31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December: The Redux

November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Hey all,

I’ve been neglecting The Invitation Blog since I got back – still recovering from my vacation! Ever feel like you need another vacation from the vacation you just took? I’m there my friends.

But today brings something I’ve been looking forward to with glee/fear/remorse/excitement/wtf-was-i-thinking-ness….

So, I let it slip a couple of weeks ago that this December we’ll be revisiting last Decembers blog-a-day post-a-palooza I lovingly refer to as “31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December”.

[You can click here to visit last years intro post with links to all of the posts from December 2010]

Yes, it’s true – 31 all-new blog posts (no re-posts allowed) to help couples navigate the sometimes confusing world of wedding invitations and stationery.

So what the heck could I be rambling on about for 31 days straight – trust me, I’ve asked myself the same question! I decided to concentrate on some of the things that I find most couples come to me not knowing a thing about (but not anymore!)…

First up is etiquette – yes, I’ve written quite a bit on etiquette in the past, but this will be a little different. We’re going to examine traditional etiquette, modern etiquette and what couples are doing right now – things like wording, inserts, addressing etc.

Then, I’ve decided to dedicate a week to printing methods (which we oh-so-briefly touched on in one post last December) – it is truly an important aspect of any invitation (both when it comes to design as well as budget considerations) and I think many couples come into this crazy wedding stationery world completely unaware of the types of printing available – how they work, what the limitations are and what you can expect to spend.

On to something that I know is a big deal these days – an entire week of posts demystifying the wedding stationery budget (small ones, big ones, non-existant ones and crazy sky-high ones). Each post will examine a specific price range and the types of invitations that you can expect to find that will fit that budget – while it won’t solve any champagne dreams on a beer budget, it will give couples some realistic information on what they should expect to be available in the price range they are comfortable with.

Finally, we’re bringing back our most popular series of last year –  a week of posts all about wedding invitation trends for 2012 (colours, patterns, materials, oh my!). Our posts on 2011 trends remain some of the most read on The Invitation Blog, which tells me that someone out there will probably interested in what’s hot for 2012.

One twist this year: on weekends I’ll be posting a look back at 10 of my favourite Hip Ink invites from the past year – some of which are brand new and have not been featured on the blog previously (I highly recommend checking out December 30th, for my absolute favourite!).

Of course we’ll wrap up with a look back at 2011 at Hip Ink, and a look forward 2012 and lots of the exciting changes ahead.

And it all starts tomorrow, December 1. Last year I started off with a little comedy, and tomorrow I’ve got a post that I guarantee will amuse some of you…just wait and see 😉

Grab your jingle bells and let’s get this!

Re-Post: Wedding Invitations Trends 2011 – Luxe Simplicity

November 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ’em. Enjoy!

Hey 2011/2012 brides! Yes, you…that’s right. Looking for info on the hottest wedding stationery trends for 2011? We’ve got ’em right here this week on our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series.

Today, we’re going to talk about an overall trend in the wedding universe this coming year, and that’s going to be the idea of “luxe simplicity”. Yes, rustic and vintage are still going to be strong (we’ll talk about those later in the week as well), but for those brides who are looking for glamour and sophistication, the look is going to be simple and pared down with luxury touches, not over-the-top blinged-out extravaganzas. Think Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, not Zsa Zsa Gabor 😉

In invitations, this translates to a cleaner, more modern aesthetic, with an emphasis on high quality materials.

That means you’ll likely see the following:

  • Increased use of gorgeous heavy-weight cotton and bamboo papers versus traditional tree-based varieties (an eco-friendlier option as well!)
  • Even further emergence of letterpress and calligraphy as printing methods
  • Less use of items like pocket and jacket folders with trending towards things like silk boxes and folios
  • Less use of embellishments like ribbons and rhinestones on invitations themselves

A more simplistic approach allows for brides to stretch their invitation budget farther, by concentrating on quality versus quantity. For example, a $10 invitation suite could consist of a pocketfold with multiple backing layers and inserts, ribbon closure with a tag and lined envelopes; however, the same $10 could also be used for a single panel letterpressed invitation on rich cotton paper, addressed by hand with beautiful calligraphy.

At Hip Ink, we’ve seen the trend towards more simple invitation styles and designs starting already with our own clients, and it’s a refreshing change, and a challenge we’re looking forward to. Because, as with all simple things, there is a caveat – the details become extremely important. Design (layout and especially typography) become a huge part of the equation with this style – calling for more white space, impeccable font selection and a great eye for when it’s “just enough”.

