Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Etiquette – Who Gives A !@#$

May 31, 2011 § 3 Comments

Liked that title, did ya? Made ya click, made ya click…na na na na naaaa naaaaa…

Okay, yes…it’s the middle of a crazy, crazy wedding season and you’ll have to forgive me if I’m just a little loopy!

I thought I’d talk today about something that we’ve discussed before on The Invitation Blog, but is also a topic that these days almost every single client has questions about, and that I find myself giving advice (and opinons, of course) more and more on…

Traditional wedding invitation etiquette and its place in today’s modern weddings.

So today’s post isn’t going to be a handy list of etiquette commandments, but more a discussion of whether traditional etiquette (all, some or none) still has relevance these days. I use the word “discussion” in hopes that you’ll chime in (in the handy comments section) with your opinions and views as well!

Certainly when it comes to traditional wedding etiquette or rules, there are a large number which are being increasingly tossed aside like yesterday’s Lady Gaga outfit – right or wrong, these days it seems like anything goes when it comes to ceremonies and receptions etc. It may, in part, have to do with couples wanting to personalize their wedding, to do something different or out of the ordinary. Another part is just our changing society, culture and morality – some wedding traditions and “rules” seem outdated at best, and just plain offensive at worst.

So what about the world of invitation etiquette? Is it suffering the same fate?

The answer seems to be yes, although it’s questionable whether that is necessarily a negative thing. I can say that many of our clients at Hip Ink are choosing deliberately to go against traditional etiquette when it comes to their wedding stationery. It runs the gamut from things that seem perfectly acceptable (dropping the use of guests’ titles when addressing envelopes for smaller or more casual weddings) to things that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up (requesting monetary gifts only or sending out invitations way too far in advance). But the the fact remains that it *is* changing, for better or for worse.

Not only is it changing, but it’s growing! With the tendency towards having more personal and unique wedding events (destination weddings, wedding weekends, wedding brunches/lunches etc.), there are situations that my clients may ask me about that there are no traditional etiquette rules that can be used as a guideline for. For example, is it appropriate to send out destination wedding invitations a year in advance and ask for an RSVP right away? If you’re having a weekend wedding, is it acceptable to ask guests to only attend if they can commit to the whole weekend of activities and not just the ceremony/reception? What’s the appropriate information to convey when having a daytime ceremony and reception – do you need to spell out what is being served, what type of attire is expected etc.?

And now with so many states (and countries, like Canada!) recognizing same-sex marriages and civil partnerships, does that throw a whole wrench in the etiquette works too? Stay tuned, because we’re going to talk more about same-sex weddings and invitations over the next couple of months, but yes – it can definitely get confusing!

So…does anyone actually give a !@#$ about wedding invitation etiquette anymore? From my point of view, the answer is yes. My clients wouldn’t be asking if they didn’t care. And not only do they care, but their guests care as well. The difference we’re seeing now is that couples are making educated choices about what is and is not important to them, based more on their own personal beliefs than on the traditional way of doing things. Sometimes I agree with them…and yes, don’t act too surprised, but sometimes I *so* don’t.

My approach with my own clients is to explain to them the traditional etiquette and the reasons behind it, tell them a bit about what the modern etiquette seems to be, and give them my opinion on the matter. I believe doing *all* of those things is my responsibility as a professional – educating, providing options and suggesting a course of action. Crazy as it may seem, I do believe that couples pay their wedding professionals to not only give them what they ask for, but to educate them *and* to care enough to have an opinion as well.

So, were you waiting expectantly for me to go on a crazy rant about how I still believe there are certain things that just should NOT be done? Sorry to disappoint you, but this week, I’m leaving to you – what do you still think is an unbreakable etiquette rule, and what’s past its prime? What trends are you seeing? Have you made a choice that was unpopular with your family & friends?

Can’t wait to hear what y’all have to say!

NSS 2011: My First Time at The National Stationery Show!

May 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

If you’ve been reading (the very few posts on) The Invitation Blog lately, you’ll know that I was recently in New York City for the annual National Stationery Show, which brings together stationery designers and buyers, as well as suppliers etc.

