Monday, August 10, 2015

Real Weddings: Our Most Popular Design, Completely Couture

There is a reason our beaded frame invitation is the most popular design in our wedding collection. The beaded frame feels like a wedding. It can be dressed up or down, looking as good printed for a Black Tie affair as it does for a backyard garden setting. And it can be made to look classic or modern—or, in the case of couple Emily and John, a little bit of both.

Photo courtesy of Carly Fuller Photography

“The invitation perfectly represented the classic-modern wedding style we were going for,” said Emily. “The small cap grey print for the body of the invite (modern) and the royal-styled cursive gold printing of our names (classic).

With the help of the staff at Lutherville’s The Pleasure of Your Company, Emily and John were able to achieve the perfect balance. Here, bride and stationer talk about answering the “difficult conversations” before making an appointment and why bringing a snack is always a good idea.

The Bride:

How did you and your fiancé meet, and how did he propose? 
John and I met at our mutual friend’s engagement party in New York City (I was friends with the bride and he the groom). 

John and I had a much needed trip planned to Puerto Rico for the long weekend. The day before we were scheduled to leave, John called me while heading home after work and suggested that we go out for a "pre-vacation dinner." When we got home, we started to pack and John told me he bought a bottle of wine. As it turns out, the wine was a nice bottle of Champagne, which I thought was unusual, but still appropriate as we were about to go on vacation.

While we were both packing for their trip, drinking Champagne and chatting, John momentarily disappeared into the other room and came back with his hands behind his back. He then got down on one knee and made a very sweet proposal, to which of course, I responded to with a very enthusiastic “Yes!” We then went out to our favorite restaurant and celebrated our engagement together that evening and throughout the weekend in Puerto Rico.

Tell me about the process of choosing your wedding invitations and did you have something in mind going into your first appointment? Did that change?

We knew we wanted something classic and timeless. Something that was simple, but elegant. The William Arthur invitation was the first one we liked while sorting through hundreds and hundreds of invitation options. We liked a few others, but when we looked at the William Arthur invitation once again, it was by far both of our favorites.

Photo courtesy of Carly Fuller Photography
Photo courtesy of Carly Fuller Photography

Describe the invitation suite you ended up with and why you fell in love with that design.

We loved the classic and elegant look of the William Arthur invitation suite we chose. The invitation perfectly represented the classic-modern wedding style we were going for. The small cap grey print for the body of the invite (modern) and the royal-styled cursive gold printing of our names (classic). We also loved the imprinted border which really presented a classic look. We knew that if a guest received an invitation to our event it would portray an elegant but not ostentatious vibe for our wedding—exactly as wished.

Was there anything about the process of choosing your invitations that you weren't expecting?
I don’t think John (nor I) thought that our stationery appointment would take two and a half plus hours! We thought we would be in and out of our appointment in 30-45 minutes at the most. There are so many invitation options and it’s important to feel the paper and take the time. There are also a lot of detail options with tailoring of the invitation suite, much more so than I expected.
Do you have any advice for brides-to-be on the invitation process?
Be thoughtful in selecting your invitations. We have received so many compliments on our invitations, which I was frankly surprised by as I did not think most people would remember them or notice them so much. The invitation really sets the stage for how your wedding event will be (black tie, beachy, fancy, informal, etc.).

Also, like the earlier question, be ready to spend 2-3 hours at your stationery appointment. I dragged John with me since we were pretty much a team and I wanted him equally involved in a lot of the decisions. John got pretty antsy toward the end of our marathon meeting and he was also really hungry (which didn’t help his patience), so I would recommend going after lunch. Or, perhaps, leaving your fiancé home for this wedding appointment—but that said, he was pretty helpful in making the decisions and did have more opinions than he or I would have thought.

Photo courtesy of Carly Fuller Photography

Tell me about your wedding! What was your favorite moment?
Our wedding was the most incredible day of our lives. It sounds cliché, but our wedding really was so magical and so much fun! We realize what made it really special were the people there celebrating with us. It’s the only time in your life where you are going to have all of the people you care about in your life in the same room.

The Stationer: Hannah, The Pleasure of Your Company
What questions do you always ask at that first meeting with a bride?
We talk about their wedding. Couples are usually happy to tell us about their wedding plans and the words they choose often point us in the direction of the right invitation. Asking where their reception is being held and who they’ve chosen for a florist and a caterer is the best way to get an idea of their vision for their wedding.

We ask if they have pictures of invitations they like on their phone or on Pinterest boards or Instagram, and we ask what they like about each invitation.

We talk about the logistics of the wedding and get an idea of what information needs to be included. Ordering invitations is often the time that couples need to finalize details and make decisions. Many times after the first meeting, they discover that they have to think through the logistics of how the day will unfold. Are they mailing separate invitations to other weekend events, or do they want guests to receive invitations to all parties with the wedding invitation so they can plan their whole weekend? Do the guests have to pre-select an entrée? Does the couple need a count of how many guests are using provided transportation? Who will be invited to bring a guest and how do they convey that people cannot bring children or a +1? Are the wedding details on a website or will additional information need to go out with the invitation? And when they tell us how many invitations they need, are they counting addresses, not people? They usually leave the first appointment with a list of questions and decisions they need to make.

What are some of the big invitation design trends you're seeing?
The biggest trend is that there is no one big trend this year—everyone wants an invitation that is in some way uniquely theirs.

But there are some popular looks:

—Gilded, beveled edges and painted edges are the most popular upgrade
—Foil printing—gold and silver are the most popular, but rose gold is catching up
—Custom, digital envelope linings
—Redoute and English Chintz flowers are back
—Random dots [your Vera Wang lining and dots invitation is an example]
—Lace as a blind embossed or foil printed pattern on the invitation
—Single envelopes instead of double
—Fonts that look like calligraphy or hand-lettering
—Whimsical hand-drawn maps included with the invitation
—Printing a vellum overlay to take the place of the traditional tissue

What advice do you have for brides who are ready to make their first invitation appointment?
Do a Pinterest or Instagram collection of invitations you like. Don’t worry about including invitations that are probably outside your budget—we can often make changes to bring it into the budget.

It’s best to have difficult conversations before you order invitations. Work through sticky situations like who is going to be on the invitation as the hosts—mother and father of the bride only, step parents, groom’s parents, no parents?

Have signed, confirmed contracts for your venue, officiant, caterer and other key people before you put it all in writing on an invitation. 
And the most important—nail down the guest list. You don’t need to have all the addresses yet, but you do need an accurate list of the names from the couple and their families.

When it comes to choosing wedding invitations, how is today's bride different from those five years ago?

The biggest difference is the influence of the Internet. It’s a mixed blessing. Sometimes couples come in with a good idea of what they like because they have spent time looking at invitations online. But sometimes they come in overwhelmed by all the choices. They need to sit down with us, hold invitations, feel the paper, see actual colors, see the different printing processes. The second they say, “I like this, but I don’t want that,” we can change direction and fine tune it.

And the Internet is full of bad advice on form and etiquette. We recommend talking to a stationer who can give you good advice, reading the Crane Blue Book of Weddings or consulting the etiquette section on the Crane website.

The other big difference is that we used to meet with the bride and/or her mother and they were the decision-makers on the invitation. We never met the fathers and the grooms. Now fiances are very involved, and it’s not uncommon to have five or more people at the invitation meetings.

Are you a bride, bride-to-be or stationer who ordered William Arthur or Vera Wang wedding invitations? We'd love to feature you in our Real Weddings series! Email us at for more info. 

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