This is where the DIY brides out there may want to consider professional help (um, the services of graphic designer I mean, not a psychiatrist). Consider taking your budget and putting it towards a simple but flawlessly executed design, rather than enduring the DIY process – for your own sanity, so you don’t have to consider professional help of a different variety!

Re-Post: Wedding Invitations Trends 2011 – Calligraphy

November 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ’em. Enjoy!

Yesterday we talked the very old (as in more than 500 years) yet new-again printing method of letterpress – super hot these days in the wedding stationery world.

Today in our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series, we look at a printing process that is even older, and dare I say will be even hotter for 2011: Calligraphy.

Calligraphy Letterpress by Bella Figura

Calligraphy (which literally means “beautiful writing”) is pretty much the oldest printing method out there, dating back to…well…a ridiculously long time ago. Calligraphy was the first printing method for wedding invitations as well, with most of those early printed invitations being illuminated script done by monks for wealthy families. Many people think of this medieval style of lettering when the hear the word calligraphy, but modern calligraphy is so much more!

Calligraphy is popping up everywhere these days – not just on guest addressing for envelopes, but wedding invitations as well as escort cards, menus, programs etc.

Envelope Calligraphy by Neither Snow and Artful Celebrations

Most people are probably familiar with calligraphy for invitation envelopes – it is a personal and beautiful touch which makes a huge first impression on your guests even before they open the envelope. There are a huge number of styles available – from very traditional and formal to modern and casual – and many calligrapher’s out there to choose from, all with different styles and specialties. If you are considering using calligraphy for your envelopes, make sure your guest list is finalized well in advance and you order extra envelopes – hand calligraphy takes time and mistakes will happen.

You can also choose to have your wedding invitation done completely (or just partly – eg. your names only) by a calligrapher. In most cases, the calligrapher will create your invitation by hand based on the wording you submit and the style you choose, and then that image can be digitized and reproduced via another printing method ie. offet, letterpress etc. Letterpress calligraphy is simply gorgeous and incredibly elegant – definitely my choice for super-formal and crazy-stylish invites (in fact, it was my choice for Kate and William’s royal wedding invites). You can, if you choose, have your calligrapher hand produce each invite; however, you may find that route cost prohibitive unless you only need a very small quantity of invitations.

Again, calligraphy can be pricey, and rightly so –  you are paying an artist to do work by hand, and you are paying for their skill, talent and personal style.

Looking for a similar look with a smaller price tag? Many stationery designers (including Hip Ink) offer “computer calligraphy” addressing for your invitations – addressing using calligraphy-inspired typefaces which give a similar look (although quite obviously not the same).

For you DIY gals out there, keep an eye out next week for our DIY-centric posts, as we’re going to show you a couple of ways to get the look of calligraphy for less, by matching computer calligraphy with your own hand. Intrigued?

Stay tuned!

Re-Post: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Rustic/Vintage

November 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ’em. Enjoy!

We’re rolling on in our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series and looking at another trend for 2011 with its roots in 2010…

Yes, all you lovers of yellow-tinged photos of brides in fields, mason jars filled with wildflowers and groomsmen in mis-matched bow ties – its the rustic/vintage juggernaut, and there seems to be no stopping it!

Anyone who has been sniffing around a wedding blog or two can tell you that this has been and will continue to be a huge trend in the wedding world, and its influence most definitely touches invitations as well.

While not exactly the same – rustic implies a sort of unfinished, down-home, even rural sort of charm, while vintage is based more around using old/found objects and themes – rustic and vintage do seem to go hand in hand, like PB & J.

When it comes to invitations, this year you will see rustic come to the fore, with a greater emphasis on tactile materials and mix-and-match invitation suites. You’ll see more invitations using kraft paper, twine, jute, burlap and other similar materials, an emphasis on simple but textural invitations, and printing of invitations on unusual materials (think invites printed on hankerchiefs or wood veneer – and yes, Hip Ink‘s got ’em). The look is casual, laid-back, a sort of could-almost-be-DIY handmade quality (not to be confused with that “oh my, it’s DIY” homemade quality).

Vintage will stay strong as well – again, focusing on mis-matched invitation suites with that look of a bygone era (which era is up to you!). Whether it’s bohemian Paris chic, vintage carnival, Victorian glamour – the vintage look requires a strong emphasis on typography and graphics to tell the story, although here too alternate materials may be used (especially fabric and lace with old-fashioned details). Calligraphy, which we talked about yesterday, is definitely a big player in the vintage invitation trend as well!

Guess it’s true – everything old is new again 😉

Re-Post: Wedding Invitation Trends 2011 – Personalization

November 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ’em. Enjoy!

