From The Studio: Woodland Wonderland Invitation Featuring Wood, Silk and Moss

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ok, so a few weeks ago I got to toot my horn about being featured on the utterly fab blog Style Me Pretty, as part of a beautiful “Woodland Wonderland” inspiration shoot. I promised then that I would blog a bit about designing the Woodland Wonderland invite, and show a few more photos.

So today I’m keeping my promise!

Before I do that though, much thanks and many props to Corina from Corina V. Photography for the amazing photos, and I urge you to check out the whole shoot on Style Me Pretty to see the great work done by ALL the vendors involved!

Now, let’s go back…a few months ago I was approached by Corina (who used to be an invitation designer as well and who I was “nieghbours” with at a recent bridal show) about participating in this shoot, styled by the lovely Dawn and Alanna from Eph*ra Event Design. As you can imagine, there was no way I was turning them down, and I loved the concept of woodsy meets elegant. I always think that bringing together two things that don’t seem complementary is the most challenging and also the most rewarding kind of design.

I set out to do something that incorporated different materials, and a traditional “woodsy” palette with a twist. The first decision was to print on real Maple wood veneer (thin “slices” of wood that are adhered together), and I knew that I wanted to incorporate moss somehow as well. I originally was going to use a simple kraft paper box, but somehow it just wasn’t “right”. Then I decided to try the chocolate-coloured silk box and it immediately came together – the unlikely combo of true “forest” materials with an elegant natural silk. To jazz up the outside of the box, I used a matching green ribbon and made three wood veneer flowers to give a little “hint” at what was inside.

When it came to designing the invite itself, it was a big challenge. I knew that I wanted something that was more casual and rustic, but that still fit into the overall theme. I decided on mixing a more formal die-cut shape and a whimsical typeface (with a beautiful hand-written feel) with a simple layout – didn’t want to detract from the beautiful detail of the wood grain!

Tucked in the side pockets were the RSVP and accommodation cards – again, simple in nature, but with a bit of a woodsy touch – a bird and a rabbit. Corina said that she wanted to get a rabbit in there somewhere, so I made sure that I did my part, and I loved the sweet forest feel of the small illustrations.

I also put together menus, place cards and signage to match the invitation suite – again, all printed on wood veneer. Although we hadn’t actually discussed many of the final details before the shoot, it was amazing how everyone’s creations came together and just “fit”. The tablescapes were fabulous – much bolder than I expected, which was great, and the overall look was perfect.

Here’s a photo of the menus, at the fab place settings (LOVE the peacock feather chargers):

And because I can’t resist one last photo, just in case you don’t get a chance to see the whole shoot, the tablescape was beyond amazing (Dawn and Alanna you guys rock!):

It was an honour to work with these talented ladies, and it is always so fun when you are able to stretch creatively and do something that may not be for the average client, but hopefully inspires some couples out there to explore options they may not have previously considered.




Invitation Advisor: What’s The Average Cost of Programs, Place Cards, Table Numbers, Menus and More? The Answer May Surprise You.

September 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Yes, The Invitation Advisor has been slacking off recently – naughty Invitation Advisor.

So many invitations, so little time 😉

But today, we’re back talking about something that seems to be forgotten when reading those “how much should wedding invitations cost” articles – your wedding ceremony and reception stationery. Stuff like programs, place cards, table numbers, menus, favour tags, stickers, specialty signage – the list goes on.

If your read our post on the subject on the average cost of wedding invitations (if not, just click above), you’ll note that there was a very wide range of prices, and to be honest, the situation is even worse when it comes to your day-of stationery. Costs vary pretty wildly, depending on what you want, how you want it and who you are paying to do it.

That said, you need to be aware of how much these items will cost you, as I know I’ve had many clients who completely forget to add these costs in when budgeting for wedding stationery and are stuck scrambling a few weeks before their wedding to figure out what to do and how to pay for it. Not fun. Take my advice and give it some thought *now* so you don’t end up in a bind later.

