Vendor Love: Gorgeous Hairpieces and More from Frilly Bits

February 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s that time again folks – it’s Friday, and time for some vendor love!

Today we’re featuring Frilly Bits, created by the lovely and talented Kalee and her mom, Wendy. I just love the idea of a mother and daughter team coming up with these gorgeous creations.

First, let’s give you what you really want – a peek at Frilly Bits, well, bits!

Is there a word for ridiculous, spectacularly awesome fantastical gorgeous? Because if there is – that is what these are! Frilly Bits has been around for only a year and they are already gaining quite a following, creating gorgeous custom hairpieces and birdcage veils for nearly 90 brides and accessoring their wedding parties too!

So how did Kalee decide to jump into the wedding biz?

“I have always wanted to be part of the wedding industry”, says Kalee, “but just didn’t know what aspect I wanted to delve into. I had so thoroughly enjoyed planning my own wedding 5 years ago that after the confetti landed, I was left feeling a void. As the years passed I was always trying to think of something creative I could do that would involve me in the wedding industry. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago, when one of my best friends was getting married and she was trying on a hairpiece in a wedding shop and balking at the price. ‘Kalee, you could totally make me something like this, couldn’t you?’ and it was then that the concept was born!”

And what about working with her mom, Wendy? “I decided to recruit my mom into the business too–she was always very crafty and creative and, being so close, it was the perfect opportunity for us to work together!”

What’s so special about Frilly Bits? You mean besides how amazing their work is? Kalee explains, “We love what we do–we get the chance to meet amazing clients and create something dazzling for their special day that celebrates their unique style–instead of the “cookie-cutter” veil and tiara. Weddings are becoming less about tradition and more about giving the guests a glimpse into what makes the couple so specia and unique–and Frilly Bits is a perfect way to emphasize that! We don’t just do weddings though–Frilly Bits creates shower favours, bachelorette hairpieces and anything fun and funky for that special occasion or big night out!”

So, what are you waiting for, visit and Be Memorable, Be Gorgeous, Be “Frilly”

From the Studio: A ‘Royal’-Inspired Wedding Invitation

February 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

Some of you may remember our post on our design proposal for William & Kate’s Royal Wedding Invitations (in fact, over 1550 of you have viewed it so far!)…

Well, this week we found out what William and Kate’s invites actually looked like, as they were sent out to over 1900 invited guests. And here it is:

Ok, so, I’m pretty underwhelmed, if I’m being honest. I meant really, QEII, is that all you got? I’m sure it was just whipped off by whomever the royal stationers are, but I just feel for THE wedding of the year, the royal wedding everyone’s been waiting for, we could have used a bit more…something. I’m all for the foiled monogram and the gilded edges, but, overall it’s just kind of…blah. I mean, I don’t wanna say, but I’m just sayin’.

That said, this is a very traditional invitation, and in keeping with Charles and Diana’s invite. As well, this is the ceremony invitation only – there will also be an invitation for the reception thrown by the Queen to follow the ceremony, and a reception later in the evening hosted by Prince Charles. There will be separate invitations for both these events, but it has been said that these invitations will not be made public. Hope they are a little more ‘regal’, if you know what I mean. C’mon Lizzie, it wouldn’t kill you to throw some Swarovski on there, would it?

Anyway, back to Hip Ink…;)

This week, for Workshop Wednesday, we’re showcasing a royal-inspired wedding invitation, featuring a palette of gold, wine, and deep purple, with a little bling.

A purple silk box highlighted with gold thread is finished on top with a gold ribbon and rhinestone buckle, and opens up to reveal the invitations as well as detail card and rsvp, printed on a 100% cotton paper (letterpress on this sort of invite would really be a must!), with a background of flocked damask and gold. Very formal and traditional typefaces along with a crown detail evoke a regal look, while the invite is tied with a satin ribbon finished with a rhinestone heart charm.

This style of invitation would be perfect for any regal, royal-inspired wedding – or just one where you want to knock your guests’ socks off!