I’ve been dying to go for years, but there always seemed to be something preventing me from making the trip – whether it was being pregnant, having a newborn, scheduling issues with family etc.

But, I promised myself that 2011 would be my year – and it was! I was in New York for 4 days with my wonderful Mom and tons of other fantastic designers and vendors, and I loved every single minute (although I could have done with the four straight days of rain, with the sun daring to peek out only as our plane sat on the runway, just before takeoff from NYC).

I had a chance to have brunch with a friend who lives in the city, do some sightseeing, enjoy the view of Manhattan from our hotel in Weehawken, ride the ferry every day, have some wonderful food, but all of that pales in comparison to the opportunity to walk the stationery show itself and to meet and chat with so many wonderful designers, vendors and suppliers.

The show is huge, with hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of booths. Serious, serious eye candy. Thank goodness that I don’t have a retail store right now or I would be in BIG trouble! I remember exclaiming at one point, “O.MG…it’s like paper porn!”. Don’t get me wrong – I love shoes, I love chocolate, I love Chris Hemsworth from Thor, but nothing gets me excited like pretty paper!

I had the chance to speak with some great suppliers (current and future), be inspired by some amazing work by some very, very talented designers, and daydream about coming back to someday to buy stationery to stock my own store.

What were the highlights?

First and foremost, the greatest thing about the National Stationery Show didn’t even happen at the Javits Center. Many of the stationers and designers from my favourite online community (Let’s Talk Stationery, of course), who were in town for the show, got together for a brunch at a lovely restaurant on 9th Avenue called Hell’s Kitchen. Put together by the amazing Renae Judkins (with help from Maritza from Going Postal Designs), it was a chance for many of us to put faces to the names of the ladies (and gentleman!) that we chat with on a daily basis. It was *so* wonderful, I wish it could have been an all-day event…there were about 35 of us, so I didn’t get a chance to really speak to everyone as long as I wished I could! But, we did all get to go home with lovely tote bags (designed and created by Dionisa from Dinosa’s Designs) which cheekily explained the difference between stationery and stationary! I love them – go figure 😉

Here we are – can you tell we were excited?

I did also have the chance to meet a number of other stationers and designers I know (through LTS and twitter etc.) at the show – visiting their booths, running into them at supplier booths or even just plain old running into them! What a great experience to be able to meet these people I feel like I already “know”, in person.

One such highlight for me was getting to hang out at the Envelopments booth – I’ve been an Envelopments dealer for 5 years now, and it was such a pleasure to meet so many of the people I’ve spoken to there over the years – Mark, Tom, Maria…and especially Ramon. From one designer to another, Ramon is fierce, seriously. And who can resist being greeted with a big hug? What a sweetheart!

Envelopments is, and has always been, our #1 supplier, and customer service is a big reason for that – they are awesome. And they have lots of great stuff in store that I can’t wait to share with my clients (especially their new design center and lookbook – eeek!).

Another totally awesome experience – getting to visit some folks I knew who had booths for the first time this year at NSS. One such fab designer is Robyn from Meant To Be Sent (seriously, check this girl out!), who was debuting her gorgeous and fresh new collection. I’m a big fan of Robyn’s style, and after spending so much time following along with her, reading about her prep for the show (with all the trials and tribulations), finally getting to see her fabulous booth was so exciting! Her new collection was a great success and she definitely deserves a ton of credit for pulling it all together for the show.

But there were two things made NSS really special for me this year…

One was *finally* getting the chance to meet Renae (creator of Paper Clique and founder of Let’s Talk Stationery) in person. Over the past year I’ve grown to think of Renae as a friend (and an inspiration and so much more!) and I was so happy to get a chance to hang with her – wish we could do it more often!!! We chatted with some fellow LTSers Sunday afternoon, went out to dinner with Colleen and Mitch from Catprint (thanks for the grub and the limo ride guys!) and I was truly honoured that Renae asked me to give a toast at our brunch on Monday morning. In that toast I spoke about how Let’s Talk Stationery had changed my business, and how each of us had a responsibility to help build and maintain the amazing community that Renae has given us, although I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to give back as much as I have received from the wonderful ladies and gentlemen of LTS. That said, Renae and I have a little something-something up our sleeves…