Even those clients who do consider it often *drastically* under-budget – and by drastically I mean come to me with numbers that are less than 50% of the cost. Where are these numbers coming from? No idea. I recently had a client who had budgeted (and demanded to pay) less than $1.00 per item for custom place cards (with clients names and table numbers pre-printed), ceremony programs, menus, table numbers and favour tags. I’ll give you a hint – you won’t be getting these items for less than $1.00 each, unless you are creating them yourself or buying them from someone who is allergic to breaking even.

So…what are your options?

Basically, the same options you have for invites – DIY (Do-It-Yourself), retail or custom.

I have to be honest and say that I DO recommend you stick to the same place you got your invitations – I do think it’s important for things to look cohesive in overall style and quality.

If you are choosing to DIY, make sure you are realistic about the amount of time you have. While DIY can be very inexpensive, it also can be very stressful, as you generally won’t be able to start on these items until a few weeks before your wedding when your guest count/seating etc. is finalized. That can create some big-time stress that may not be worth the cost-savings.

If you are choosing the retail or custom option, you’ll also need to figure out exactly what you want ie. do you want your escort cards personalized with name and table number or are you willing to write it in yourself? How much information do you want in your ceremony program – will one single sheet do or do you need a folded or booklet style? How many menus do you need – 1 per table, one per guest, something else entirely?

There are definitely a number of factors that will affect what you’ll pay for ceremony and reception stationery – so many in fact that I realized as I was putting this together there is no way that I can give a credible price range for these items when there are literally so many choice and options out there.

So, if you came looking for a nice round number to stick in your spreadsheet, I apologize – you’re not gonna find it here.

But, let me give you my personal advice, based on experience, and hope that it makes up for the lack of cold hard numbers:

DIY – $
Yes, doing it yourself will be the least expensive option. How inexpensive – who knows? But I would say the answer could be “very”. Remember though, that monetary cost (ie. how much cash you spend) is not the only cost here – your time is the biggie, so make sure you have the skill, the time, the assistance, or preferably all three, to pull it off – without staying up till 4am the morning of your wedding putting together programs (yep, guilty as charged).

Retail – $$
Many retail invite companies (think Crane, Carlson Craft, Wedding Paper Divas etc.) do offer matching ceremony and reception items, but the pricing does vary quite a bit. I did a little experiment with WPD and chose and invite at random at a qty of 100 (an invite, rsvp card and one additional insert card) which worked out to about $442. Then I added up the cost of matching escort cards (75 – write-in style), menus (15) and programs (75 – folded) considering a guest count of 150 people. The total – $367.40. Which is 83% of the invitation cost! I’m guessing that is probably a surprise to many of you.

Custom – $$$
Yes, custom is generally going to be the most expensive option out there, and for good reason. Ceremony and reception stationery is actually very labour-intensive, and believe it or not, most custom designers don’t make a whole lot of money on these items – it’s done more as a service for their clients. If you have a number of specialty items you need, or want to have something more than the “average”, custom will likely be the way to go. In looking back over some of my past orders, I can say that in most cases my clients spent somewhere between 35% and 75% of their total invitation costs on day of stationery. So a client with an invitation order of $2500 may easily spend $1000 or more on day of items, depending on exactly what they need. In fact, those that spend less total on invitations often will spend more (percentage-wise) on their wedding day items, just based on minimum costs etc. My advice – budget for at least 50% and ask for a quote from your designer ASAP once you’ve nailed down what you want and the approximate number you’ll need.

The moral of the story? Do your research! Figure out what you want and how much it is going to cost – don’t budget a random number and hope it’ll fly. You’ll most likely be surprised how the cost of wedding day stationery adds up, so make sure it’s not surprise that happens weeks before your wedding.



