Hello everyone! My name is Erin Vale. I am the owner/designer of Vale Design, a freelance design company and finch&hawk®, an online shop specializing in favor box printables and paper goods. Maddy asked me to help out with a guest post while she and Kristen of Paper Crave get ready for the big launch of their new online magazine, Nonpareil. I told her “Of course. I would love to help out!” Then as soon as I hit send, I panicked! It has been a long time since I have dealt with the ins and outs of weddings, nine years to be precise! What the heck was I going to write about?!
Paper is my passion so I decided to focus my post on wedding invitations and how to prepare for designing or choosing them. Wedding invitations have changed so much since I got married and all the different options can be overwhelming. I have had the pleasure of doing some design work for Jill Sowder, owner and resident paper goddess at the stationery shop Westwood Paper in Carmel, Indiana. She has taught me and countless brides how to navigate through the world of wedding paper products. She was gracious enough to let me interview her and I am happy to share some of her words of wisdom with you. Thanks Jill! Much love lady! (If you are local, definitely stop in. She is a genius when it comes to invitation wording.)
Welcome. Give us some background about yourself and your business.
My store is located in Carmel, Indiana which is just north of Indianapolis. I’ve been in retail for over 20 years and opened my own store four years ago. I love the retail aspect of the business…I get to see people everyday and help them with their events. Weddings are our specialty and we can do more than invitations. Save the Dates, Programs, menus, wine labels, gifts for attendants and greeting cards are available here too.
How does being a brick n’ mortar store help a bride versus online options?
The feel of the paper is so important and that just does not exist when ordering paper online. There are so many different weights, textures and colors available and a computer screen cannot let you feel anything. I have albums with invitations, swatches of papers and ribbons and many samples of my work here that can inspire a bride with her design. Spread the papers out on a table, play with the colors and you can create your own look.
Are brides choosing custom, online or album invitations more these days?
Online brides usually do not shop here until they have received their samples or actual order and want to see what else is available. Custom is probably the most requested. Sometimes we will order an invitation from an album and put it in a pocket or add ribbon and then create a custom invitation from that. Many of the invitation vendors let you create a custom invitation from their albums. Changing ink colors, fonts and color of paper are very common.
Do you see more brides doing DIY invitations? If so, how does your store help out in that process?
I don’t think I’m seeing any more DIY brides as there have always been several who make their own. My advice to these brides is start early and give yourself plenty of time to assemble because brides have so many things to do and think about that they don’t want to rush this part. Paper, envelopes, pockets, ribbon, etc. can be ordered through my store.
Best advice to brides on how to stick to their invitation budget?
What I usually tell brides when we first sit down is to look at their dream invitation and then start cutting out anything they can live without. You don’t always need three layers of paper, ribbon or letterpress printing, for example. Reception information can sometimes be included on the invitation so the reception card can be eliminated. Also, post card responses have become more popular and accepted. Costs decrease without the envelope and postage is less also.
What should a bride bring with her to the store when choosing invitations?
Know how many invitations you need…not the number of guests. Look at the mailing list before you start pricing. Also, if you have swatches of material or pictures of invitations you like, bring them too. If a bride feels that she is indecisive, bring someone you trust who can help make decisions.
What is your recommended wedding stationery timeline? Save-the dates? Thank you cards?
Invitations should be sent about eight weeks before the date, with Save-the-dates sent about 7-8 months ahead. I also think thank you cards should be sent as soon as possible, but within four months after the wedding.
What are your favorite wedding invitation products right now? Paper? Ribbons?
I absolutely love letterpress on a soft cotton paper with a pretty design in a light color ink.
Do you see any invitation trends for 2010?
I am seeing more grey or silver paper and ink than in the past. Pockets are still popular, as is metallic paper and “bling.” At least in the Midwest.
What is the number one question you are asked regarding wedding invitations?
How much does it cost. That is a very tough question since no two invitations are the same. The cost depends upon the quantity, the type of printing, the paper and if there are any embellishments.I get several calls a month with that question and I always ask that come into the store and see what is available.
Images from Vale Design.