Finally, it was truly a gift to be able to share all of these amazing things with my beautiful Mom. This is the second year that I’ve had the chance to go away on my own for some “girl time” with my mother (made possible by my fantastic husband and my Dad who take care of the kids and everything else for us), and it really is so awesome to be able to spend time with her – especially doing something that we love…traveling! My mother hadn’t been to New York in almost 50 years, so it was so cool to be able to go sightseeing with her and talk about all the places we’d still love to see together. My mom is a big reason for Hip Ink’s success – whether it’s her support and advice, her financial assistance, or her babysitting or assembly services, she has been a lifesaver. I hope as Hip Ink grows even more I will get the chance to pay her back for just some of what she’s given me (and my guess it that she’d want it to involve Hawaii, LOL).

So…that’s a wrap on NSS 2011. As for NSS 2012, I told myself I wasn’t going to go next year, but…as Justin Bieber would say, “Never Say Never”.

Oh yes, I just went there 😉

Invitation Advisor: How to Save Money on Custom Wedding Invitations

May 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Hey there – long time no see, right?

Yes, we’re in the thick of wedding season around here and unfortunately, blogging has been taking a backseat to all those beautiful and unique wedding invitations finding their way into the hand of our couples’ thrilled guests.

But, I digress!

I’m back from the National Stationery Show (more about that on Friday!) and it’s back to business as usual – which includes the Invitation Advisor.

You’ve probably all seen articles advising you on the ways to save money on your wedding invitations, and they are often along the lines of “send invitations by email, do-it-yourself or by print-your-own boxed invitations”. Yes, each of those is a valid way to save money on invitations, but what about those couples that are looking for more value rather than just less cost?

I’m pretty sure there are a number of people who think this blog exists solely to help part engaged couples with their wedding budget. The fact is that I wouldn’t be in this business doing what I do if I didn’t love high-quality, unique, beautiful, gorgeous, over-the-top wedding stationery – and yes, often it’s pricey too. But I certainly have lots of couples who come to us with very specific budgets, and whatever that budget may be, the are looking to maximize the value they are getting. So, the title of this post may be a bit misleading – some of these tips will help you save money, but some will help you get more value out our your wedding stationery dollars.

Today I’m going to share my tips for getting the most value when choosing custom invitations/working with an invitation designer:

Get a head start.
If you’ve chosen custom invitations, you’re already off to a good start. Believe or not, working with an invitation designer can actually help save you money in the long run – designers can be much more flexible than many of the invitation companies out there, and can and will often handle requests that larger companies will not even consider, or will charge a hefty premium for. With a custom invitation, you can control the budget very easily, and make changes on the fly to help ensure that your invitation suite stays within a price range you’re comfortable at. If you’re in love with a design that way over-budget, a designer can also often simplify the design, keeping the elements that you love, but cutting out the ones you don’t need – giving you a similar look, for a much lower cost.

Avoid making those common mistakes.
Oh yes, we’ve talked about them a lot, haven’t we? Pretty much every big mistake covered on our Top 5 list will end up costing you money – make sure you learn as much as you can about how to avoid those mistakes, and your budget will definitely thank you!

Less is definitely more.
While it’s lovely to have multiple paper layers, pockets, ribbons, crystals etc., all of those embellishments come with a fairly high price tag – both due to the cost of the actual item as well as the labour cost involved in assembly etc. The best way to get great “bang for your buck” is to hire a great designer who can work with you to create a gorgeous invitation that is big on design and small on fancy accoutrement (that’s French for bling). It can be challenging to find a designer who can pull of this look – your best bet is to look for someone that has a strong background in graphic design and ask to see their portfolio of work that is simple with no embellishment whatsoever. A great designer should able to produce a stunning flat panel invite, as well as more embellished looks.

Pay attention to printing.
Printing costs can make a huge impact on the bottom line. While you may love the look of an engraved or letterpress invite, it may be necessary to consider digital printing instead – no, it’s not quite the same, but you may not feel the additional costs is really worth it. If you do choose an option like letterpress, understand where the costs are – setup. If you have a small number of invitations (say 50), letterpress is not terribly cost-effective because of the high set-up costs. If you’ve got a large number of invites (say 200), the cost becomes much more reasonable on a per invite basis. And stick to one ink colour, rather than going for 2 or 3 colours – each additional colour requires it’s own plate and pass on the press, so it raises the costs substantially.