Invitation Advisor: When To Mail Your Wedding Invitations

February 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

I’m not sure if someone has been out there spreading misinformation (actually wait, I *am* sure) or if people are just making up their own rules as they go along, but lately many of the couples that come in to see us at Hip Ink seem to be totally overestimating when their wedding invitations need to be sent out. Yes, I do understand that there are circumstances in which you may want to send your invites out early – but most of these couples don’t fall in to those categories.

So, allow me to state for the record, backed up pretty much everybody who is anybody in the wedding stationery and etiquette world:

In almost all cases, wedding invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks in advance of your wedding date, with rsvp date 2-3 weeks before your wedding.

In certain circumstances (international guests, destination wedding etc.), this timeline could be stretched to 12 weeks and RSVP 4 weeks before the wedding, at most. In my opinion, that is even stretching it. And since you all read The Invitation Blog frequently I’m sure, you know that my opinion is always right will most definitely be explained below.

*stepping on my soapbox*

In the past few weeks, almost every client I’ve had has come to me saying they need their invitations “as soon as possible”, want to have them out “well before the wedding” are “in a rush” etc. When questioned further, they tell me they want to mail out their invitations 10, 12, sometimes 14 or 16 weeks in advance of their wedding date.

Why? The answers have varied: anything from “many of our guests have to make travel arrangements” (somewhat valid) to “my family is pressuring me to get them out” or “my venue said I should send them out 3 months before the wedding” (interesting, I had no idea that your mother, aunt and venue coordinator were all stationery etiquette experts).

I’ve also had couples ask for RSVP dates that are 4, 5 or even 6 weeks out from their wedding date, because they want to make sure everyone responds. To be honest, you can give your guests an eternity, those that aren’t going to respond, won’t, no matter how long they have. I think 3 weeks is honestly the perfect amount of time for an RSVP – enough time that you can call any stragglers after the RSVP date (most venues require about two weeks notice on final numbers etc.), but also a reasonable amount of time for people to respond.

Here’s the deal – in almost every case where people believe that they are an exception to the rule of when to send invitations (eg. destination wedding, wedding with many guests who need to travel, wedding on a holiday weekend, large guest list etc) the answer is simple: that is why Save the Date cards were invented. It is that easy. There is no need to stress out about sending your invitations months in advance.

A Save The Date card can communicate all of the info that your guests need to know, beyond just the date itself. You can send them info on your wedding destination, travel and accommodation options and pretty much anything else you think is important for them to know well in advance. Sending save-the-dates is a nice gesture for your guests and takes the pressure off you to get those invites out. Most save-the-dates will include the line “formal invitation to follow”, so that guests are aware they will still be receiving an invitation at a later time and do not need to reply right away.

What if you haven’t sent out Save The Dates and you feel it’s too late? Word of mouth – it’s powerful stuff. Get your mother, future-mother-in-law, friends etc. to spread to word to those that they know will be invited. If necessary, you can even use the dreaded e-mail to communicate details about your wedding date, travel arrangements etc.

As for family putting pressure on you – welcome to planning a wedding. Everyone will have opinions on what you need to do and when you need to do it, but ultimately, you are hiring professional vendors for their expertise, so ask *them* what is appropriate and then communicate that to anyone who questions you. But, make sure you do not blindly take advice from one vendor about another vendor’s product or service. Venues are not stationers, so just because your venue is telling you that your invitations need to go out 3 months before your wedding, it doesn’t make them right.

If you’re unsure what would be best in your particular situation (because yes, there are some circumstances in which you may want to have your invitations completed earlier than normal – although not necessarily mailed earlier than 6-8 weeks) – ask your invitation designer or stationery vendor. It’s what they do and it is their job to know.

Am I saying you can’t make the choice to send them out earlier than normal? Of course not, if you feel strongly that they need to go out early, then do exactly that – just don’t let misinformation cause you to make decisions based on incorrect timelines.

I say it in almost every blog post, and it is the reason The Invitation Blog exsists: educate yourself. Don’t take your family, friends, other vendors advice at face value. Google it. Ask *your* vendor. Don’t get into a situation where you are causing yourself undue stress.

*stepping down, putting soapbox away for this week*

Freeform Friday: 12 Tips on Starting and Operating an Invitation Business

February 18, 2011 § 5 Comments

Friday already!?! Wow – time flies when you are having fun. And at Hip Ink, we’ve definitely been having fun (read: insane craziness).

