Day 30, 2011: Top 10 Invitations Of The Year – Wintery Hand Illustrated Letterpress Pocketfold Invitation

December 30, 2011 § 5 Comments

Wow – 30 days have absolutely flown by, and I can’t believe that we’ve just got one more post to go tomorrow to wrap-up 31 Days of Blogging Hath December, the Redux (and a wrap-up it shall be my friends!).

It has been a blast sharing info on etiquette, printing methods, invitation pricing/budgets and most of all my Top 10 favourite Hip Ink custom invitations from 2011.

I often say how difficult it is to pick “favourites” as a designer – it’s a bit like having tons of children and trying to choose which ones you like best. Difficult, and of course the newest one always seems to have a special place in your heart.

But, choosing my favourite invitation of 2011 was actually really easy, for so many reasons – lovely clients, a wonderful theme and colourscape to work with, the opportunity to challenge myself to mix printing methods I hadn’t before, and the opportunity to work with a super-talented colleague. What more could I have asked for?

So, without further ado, my favourite invitation of 2011 was…

Photos by Corina V. Photography

Danielle and Stephen’s Chateau Frontenac/Old Quebec winter-themed pocketfold invitation, featuring a mix of letterpress printing and beautiful hand-painted illustrations by Amy Tan of The TreeSpace Studio.

Yes, I’ve been talking about them forever, and showing sneak peeks on Twitter, but I *finally* get to show you the invitations in their finished state, as Danielle and Stephen were married yesterday in Quebec City (congratulations you two!).

I actually worked with Danielle’s mother and sister on this project (Lorrain and Andrea). They were immediately drawn to our Paris invitation at a bridal show in January, and knew they wanted something with a similar feeling, that would incorporate two specific illustrations – one of the Fairmont Le Cheateau Frontenac (where Danielle and Stephen’s wedding was taking place) and one of a wintery streetscape of Old Quebec.

They wanted something soft and romantic, with a pen and ink/watercolour feeling, and I knew exactly who to call – in fact, I remember blurting out in our first meeting, “I know the perfect illustrator!”. The perfect illustrator was Amy Tan from The Treespace Studio – Amy is an invitation designer in her own right as well, creating some of the most personal and beautiful invitations out there, and I knew her amazing style was perfect for this project (and I was right!).

We had used letterpress to create Danielle and Stephen’s save-the-dates, and I thought it was the perfect mix of modern and old-world for the wedding invitation as well. But…I knew that letterpress was definitely not going to work for the illustration portion of the invite. So, just like peanut butter and jelly, we made two very different printing methods the best of friends – first we sent off the invites and inserts to be letterpress printed (on Crane Lettra cotton stock), and then once we had them in studio we reproduced Amy’s beautiful illustrations on our in-house photo printer (and I caught up on Pinterest while I hand fed each one!).

And here is the result:

The illustrations so beautifully captured the Chateau in winter, with a warm glow emanating from the windows and a snowy Old Quebec street scene, with the bride and groom making a special appearance.

While the colour scheme was a very traditional silver, white and dark blue, we added in shades of lavender to both the illustrations and the belly band, as well as the warm yellow-orange that added warmth to the illustrations and overall piece.

The pocketfold was also something that Danielle wanted from the outset, and we choose a luxurious heavyweight Envelopments pocketfold in Tahitian Pearl, a gorgeous silver textured metallic stock – the perfect complement to tie everything together.

The finishing touch was a belly band, printed with Danielle and Stephen’s name and wedding date, to keep everything in place.

I also had the chance to create a number of ceremony and reception items for Danielle and Stephen’s big day, which I hope to feature in a few weeks time as well.

Hope you enjoyed our 2011 trip down memory lane. I’m so excited to get to work on 2012’s Top 10 contenders 😉

Check back tomorrow for our 31st and last post of December, all about where we’ve been in 2011 and where we’re going in 2012 – we’d love to have you along for the ride!