It’s Christmas Eve, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring…except for me clickety clacking away bring you our last 2011 Wedding Invitation Trends post in our 31 Days (of Blogging) Hath December series!

It’s fitting that I’ve saved what I think is the best for last – a trend that really speaks to the true meaning of the holiday season, personalization. What does personalizing your wedding invitations have in common with the holiday season? A lot actually…

The beautiful thing about weddings is celebration the love that two people have for each other, their commitment, the joining of their families. The most cherished thing you can take away from your big day is the memories you make, celebrating with your family and friends (a lot like Christmas, Hannukah, Kwaanza, Festivus et al). When it comes down to it, its not about what you wear, the food you eat, the presents you get (ok, its not *all* about that stuff!) – it’s about sharing your joy with the people you love.

My favourite trend for 2011 weddings is exactly that – sharing yourselves with your guests.

Anyone can go out and buy invitations off-the-shelf, and they most certainly do their duty – they invite your guests and give them the information they need. But, is that all we expect an invitation to do? What is the experience you want to provide to your guests? What are your invitations saying about *you*? I can fully admit that I am biased, but I think cookie-cutter invitations are a lot like pre-written Thank You cards – they say nothing special about you as a couple, and after all, that is what your wedding is all about.

Personalization is they key to making guests feel that they are involved in something that is uniquely YOU as a couple. Wine lovers? What about an invite inspired by the label of your fave vintage. Bibliophiles (that’s people who love books) – maybe an invitation hidden in an old thrift store book. World-travelers? Maybe a passport invitation or a real message in a bottle. The more your invitations speak to you as a couple – your personalities, interests, personal style – the greater the impression on your guests. Of course, your invitation should still reflect your event, but hopefully you’ve decided to personalize that too!

Like most of you, I’ve been to many weddings and I’ve seen about a zillion wedding photos on blogs. The ones that are most memorable are always those where the bride and groom’s personalities truly shine through. Your guests don’t want to feel like they are at a random wedding, no matter how beautiful it is. They want to feel and connect with *your* unique love story. Its the small personal touches that everyone will oooh and ahhh over and remember for years to come, and that starts with your invitations.

At least, in my not-always-so-humble opinion, it should.

Tomorrow, we kick off the final week of our 31 Days, a special series just for you DIY brides out there, packed with tips and tricks! To start things off, we’re re-posting one of our most popular posts on DIY ever…then on Sunday we’re back with brand new content daily ’till the end of the year.

In the meantime, have yourselves a very Merry Christmas, filled with all the wonderful things the holiday season brings 🙂

Re-Post: Edward & Bella’s Twilight (Breaking Dawn) Wedding Invitation – Hip Ink Style

November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ’em. Today, in honour of the release of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 tonight at midnight, it’s a re-post of our most read post (by far!) of the past three weeks

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! 😉

Re-Post: Email and Digital Wedding Invitations? Fresh or faux pas?

November 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

While I’m away on vacation (for the next 10 business days), we’re re-posting some of our most-read blog posts, just in case you missed ’em. Enjoy!

Hey y’all, it’s Tuesday and it’s time to talk invitations and wedding stationery once again with The Invitation Advisor.

I wanted to address something that was brought up on twitter today (seem to be getting a lot of blog ideas from twitter lately – and [total plug] if you’d like to follow us, it’s @hip_ink) and it got me thinking. I’ve briefly addressed it in a couple of posts before, but I wanted to take a more in depth look at…

Email and digital wedding invitations – you’re probably hearing about them more and more, maybe you’ve even gotten one. So, are email invites a fresh new way to reach your guests or just a big wedding faux pas?

Oh yes, it’s time to get the soapbox out. I know not everyone will agree with me, and some of you may think I’m a stuck-up you-know-what, but since it’s my blog…you’re all entitled to my opinion. *Your* opinion is totally welcome in the comments section!

I’ll give you three guesses as to my opinion on the matter, and the first two don’t count. Yes, you’re right…my opinion is that email invitations are a big no. Like a “hellz no”. Yes, fine, you can call me a unabashed paper-lover, a cruel paper-nazi, heck, I may be the Godmother of the Paper Mafia; but, believe it or not, being a custom invitation designer is not the only reason I object to email invitations.

Your reaction may be, “Sure Sarah, we know, but why should we listen to someone who would send a paper invitation to her cat’s birthday party, pizza and movie night, or the grand opening of her can of Diet Coke”? Okay, busted. Still, I’m not here to tell you what to do, I’m here to make you think about the stationery choices you make and how they are going to impact your big day – especially your guests, who are, or should be, a very important part of your wedding.

