Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Custom Designed or Personalized Wedding Invitations: What's the Difference?

If you are a bride to be and are looking for a unique wedding invitation, you have surely come across many fabulous stationery designers by now. Some designers offer custom invitations, some offer personalized invitations, some offer both. But what does that mean? Let me help explain!

There are three main aspects in which a custom invitations and a personalized invitation will differ: design, timeline and pricing.

A custom invitation begins with a blank canvas and is truly a work of art. You and your stationery designer will work together using your visions to create the perfect invitation for you. Your designer may begin by making sketches of your ideas and gathering the pricing for all of the paper and embellishments you envision for your invitation. The end result will be a one of a kind invitation that will be sure to wow your guests. Most stationery designers love their custom orders because it's a great way for them to express themselves as an artist.

A personalized invitation begins with a design that already exists. The design is then fine-tuned with your preferences. Most designers allow you to personalize the wording, paper and ink colors with your preferences. Your guests will be delighted to receive a personalized invitation, as it is also a unique work of art. However, it is a design that has been used previously and will be used again in the future.

Stationery designers will differ with their timelines depending on their printing and assembly methods and production volume. For a custom design, I suggest to my brides that we begin designing at least eight weeks prior to when the need to have their invitations in hand. It may take more or less time, depending on the overall design, quantity and time of year.

A personalized invitation will take less time because the design already exists. However, the design does need to be modified. Again, the timeline will differ from stationer to stationer. I suggest that brides begin the personalized invitation process about five to six weeks prior to their deadline.

Hours upon hours are involved in creating and revising a custom design, therefore, a custom invitation is going to be more expensive than a personalized invitation. If you are a bride on a tight budget, this may not be the path you want to travel. While you can reduce pricing by using a simple invitation style, such as a flat panel invitation instead of a pocket fold with ribbon, embellishments and all of the enclosures, your stationery designer will need to charge for their time.

Personalized invitations are the way to go if you are a bride with a budget, but still want a unique and beautiful invitation. While your stationery designer will still be charging a fee for revising the invitation with your preferences, the time is cut down considerably. I know that many stationers can also adapt their designs according to your budget by adding or eliminating style elements.

Whether you choose a custom or personalized invitation is a matter of preference. By sharing your budget and visions with your stationery designer, she/he should be able to guide you in the right direction!

~Maria Elena Designed By M.E. Stationery

Photo credits: Designed By M.E. Stationery
Note: Top photo is provided courtesy of Steve Burns, Bella Pictures

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trends: Stationery for your Pet!

It started when someone asked me if I could create a note set with an image on it. The image was a beautiful watercolor portrait of someone's horse. Then someone else wondered if I could create a note set starring her dog. Why not! If you love your pet so much that it's a member of your family, then celebrate that with new pet announcements or personalized stationery. It's a very appreciated gift for pet lovers too.


photo credit: evy jacob

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just As Proud: Baby Announcements from Siblings and Grandparents

When a baby comes into the world, there's always cause for celebration! While we've seen the traditional baby announcements from parents, how about leaving the honor of announcing the big news to the newly minted "Big Brother" or "Big Sister" and even grandparents as well? They're all just as proud!

{Cathe, Feterie}

Photo credits: (top) Feterie, (middle) Bride Design,
and (bottom) Evy Jacob

Note: Photo in top design is provided courtesy of White Rabbit Studios.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Noted: Initials

There are so many reasons to send a hand written note, whether it's a simple hello, a heartfelt thank you, or an enclosure with a little gift, it's nice to have an assortment of beautiful note cards on hand.
Initial note cards are a classic choice, and today's stationers offer them in modern form, as well as the timeless standards. Whether you choose your first initial or last, a lovely box of initial note cards are the perfect solution for your correspondence.

Photo Credits: Evy Jacob (1), Just Another Day Designs (2), Invita Paper Studio (3), Artful Sentiments (4)

Molly, Artful Sentiments

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stationery Trend: Grey

Super chic and completely current, grey could very well be the new black. In the past, we've associated this color with Fall and Winter palettes but lately it has been featured in Spring and Summer soirees.

It seems that any shade will do, too. From pewter to silver, grey is a fresh alternative to black or brown. Lighten it up for summery, breezy events and keep it dark for evening and fall/winter affairs.