From The Studio: Carnival-Inspired Engagement Party Invitations

July 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hey all – it’s Wednesday and we know what that means…okay, well lately it’s meant MIA Workshop Wednesday posts, but today I have one that’s just plain fun to make up for it!

A while ago I introduced y’all to Mandie Charlton from Shutterbrugs Photography via our Friday Vendor Love feature, and mentioned that I was working with Mandie (and fiancé Brad) on their wedding invitations for their August 2012 nuptials.

Well, to celebrate their engagement, Mandie and Brad planned a super-cute vintage carnival engagement party (held just this past weekend) and needed a super-cute vintage carnival engagement party invitation to invite their friends and family!

Being a photographer, Mandie is all about the visuals, so I was thrilled when she showed up with a ton of inspiration photos, and we had a blast chatting about the theme of the party etc.

The photo Mandie kept going back to was this amazing carnival invite:

As featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, and created by the fabulous A Thoughtful Day

We decided to use the ticket style of this invite as an inspiration, and feature Mandie and Brad’s hot pink, apple green and black colour scheme.

Something that was a first for us was the addition of Engagement Party save the dates! Because the party was being held during the summer, Mandie wanted to ensure that her guests had marked their calendar well in advance, so we whipped up these cute postcards to give friends and family a hint of what was to come (and featuring a vintage camera, of course!):

Then on to the invites! Instead of the candy bag, we decided to use a half-wrap to hold the invite contents together, and not shown here are the funky hot pink and apple green envelopes used for mailing the invites and rsvps.

The invitation was die-cut into the shape of a ticket, and invited guests to celebrate Mandie and Brad’s upcoming foray into the “death-defying act of nuptials”, wording inspired by the original invite.

The RSVP echoed the invite with a alternate ticket-inspired shape and custom carnival wording – lots of fun trying to think that up! The background features a carousel and ferris wheel, just to get guests in the mood!

It was a blast working on these carnival engagement party invites, and an even bigger blast getting to attend the party! So many fun vintage carnival touches – it was amazing, and I had the pleasure of creating a whole bunch of signage and ephemera for the party as well, which we’ll feature soon!

While you may not want to go all out with a theme wedding, a themed engagement party or bridal shower is a perfect way to have some fun with the events leading up to your big day!

Vendor Love: The TreeSpace Studio

June 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Vendor Love is back with a vengeance this Friday, featuring an amazingly talented artist who will absolutely knock your socks off!

First, the background:

On Wednesday, I posted some photos of a French-inspired Save The Date created for Danielle & Stephen, getting married this winter in Quebec City at the historic Chateau Frontenac. I teased a bit about how fabulous their wedding invitations are going to be, and a big part of that reason is…

Amy Tan from The TreeSpace Studio!

Amy is an amazing artist and she was the very first person I thought of when my clients said they wanted an invitation based on our Paris-inspired invite, with custom illustrations depicting their venue (Le Chateau Frontenac) and a quaint Old Quebec street scene.

Why did I think of Amy first? Allow me to let the pictures do the talking:

Gorgeous, right? I first came across Amy’s work on Etsy, and then connected with her on Let’s Talk Stationery (the best resource out there for stationers and designers, of course). I was so impressed by her unique style, stunning use of colour, and just how very *different* her creations were. I jumped at the chance to be able to collaborate with her on our upcoming project!

The TreeSpace Studio offers handmade custom stationery art and cards for weddings and events, but Amy offers so much more as well – the sky is the limit to what she can do. All of her work is highly personal, and it absolutely shows – that’s my kind of girl 😉

Amy says, “The TreeSpace Studio began as a hothouse for my myriad ideas, interests and experiences. With a background in architecture, a passion for art, fashion and craft and a deep appreciation for the tactility of materials, I wanted to find a way to combine them all under one shady tree. The Studio became then, the ideal creative laboratory of sorts, inspired by childhood notions of reading or playing under a tree, conjuring up fun and crazy ideas to take over the world.

