Workshop Wednesday: Sneak Peek At Our Brand New Hitched by Hip Ink Collection

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ok, so the Invitation Advisor took a break from doling out pithy commentary on invitations and etiquette this week to get our brand new invitation collection, Hitched by Hip Ink, ready for launch on Friday!

And so normally what you’d find on Workshop Wednesday is some photos of one of our custom invitation project – today what you’re going to get is a sneak peek at one of our new Hitched by Hip Ink designs…

I am really excited to finally be able to share this collection – it has been months in the making, through many trials and tribulations, re-designs, throwing out ideas, bringing them back, wanting to give up, feeling elated – what a roller-coaster ride it has been.

But, I’ve kept on because I think there is room out there for some hip, funky modern invitation designs that fit today’s wedding – the kind where anything goes. Casual, backyard affairs to ballroom extravaganzas and everything in between!

On Friday, we’ll have a full launch post, with many more details on the line and a link to our brand new Etsy shop where you can purchase Hitched by Hip Ink.

‘Till then…here’s a look at one of our new designs, Hexagon:

Click on the image for a larger version

Click on the image for a larger version

Click on the image for a larger version

Each invitation design includes a matching RSVP and additional insert card design, and most designs can also be used for other wedding-related paper needs including showers, engagement parties, save the date cards etc. and will be customizable in a wide range of colours to suit your event.

We’ll be adding to the collection over the next few months as well – exciting times ahead!

In order to give each of the new designs a little time in the spotlight, we’ll be upping blog posts to 4x weekly (yes, 4 times!) and shuffling things a bit.

We’ll keep Tips n’ Tricks Tuesday (home of The Invitation Advisor) exactly where it is, as well as Workshop Wednesdays (showcasing recent custom work from the studio), but we’re moving our encore posts to Throwback Thursdays and introducing Feature Fridays, when we’ll be featuring one of our Hitched collection designs weekly.

Really excited to share all this new stuff with you…soon. The countdown is on!

Friday Rewind: What Are Your Invitations Saying About Your Wedding?

February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment


Happy Friday all – as a follow up to last week’s re-post of our video blog, I wanted to feature this post from last year, which addresses some of the same issues. Enjoy!

Before we begin – allow me to say the following, lest anyone misunderstand what I’m getting at here: There is no shame in having a modest budget for your wedding. None. This post isn’t about convincing you that you need to spend more – it is about convincing you that you need to allocate your budget to stationery accordingly, to avoid confusing your guests. I may be unpopular for putting this in print, but it doesn’t make it less true.

So, you’ve all probably heard it before…your invitation is the first impression your guests will have of your wedding. Stationers, designers, wedding planners – we throw that out there all the time, but what does it really mean?

Straight up? What it means is that your guests will make assumptions, come to conclusions, and judge your wedding based on the invitations you send out . It will affect the decisions they make – how to dress, what kind of gift to give, and sometimes whether or not to actually attend. I’d love to tell you that everyone is just so thrilled for you that your invitations don’t matter – but it just isn’t true.

Before everyone gets all defensive – be honest, and admit to yourself that you’ve been there. Everyone has done it, because it’s human nature – you receive an invitation and you automatically make assumptions about the kind of event it is going to be, about how much fun you think you are going to have, and sometimes about whether or not you really even want to go. If your invitation is inexpensive, the impression your guests will receive is that your wedding will be modest. Send out an expensive invitation and you set the expectation of an all-out event. If your invitation is casual, guests won’t be expecting a reception in a ballroom – and conversely, a formal invitation would be out-of-place for a barn reception. A fun, colourful invite suggests a party-type atmosphere, while a subdued monochromatic invite suggests a more serene and reserved affair. I could go on, but I won’t (for once).

First, the overall quality (which in most cases means price) of your invites – think about the message you are sending to your guests. I’ve said before that you should budget according to how important stationery is to you; however, the caveat is that if you are having a full-on formal wedding, but send out print-your-own invites from Big Box Craft-o-rama, it creates a disconnect between your guests expectations and your event. That’s just one example, but the lesson here is that you need to match the overall budget for your stationery to the overall budget of your wedding to some degree, or else risk your guests having lowered expectations about the type of event you are hosting, and having issues with everything from dress code to rsvps. The opposite is true – you may feel that stationery is a very important part of your wedding, but be having a more modest affair – make sure that your invitations don’t make promises that your event can’t live up to.

