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Custom Invitations, the Process

Starting with the custom consultation in our chicago studio, our custom wedding invitations start with a conversation, which is the simple start to creative collaborations with our fabulous clients.

I LOVED the process of working with Ghienhel and Jonathan on their wedding invitations for their spring wedding at the Peninsula. Both were really open to the creative process, and Jonathan, a graphic designer, created the custom crest himself. I just added my own spin, re-working it for their ivory engraved invitations, which works best with fine lined artwork.

The inspiration for their invitation suite was the gold foil business cards that we created for Estera Events, their wedding planner, using the color palette of charcoal grey, gold, and ivory. They also knew they wanted to wrap the invitation- first we thought linen fabric, but it turned out that didn’t have a clean look, so in our last meeting we switched to champagne tissue, smartly wrapped around their suite.

The photos here show the process of putting together the suite on the last day of production; the result of three design meetings, behind the scenes conversations, graphic design iterations, and multiple decisions made by all three of us. I think this might be my favorite of the year so far!

We reworked Jonathan’s crest from an art file better suited to websites, to one that worked with the fine detail of engraved printing

Stacey Shapiro developed the custom script for their names, and some of the other verbiage in the suite.

After the invite was engraved by Rohner Engraving, it was duplexed to itself to created a thicker paper, and edge painted in rose gold.

Each response envelope got a forever stamp, and were offset printed on handmade deckled paper from Spain

Then, we wrapped with champagne tissue that was cut to the exact height of the invite.

Each Olive sprig was cut to size.

The hand dyed charcoal ribbon was also cut to size.

The beautiful mess: I couldn’t quite shoot a picture while applying the wax, olive and ribbon, but stay tuned for a blog post from Nimble Well about the process! (the wax seal was created with their initials)

The result!

Posted on March 17th, 2014 | Comment »

the envelope, please

A lot goes into making the iconic envelope from the oscar awards ceremony- just take a look at stationery designer, marc friedland for a peek in to the process. For our clients as well, the envelope is not a neglected part of our invitation suite, and sometimes just as much thought and design goes into the making of the envelope as does the invitation; from creating envelopes from scratch, to calligraphy color, to stamps, to liners, and more. Just this week, we produced envelopes for four different May weddings, below. Three custom liners, and one custom wax seal, the perfect finishing touch:

Posted on March 3rd, 2014 | Comment »

Creating Custom Invitations – The Process

We get to create a lot of custom artwork for our clients. And, a lot goes into it, from getting to know their style and design sensibilities, to learning about the event and their lifestyle, to the style and printing that are right for them and the invitations. It’s our years of experience that let us know which printers to use, what paper works for the printing decided upon, and what colors need special attention. (we go on press with every custom job to make sure the color is exactly right). We’ve been creating custom work for a little over 8 years, and this year I decided it was time to truly define and refine the process.

Our guide is available printed as well, with a lovely letterpress printed cover – we’ll mail you one!


The great people that helped this book come together- a huge thank you: Julia Franzosa, Katie and Brandon, Emily Malven, Merribeth Kruger, Kelly Connolly, Megan Musschoot, and Rohner Letterpress.

Posted on February 19th, 2014 | Comment »

Haley and Riley – the Custom Process

It was pretty great to see one of our custom weddings featured on Snippet and Ink this week. Shot by Simply Jessie, and designed by Estera Events, this beautiful Marin County wedding was held in the bride’s childhood home with Mt. Tam as the backdrop. When Hilary from Estera Events let us know that Haley and Riley wanted to speak with us about their California wedding, we knew that it was right fit when we heard a bit about the couple and their design sensibilities. Haley and I spoke over the phone for the first time just about one year before her wedding, and that’s where I got to learn more about her style: understated, clean, simple.

It became apparent through our talks that Mount Tamalpais should be the focus. The view from their backyard was one of the many reasons they wanted to be married at home, and their love of the outdoors made it a design that just made sense.

The save the date was where our creative efforts were focused, as this would set the tone for the entire suite of paper products. She sent me some graphics to share her aesthetic, and had a clear sense of what she wanted, which really just makes my job that much easier. Then, we got to work with the initial reaction, to see if we were on the right track.