The philosophy behind The TreeSpace Studio is that we embrace art and artisanship, functionality, materiality and activism all at once and we are serious about providing it to people with affordable personalization, great customer service and last not but least with the least imprint on the fragile earth.

I want to be able to create {functional} and accessible artwork for everyday uses, whether it is invitations, packaging for hand-made goods or gift-wrapping-everyday objects that are often disposable, and design them as miniature art pieces, something to treasure and keep because it is just too darn cool. To me, making something beautiful for keeps is the greatest form of sustainability.”

Amy was intrigued by art from an early age. “My mom still has drawings I made of little eyes when I was just 2 1/2 years old”, says Amy. “Growing up, I spent hundreds of hours on my belly on the floor with a thick stack of recycled papers, pens and pencils-drawing from imagination, inspired by the stories I read in books.” Soon her love of art took a backseat to her love of architecture, and she spent 7 years working in the industry after getting her degree. But, a simple request from friends to create their wedding invitations brought Amy back to the world of art she loved so much as a child.

“I love coming up with unusual ways to marry my illustrated artwork with the wabi-sabi world of wood, handmade papers, nature, old things and interesting personal stories.  Each project I take on is a multi-dimensional study. Having lived in 3 continents, my travels and adventures in the natural and man-made world keep me inspired, humbled and in love with life.”

What’s Amy’s favourite part of her job?

“My absolute, most favorite part is when a bride (or groom) tells me how meaningful my invitations or wedding stationery have been to setting the mood and exciting guests for their wedding.

Make it Precious. That’s what I love to do the most. I love that I am making an often overlooked part of their wedding day precious, creating something they and their guests would love and hold on to for a long long time. I still feel giddy every time I see or hear that a client has framed the original artwork that I created for their wedding invitation or stationery and it makes me feel really really lucky to have created something for their wedding that they cherish as much as their wedding photographs or memories.”

So why are you still reading this blog when you should clicking as fast as you can over to to check out more of Amy’s fantastic work?

Sadly, you’ll have to wait until the end of the year for the big reveal of our current Hip Ink/TreeSpace Studio project, but I hope there will be many more to come!

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!

Freeform Friday: I’d Do Anything For This Blog, But I Won’t Do That

April 22, 2011 § 5 Comments

A while back I wrote a post focusing on wedding blogs, and some of my issues with the current state of affairs when it comes to the wedding blogging world.

One of the things I talked about was advertising: button ads, sponsored posts, preferred vendor lists etc. I think there is a conflict of interest that can easily happen, and I think not enough wedding blogs are out there being up-front about exactly what’s going on (and to those that are, you can take pride in the fact that you are out there being transparent about what you do, and that is always a good thing).

So what about The Invitation Blog? I thought I should turn things on myself and let you in on why I do what I do (or don’t do what I don’t do).

I originally started The Invitation Blog for the same reason every other wedding professional out there probably does – to showcase my work. Is that a bad thing? No, I certainly don’t think it is. It’s much easier than trying to keep my website up-to-date with new photos every week, and it allows me to give some information regarding the inspiration behind the work, which is always interesting.

But I realized after a while that while it was great for me…who else was it going to benefit? Well, sadly, the answer was “pretty much no one”. Sure, potential clients could see some of my up-to-date work, it was out there in the internet-world to inspire others, but what was it really doing?

So I decided to add a weekly post that would be aimed at couples to help them navigate the sometimes tricky world of wedding invitations and stationery – whether it was explaining different print methods, listing the part of a traditional invitations, or tackling invitation etiquette. Now, The Invitation Blog had a greater purpose.

Then I started to see how many of my colleagues in the stationery business where reading as well, and I began to post every now and then on industry issues, and post about the issues that stationers want couples to know.

And then I realized that I knew so many great wedding pros – not just in the stationery business – who I could share with our readers, and so Vendor Love on alternating Fridays came about.

It’s been 9 months here of growth and change at The Invitation Blog and the sky is the limit.

Or is it?