From The Studio: The Elevated Envelope, Something Just A Bit Different

September 21, 2011 § 4 Comments

Hi all – hope you are enjoying the first day of fall (unless you are enjoying the first day of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere!)…

Now that summer is officially over, I thought it was the perfect time to show off something I worked on with a summer theme, as part of an amazing project conceived and put together by the lovely Tara Bliven, from Ephemera Press in Washington. Tara is a super-talented letterpress printer, designer, calligrapher – is there anything she can’t do? Doubt it!

What she did do is put together a little project/experiment called “The Elevated Envelope” which asked artists, desginers and other creative types (and even some not-so-creative types!) to put together beautiful envelopes with a summer theme to exchange with a small group. When I saw Tara tweeting about it I knew I had to join in – sounded like fun and it’s always nice to do something creative that doesn’t involve clients, or money, or anything other than expressing yourself.

Overall there were 85 participants (my group had 10), and you can see example of some of the creative, beautiful, funky and cute envelopes on the Ephemera Blog!

As for me, I thought it would be fun to post a little bit about my “envelope” with some photos and a bit about the process, inspiration etc.

So without further ado – Hip Ink‘s elevated envelope:

Right, so…it’s actually a box. Was that cheating? Probably – but there was an envelope inside. More than one actually – in fact, technically three. I joked with Tara that I must have won the award for”most envelopes contained in a non-envelope”. Why a box?

First it was because when I came up with the idea for the envelope, I was very worried about mailing them – most of them were going to the US and even one to India, and I was concerned that the post office would take one look at them and say “good luck with that”. I considered just doing a clear envelope with a label, and was going to go that route until I decided I really wanted to include something that fit my theme, and the only way to do that was in a box.

My theme (what I love about summer) was sort of two-fold – fruit and bright juicy fruity colours.

Inside the box, was this:

Couldn’t resist! I love me some polka-dots, and I wanted it to be a surprise, unwrapping the layers and seeing what was inside. Kinda like Christmas, but not quite!

Now it’s me, so I can’t resist being a little out there and cheeky – after all, I’m a terrible artist, so I had to rely on other skills!

Here’s a close-up of the seal that held together the polka dot liner:

5 pounds of Skittles and 10 rolls of washi tape? I know you are thinking “WTF Sarah?” right now, but trust me.

Let’s start with the obvious – the Skittles. I wanted to include something fruity, but obviously real fruit in an envelope is most likely a recipe for disaster and not looked upon kindly when sent via international mail. So – what’s brightly coloured and fruity? Why Skittles of course! So after removing the envelope which was placed on top, this is what greeted recipients:

I mean really, who doesn’t love getting half a pound of skittles in the mail? Thought maybe that would make up for my lack of artistic ability!

“What about the ENVELOPE Sarah?” Right, you’re wondering if I actually paid any attention at all to what was supposed to do?

There was an envelope and it looked like this:

I had rolls and rolls of gorg washi tape just hanging around in bright beautiful colours and thought it would be great to use to decorate my envelope! Loved the way they turned out – summery indeed.

Inside the envelope was a hand written note to each recipient, along with a little card printed on metallic stock that explained my love for summer fruit!

And last but not least? Well, I knew that a number of people had been included recipes with their envelopes, and feeling a bit cheeky I decided to include a “recipe” of my own – in a little envelope marked “secret family recipe”. What is this wonderous recipe you might ask

Yep – Rainbow Fruit Kebabs. Very challenging to make, with the skewering and all, right? LOL. They are super-cute, both fruity and colourful, and a funny nod to my compulsion to put everything in “rainbow” order.

I had a blast participating in The Elevated Envelope, and hope that I get the chance to do so again this Winter, when Tara puts together another round of envelope madness!

From The Studio: Edward & Bella’s Twilight (Breaking Dawn) Wedding Invitation – Hip Ink Style

September 14, 2011 § 6 Comments

Okay, so today’s Workshop Wednesday is a little different…

A while back I joked about creating an invitation for Edward & Bella, the famous characters from Twilight (if you live under a rock, you may want to check out this link). I’m not a huge Twilight fan by any means, but I have a very good friend who is (Team Edward), so I have read the books and have seen the first three films.