After this point, Haley reminded us her love of yellow, even stating she thought it could be her “signature color” So, we thought the simplicity of yellow and white would be even more striking, and tried all of the designs in that palette:

From there, it was easy for Haley and Riley to see where they should go: the most simple of the texts. When laying out the text, I actually did a version I would have done for my own wedding, and that was the version they chose- simple wins:

It really set the tone for the day-

Head on over to the Snippet and Ink post for the entire gallery from Simply Jessie. And, of course, you can see more custom wedding invitations on our site.

Posted on January 29th, 2014 | Comment »

the year of the wedding

If last night’s mass Grammy wedding was any indication, 2014 is starting out right by celebrating weddings for all. What a powerful message the producers of the Grammys sent by televising 34 gay and straight weddings, following Macklemore’s performance of Same Love. These couples must be walking on air right now… not only to be part of such a groundbreaking moment, but to be married by Queen Latifah, and to have Madonna sing at your wedding? Just wow.

Photos found on the internet, sorry, I don’t have credits.

OH, and if you weren’t watching the Grammys last night, you were probably watching The Bachelor Wedding, designed by one of our favorite event planners, Mindy Weiss! See, it really is the year of the wedding!

Posted on January 27th, 2014 | Comment »

You’re Engaged! Now what? Using Paper to Plan

Congratulations! Engagements are an exciting, and often overwhelming, time in one’s life. When I was planning my Santa Barbara nuptials, I was completely overwhelmed by all the decisions that had to be made. I was 26, and planning it with the help of my family of co-workers at the Santa Barbara Independent, my circle of wedding planners. Without their advice, I probably wouldn’t have gotten married at all.

For many of you, a planner or designer is the appropriate choice- he or she will help you with all of the details, from setting a budget, to helping design the look of your event(s), to choosing vendors, to making sure the day runs smoothly…. I could go on! There are tons of planners and event stylists out there, and it’s important to choose someone who has a personality and style you feel right at home with- you will be spending a lot of time with her, and putting trust into her to make decisions for you and your family.

One of the most essential things I learned, was to prioritize. If you look at the wedding planning as a huge mountain to climb, you’ll definitely get overwhelmed by the stress of planning such a huge event. I know for me, tears and anxiety definitely played a roll. I had never had to plan anything larger than a birthday party, and most of you, unless you’re already a seasoned entertainer, won’t have done it either. Breaking it up into small steps will help you feel as if you’re making progress, and will feel much more manageable.

So how do you begin to pull together the celebration of your dreams? You’ve probably already starting pinning from your favorite blogs, gathering ideas you love. And that’s a great place to start, to get a sense of your style, if you’re not sure. But all those images will start to overwhelm you if you don’t have a few kew details in place. It great to know that you want unglazed cake and linen napkins; trophy vessels for your floral, and a farm table outside, with fairy lights hanging from the trees. But, before you can secure these small details, a few key things will help you plan the decor and overall look of your design. The rest of pieces will fall into place.

I’m partial to paper- It just helps me see details as a whole, when they are laid out in front of me.

1. Buy a three ring binder from an office store, and some way to section it out. I liked those clear plastic sleeves. I know, not very romantic, but I was able to place contracts, business cards, images from magazines, fabric swatches into sections, marked: ceremony, reception, photographer, florist, transportation, invitations, etc. Bring this to your meetings with vendors, so that they can see your vision for the entire day, and make appropriate suggestions.

My binder housed everything, from contracts to tears, to all my notes and guest list:

2. Magazines! Sitting into front of the computer all day at work, and then at night planning your big day can be exhausting. Take a break from the screens and relax with your favorite drink, and start to go through a few. Tear out the images that speak to you.

These are the tears I showed my dress designer for the organza overlay in back and front of my dress.

3. Calendar. Once you have your wedding date, (which will only come after you choose your location, so I’m a little ahead of you) you can start to work backwards from it. Now, I can only speak to when you should order your stationery, and a wedding designer or planner can help you with the entire timeline, as it’s complex. But if you do like to see it all laid out, this planner roundup from Oh, So Beautiful Paper will help you choose a stylish and functional planner to pop in your bag, and dedicate to the entire planning process for the year.

My picks: left, right.

Once you get a little organized, the following should be first on your list to nail down:
Budget, Location, and then your first vendor to secure – your photographer. Good luck!