Here are some of the hottest combos you'll see in many stationery line-ups this year:

1. InVita Paper Studio 2. baron*cards 3. Abby Jean Press 4. Brown Sugar Design 5. Just Another Day Designs

For a modern twist on a retro idea, try Soft Pink hues paired with Slate and Stone greys. For a classic look, match Sky Blue with Pewter. Remember that Black and Silver are a foolproof combo for any formal event.

6. Wiley Valentine 7. Blush Paperie 8. Abby Jean Press 9. Bride Design 10. Good Girl Gifts

~ Lianne Tokey, baron*cards

Monday, February 16, 2009

clever alternative to baby announcements & favors

if handing out cigars or beef sticks after the birth of your baby isn't exactly your thing, try something clever like magnets featuring an image of your baby and all of his/her birth information. (also available for many other occasions such as save-the-date, graduation, birthday announcements, and wedding favors.)

another clever option are custom m&m's. now you can put your own words and photos on those little round chocolates! there are a multitude of colors to choose from, and while they're quite pricey, they certainly are cute! available in bulk or in several favor-sized options!

*magnet image courtesy of fin+roe
*m&m image snagged from m&m website

Letterpress: the machines that make the magic

You may recall from a few of our earlier info-posts, Letterpress 101, Letterpress 102, learning all about how letterpress works. You may be able to spot that telltale deep impression from across the stationery store, but do you know what the printing press looks like? There are many different kinds of printing presses. Most presses are at least 60 years old but many are much older. One common misnomer is that the press is not actually called a 'letterpress' like I hear so often by customers.

This is a Chandler & Price Pilot. It is considered a table-top model and is good for small shops or hobbyists. Because it is run strictly by (wo)man power and the lever, you often can not as good of an impression as with the big guys.

This beauty is a Chandler & Price New Series. This type of press is also known as a 'platen jobber' and is really good for larger runs. You operate this press with either a foot treadle (like the old fashioned sewing machines) or by using a motor. This is the type of press I use day to day and prefer for printing invitations and cards. This press typically weighs around 1100 pounds and can give a good impression.

The Vandercook 4, also known as a gallery proof press or cylinder press, is the other press type preferred by many printers. The paper is hand-cranked around the cylinder and onto the printing plates. The wonderful thing about this press is the the area for printing is much larger. This is great for printing larger pieces such as posters. This is also a monster of a machine weighing about 1/2 ton.

For the higher production print shops, you may see something like this, a Heidelberg Windmill. This 3000 pound whopper can tackle big runs in a jiffy. If you get cards or invitations from some of the big name letterpress shops, there is a good chance they have a bunch of these lying around.

Hopefully this will give you a better idea, if not a greater appreciation, for some of the massive equipment used to make such a delicately printed card or invitation. Until next time...

~Kelly, Paper Stories

print courtesy Paper Stories
press images from Briar Press Museum

Friday, February 13, 2009

Make your mark using eco-friendly inks

Most people think “eco-friendly stationery” has everything to do with the paper. Just as important (and often overlooked) is the ink used to create the images and impressions we see on paper.

However, not all inks are created equal! “Traditional” inks are considered toxic to the environment because they don't decompose in landfills, they emit air pollution in the form of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and are based on petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Unfortunately, these inks are commonly used in printing processes because they are readily available and considered to be cost-effective. Thankfully, there are alternatives. Here are some suggestions on how make a 'green' impression on paper:

Use vegetable-based inks (soy, flax, canola or safflower)

- emit low VOCs
- derived from renewable resources
- easily stripped from paper in the recycling process
- biodegradable
- available for commercial and personal printing equipment
- provide high-quality, vibrant prints

Remember that less is more

Source short-run printing using solid wax ink or by digital press using liquid ink. These processes can print small quantities with less setup and chemical clean-up required.

Lasso’d Moon Designs: eco-friendly printer, uses wax based solid ink.

Even better: print only what you need. Source stationers who print by hand using block print, silkscreen or letterpress.

(left) Feterie: Eco-Luxe Gift Wrap is hand silkscreen-printed with soy/veg-based ink | (right) Artful Sentiments: Each card is an original work of art, hand printed

Hire a calligrapher for your stationery package or envelope addressing (you can also do it yourself).