Before I dive into writing this post, let me provide the following disclaimer: I am NOT a business guru, not an expert, and I may be totally full of you-know-what. That said, after 5 years in the business, I’ve learned a thing or two (and mostly from other people), so that’s what I’m sharing today. Your mileage may vary.

It seems that lately there have been a number of people asking me for advice on starting or running an invitation business. My first reaction is to be incredibly pleased and strut around like a peacock for a bit. My second reaction is wondering why they would be asking *me* of all people!?! Surely there are people who know much more than I do, right? Definitely. I can only imagine that it may have something to do with the fact that I’m always happy to share information (yes, even with competitors) and that I don’t sugar-coat things.

So, for those out there that are thinking of starting up a custom invitation business or are just looking to kick things up a notch, here’s my tips – in no particular order:

Make Sure You LOVE It.
You need to LOVE invitations, be passionate about design, typography, paper, all of it. I believe this is one of the key ingredients to becoming a success. This is your baby – you are going to be either working on it, thinking about working on it, or thinking about how you should be working on it almost every hour of the day. It’s rewarding, but it is also tough – really tough. If you don’t absolutely LOVE it, you will end up hating it.

Figure Out Who You Are.
It’s extremely difficult to promote or sell yourself if you don’t really know who or what you are. Figure out your signature style, what makes you unique, why couples would want to work with you, and then go out there and shout it from the rooftops – but make sure you can back it up.

Get Educated.
Creating your own wedding invitations is not enough. Creating invitations for 10 friends is not enough. Unless you have a background in design already, go out and get yourself some knowledge – whether its getting a degree, a certificate, night school courses, online learning or buying some books – how you do it is up to you, but do it.

Keep Learning.
Are you in a bit of a business slump, needing inspiration, feeling like everyone’s work is better than yours (we have ALL been there) – go out and learn something new, try something you haven’t tried before, deliberately do something you are apprehensive about doing – it will invigorate you and your business every time!

Talk to people – not just other designers and stationers, but other wedding vendors as well. Go to networking events, connect on Twitter, Facebook or Linked-in, knock on doors if you have to. Don’t just talk about business, really get to know people, be genuinely interested – the rewards will come in time.

Work With Vendors You Trust.
It can take time to figure it out, but work only with vendors you can absolutely trust – whether it’s paper suppliers, printers or packagers, make sure you know they can deliver, they value you as a customer and they provide top-notch service. If they don’t, call them out on it.

Buyer Beware.
You at some point to need to buy services from other vendors – whether it is logo design, website design or programming, branding etc. Sometimes looks (and “reputations”) can be deceiving – educate yourself on what you are buying, just like you want your couples to – make sure you are comparing apples to apples and make sure you know what you are paying for. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and check out how much experience and what qualifications the vendor actually has before signing on.

Get To Know Your Clients.
Really get to know them – don’t see them as a number, or just another engaged couple. Talk to them about their lives, their style, their event, whatever – but keep them talking. They aren’t just coming to you for your skill – they need your expertise, your guidance and your reassurance. Give it to them in abundance.

Learn To Say No.
This one is so difficult, but so necessary, and you will not have real success until you learn to do it. You don’t want every client out there, trust me. You want the couples who are a good fit, who appreciate the value of what you have to offer, who aren’t going to cause you undue stress – don’t go out of your way to book every couple, because it just isn’t worth it. In time, you’ll learn to recognize the red flags and you’ll learn the only way to stay sane is to “Just Say No”.

Work Hard.
There is no way to get rich or successful quickly in this industry – anyone who tries to sell you on the idea that their seminar, book, event or group can make you an overnight success, is a liar. Turn and run the other way. There are certainly lots of good tools out there, but what is ultimately responsible for your success is YOU – there are no shortcuts.