A few months ago a still shot was released of Bella and Edward’s wedding invitation, as created for the movie. Ugh. There was definitely a bit of chatter in the invitation design world about how blah it was, and the number of errors in etiquette present etc. It’s like they just handed that job off to some Production Assistant who didn’t know the first thing about wedding invitations (which is probably exactly what they did).

Here is the design from the movie, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1:

Booooring…seriously. The only cool part is the wax seal with the Cullen family crest – and that’s really the only part that makes any sense. Why? The backstory is that since Edward was actually born in 1901, he’s very traditional and wants a traditional wedding – Bella on the other hand doesn’t want a wedding at all, so she wants the day to reflect Edward. Add to that the fact that the wedding planning is being done by Edward’s “sister” Alice, who is very much into fashion and design and has disposable income matching a small African nation, and you can see why I was puzzled by the choice of invitation.

So, urged on by my friends who are big Twilight fans, I decided to create my own version of Bella & Edward’s invitation, just for fun!

I decided on a suite that would mix Edward and Bella’s tastes and experiences – lots of cream and white with simple typography to please Bella’s simple style, but pulling in aspects of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, along with a traditional design, to reflect the time that Edward grew up in – just like I would for any of my couples.

I used a mixture of an off-white textured felt stock, cream metallic envelopes and a translucent vellum, to give some textural interest to the invitation suite. It also features the Cullen crest printed on a vellum envelope liner.

While I chose a combination of purples for the invite (soft lavender and violet), I decided to bring in some other soft tones in the RSVP and Guest Information card, while repeating the use of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau inspired typography and design elements.

The main invitation text is directly from the movie invitation, but I could help but “fix it” (you’re welcome Summit Entertainment).

Above you can see the texture of the invitation stock and the vellum wrap (my favourite part). Overall, I wanted to design a suite that was a little bit traditional and a little bit modern, with a good bit of early 20th century flair as a nod to Edward’s early life (both as a human and as a vampire).

I actually had a blast putting this together, and as fate would have it, Summit Entertainment just released the first full trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (you can watch it here, if you are so inclined) yesterday. Interestingly enough, it contained a number of shots of Bella and Edward’s wedding, including the ones below:

Hmmm…cream, grey and shades of lavender and violet…check.

I don’t wanna say, but I’m just sayin’ – take that Twilight Production Assistant! 😉



Invitation Advisor: What To Do If You’ve Made A Mistake On Your Wedding Invitations

September 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

You’ve made a misteak on your wedding invitations. You did’t originally catch it, but there it is. What can you about it?

Did you catch the mistakes above? They were pretty obvious, but I’m guessing you missed at least one – it’s a trick of the mind, where we fill in things that aren’t really there, and it’s one reason why mistakes happen, even on something as important as your wedding invitatons…er…invitations!

Now, this post is working on the assumption that *you* missed something when proofreading that has resulted in an error on your invites and how to deal with that situation. It won’t address situations where your stationer/designer etc. has made an error, as policies vary in those situations, and I wouldn’t want to speak on behalf of other stationers when it comes to that sort of thing. What I *can* say is that they should make it right, in whatever way possible.

Aside: Please remember, that proofreading is YOUR responsibility – not your stationer or designer. The harsh reality is that you aren’t their only client (they are likely staring at various customer proofs all day), and even more importantly, they don’t know your wedding details as well as you do. I’ve mentioned before that as a designer I really don’t pay attention to the literal names, dates and times when designing, they just become visual elements. I spend so long looking at them that they basically become gibberish. Be realistic – own up to your mistakes. I know you may be angry and upset, but that is not an excuse to place blame where it does not belong – ultimately, if you approve a proof with a mistake on it, you are responsible. Need help with proofreading – check this out.