Next up, the tone or feeling of your invitations. Seems pretty straightforward: simple event=simple invitation, casual event=casual invitation, off-beat event=off-beat invitation, formal event=formal invitation etc. As obvious as it seems, I’ve definitely received invitations that, in hindsight, did not match the event itself. Remember that the invitation is sent out to your guests not only for you to request the pleasure of their company, but also to inform them – providing them with an invite that doesn’t match the style or tone of your event is just as bad as giving them the wrong address or the wrong date – it makes your guests uncomfortable on your wedding day. How would you feel if you received a very casual invitation to a wedding? You would likely assume it was a simple affair – you’d probably plan on wearing a less formal outfit. Would you feel really uncomfortable if you showed up in a sundress and everyone else was wearing a ballgown? It’s an extreme example, but it is the sort of thing that absolutely can happen.

Now, on to a very touchy subject…DIY. Yes, I know DIY is all the rage, and you know that I love my DIYers, but…what does a do-it-yourself invitation say about your wedding? If it’s well executed, it says that you care enough to do something personal to invite your guests, to share a part of you with them, to have a hand (literally) in creating their invitation. If it’s poorly executed…well…it says you’re cheap. I wish there was a kindler, gentler way to put it, but unfortunately, there really isn’t.

Don’t believe me? If you cooked your own wedding meal and it was terrible, would your guests think you were trying to personalize the experience for them, or just trying to save money on catering? If you decided to strictly play music from your 13-year-old cousin’s iPod at your reception and it was nothing but gangsta rap, would your guests think you were trying to be cutting edge, or you were trying to save money on a DJ? If you made your own wedding dress and it was falling apart as you walked down the aisle, would your guests think that you were trying to be unique, or that you were trying to save money on your attire? Exactly – so you see where I’m going here. DIY can be great – if you can make it look like you either know what you’re doing, or you didn’t do it yourself. Lookin’ handmade = personal, lookin’ homemade = cheap.

Here’s my best tip: When you are thinking about invitations – whether purchasing from a stationery store, a custom designer or creating your own, imagine what you want your guest to feel and think when they open that envelope. Write it down. Then put your invitation to the test – send it to yourself, put yourself in your guests’ shoes and write down your initial reactions, feelings, assumptions etc. Do they match what you originally wrote down? Then you’re golden. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your choice.

It’s not strictly about how much you spend – it’s about making sure you choose an invitation that is a true reflection of your big day. A well-chosen invitation is always bound to make the right impression.

From The Studio: Purple and Yellow New York Wedding Invitations

February 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Happy Workshop Wednesday y’all!

I’ve got lots of eye candy coming up over the next few weeks, but I realized the other day that I hadn’t featured an invite on the blog yet that I just loved working on!

Kathy (also a graphic designer!) emailed me from Miami to let me know she was having a New York themed wedding and searching for the perfect invite for their celebration. She found my original blog post on Kristy & James’ New York invitations (pictured below) and the rest is history. We had such a fun time working out the details of their suite, taking their NYC transportation theme and all-purple colour scheme to the next level!

While generally speaking our custom work is “from scratch”, we do from time to time have couples that fall in love with a certain suite and want to use that as inspiration for their own. In this case we re-used some of the elements from Kristy & James’ invite, as well as the general layout of the main invitation, and combined that with Carlos and Kathy’s more specific theme.

Here’s a reminder of what Kristy & James’ New York themed invites looked like:

Kathy loved the look of the middle invite panel, and wanted a very similar look for her invite as well (and although they loved the tri-fold idea, they were looking for a slightly more traditional panel invitation). Kathy and Carlos’ colours were strictly shades of purple and grey, so the original design called for those colours only.

But, after looking at the finished suite, there was that little *something* missing. While I love the look of modern and monochromatic, it needed a little…BAM! Enter the perfect complement to a beautiful regal purple – a hit of bright sunny yellow. So, we took the colour of the NYC cab (which was used on the back of the RSVP, not pictured) and brought a little bit of that signature pop of yellow into every element in the suite, to bring it all together.

Speaking of bringing it all together, we also added a belly band and address label with a checkboard pattern to complete the look!

One of my favourite parts of the suite was the custom map/timeline I created to continue the subway theme – with subway-sign style markers for the ceremony and reception, and a subway-stop timeline to let guests know about the evening’s activities.

While it certainly wasn’t the most original invite I worked on last year, it was one of my favourites – I just loved the colours, the theme and most of all the couple!

Congratulations Kathy and Carlos!

Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Wording – What’s In A Name?

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Shakespeare thing will make sense eventually, I swear

Today I’m going to talk about something that can be a source of unexpected drama when it comes to wedding invitations: names. Your names, your parents names, step-parents names, family names – you name it (ok, yeah…that one was bad, I admit it).