I’ve had to think about exactly what I will and will not do with The Invitation Blog going forward, and I wanted to share that with you, so everyone knows what’s up:

The Invitation Blog will stay about invitations and stationery, period.
While I may post non-wedding related information, invitations and stationery from time to time, I will not be posting about general wedding-related issues on an on-going basis. May there be a one-off post here or there – sure. But it’s not called The Wedding Blog for a reason. There are so many great wedding blogs out there already – this one, is about invitations, and it’s going to stay that way.

The Invitation Blog will be a place where dissenting opinions are welcome.
Obviously, I love hearing the sound of my own voice giving my opinion on various matters, and that’s probably even part of the reason y’all keep reading. That said, I feel that it’s important to protect the rights of others to do the same. Disagree with what I have to say? Great – leave your comments. Differing opinions lead to discussion and dialogue, and both are important and positive. Although comments on The Invitation Blog are moderated to protect from spam, no valid comment will be censored unless it contains only personal attacks or profanity.

The Invitation Blog will NEVER have banners, button ads etc. EVER.
This is really important to me for a number of reasons. I’ve been approached about advertising a couple of times, and the answer is and will always be no. My personal feeling, for THIS blog, is that advertising simply takes away from what The Invitation Blog is designed to do. I’m here to educate, to inspire, to show off Hip Ink’s work and to show off the work of some of my favourite vendors. I would never want someone to question the reasons behind my posts and more than that I do not want to have to “answer” to advertisers when it comes to my online “voice”, the topics I cover, or my opinions and the things I say. I’m going to stay sassy.

The Invitation Blog will not have sponsored posts, preferred vendor lists or any other “hidden” advertising either.
Again, something that is really important to me. The posts I write come from the heart and I will never accept money or any other consideration for writing them. The opinions, good or bad, are mine. If I talk about a product, it’s because I like it. If I talk about a vendor, it’s because we have a connection and I admire their work and talent. That will not change.

I’m not sharing this to judge or bash the blogs that may do the things I’m talking about – every blogger, business owner, has to make their own decisions about what works for them and what they are willing to do –  but more than anything just to let you know where I’m coming from and where we’re going.

I’m sure going foward there will be lots more changes at The Invitation Blog – but they just won’t include any of the above.

Vendor Love: Fleurish Floral Design Studio

April 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Did you miss Vendor Love last Friday? I did too…I was out with another random illness brought home by my loving kids!

But – this one was worth waiting for…

Today we feature Jessica Dreyer from Fleurish Design Studio and her amazing florals!

I met Jessica back in January at Mix Mingle Marry, and I was so amazed by her work – she was walking around at one point showing off one of her stunning bouquets and I joked I needed to get married again so she could do my flowers! Jessica’s florals are gorgeous, whether they are modern, traditional or vintage, colourful or monochromatic, each arrangement is a beautiful mix of colours and textures.

I particularly love that there is often something just a little offbeat about each arrangement – a unique floral I haven’t seen before, a unique combination of texture or colours, a little birch bark or a feather here or there. There is something special about each of Jessica’s creations.

Jessica grew up among flowers, so it only seemed fitting to cultivate her love for fresh flowers & passion for colour into Fleurish Design Studio.  Starting at a very young age in her family’s greenhouse and later going to Seneca College in Toronto, Jessica combined technical skills with her own creative flair to find her place in the floral world.

I had such a hard time choosing photos to showcase, but here is just a sampling of Jessica’s work.

Enjoy all of Jessica’s work and her modern approach to classic design at and be sure to check out her blog which has her most current work displayed.

Friday Finds: Invitation Designers – You NEED to Read This! Seriously.

April 1, 2011 § 6 Comments

Have I lead you astray before? Of course not!

So when I post about something on The Invitation Blog – whether it’s another vendor, a product, whatever – you know it’s the real deal.

The real deal today is Paper Clique and Let’s Talk Stationery. If you are an invitation designer, you will want to stick around for this. Trust me.

