid to use bold colour. She also loved polka dots (just like me) so I had so much fun using a varied scale of polka dots with the bright vibrant hues. 

Trend 3: More Crafty
Brides are looking to give stationery a personal touch without sacrificing quality. The term crafty does not necessarily mean brides want to make their own invites, but rather add a crafty element as a final touch. This could be using a ribbon as a cigar band or adding a metal brad to the final professional printed invitation. This trend is something I have experienced with a few of my clients this year where I collaborated on a crafty detail they wanted to include. These couples wanted their invites to look professional and polished but still be part of the process by adding a do-it-yourself element.

 Above: This peacock inspired invite was designed specifically for a ribbon and peacock feather the bride had brought to me in the first consultation. I made a single-fold perforated invite that was sealed closed with the ribbon and finished with the single peacock feather on the front. 

Trend 4: More Customized 
Similar to infusing personality into the invitations, couples want to give a sense of place that the wedding will take place. Tailoring the invitation to match the tone and theme of the wedding is an increasing trend.

Above: Lily and James wanted a fun and light-hearted invite for their destination wedding in Jamaica. I used a postcard style format with over-the-top animations and display typeface to reinforce the playful headline of "Jamaicus Happy & Come to our Wedding!”

Trend 5: More Wow
This trend is right up my alley! I am always trying to come up with unique printing, paper and construction of invitations. The wow factor for brides means that their invitation is more sophisticated, considered, arresting, and beautiful.
Recently, I produced a laser-cut invitation that has refined details unlike anything most people have seen. I am also working on providing more die-cut invitations, which means the shapes are unique and unexpected. I also like to work with coloured and textured papers and envelopes that can create unique effects.
A variety of sizes can also create a wow factor. The standard invitation size fits in an A7 envelope which measures 5.25” x 7.25”, but many couples have been using square and long rectangle shapes to create a modern and contemporary feel.

Above: The sample shows the use of a rich emerald green translucent envelope revealing the bold black and white artwork underneath. The couple was inspired by a pattern on a duvet cover they owned. We used the duvet cover as reference for their wedding invitation design.

Smart Phone Technology

While at the National Stationery Show in New York I attended a presentation by Stacie Francombe, the Founder and Editor in Chief of Get Married media. One of the facets of the multimedia company includes a printed magazine. After receiving a copy of the magazine at the presentation Stacie drew our attention to the latest use of the Microsoft Tag technology. The Tag technology allows brides to take a picture of the tag printed in the magazine, using their smart phone, which will automatically link the user to video, websites and any other information from the page which the tag appeared.

To get started all you have to do is download a free application. This technology will help brides-on-the-go get information faster. If they see a dress they like, all they have to do is click the tag which will take them directly to the designers website. Wow, I thought this was pretty cool. Below is a picture of what the tags look like in the magazine. You can read the full Get Married press release here.

Bridal Etiquette for the Modern Couple

When you think of etiquette do you think of a set of rigid rules that society feels obliged to adhere to? Actually, etiquette is quite the contrary. Etiquette gives us structure to makes things run smoothly and make others feel comfortable. I was able to attend a session with Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute at the 2010 National Stationery Show and she provided great insight into etiquette for the modern couple. Below are some of the key points she discussed.

Invitation Wording
The invitation wording is a personal decision and I try to guide my client in the writing process, but ultimately leave the decision to the couple and their family. To my surprise, Peggy did say that RSVP by email was an acceptable method. There are a number of important key points to think about when writing your invitation wording.

A major consideration of invitation wording is affected by who is paying for the wedding. Traditionally, only those paying would issue the invitation. But in modern weddings there are usually multiple contributors including the couple and both the bride and groom's parents. There are various ways of including "families" or parents into the wedding wording and I suggest my clients visit for ideas.

There are also finer details to wording including grammar! A few of these examples include:
1. always spell out any numbers under 10
2. use "half after four o'clock" for times half past the hour
3. spell everything out completely including addresses, cities and provinces or states

Registry Information
This is a tricky topic that many clients ask me for advice. I discourage clients from including registry information, but some couples are comfortable doing so. According to Peggy, registry information should never appear anywhere on the formal wedding invitation. The invitation should strictly serve the function of inviting, focus on the gift can come later. The couple can use their family and bridal party to spread word of mouth details of where the couple is registered. If the couple has a wedding website, Peggy did say this is an appropriate place to include the gift registry information.

Guest Dilemmas
Adult Only: It's ok to have an adult only wedding, but Peggy says it is not alright to bluntly state "Adults only" or "No children" on the invite. She says to make a clear set of rules regarding children and to stick to those guidelines. Will you only allow children that are immediate family? Or children that are in the bridal party? Whatever the case, you need to be firm on your decision. The envelopes should be clearly addressed and if there are sticky situations they should always be resolved with a polite call explaining the situation.
Guest of a Guest: You are required to invite a guest of a guest if it is their spouse, fiancé, or live-in romantic partner. You are not required to invite a guest of a guest if it is their boyfriend/girlfriend or they are single. When inviting a guest of a guest you should always use their name whenever possible.
A & B List: It is acceptable to send "B list" invites if you receive declined responses from your first set of invitations sent. You do however, have to ensure the "B list" guests receive the adequate notice of 6-8 weeks.

Peggy says we look to tradition because we know it works, and it gives people comfort because they know what to expect. Peggy further explained how traditions change and evolve and that it's alright to leave a tradition behind. We do however have to realize how our decision to depart from tradition will affect someone else. Peggy also suggests to only choose traditions that are meaningful to the couple. Traditionally, wedding invitations could only use white paper, but this tradition has made a departure with current trends that suggest couples are looking for lots of colour to be incorporated into their wedding stationery.

Like tradition, etiquette has changed over time and will continue to do so. For example, it wasn't standard to send RSVP cards until the 1980s! I found that hard to believe! Just as trends change, etiquette evolves with culture. Will the inclusion of a registry card be next? Peggy hopes not!

Thank You Notes
Peggy shared key points on the anatomy of a thank-you note:
- send within 3 months of receiving the gift
- write at least 3-5 sentences
- thank for the specific gift and be sincere
- should only be written from one person (thank on behalf of your other half)
- always find something nice to say about the gift even if you don't like it!