Choose “high-impact” upgrades.
If you’re looking for something more than a flat card, consider the impact vs cost of some common upgrades. As an example, you may find that an envelope liner may be the same cost as a crystal embellishment – while crystals are certainly pretty, the envelope liner will have far more impact on the overall design and feeling of your invitation, and allows for more opportunity to add some unique flair. If you’re working with a tight budget, ask your designer for their advice on what choices will offer the most bang for your buck!

Ditch the RSVP envelope.
Unless you are having a very formal wedding, it’s completely acceptable these days (and can even be a much nicer option in some cases) to include an RSVP postcard which can be dropped in the mail as is, rather than the traditional RSVP card with return envelope. RSVP postcards are definitely growing in popularity, and you’d be surprised how much those tiny envelopes can cost! And while we’re at it – if you were considering using both inner and outer envelopes, forget it. Outer envelopes are quite unnecessary these days, and are generally only found on the most formal of invites.

Ditto for the Reception card (and other inserts).
Again, only formal wedding invitations these days usually have separate reception cards. While it’s traditional to include the reception information on its own card, it really isn’t necessary. You can also eliminate the need for other insert cards like maps, directions and accommodation and guest information cards by setting up a wedding website. They are easy and quick to set up, available for free from a number of sources, and allow you to simply direct your guests to your wedding website for more information – rather than including everything in printed form.

Consider postage carefully.
One way you can easily reduce your invitation costs is to make sure you consider the impact of your choices on the cost of postage. Your best best is to make sure that you choose a standard-sized invitation, and one that does not have lots of additional layers, pocketfolds etc. The heavier your invite is, the more you’ll pay in postage, and ditto for oddly-sized invites as well. Also, make sure that any embellishments that you’ve chosen don’t impact the post office’s ability to process your invitation normally, which will also result in additional non-machinable charges. Unsure? Make sure you take your hard copy sample to the post office so you are aware of any issues before your invites are produced.

Hope y’all found this week’s Invitation Advisor helpful – next week, we’ll be tackling a similar subject you’ve probably NEVER seen mentioned: how to save money/get more value when it comes to your ceremony and reception stationery and accessories!

And be sure to check back tomorrow for the return of Workshop Wednesdays!

Re-post: 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December

May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yes, it’s Tuesday and I’m still in New York City, enjoying the very cool National Stationery Show, and I’ll definitely have an update for y’all when I get back.

I was trying to pick a blog topic to re-post while I was gone, but it was just to difficult…soooooo…

For those that missed it, our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series was a big hit, jam-packed with tons of great info for newly engaged couples on everything from invitation etiquette to trends to DIY and more.

So today, for your enjoyment, we look back on those 31 posts:

31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December:

Day 1: Why *not* to let your future Mother-in-Law choose your invitations!

Day 2: History and Evolution of the Wedding Invitation
Day 3: All about Hip Ink – We’re Tellin’ It (Like It Is!)
Day 4: Who Are You? Finding Your Personal (Invitation) Style
Day 5: What Type of Invitations Are Right for You? Traditional vs Custom vs DIY
Day 6: Where Should I Buy My Wedding Invitations? Choosing a Stationer
Day 7: When Do I Start Thinking Stationery? A Wedding Invitation Timeline

Day 8: Why Are Wedding Invitations So [bleeping] Expensive?

Day 9: How Many Wedding Invitations Should I Order?