Last week we talked about the host line on a wedding invitation, as well as a little blurb on that important line that actually extends the invitation to your guest (ie. traditionally “the honour of your presence is requested” or “the pleasure of your company is requested”).

We did talk about names to some degree last week – proper titles (in fact we’ve got a whole post on this too!), whose name should be included, how to list names etc. Today we’re picking up where that leaves off and talking about names specifically.

In the words of William Shakespeare (from the play my high school English teacher called “full of smut”, Romeo and Juliet), “What’s in a name? That which we call a roseBy any other name would smell as sweet.” Billy Shakes does have a point here, how important is a name really?


When it comes to wedding invitations, you may be surprised.

First, let’s start with *your* names (yes, you – brides and grooms) – here’s some important thing to consider when figuring out how you want to word your invitation:

How formal your invite/event is will likely dictate how many of your names you may want to include. Having a casual wedding with a small guest list? “John and Jane are getting hitched – come celebrate with us” would probably suffice. But if you’re having a grand formal affair, you probably want to use your full names, including middle names – more along the lines of “The honour of your presence is requested at the wedding of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt to Jane Ann Katz”.

As we discussed last week, this is important because who is hosting does have bearing (at least traditionally) on how your names would appear on the invitation. If your parents are hosting their names should appear on the invitation, which means that technically your last name does not need to appear (since it’s already there, and you would hope that your friends and family know who belongs to who). So, in most cases this means that you would use both your first and middle name in that situation. If instead you are hosting yourselves, you have the choice of including your last names or not. Again, a smaller affair and you can probably get away with last names – a larger guest list and it’s probably safer to include your full names, so everyone is clear on exactly who is getting hitched.

What do your friends and family actually call you? Is it different from your real name, or full name? That’s definitely a consideration when it comes to invites. Let’s say that our good friend John Jacob has been called by his middle name his whole life (for whatever reason, and there are many) – while it might be tempting considering his extra-long moniker to leave our his middle name, that would be foolish. Why? The last thing you want is your guests to receive an invitation and wonder who the heck it’s from! What if you go by a name that isn’t part of your actual name, for whatever reason. A little bit more tricky, but often you’ll see this listed in quotation marks, like Rocco “Bob” Spano – again, if no one knows your real name is Rocco, it’s important to include the name that everyone is familiar with on the invitation. And what if you are having a super-formal wedding but hate your middle name and will cry every time you see the invitation if “Sheila” is on there? Relax…do what makes you comfortable. Hate your middle name? Don’t include it – easy peasy.

This may strike you as strange, but as a custom designer I deal with it all the time. Certain invitation designs can not be created or do not look good with certain names (usually a result of the length); so, especially if you are working with a designer, they may suggest that you add in your middle names, or take away your last names or adjust them in some way if possible, to allow for more design options or to make your chosen design look better. As an example, our friends John and Jane up there in our first example would be a designer’s nightmare, since his name is at least three times as long as hers! If you can be flexible about it, that’s great, but again – you need to be happy and comfortable with the way your names appear. After all, it is *your* wedding!

Some other things to keep in mind?

– The bride’s name traditionally goes first (yes ladies, its true!) in the western world; however, in some cultures the groom’s name is listed first. What should you do if you’re unsure which format to use – go with what feels right…or, choose a custom design that balances things out, like placing both on one line. For same-sex couples, the general rule is that names should go in alphabetical order; however, this is also affected by factors like hosting. For example, if John Adams and Jacob Zane are getting married and the Zane family is paying – Jacob’s name should be listed first, under his parents.

– If you have ethnic names but go by anglicized versions, which should you use? Truthfully, whatever makes you most comfortable, but remember that if the ethnic and English versions aren’t similar, you may need to include both to ensure that there is no confusion amongst your guests.

– Check spelling before you submit your wording and proofread carefully. I’ve heard numerous stories of bride’s spelling their fiancé’s name wrong and not realizing ’till after the invites were printed.

– Check with your parents! They aren’t just necessarily picky about their own names; in fact, they may have views on yours as well. You should at least hear them out, even if they *really* want you to use “Sheila” on your invite. You owe them that much, right?

Speaking of parents, not only do you need to deal with your own names on the invite, but you may need to deal with your parents (and multiple sets of parents at that).

Do me (and yourselves) a big favour and swear the following:

If our parents’ names are to be listed on our wedding invitation we solemnly vow to ask them directly exactly how they want their names to appear and how to spell them if we are at all unsure.