Posted on January 11th, 2014 | Comment »

less is more

Whenever I hear women talk about shoes, I hear how many pairs they have. Gobs. Closets filled to the brims. Photographs on the outside of boxes so they can figure out what they have. Imelda Marcos, Paris Hilton, and Lindsey Lohan are all famously fanatical about shoes, owning thousands of pairs each. I understand the appeal. Shoes are the perfect accessory, outfitting any trend, dressing up or down any woman, (or man) no matter their shape, size or age. And they’re a necessity, so why not go crazy, right? I think you don’t have to. I don’t have plenty of money to spend on clothes. But, I’ll spend more on one amazing piece than many women spend on four of the same because it’s special, classic, or needed. And I do it because they are well made, have a classic shape, and will last forever. Well made things are more expensive, as they are made in smaller quantities, with beautiful materials, and often by hand. They’re usually not at department stores, but at smaller boutiques, where the shop owner took time to select specific items for their clientelle.

Case in point: these Rachel Comey perforated black leather booties purchased from the now closed 203040. I love them as much as any shoe fanatic loves their collection. They cost a bit of money. But they are my only booties. In fact, I own in total 2 pairs of tennis shoes, one pair of loafers, two pairs of heels, one pair of wedges, one pair of flip flops and two pairs of boots. That’s it. (I do have an exception for summer flats- will buy a pair at Urban to wear all summer-they’re usually trashed by August). That’s a total of 10 pairs. When I feel the need to buy a new pair, I make sure that they will stand the test of time. If the cost is bit more, I’m okay with that, because it will be a while until I buy another. Next up on my wish list, a pair of nude leather heels…

Posted on January 2nd, 2014 | Comment »

2013 in review

I’m so grateful for 2013 – so many great projects, collaborations, opportunities… looking forward to another year, getting to do what I love. A huge nod to Julia Franzosa, who photographed many of the projects and products below- thank you!

Row One: We introduced our Ready Made Invitations.

Row Two: Collaborated on great events and photo shoots with our respected friends in the industry.

Row Three: Creative custom projects!

Row Four: Taught the art of stationery and letter writing twice this year at two non-profit events.

Row Five: Custom Crests! Love marking the union of family with these in 2013, and got featured in our fave wedding magazine.

Row Six: Liners- lots and lots of them, brightening up the inside of envelopes.

Posted on December 27th, 2013 | 2 Comments »

sarah drake at west elm

A big thanks to those of you who came out to our paper craft evening at West Elm earlier this month. Emily, Ann and I had a lot of fun showing those of you how to line envelopes, paint ombré notecards, and all the other fun little details we add to paper to make it just a little more special. Thanks to West Elm for hosting us, and an even bigger thanks to Julia Franzosa for capturing it on film!

Posted on December 17th, 2013 | Comment »

the ultimate luxury

This week marks the time of year where we spend more time being hosts and guests. Whether you’re traveling to your childhood home (how lucky are you?), welcoming your son home from college, hoping a flight across the country, or hosting dinner for 20, this time of year helps define how we host. To me, being the ultimate host is making my guests feel comfortable and welcome in my home. This is true luxury-to give comfort, not things. A warm blanket, or a fresh bar of soap isn’t expensive, but so welcome to weary travelers. My clients tell me time and time again, that they want their weddings to feel as though they’re opening their doors for the best dinner party of their lives. How better do we do this than through food? So many cultures embrace food as the vehicle to show love, appreciation, bounty, history… everything. You may make a traditional meal, volunteer at the homeless shelter, or grill your favorite cut of meat. But whatever you do that makes your holiday season meaningful, it’s this act of bringing family and friends together at the table that is the perfect showcase of luxury. Maybe it is setting the perfect table on the family china that makes it feel special to you because that was the tradition in your family (like it was mine), but maybe it’s just having enough wine, or making that one special dish because your mother made it, and her mother before her. Cooking together, sharing family recipes, and the act of passing the dishes around the table says more about you than the way it looks. Whatever it is that you do, it’s making your guests feel right a home that makes you the perfect host. Nothing more.

A small little moment happened like that for our family last night-we got home late from various appointments, everyone starving. For once, I had planned a meal in advance, and while we waited for our chicken to cook in the oven, I seared some bread Seth had brought home from the Publican, and made a little snack while we waited. As I layered the cheese, tomatoes and basil on the bread seared in the oil, I took pride in providing fresh, simple ingredients to provide a hearty snack for my family. And, as they ran down the stairs, shoving the food in their hungry mouths, I knew that they could want for no more in that moment, and I was, in effect, giving them everything they needed. And in that, there is nothing more luxurious.

Posted on November 28th, 2013 | Comment »