Designing a wedding invitation is quite the Pandora’s Box. It can literally be anything-- have ribbons, lining, embossing-- walk into a Paper Source ready to be influenced and you’ll leave $200 in the hole with heat guns and gold powder.
Although we had been engaged for well over a year, we decided to just send an invitation, no Save the Date. We emailed friends and family that would have to travel a long distance and sent our invitations out a bit in advance of the typical 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding date. We thought we'd save everyone the fridge space and focus our attention and money on this one mailer.
I am an illustrator, so I knew I wanted to design part of the invitations. We had some difficulty getting the process started because, as with so many of these wedding decisions, neither of us had ever envisioned what our wedding invitations would look like. Once Jen convinced me to move away from watercolors of our dog in bowties (see previous post). We we quickly settled on a watercolor of the architect Frederick Law Olmsted's design for Prospect Park and sought out some gender neutral verbiage. Olmsted designed not only Prospect Park, the site of our engagement and our nuptials, but also my alma mater, Smith College. The design is crisp in that architectural-drawing kind of way that appeals to Jen, while incorporating many variants of green and natural colors that lend themselves to my particular style of painting. The other pieces fell into place pretty easily with a great deal of help from Jen's childhood friend, Rachael Hetzel. Rachael owns a wonderful letterpress company in Rochester, New York, called Pistachio Press and she agreed to offer her expertise and a great deal of orange ink. The orange letterpress ink paired so nicely with the green watercolor that we did not consider any other color ink. Rachael was immeasurably helpful, recommending a classic color and weight for the paper and keeping the overall look simple but not without personality. She suggested letterpressing one color and digitally printing the watercolor painting. With Rachael's help with quickly settled on paper color, ink and decided to include an additional bookmark with silhouettes and some extra information that felt a little clunky for the formal invite: wedding website, dress suggestion, etc.
We settled on postcards for the RSVP cards mostly due to financial concerns; we would not need an RSVP envelope and postage would be less expensive. In keeping with the cheerful yet clean feeling of the invites, I painted a watercolor RSVP in the style of hometown postcards, with large letters and images of Brooklyn, like the Wonder Wheel and the water tower, within the letters. The flip side was letterpressed only with a simple format. We have some friends who did some very cute things with their RSVPs, authoring a mad-libs style response card, but we kept the language short, which felt right for us.
The language to include on the invites themselves actually took the most time to decide upon. We wanted the invite language to reflect us, as the couple, inviting our loved ones to our wedding. We googled and googled and googled, and finally found a sample invitation that said exactly how were were feeling: “Please join us as we celebrate the love we share with our family, our friends, and each other.” The sentiment was short, spare, but precisely the spirit of our wedding. I hand-lettered the invitation, which gave it a unique feel that reflected us as a couple.
The final component in our invitation envelope was a standalone bookmark I designed with Jen and my silhouettes and some extra information that felt a little clunky for the main invite; our wedding website address, proper attire request, a mention that it is a cocktail reception (VERY important according to all etiquette ever; evidently, if you do not alert your guests that they will not be receiving a 6 course meal, people get VERY offended…) This, too, was entirely hand-lettered and hand drawn. This narrow insert is Jen’s favorite part of the invite; letterpressed with orange ink and perfect for keeping your place in your subway read.
We also opted to send RSVP postcards rather than buy another set of tiny envelopes. When planning a wedding, even the invitations must be accessorized. We navigated to the USPS website and from the surprisingly limited selection of stamps, we settled on a Harvey Milk commemorative stamp, which also added the perfect tiny rainbow flag to the outside of the envelope.
The envelopes themselves were crisp and white; very classic, without any envelope liners or other touches. We decided to add a little glitz to the envelopes with a custom-made return address rubber stamp and handwritten address, all embossed with a battery of crafting supplies from Paper Source (we are such suckers). I designed the return address stamp with hand-lettering, incorporating both our names. We utilized specialty embossing glue, purchased the specific heat-reactive embossing powder in a deep gold, cued up Netflix, and dove in to our assembly line.
After a few days hand embossing and sprinkling gold powder in our living room, we are thrilled with how our the invitations turned out! They are a reflection of us and the type of event we want to have. We are overjoyed each day to come home to a mailbox stuffed with response postcards. The response to our invitations has been overwhelming positive and full of praise; I think we struck just the right chord between classic and unique. But some guests liked the invites so much that they have emailed us to say, “I’m coming, but can I keep the RSVP card?”