Monday, June 6, 2016

Bravo, For A Wedding Well Done

William Arthur Gilt Edged Ecru Heavyweight Large Square Wedding Invitation
William Arthur Gilt Edged Ecru Heavyweight Large Square Wedding Invitation
Wedding invitations truly set the tone for the type of celebration you will be having. Whether your wedding is laid back casual, black tie, a traditional affair, or falls somewhere in between, your invitations give guests the first glimpse of what your party will entail.

Meet Xan and Joe, who knew from the start that their New Years Eve Philadelphia wedding would have hints of glamour, elegance, and in Xan’s words, “sparkle” – and sparkle it did. Stationer Andrea of Haddonfield, New Jersey-based shop, The Paper Trail, laid the groundwork for what would become a “formal, yet fun Philadelphia New Year’s Eve wedding.” Her energetic outlook and knack for reading people allows her to cut right to the chase, matching invitations to her clients with uncanny ease. And with the help of Xan’s dear family friend and illustrator, Susan Moore Smith, (who also just so happened to design her mother’s invitations) the couple set out to create invites that were truly their own invention and entirely their own personality.
The Couple: Xan and Joe

Give us all the details on how you and your husband met! And, the proposal?

Xan: Joe and I met freshman year in college at Boston University. We became good friends but did not start dating until the end of our Senior Year. The proposal is a much better story:
It all started with a Facebook message from Joe to Andy Cohen, who is one of my favorite celebrities (and fellow Boston University alum). Joe thought incorporating Andy would be a great proposal idea given that Andy hosts and films his live late night talk show, “Watch What Happens Live,” in nearby New York City. When Joe heard back from Andy less than 24 hours after sending his message, this once farfetched idea grew legs, and Joe started planning the epic proposal.

Joe: I sent Andy Cohen [a message] explaining our relationship and the idea of taking Xan to a live show.  It quickly spiraled into a proposal either during the show or prior to the show, on set, while taking a private tour of the studios. Andy celebrated the idea and graciously put me in contact with his executive producer to plan the logistics. [From there] I concocted an elaborate explanation addressing the “how” we got the tickets and the “why” we had to travel to New York City on that particular day, to watch that particular “WWHL” show. Though bewildered, Xan agreed with much excitement and enthusiasm.

She said yes! We laughed, cried, hugged, kissed and celebrated.  Called our families/closest friends and ventured to our favorite oyster bar in the city, John Dory.

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?

Xan: I knew I wanted my wedding invitations to be classic with an edge or with a twist, kind of like how my entire wedding was. We were getting married on New Years Eve, so I wanted something formal but with a NYE sparkle.

Joe: We wanted to capture the night and our personalities in our invitations. We never deviated from that.

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

Xan: Andrea at The Paper Trail in Haddonfield, New Jersey showed me several options but I fell in love with the William Arthur square invitation. I thought it was classic but the square shape made it different. I also was drawn to the weight of the invitation and of course the gold edge.

Joe: Xan’s mother, Jamie, was able to incorporate a friend’s artwork of the Philadelphia skyline, which provided a unique and fun twist to balance out the suite’s formality and elegance.

Vera Wang Gold Confetti Engraved Black Wedding Invitation
Vera Wang Gold Confetti Engraved Black Wedding Invitation
William Arthur Gilt Edged Ecru Heavyweight Large Square Wedding Invitation
William Arthur Engraved Small Square Ecru Menu Card
Was there anything about the process of choosing your invitations that you weren't expecting?

Xan: I guess I didn't realize the numerous options you can choose from and how exciting paper can be! I found the process to be so much fun looking at all the options, textures and fonts. You can really make your invitation one-of-a-kind if you choose!

Joe: The customization element that surfaces throughout the process is quite remarkable.    

Tell me about your wedding! What was your favorite moment? What was your favorite part of your big day? Any special or momentous highlights, funny stories, etc.?

Xan: My wedding was something I've always dreamed of. My favorite part was walking down the aisle, seeing my husband at the other end and everyone we love in the crowd. It's an overwhelming feeling that you can't describe.

One special moment was our donut wall! Joe and I are huge donut-lovers so our wedding planner, Katie Robinson with DFW Event Design, created a donut wall on which they hung donuts from the best donut place in Philly, Federal Donuts. It was a great surprise for our guests right before midnight.