Seriously, make sure you know this information, or run the risk of some major family drama. And there is already enough opportunity for that, right?

And with that admonishment, we wrap things up for the Invitation Advisor this week.

Next week, it’s a subject wrought with controversy: How to write the date and time on your invitation.

Really, don’t miss it! 😉

Friday Rewind: Tellin’ It Like It Is, The Invitation Blog Style – A Video Blog

February 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

Soooo…been hearing crickets on this blog on Fridays, huh? Yeah…I know. It’s not you, it’s me. The will is strong but the time management is weak 😉

Now that The Invitation Blog is rockin’ over 200 posts, I though it would be great to bring back posting on Friday by re-posting a past gem every Friday – after all, who want to dig through pages of archives for the good stuff, right?

So, to kick things off, I’m reposting a video blog I made last year, below.

I’m talking budgets, pricing, value and vendor comparison – important stuff for all the newly engaged couples out there.

If you’re looking for sugar coating, you won’t find it here. But you will find some solid advice *pinky swear*.

For more of my views on the above topics, you can check out the following post:

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

See y’all next week!

From The Studio: Vintage Rustic Glam Winter Invitations featured on Style Me Pretty

February 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

All images in this post by Blynda DaCosta Photography

Hope everyone has recovered from Valentine’s Day – remember, now is the time to stock up on chocolate ladies 😉 I’m sure there were also lots of romantic proposals yesterday, so congratulations to everyone who became a soon-to-be-newlywed!

Today I’m thrilled to share some images from a creative shoot I participated in recently with some truly talented vendors: Alanna and Dawn, the event pros from Eph*ra Event Design; fab photog Blynda, from Blynda DaCosta Photography; florist Marissa, from Ruffles and Twine; Natalie, from Cupcake Diner; makeup artist Megha Sawhney and model Cheryl, as well as a number of other ladies who made the shoot a success.

We were so excited to have wedding super-blog Style Me Pretty feature our shoot last Friday, and so today I wanted to share some of the images of the paper goods I created for the shoot.

Sadly, I don’t have room to show you ALL of the amazing images (flowers, cakes, decor…oh my!), so I’d urge you to check out the full gallery on SMP for all the great details!

Now, for the paper…

The concept for the shoot (shot at the beautiful Berkeley Church event space in Toronto) was a mix of rustic, vintage and glam elements with a warm and cozy winter feel. Participating in this shoot was fun, as I’m sure we’ve all seen the icy winter look before (even at my own winter wedding!), but it was nice to create a warmer feel with winter whites and creams and rustic touches of beige and brown. I must admit though, I did sneak in just a little ice blue – didn’t seem quite right without it!

The invite I created for the shoot was an oversize 6″x9″ invite nestled in a cream silk box. The front of the box was decorated with twill tape (a nod to the rustic feel of the shoot), feathers (did you notice the birds here and there in the decor?) and a bit of bling with a fleur de lys brooch.

Inside the invite design was a multi-layered panel, mixing different neutral shades and textured papers to create a substantial invitation with a light airy feel. My original concept for the design and layout of the invite was inspired by the look of a vintage french apothecary jar label, so that was the basis of the formal yet whimsical graphics and type.

To add a bit of glam detailing, I used both Swarovski crystals and pearls to give the overall design a little sparkle and bit of vintage charm, but my favourite detail of all was the small mother of pearl button that adorned the ribbon holding the response card – the shimmery blue-grey was the perfect complement to the ice blue highlights of the invitation itself.

I also created a petal fan program which reproduced the look of the invite throughout. Petal fan programs are a perfect fit for vintage weddings, with their timeless romantic feel.

I also created table numbers, escort cards, favour tags and a sweet table sign, which were all featured as part of the decor. Here’s a couple of quick shots:

I am always honoured to be asked to work on creative shoots, and so excited to see our work featured. A big thank you to all the ladies who worked on this gorgeous shoot!

Invitation Advisor: Wedding Invitation Wording – How To Indicate Who Is Hosting

February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Among other things, this invite is completely missing a host line – if only that were the only issue…

I’m always looking for new topics to blog about, and after last week’s blog on how to properly use titles on an invitation or outer envelope it occurred to me that there are so many little things that I may have mentioned here or there on the blog that have never gotten their full due. So, I’m starting a bit of a series today on the small details when it comes to wedding invitation wording/etiquette – the details that I get the most questions about!

Wording is a big one, and while I’ve covered the topic broadly a few times, and provided a bunch of links (frankly, just ask Uncle Google to search for “wedding invitation wording” and you’ll come up with more resources than I could ever link on this blog!); but, I haven’t really looked at each part of a standard invitation individually. So…it’s about time, right?