Know Your Worth.
One of the biggest mistakes I see with new designers is under-pricing – this not only hurts you, but it hurts everyone else in the industry as well. Make sure you are charging what you are worth – there are lots of people out there who want champagne on a beer budget, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. Be firm, know what the value of your product is, and educate your clients. Don’t devalue what you (and other designers) do – let the tire-kickers, price-shoppers and dreamers move on to someone else. Better yet, refer them to a stationer in their price range (whether it is another designer, stationery store, online etc.) – they will appreciate it and you will not end up with a reputation for discounting.

Just Be YOU.
The hard truth is that to be in this business you need confidence and belief in yourself. You need to believe that what you have to offer is special, that it is unique, that you are providing a product and service that is quality and no one can provide it exactly the way you do. You don’t need a seminar or a self-help book – you need real, honest-to-goodness belief in YOU – and the only place you are going to find it is within.

Oh, I’m feeling generous, I’ll even give you a bonus, lucky 13 – learn the difference between stationery and stationary. Seriously.

That’s the best I can give – check me in another 5 years and we’ll see how it’s working out 😉



From the Studio: Artwork-Inspired Tuscan Destination Wedding Invitations

February 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Hey all – did you miss Workshop Wednesday yesterday? Yeah, so did I…

I was SO busy working on all of our new projects, I totally forgot to post yesterday! It is such an exciting time at Hip Ink right now – so many new couples with such diverse and interesting weddings coming up. Loving it!

We have a few couples on the go right now who are interested in using artwork (custom or otherwise) as an inspiration or focal point of their invites – one based around a similar look to our Paris-inspired invites we shared with you last week, and one based around this week’s star, these lovely Tuscany-themed destination wedding invites.

Tuscany is certainly a place that has inspired many artists, and we were taken by these gorgeous depictions of the Tuscan countryside – perfect for a wedding at a Tuscan villa. The colours reflect the landscape – a warm terracotta, olive green and rich gold and the olive graphics on the main invite and rsvp hint at the wedding reception, taking place in an olive grove.

Art is a fantastic way to evoke the feeling of your destination, and to get your guests in the traveling mood by immersing them in the wonders of your wedding locale.

Invitation Blog PSA: Custom vs Customized

February 15, 2011 § 5 Comments

If you read The Invitation Blog frequently (and who doesn’t!?!), then you’ll know that not only do I like “tellin’ it like it is”, but I also like “setting things straight” – things like “stationery vs stationary” and “how to proofread“.

Today’s public service announcement involves the rampant incorrect use of the term “custom” when referring to invitations and stationery. To be honest, I learned from the last bridal show I did that many couples aren’t aware what “custom invitations” refers to and how they are different from the mass-market stuff out there.

So allow me a mixed metaphor here, and let’s cut right to the heart of the issue (if you’re short on time, no need to read further than the next two lines):

Custom (Bespoke, Couture etc.) invitations are created for each couple from scratch, specifically to fit their style, theme, event and personalities. These designs are never resold. Custom (in this sense) means unique, one-of-a-kind, never to be duplicated for another client.

Customized invitations are what most people are familiar with – invitations where the layout/graphics are set, but specific aspects can be changes (ie. colour, fonts etc.). These designs are created for resale, and a single design will be re-sold a number of times.

Do I think custom is better than customized – well, yeah, considering I’m a designer and sell custom invitations. Do I think there is anything wrong with buying customized invitations? No, not at all. What bothers me is the misuse of the term custom (as it applies to invitations) by some stationers, seemingly to mislead couples about what they are really paying for. Want to know more? Read on…

What does old Mr. Webster have to say about what “custom” means?


– made specially for individual customers: custom shoes.
– dealing in things so made, or doing work to order: a custom tailor.

Fairly loose definition, yes? Indeed. So I wouldn’t blame you for considering that every invitation out there must be custom, since it has your name and details on it, it is in fact made specifically for you, right?

Well…not so much. In the stationery world, custom has a clear meaning – it refers to invitations that are designed from the ground up, specifically for each couple.

The issue for me arises when stationers out there start claiming they are selling a custom product, when in reality it’s not even close to custom. Why does it concern me?

My concern is that it’s very confusing for couples, I’m sure, when shopping for their wedding stationery, to see the word “custom” thrown around on everything. Of course, those couples think (and justifiably so, since they aren’t stationery experts) that what is being sold must basically be the same as all the other “custom invitations” out there. And frankly, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Let me share with you the most glaring example I’ve seen lately:


Yep, I said it. Why not pick on the company most likely to sue me, ’cause I like living on the edge.