Day 10: What *You* Need to Know About Wedding Invitation Etiquette

Day 11: Wedding Invitation Anatomy – The Invitation Card
Day 12: Wedding Invitation Anatomy – The RSVP Card
Day 13: Wedding Invitation Anatomy – Insert Cards (Reception, Directions and Maps, oh my!)
Day 14: Wedding Invitation Anatomy – Wedding Ceremony Programs
Day 15: Wedding Invitation Anatomy – Reception Stationery Essentials
Day 16: Wedding Invitation Anatomy – Thank You Cards

Day 17: Wedding Invitation Anatomy – Odds and Ends (Printing Methods & Envelopes)

Day 18: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Colour

Day 19: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Luxe Simplicity

Day 20: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Letterpress
Day 21: Wedding Invitations Trends 2011 – Calligraphy

Day 22: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Rustic/Vintage

Day 23: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Mix and Match
Day 24: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Personalization

Day 25: DIY Invitations – The *real* cost of DIY invitations (re-post)

Day 26: DIY Invitations – Where Do I Start?

Day 27: DIY Invitations – Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Day 28: DIY Invitations – Design Tips and Resources
Day 29: DIY Invitations – Do-it-Yourself Calligraphy
Day 30: DIY Invitations – Hip Ink’s Top 10 Tips
Day 31: DIY Invitations – Wrap-up and Workshops

Re-post ~ Invitation Blog PSA: Stationery vs Stationary

May 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

from The Color Connoisseur

Okay, so I’ve been lax with my blogging duties this week, I know…taking 5 days off to go to the National Stationery Show in New York City in the middle of my busiest time of year is a challenge…I’ve been trying to get up to speed with all of my clients this week so no projects fall behind while I’m gone.

So, in honour of the fact that I am leaving this morning for New York City and NSS, I’ve decided to post a special Saturday blog – a re-post of one of my favourite posts. Yes, I’m that person 😉

Pet peeve: using “stationary” when you mean “stationery”. And yes, I have actually seen with my own eyes instances of people who sell stationery, call it stationary. You know that sound of nails on a chalkboard? Or the feeling you get when you chew a piece of aluminum foil? That’s how I feel when I see my beloved stationery referred to as stationary.

I have to get up on my uppity interwebs soapbox right now and clear this up.

sta·tion·er·y – noun

1. writing paper.
2. writing materials, as pens, pencils, paper, and envelopes

sta·tion·ar·y – adjective

1. standing still; not moving.
2. having a fixed position; not movable.
3. established in one place; not itinerant or migratory.
4. remaining in the same condition or state; not changing

Please, choose wisely or risk looking rather foolish – and yes, I am so totally looking at you, fellow stationers.

In fact, this little mix-up of homophones (that’s a word pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning) is how we came up with the Hip Ink tagline “stationery, evolved“. We wanted to convey that Hip Ink offers something fresh and different, forward-thinking, constantly changing…stationery, but not stationary.

So, while I admit to taking advantage of the fact that stationery and stationary sound the same, I *do* make sure to note that I sell paper goods and not immovable objects.

Stepping down of the soapbox now and thinking a little workout might ease my tension from merely discussing this topic. Now, where did I hide that stationery bike…;)

Invitation Advisor: No, Your Invitations Do Not Have To Match Your…

May 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Woo! Busy week catching up with all our clients before I take a break for the National Stationery Show in New York City! Don’t worry though, I’ll leave you with some blogs to ruminate upon while I’m gone 😉

Today we’re going to talk about a phenomenon in the wedding industry in general, and definitely in the stationery business…let’s call it, “Matchy-Matchy Syndrome”.

I will agree that they heyday of “Matchy-Matchy-ness” has passed (the ’80s anyone?); but, like the stink of an old piece of gorgonzola, it lingers long after it’s time has passed.

Need proof? I still have clients who come to me and insist that their invitations match their insert-wedding-detail-here exactly. Usually it’s bridesmaids dresses, sometimes flowers, sometimes linens, and yes, they bring swatches. Lots of swatches. And they insist that it NEEDS to match exactly. No amount of coercion on my part will convince them.

Yes, I expect that cut-rate big-box wedding dress retailer to sell invitations that match their bridesmaids dresses – not a big surprise. But, when I’m running a business called “Hip Ink” and have clients who come to me with their strict “Matchy-Pants” on, you’d best believe that it is still a rampant issue in the wedding world.

Who was it, I wonder, who determined that everything needed to match exactly? Because if I catch him, I’ll tell you right now, I can’t be held responsible for what I’ll do.