Joe: Hands down, the wedding was the best night of my life.  All of our family and friends were there, dressed impeccably, ready to celebrate 2015 and ring in 2016 with us. Not only did [the donut wall] embody “us”, it was extremely delicious. 

My favorite part of the entire day was when Xan put my wedding band on my finger.  Apart from the traditional symbolism, it made me happy.  For me, our special highlight/funny story is when Xan and I got on stage with the band and sang (atrociously) “Born to Run.”

Do you have any advice for brides- and grooms-to-be on the invitation process?

Xan: Be different! Too many times I've received the same wedding invitation over and over again. There are countless options so add your own personality to the invitation!

Joe: Be open-minded and try incorporating a little bit of your personality into it.  It’s the first major detail that your guests see and sets the theme for what they perceive your wedding night to be. Oh and listen to your fiancé!  

The Stationer: Andrea of Haddonfield, New Jersey-based shop, The Paper Trail.

Tell me about your first meeting with this bride and/or groom and a little about the process you went through to get to the final decision.

Andrea: I worked with Xan’s mother Jamie on her sister’s wedding a few years ago. We completely just get each other! When she called to say Xan got engaged, I was so excited to sit with them to design the save the date. They said: Ritz-Carlton, New Year’s Eve, all metallic colors… and I swooned! They also had custom drawings of the Philadelphia skyline as well as the Ben Franklin Bridge that they wanted incorporated on the save the date and wedding suite. We discussed printing options and paper stock. Xan knew she wanted something substantial and liked the idea of a square. I pulled the heavy weight, gilded square invite and we worked backwards from there!

What are some of the big invitation design trends you're seeing?

  • Lace: Be it dye cut to look like lace on an invite or an actual piece of lace wrapped around the invitation.
  • Watercolor effect: While I wouldn’t do it for a wedding invitation (too informal) I’m doing it for shower invitations. It’s fresh and fun!
  • Metallic gold touches: On linings, gilded edges, foiled on invites…everywhere and we LOVE it!
  • Investing in hand calligraphy: It’s totally worth the splurge!

What advice do you have for brides who are ready to make their first invitation appointment? How can they come best prepared and well-equipped to their first meeting with you?

Andrea: Come prepared with the basics and an accurate head count. Come with an OPEN MIND!!! Let us show you all that we have to offer, as opposed to bringing in a friend’s invitation and wanting to duplicate it. Let’s create something beautiful and unique together! Most importantly, do not do this online! Go to a trusted stationer. We have been doing this for 11 years [and] we put all of our experience, expertise and knowledge into every order.

What questions do you always ask at that first meeting with a bride?
Andrea: How would you describe your overall wedding style in a few words? Are you more traditional or modern? Do you have something in mind or can I lead the way? What kind of budget are we working with? I also ask the basics: How/why did you pick your venue? How did you meet? What are your girls wearing? What do your flowers look like? These help me narrow down which albums to show first. Or, if we are creating something custom, unique to them. I can’t tell you how many times I show them an invite that winds up being the one they go with. I’m great at reading people and matching them with the perfect invitation…it’s a gift!  

What style of invitations seem to be most popular right now? Why do you think that is?
Andrea: I tend to attract very traditional brides…so I’m seeing lots of ecru or white stock, gold or black ink. This makes me happy, because as I tell every bride, their wedding invitation should be able to stand the test of time: simple and elegant…just like a Chanel suit or Hermes Birkin bag! Timeless!

When it comes to choosing wedding invitations, how is today's bride different from those five years ago?
Andrea: There are more options than ever right now, allowing today’s bride to completely customize a wedding suite that is true to their style. Also, just about every bride comes in with photos, pins, etc. … the internet plays a huge role in shaping not only their invitation, but their wedding as a whole.

Photos by Lauren Fair Photography
Philadelphia feature artwork on invitations by Susan Moore Smith 
Kara Neff lives in New York City by way of Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. She can be found writing freelance for beauty, fashion and interior design outside of her full-time job as a fashion writer. 
Are you a bride or stationer who has a William Arthur or Vera Wang wedding invitation you'd like to have featured in Real Weddings? Email us at

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