Wal-Mart sells invitations now. Seriously. Now, I won’t share with you my opinion on the idea of Wal-Mart invitations, because my mother always told me that if you can’t say anything nice you shouldn’t say anything at all. What did get me though is how Wal-Mart is marketing their new line of invitations:

“Classy, stylish, chic and fun, these custom invitations and announcements are sure to make your day special!”

Say what, Wal-Mart? Your invitations are “custom” (or even “special” for that matter) about as much as I look like Beyonce (and sadly, that ain’t much at all).

So, yes, this is an extreme example – people probably won’t be confusing my work (Hip Ink) with Wal-Mart (Yuck). It’s the point – that a company selling something so obviously mass-market would dare call it “custom”. There’s other offenders out there too, believe me.

How do you avoid the confusion? It comes down to the same advice I always give – educate yourself about what you are buying. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are getting something you aren’t.

I’ll give you one very good hint: if anyone else can buy the same invitation you are, if the stationer you are considering allows you to order a specific style online or gives you a big book of invitations for you to choose a style from, it’s not custom. Period.

In hopes of getting on Wal-Mart’s good side so I don’t get sued – at least they spelled “stationery” right 😉

Friday Finds: Vendor Love – One Happy Girl

February 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

I was just thinking how in the wedding industry, “TGIF” doesn’t really exist, since for most vendors the weekends are their busiest times (either for providing services or conducting consutlations etc.).

That said, Friday still holds a special place in my heart. Which is part of the reason why I’ve decided that on Freeform Fridays will now be alternating with Friday Finds: Vendor Love. Why vendor love? Mostly because rather than have a page of links on my website (which I have to admit I find rather impersonal and suspect at times), I’d rather introduce you properly to vendors offering products and services that are awesone, both locally and internationally.

Today, for the inaugural Friday Find, I’m going to start with someone very special – Karen Sutkus from One Happy Girl (*you* can find her on Etsy!).

When planning for the Burlington-Oakville bridal show this year, I knew I wanted to showcase how  paper in other ways on your wedding day. I came up with the idea of doing a paper wedding dress, and also a paper bouquet. Well, I knew the bouquet was probably going to be something I’d have to do a lot of research on, and to be honest I had made paper flowers in the past and wasn’t that excited by the idea of doing it myself. And then, along came Etsy – I figured someone must be doing paper bouquets, right? Absolutely, and doing them amazingly!

I found Karen’s shop and was amazed by her paper floral creations (which, by the way, is not all she has to offer – she also makes amazing hair accessories and more). I ordered a bouquet, along with two corsages and a boutonniere for us to wear at the show. I asked Karen to make us something bright, incorporating our Hip Ink colours.

The results were spectacular (and had lots of brides buzzing at the show!):

So what keeps Karen inspired and passionate about creating her works of art? Here’s what Karen has to say:

“I thrive off the creative process – starting with a small daydream all the way through seeing the final pieces come to fruition. Nothing makes me happier than to work with a client to make their vision come to life! All of my pieces are handmade with the utmost amount of care and love. For as long as I can remember I have found myself trying my hand at various forms of art – and have the glue gun burns to prove it! I feel that a mind at work is a beautiful thing – and from every attempt and failure only comes a growing desire to improve and succeed. Believe in yourself and live every day as best as you can. If you’re not doing what makes you happy – make it happen! This business is my dream – and while I’m just starting out – I know only good things are to come – and I’m ready!”

Love it! Her passion for what she does shows – in everything from her totally cute packaging, to her handwritten postcard, to the perfumed flowers in the bouquet. Karen is such a total sweeheart and so easy and pleasant to work with – the hallmark of a great vendor.

You can find Karen’s amazing creations on Etsy in her One Happy Girl shop, and you’ll also be able to find the gorgeous creation below in an upcoming issue of Brides magazine.

Tune in two weeks from now for our first local vendor to be featured on Friday Finds – Kalee from Frilly Bits.

See you Tuesday!

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