And where do I always say is a good place to start? Why, the beginning, of course 😉

Traditionally speaking, the first line of a wedding invitation is the “host” line ie. who is doing the inviting (and traditionally who is doing the paying). While certainly you may see some kind of opening quote or statement before the host line, it’s the first important part of the invitation, and the part that may cause some confusion for couples these days.

Why? To put it simply, because times have changed. It used to be that in 95% of cases a bride’s family would host, and therefore there was no wondering how the invitation should be worded – it always began, “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the honour of your presence at the wedding of their daughter…”, or something very similar. These days, there are SO many different possibilities (bride’s parents hosting, groom’s parents hosting, bride and groom hosting, all of the above, divorced parents, step-parents – it goes on) that it can be a daunting task to figure out how to word this part of your wedding invitation.

Here’s a quick rundown of both traditional and modern methods of tackling this conundrum…

Aside: As a bonus, I’ll throw in a quick discussion of  what comes after the hosts names. Generally speaking “request the honour of your presence” should be used for ceremonies taking place in a house of worship (church, synagogue etc.), while “request the pleasure of your company” can be used for ceremonies taking place in secular locations (ie. everywhere else). That said, there are many other ways of asking your invitees to join you, so unless you are having a very formal wedding or want very traditional wording, feel free to use different wording entirely!


First and foremost, it’s important to note that traditionally formal etiquette dictates that the “hosts” are the ones who are paying for the wedding. Period. For example, if the bride’s parents are hosting, there is technically no requirement for them to even list the groom’s parents names (if listed, their names should only appear under the groom’s name ie. “son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson”, unless they are contributing to the wedding itself).

Here are some examples of traditional wording for different scenarios:

Bride’s parents hosting – Mr. and Mrs. John Smith request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Jane Marie to Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson…

Groom’s parents hosting – Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of Jane Marie Smith to Jeffrey James Johnson…

Bride and Groom’s families both hosting – Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson request the pleasure of your company and the marriage of their children Jane Marie and Jeffrey James…

Bride and Groom hosting with both families – Jane Marie Smith and Jeffrey James Johnson together with their parents Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson invite you to celebrate their marriage…

Bride and Groom hosting – Miss Jane Marie Smith and Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson invite you to share in the celebration of their wedding…

Bride’s divorced parents hosting – Mr. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Thompson invite you to share in the marriage of their daughter Jane Marie to Mr. Jeffrey James Johnson…

Bride and Groom’s divorced parents hosting – Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Thompson together with Mr. Jack Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. Mark Adams request the pleasure of your company and the marriage of their children Jane Marie and Jeffrey James…

Honouring a deceased parent – Jane Marie daughter of Tess Smith and the late John Smith requests the honour of your presence as she joins in marriage Mr. Jeffery James Johnson son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Johnson…

Phew…getting woozy yet? I could probably go on because there are so many more scenarios out there, but hopefully this is a good start on what a traditional/formal invitation host line would look like.


Because there has been such a renaissance in weddings in the past 15-20 years, these days anything goes when it comes to who is hosting. As more and more older couples are getting married, especially those who may already be living together and settled on their own, it has become much more common for couples to foot the bill for their own weddings, or to contribute towards it. And as mixed families are becoming more common as well, it becomes difficult to determine exactly who should be listed on the invitation – it’s not uncommon for four sets of parents to be involved in a wedding, and that can make for a very long and confusing invitation!

These days, I think that the idea that the host line needs to be very formal is relaxing a bit. I know with my own clients, many of them are hosting on their own or together with their families and this is often reflected in the wording of the invitation. Some have such complicated family dynamics that they feel it’s just much easier to say “together with their families” than to list each parent, step-parent etc.

As long as what you’re doing makes sense, feels right, and isn’t going to offend – then go for it!

Tip: Always ask all parents what they are most comfortable with when it comes to the invitation *before* finalizing your wording. I have had more than one frantic phone call from a couple after providing their final approval because their parents saw the invitation and were unhappy that they weren’t listed, how they were listed, where they were listed or…you get the idea.

Yes, it’s your wedding – but it’s a big day for your family too, so make sure you are being respectful of their feelings as well!

Okay, so we’ve talked about those first few lines – the host line, the request line – what’s next?

Why, more about names of course – too much to fit into this post, so next week we’ll talk about the bride and groom’s names as well as more about parent/host names and some of the pitfalls to avoid when wording your wedding invitation!

Oh, and before I forget, Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

Where Am I?

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