So, what kind of mistakes are we talking about? There are basically three main issues that come up:

* Spelling mistakes – Okay, yes, spelling accommodations can be tricky…or hors d’oeuvres…or your financé’s name. Seriously, I’ve seen it.

* Incorrect information – Asking people to show up at your ceremony at 2:00pm, instead of 3:00pm – or on completely the wrong date – bad form.

* Missing information – Forgetting to include an address, forgiveable – forgetting the date, time or location…not so much.

How do you avoid making these errors? Read this and do it. Triple-check and then triple-check again. It can be an exciting time and a busy time, and you may feel like since you’ve started at it 100 times you know everything is correct, but don’t be fooled.

What can you do if you’ve already committed these errors? Read on…

Spelling errors are a tough one – they are certainly the most common, but they often are not glaring enough to consider paying to have your invitations reprinted (unless it is a mistake in one of your names, which is kinda important, right?). Unfortunately, they are also tough to really correct any other way than by reprinting the entire invitation, which depending on the type of invite you’ve chosen could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The best advice I can give you here is just make sure they don’t happen in the first place, because your choices once that mistake has been made is either to live with it, or pay up (and we’re not talkin’ chump change). No, liquid paper is not an option.

Incorrect/missing information is actually a bit easier to handle. Depending on exactly what information has been left out and when you catch it, it may be a fairly simple fix. For example, for a small piece of information (a time, an address etc.), you could consider placing a sticker on the outside of the envelope with the details (and some tongue-in-cheek wording), or even on the invitation itself depending on the style and layout. If you have a small guest list, you could consider calling or emailing your guests (no, no facebook or twitter please and thank you) and letting them know the correct information. Or, you could send out a separate small card with the correction (which is what you’ll need to do if the mistake isn’t caught until *after* the invitations have gone out) – yes, you’ll be stuck with the additional postage costs etc., but at least your guests will actually show up!

That said, the most important thing to consider is the formality of your event and the size of your guest list. If you are having a formal royal-themed fairytale wedding for 600, I wouldn’t suggest slapping a sticker on your invites or sending your guests an email. The appropriate thing to do is to send a small matching “correction notice” card letting your guests know the proper information. If you are having a smaller, more casual wedding, then a cheeky sticker on your envelope or a funny email may just be the ticket.

Ultimately, I probably don’t need to trot out “the best offence is a good defence”, “look before you leap”, “a stich in time saves nine” and a host of other idioms and proverbs to make it clear that your best bet is to just avoid having to deal with this issue altogether.

Now class, everyone pick up your chalk and write with me…

“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread my invitations”
“I WILL proofread….



From The Studio: Rustic Vintage Muskoka Lakes Wood Wedding Invitation

September 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hey all,

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for eye candy! Lots of invites to show off over the next couple of weeks 🙂

You may recall me mentioning that I worked with two couples who were having rustic/vintage weddings in Ontario’s cottage country this summer. For *both* of those weddings we created suites that featured wood (maple in this case, how Canadian, eh?), but the overall effect was very different.

One of those weddings I’ll need to hold off on for a little bit (I know, I know – believe me, the anticipation is killing me!) as there is a possibility that it may be published, so I can’t spill the beans quite yet; however, the other is in the spotlight today!

Andrea and Craig were just married this past weekend (congratulations guys!) in the Lake of Bays/Muskoka region, and enjoyed a beautiful wedding weekend surrounded by family and friends. They came to Hip Ink looking for an invitation that would compliment their wedding locale, and have a vintage/rustic sort of vibe, with a little bit of offbeat fun thrown in for good measure.

We discussed the idea of something that was a bit “mix and match”, with different textures playing a big role, and using a woodsy palette of cream, beige, grey, green and blue (not to mention the actual wood itself). Andrea wanted something that mixed different styles, fonts and feelings – a bit casual, a bit rustic, a bit traditional and a bit whimsical. She also wanted to incorporate some inspiration from the idea of a love letter/telegram.

