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Wedding Invitations: The Map to Your Wedding | Summit and Sage

Grab yourself a big cup of coffee, and maybe a pen & paper to take some notes, cause this blog post is a good one, friends. I am so excited to continue this series of featured vendor posts, by highlighting an incredibly talented stationer & graphic designer, Alex Sidun, of Summit and Sage. I first got connected with Alex when I had the absolute pleasure of taking her engagement photos (check out their perfect dreamy Deep Cut Gardens engagement session here!! I’m obsessed.), and instantly was drawn to her sweet personality and the contagious joy that her and her fiance, Chris, share. But on top of all that, this girl is so creative and talented – I’m in LOVE with her invitation & design work! Alex’s invitation suites are so beautiful and unique, I honestly can’t enough. I’m blown away by basically everything she does! (Just keep on scrolling to see some of her work, and you’ll be hooked too, I promise!) Alex is a wealth of knowledge on all things paper products + invitations! From how to make your invitation suite “feel like you”, to how to mail your invites safely by hand canceling your stamps, this article she wrote is chock FULL of great tips and insight on your wedding stationery!

Alex, thank you so much for sharing all of this amazing information and your jaw dropping work! You are seriously the BEST and I’m so grateful for you! xoxo

All stationery photos courtesy of Alex Sidun.

“It’s just a piece of paper”

“Won’t it just get thrown in the trash?”

“Why would I pay that much for a stack of papers?”How many times have we heard these things? Heck, I used to find myself thinking these things when I first started – “Do I really think they’ll pay that for invitations?” But now, I think if you truly understand the value of what is actually being sent to your guests, then the answer is “Yes! Yes Yes and Yes!” So, if not pieces of paper, what are wedding invitations?

The most important thing about a wedding is the invites….. just kidding! The most important thing is of course celebrating your love together with all of your favorite people! But in order to get them there, you have to send out invites (which makes them preeeetty important, right?)

Planning a wedding is fun, and you should look back on this time with nostalgia thinking about everything that went into that blur-of-a-day that started the rest of your forever. But let’s be honest y’all… it can also become exhausting and stressful! You’re going through this crazy process that you’ve never really prepared for and won’t (knock on wood) really ever go through again. Insert me! A stationer is one of those people who is there to use their knowledge and skills to take at least some of that burden and make this process a little bit easier and more enjoyable!

As brides (and grooms) we spend a lot of time and money curating every detail for our Big Day.  From the florals to the music, the linens to the cake, from your dress to the perfect shade of eye shadow, every little piece is carefully curated for a cohesive overall look that is uniquely yours. We take it for granted when we are immersed in everything wedding, day in and day out. Unless someone is planning the wedding with you or you fill them in everyday as you make all those small but important decisions, they really don’t know what to expect.

You may be able to get a bang for your buck on a typical wedding-invite-to-go website, but will it really set the mood for you wedding day accurately? Will it perfectly capture the essence of you and your fiance? Probably not. Think about it – you’re off planning this incredibly formal, wintry white, romantic affair, yet all your guests receive is a thin piece of card stock that was printed at Staples. Some of them may be surprised when they walk into the venue a few months later and find such a formal wedding.

The entire point of invitations is to give your guests a glimpse into what they can expect from your wedding. I like to call them the map to your wedding. A lot of people dismiss invitations and save the dates because they aren’t a part of the actual wedding day. When in reality, they are the only information your guests will receive about your wedding throughout the entire planning process! They are the first impression of your wedding, a peek into what you’ve been working so long and hard on, the first big chance you have to share your love story with the world.

Aside from being a map to your wedding, your invitations should tell a story. When I ask my potential clients the question “What is most important about your wedding?”, the best answer I could hear is: “We want it to feel like us!

My favorite part about the custom design process is understanding your story and branding your stationery just for you. I want to know how you met, how he/she proposed, what makes you unique, what’s going on to make your wedding feel like you. I use a questionnaire to start this process, and before any physical work begins on your suite, I assemble a mood board, color palette, and sketches to brand your suite (and your wedding) from the get-go. A stationer can help you nail down the aesthetic for your wedding if you haven’t yet, which is something that will be valuable throughout the rest of your wedding planning process. Your save the date, invitation suite, and day-of stationery can be a big part of the overall feel, one that can help tie up all the loose ends, as well as help guide your guests through the entire event with ease.