So why do I feel email and digital invitations, in the majority of cases, are not appropriate for weddings? To be totally honest, it’s because your guests don’t want to receive an email invitation. Period. You may think your hip, cool friends would think it was awesome, but they probably won’t. Your middle-aged guests definitely won’t. And let’s not even get into how your older guests will feel. Yes, it’s your wedding, so you are allowed to do whatever you want. But like it or not, your guests will have opinions and those opinions and pre-conceived notions about your event will be directly impacted by what they see and hear about it beforehand.

So many blogs will tell you “it’s your wedding, do what YOU want, don’t worry about etiquette and tradition”. I’m here to tell you they are wrong. Do you really not care at all what your guests think? I doubt it. Does your entire wedding need to be centered around pleasing your guests? Of course not. But if you don’t really care about your guests’ experience (which includes the way you invite them), why bother having them there in the first place? Are you guests happy to share your big day with you? Yes. But do they expect things in return for sharing that big day with you? You bet they do.

I’ll repeat my mantra for those who weren’t paying attention in class: your invitation sets the tone for your wedding.

What kind of tone does an email invitation set? Most likely, the wrong one.

I’ve heard a number of reasons behind why email invitations are a great idea, so let’s look at a few of them:

Eco-Friendly, Saves Trees
I hear this one all the time, and to be honest, I think it’s often just an excuse. There are a huge number of eco-friendly options out there – tree-free papers like 100% cotton and bamboo, plantable wildflower-seeded papers, wood invitations etc., not to mention eco-friendly vegetable-based inks etc. Why not choose one of those options instead? I think it’s easier to say that you’re trying to save the environment than to admit you’re trying to…

Saves Money
This is the big one, of course. Why pay the cost of buying wedding invitations and postage when you can send them online for free? Of course. Ever heard of the phrase, “you get what you pay for”. Remember it, because it’s true. There are a number of low-cost invitation options that can be had – yes, even the big-box craft store boxed invites (with 40% off coupon, ‘natch) are a better alternative than sending your invitations via email. Like it or not, most of your guests will assume you are sending an email invitation because you are trying to cut costs, and that probably isn’t the impression you want to leave them with.

Saves Time
I guess that depends on the type of email invite you send out, but unless you are literally sending a text-based invite, my bet is you could just as easily buy an invitation online or at a local stationery store in around the same time you could send out a nicely-done email invitation. And what about the time it will take you to compile everyone’s email addresses? And what about your guests that don’t have access to email? What will you do for them? Suddenly this “time-saver” doesn’t seem to be quite so great after all.

Receive RSVPs via email
You don’t need to send an email invitation to receive your RSVPs via email. You can certainly include an email address for those who would like to respond via email on your RSVP cards, and there are services out there that will track your RSVPs online, or even allow your guests to call a phone number to RSVP and collect your guests’ information for you.

Ability to include all the wedding details
This is exactly the reason why wedding websites were invented, and more and more couples are choosing to include their website information on their invitations. Do your guests really need direct links from the invitation? Probably not.

I heard a videographer say once, “What if I told you I could show you a video of your grandparents wedding? Would you be excited to watch it? What if I then told you that you couldn’t, because they didn’t think it was important enough to preserve the memories of their big day?”. I feel like invitations can be similar as well – there are so few tangible things that are mementos of your wedding. Wouldn’t you love to see your grandparents wedding invitation – feel the paper, see the printing, touch their history? Somehow, I don’t think an email invitation would give you the same feeling. What about your own grandparents? They’ve probably been waiting forever to hold your wedding invitation in their hands. An email invite probably won’t cut it for them either.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. Are there times when an email invite could be acceptable? Probably (just don’t say you heard it from me!)

If you are having an extremely small or very informal event, email invitations could can work – again, you need to match the formality of your invitation to the formality of your wedding. An email invitation will never be considered formal at all, so should only be used for a casual wedding event.

If you are a creative/web genius and can whip up an amazing video/flash/video/awesomesauce digital invite – sure, could be fun. I’ve seen some very creative multi-media invitations out there, but again, I think they are best used as part of an overall invitation package – not on their own.

If you do choose email invitations, do yourself a favour and get help – use an online company to help you create an invite to send to your guests, like Glo, which offers stylish digital invites you can customize. Or, check out Etsy for designers who will personlize a digital invite for you to send to your guests.

My final word(s): Inviting people to an event via email has it’s time in place, just as paper invitations have theirs. Would you find it odd to get a fancy paper invitation to a casual dinner at a friend’s place (okay, if your friend is not a stationer)? It’s just as odd to entertain the idea of inviting guests to an event as important as your wedding via email.

Or Facebook…please don’t get me started…

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