Up-front, honest-to-goodness truthiness: I have been a member of Let’s Talk Stationery for about a year, and was one of the very first Paper Clique members. So yes, you are getting an insider point of view, but I have not been and will not be compensated in any way for posting this information. Sharing it’s sheer awesomeness with other designers is what prompted today’s post!

Paper Clique is a game-changer in the invitation design business, hands down. As the new prestigious, premium membership section of Let’s Talk Stationery, Paper Clique is offering the best tools out there to stationers and designers: lots of freebies , premium giveaways [gift certificates and more], premium discounts [myGrafico, Local Traffic Builder, Catprint and more] and weekly updates [The hottest blogs, newest discount codes, success tips]. All members are heavily vetted to ensure that the information shared among Paper Clique members is safe and secure.

Sounds good right? But you haven’t heard the best part yet. As a Paper Clique member, you have access to a huge library (currently more than 100,000) of Digital Stationery Engineering Templates. Yes, I hear you asking yourselves, “what the !@#$ are digital stationery engineering templates”. Ever spent an hour measuring and drawing a pocketfold in Illustrator? Cursing trying to match a paper colour on screen? Being stumped at how to accurately represent a patterned stock? Paper Clique’s exclusive templates (Currently available for Envelopments and Do It With More Options, with additional vendors coming soon) take all the guesswork out of putting together realistic, perfectly-sized and accurately-scaled mockups. Fantastic for custom designs, and an amazing tool for those who sell to DIY clients – not only can it save you time when designing, but imagine sitting with a client and literally showing them how their invitation will look (while switching out colours and options) on the fly.

A picture is worth thousand words, right? Well here are some to prove it to you:

Click for a larger, more detailed view

You can also view a video of how Paper Clique Digital Stationery Engineering works on the Paper Clique homepage.

I’ve been using the Paper Clique Engineering Templates to do mockups for clients for the past couple of weeks, and it has been amazing – I never realized before how much time I was wasting just setting up mockups, and now it’s a breeze (and actually kind of fun too!). The great thing is that there is no software to install, no drain on your system resources, no steep learning curve – the Paper Clique Engineering Templates are available via download from the Paper Clique website in .png format, and can be used in any graphics program, in whatever way you like. Whether you need to create a custom sized cardstock layer, add items or manipulate a colour, it’s possible directly within the design programs you use every day.

The Paper Clique Digital Engineering Templates are the brainchild of the fabulous Renae Judkins, owner of Paper Clique and Let’s Talk Stationery, and all around awesome chick.

Paper Clique Digital Stationery Engineering is still growing – Renae’s goal is to double the current number of graphics to 200,000 by this time next year with more manufacturers, ribbons, graphics and backgrounds. And word from Renae is that the next evolution for Paper Clique will be a software plugin that will allow you to access the Engineering Templates directly from your favourite design program (Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop etc.). I know I’m super-excited at the prospect of this tool getting even easier and more efficient to use!

And what about Let’s Talk Stationery itself?

Have you ever wished there was a community of stationers and designers out there that you could look to for help, guidance and support. Where you could find out about the newest suppliers, the best printers and the answers to your toughest production questions. Where you could just talk…stationery? Well, that’s exactly what Let’s Talk Stationery is – an exclusive forum for stationery designers and vendors that brings together all aspects of the industry in a safe, supportive environment.

Let’s Talk Stationery has made such a huge impact, professionally and personally, on Hip Ink in the last year. When I have any kind of question, problem or issue it’s the first place I go – okay, these days, when I wake up in the morning it’s the first place I go. I have learned a ton, found great new suppliers, and uncovered the answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Most of all though, I have made so many great ‘friends’. Friends who are generous with their advice, who I know understand what I’m dealing with in this industry day-in and day-out and that I know I can count on for support when I’m having “one of those days”.

So, yes…I’m on my vendor love soapbox in a totally different way this Friday.

I.heart.Paper.Clique (and I’m betting that you will too!).

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