Another important piece of your wedding stationery is the custom art – monograms/crests, maps, venue paintings, portraits that are unique to you and your fiance. These elements can serve as keepsake art pieces for your guests. They can also be a part of your wedding in other ways such as signage, napkins, koozies, welcome bags, guest books, programs, thank you cards, etc.

Now, all of a sudden, that “stack of paper” is a story, a map, a keepsake and a piece of art all in one! Remember the last time you went to visit a friend who had all those save the dates and invites still hanging on their fridge? While invitations make the first impression for your wedding, they can also serve to preserve the memory of your special day for years to come.

12 tips and tricks to make sure
your invites feel like you,
you get your invites out on time,
and they get to your guests safely:

  1. Etiquette says you should send your save the dates out at least 6 months before your wedding, and I suggest longer for destination weddings or wedding where most guests will travel from out of town. I’d like to say there’s no such thing as too early, but it’s a good idea to stay within the year.
  2. Invites should be sent out 8 to 10 weeks before your wedding (3-4 months for a destination wedding), with your RSVP date about one month before your wedding date. Everyone who receives a save the date should receive invitation (even if you know they aren’t coming).
  3. Allow at least 2 months for design and production (slightly less for save the dates).
  4. Reach out to stationers sooner rather than later. In this case, I don’t think there is such a thing as too early. Stationers frequently book clients 5-6 months before a wedding date or more.
  5. Your main invitation is the star, let it shine! Splurge here.
  6. Your RSVP card is a great place to save on printing. Your guests are going to write all over it and send it right back to you. Digital printing is the most economical. You can also have it designed as a postcard to save on postage and envelope costs. They may look a little rough once they get back to you, but your guests will only see them at their best.
  7. Your RSVP is a good place to save, but it’s also the only conversational part of your piece that both sends and receives information – so have fun with it! Here you can play with the wording (but also match it to the formality of the rest of your suite). You can ask guests more than just whether or not they are coming. You may need your guests to make meal selections or get a head count for other wedding events such as welcome parties or farewell brunches. You can also ask them for song suggestions or marriage advice, or make your rsvp a mad lib with fill-in-the-blanks regarding your wedding day.

  8. Custom artwork is the easiest way to make your suite a reflection of your relationship ( think colors, patterns, maps, crests with symbolic items).
  9. Your envelopes and postage are too important to be an afterthought! So carry through those personal and symbolic elements all the way till the end. Vintage postage can be specifically curated for your invitations – whether they are from places that are significant in your lives, have photos or artwork of things that represent you and/or your venue, or carry through the color palette from the rest of your suite.
  10. About 3% of all mail goes missing. For 100 invitations that’s 3 envelopes that could never make it to your guests. This doesn’t include some that may be returned to you for whatever reason. They just disappear into the black that is the USPS. So always order extras! Not just extras for re-mailing any missing ones, but for keepsakes, your photographer for day-of details shots, and to send to anyone on your B-List guest list. It’s much much more expensive to reprint an invitation suite than it is to just order a few extras, so I’d say add about 10 extras when you are giving that final number to your stationer.
  11. Every post office is different. So always always bring anything you are unsure of inside and have them check. If you can, go to more than one. I have a favorite post office, where the workers are much friendlier so I drive an extra 15 minutes to go to them. And then I go to the really strict PO where everyone is mean to me and I get a second opinion to compare (lol).
  12. One of the most important tips I give my brides who are mailing their own invitations is to hand-cancel them. Postage stamps can only be used one time, so to avoid them being reused, the post office runs all envelopes through a machine that puts a black mark over the stamps. It smudges, it makes your envelopes look not so pretty, and sometimes the envelopes get stuck. It’s not guaranteed that at another point along their journey your envelopes wont see the inside of a machine. But you should definitely try to cut it down as much as you can. So instead of your stamps getting cancelled by a machine, they are cancelled with a good ole fashioned rubber stamp and ink pad!

 

Summit and Sage – Alex Sidun 

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