Here’s what we came up with:

The main invite was digitally printed on a thick maple veneer – the shot below shows the beautiful wood grain pattern. Each piece of wood is different, so each invitation is totally unique! We added some “stamps” to the main invite to bring in a bit of that vintage postal look Andrea was after, including a little tongue-in-cheek nod to one of Canada’s iconic animals, the moose.

For the RSVP, we created a telegram style, with a typeface mimicking an old school typewriter, and with spacing etc. that was just a little “off” – which normally would drive me crazy, but here lends a little bit of vintage charm.

The Lake of Bays area was definitely the star of this event, and Andrea and Craig wanted to highlight the location as much as possible. One of their initial requests was that we somehow incorporate a postcard with a photo of the area, to show off the gorgeous wedding location. No worries, we transformed the guest information card into a postcard, and included a faded map on the back showing the geographic location of their wedding venue.

And finally, we tied it all up in a neat little package to send off to their guests, with a little twine and cute hang tag inviting guests to join them for their wedding weekend.

This was such a fun project to work on – I’m a big fan of non-matching invitation suites, especially when mixing thematic elements, like Andrea and Craig did for their big day! And I’m also a big fan of incorporating wood into invitation suites as well – it’s a beautiful natural material and adds a sweet element of surprise to your invites. And it’s eco-friendly too!

Catch you next week for more paper goodness 🙂

Big News: Hip Ink Custom Invitations Is Now (ok, soon)…Hip Ink Paper Co.

September 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’ve have been positively buzzing with excitement, eagerly anticipating being able to share some exciting changes that are coming up for Hip Ink, so much so that I’ve taken over The Invitation Advisor’s usual spot on Tuesday to share our big news.

It’s already been a big news kind of week, with our first Style Me Pretty feature as part of a gorgeous Forest/Woodland Wonderland shoot!

But…it gets better 🙂

I’ve teased you all with news that Hip Ink was doing a little restructuring, re-branding etc., and today I’m pleased to announce that Hip Ink Custom Invitations will soon become Hip Ink Paper Co.

You’ll notice that when it comes to branding, not much has changed – still bright, modern, fun and funky as always.

What has changed is the approach – while Hip Ink will still be focusing on invitations, I wanted to be able to create a brand that allowed me to explore all avenues of paper goods and stationery, and so Hip Ink Paper Co. will now be an umbrella brand for all of the fun stuff that I can dream up going forward!

First up is brand new invitation lines, exclusively designed and available only through Hip Ink – wedding, baby, party and bar/bat mitzvah “Invitations by Hip Ink Paper Co.” lines will be coming your way beginning in January of 2012. These lines will be modern, fresh and clean – and a price point that doesn’t break the bank. We have had so many clients asking about modern, simple and lower-cost invitations for their weddings and social events, and so branching out from 100% custom work seemed like the perfect solution.

Which means that I am busily designing my tush off right now to create something I hope you’ll be excited about too 🙂

So, does that mean no more custom Hip Ink designs? Au contraire, our custom work is getting it’s own shiny new brand and updates – Hip Ink Couture Invitations –  under the Hip Ink Paper Co. banner. We’re excited to be focusing our custom work on truly interesting and inspirational projects, and as such will be taking on a smaller number of custom clients to allow us to dedicated more time are resources to give your project that WOW factor!

Here’s a sneak peek of the new Hip Ink Couture logo, with custom calligraphy by the fabulous Moya Minns of MM Ink Studio – think modern luxury with an emphasis on flawless design and gorgeous materials. Don’t fret, there will be a full post coming up soon with more info on Hip Ink Couture with some branding details as well (always fun).

So when will you start to see these changes? Soon – you’ll probably notice things changing here and there slowly over the next few months, but we’re anticipating the launch of our new website in December and a hard launch of our new lines etc. January 1, 2012.

It has been a crazy but exciting time here at Hip Ink over the past few months, and I am thrilled to be sharing this big news with you – finally!

So stay tuned , it’s going to be a wild ride 🙂



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