I’m gonna be straight about it ladies (and gentlemen):

Your wedding invitations do NOT need to match your bridesmaids dresses. Or anything else for that matter.

I don’t really have an issue with someone who *really* wants to incorporate the same colour into their invites; but, it seems to be the easy go-to thing to just say, “well, let’s make them match the whatever“.

Believe me when I tell you that no one is going to receive your invitation and say, “Oh wow, chartreuse, can’t wait to see the matching bridesmaids dresses”. No one is going to show up at your wedding with their invite, pick up the tablecloth and say, “Tsk tsk, this is clearly royal blue, not cerulean!”. No one is going to gasp, “Oh, the horrror”, when they realize that your ranunculus centerpieces aren’t the same shade of pink as your invitation envelopes. And if by chance they do, trust that therapy is in order.

Yes, your invite should evoke the same feeling as your event, the same general tones, but they don’t have to match in every aspect exactly. In fact, there is something to be said for the element of surprise – no need to give away your whole colour scheme with your invitations. Maybe you are having a bright yellow, fuchsia and deep purple colour scheme (yes!) – why not choose one of those colours to show off on your invites? Yellow and Grey anyone? Maybe sneek in one of those other colours in a small way – just a hint. Or maybe go for shades or tones of those colours – more or less intense than the colours you’ll be using in your decor etc.

No, you are certainly not breaking the cardinal rules of invitation design by wanting your invitations to match your ________, but consider the all the possibilities you are shutting out by not at least considering something just a bit different.

And hey, while you’re at it – consider the fact that the pieces of your invitation suite don’t need to match either. Yep, I said it…and lots of people are doing it these days. And if everyone else is doing it, then…wait, nevermind.

Keep watching this space and you’ll see some of own clients who have shed the mantle of “Matchy McMatcherson” and embraced being just a little bit different!

Vendor Love: Vintage Stamps from Send More Mail

May 6, 2011 § 3 Comments

Apologies to those who noticed there was no Workshop Wednesday this week – I’ve literally been so busy I didn’t even have a chance to take any photographs or even write a blog post this week!

My father-in-law is getting married this weekend (you can see their invitation here) and we all have our duties: my husband is the Best Man, I’m a bridesmaid, my oldest son is the ring bearer, and my youngest is…well…just there to look cute! Looking forward to such a joyous family event.

Also getting ready to go to New York next week for the National Stationery Show – this is the first year I’ve actually been able to attend (for various reasons, usually involving my offspring in one way or another), so I am stoked. And…my Mom is coming with me, and I’m also going to get the chance to meet a ton of people from the industry (vendors, suppliers, bloggers and even my girls from Let’s Talk Stationery). So excited!

Anyway, back to the matter of Vendor Love! This week, I have such an exciting vendor to share with you…

Here’s a sneak peek:

Yes, vintage stamps! But not just ANY vintage stamps, oh no – CANADIAN vintage stamps, so all us Canucks can get in on the vintage stamp trend. Hooray!

Send More Mail is creating a buzz these days with their fantastic vintage stamp packs, and for good reason. A fantastic way to get your hands on vintage Canadian postage without a whole lot of effort!

Send More Mail was created by Jaime Maddalena – a photographer who loves everything vintage, including her green bicycle, typewriters and postage. Send More Mail’s stamp packs are a surprising mix of mint vintage Canadian stamps. Each pack contains enough postage to mail a standard sized letter within Canada.

Got an overweight or over-size invitation? No worries, Jaime can create custom stamp packs for you too! Have a particular theme in mind – floral, rustic, nautical? Jaime’s got that covered, as the stamps in each stamp pack are hand picked and can be grouped thematically.

Displeased with Canada Post’s rather sad selection of current stamps? Are today’s stamps too modern for your vintage invites? Or maybe you’re just not a fan of sticking the Queen’s mug on everything? Then Send More Mail stamp packs are for you!

Behold the loveliness:

Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and mail something right now?

Stamp packs are available through and also at one of my fave shops, The Paper Place on Queen Street West in Toronto.

You can also find Jaime taking gorgeous wedding photos with her husband Joseph and Joseph + Jaime Photography – check ’em out!

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