Betsy Dunlap: calligraphy by hand

Design considerations: choose designs that use less ink or none at all. Look for minimalist designs or letterpress that incorporates ‘embossing’, where the impression into the paper creates the design without ink.

Paper stories: embossed letterpress design

Go digital: where possible, eliminate the ink altogether. Use wedding websites for wedding day information (such as Accommodation or Direction details) and send “Save the Date” notifications via email.

Eco-saavy consumers on a quest for eco-friendly stationery should look beyond recycled paper. Work with stationers who resource low-VOC ink solutions with the capacity to run small quantities and you'll be doing your part to support sustainability!

- Lianne Tokey, baron*cards

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Paper Primer

If you have started looking for personal stationery or for an invitation for your special event you have probably come across some paper terminology. This post is just going to cover the basic terms you might encounter on your paper journey. If you find a term that is not covered here please email us or put your question in the comments of this post.

Your stationer is experienced with different types of papers and their applications across different mediums and printing methods. They will help pick out the best paper stock for your project.

COVER STOCK: cover stock is the weight of paper you will normally be concerned with when dealing with invitations. If a paper is cover stock it means it is thicker and feels more like a card.

TEXT: The other main paper weight category is Text and, as the name implies, text weight is what is mainly used for book pages and computer paper. For example, if you have a magazine or a paperback book the cover is probably cover weight and the inside pages are text weight. Envelopes are made out of text weight paper.

PAPER WEIGHT: You probably will not need to know anything other than Cover or Text but there are different weights of paper within both the cover and text categories. The weight of a paper is usually referred to by a number followed by pounds (for example, 110 lb. cover stock or 80 lb. text). The higher the number, the thicker the paper.

STOCK: The word stock is essentially interchangeable with the word paper. You may or may not hear paper referred to as stock.

HANDMADE: Handmade paper is made by hand instead of mass produced with machines.

COTTON: Paper can be made from other materials besides trees. A popular paper for letterpress printing as well as artists is cotton paper. It feels very soft in your hands and has a wonderful texture.

photo credit: shimmer studio

--dana [shimmer studio]

invitation alternatives :: fill-ins & imprintables

let's face it. while having custom made invitations and announcements made for special occasions like weddings or the birth of a baby is great, sometimes that sort of thing isn't in the budget for certain events like a cocktail party, family barbeque, or bridal shower. this is where two great alternatives come into play.

the first are fill-in invitations. this is the type of invitation (or announcement) that has the pre-printed "who:, what:, where:, when:, why:" information ready for you to plug in your information, stamp, and send on it's way. super simple solution and typically super affordable.

for those of you who are more confident with typing up the wording for your invitation in word processing software, an imprintable gives you more flexible options in that you can write whatever you want, wherever you want! some companies even offer the option to do the custom printing for you. (for a fee of course) so while it's not a custom design, it is customized to your special event.

1. fondu fill-in invitation. in-vita paper studio :: available soon.
2. new puppy fill-in announcements. marzipan inc. (available at shades of violet) :: $6.00/box of 10 (sale price)
3. sophisticated sun party custom printed invitations. rock scissor paper :: $24/box of 10
4. shower invites. available as fill-in or imprintable marzipan inc. (available at shades of violet):: $7.50/box of 10 (sale price)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pink is the new Pink

I design a lot of Bat Mitzvah invitations and while there are some that go for some non-traditional color combinations, a large number of the designs I create are PINK!  Face it, girly girls and their girly moms love pink.  But as you can see here, there are many ways of interpreting pink.  So if your girly girl wants pink, you can say, "Pink is the new Pink!"

trends: cupcakes

In honor of my birthday today, I thought I would do a little post about something I love... the cupcake. Ever since the gals on Sex and the City headed down to Magnolia Bakery in NYC, cupcakes have been everywhere; both the edible and inedible kind. Here are just a few of the paper variety...

And lastly, for those spontaneous birthday celebrations, if you have one of these 5 minute candle packs by Poketo on hand, just break off a candle and stick it in a cupcake. Instant party!

~Kelly, Paper Stories

Monday, February 9, 2009

Digital Printing Basics

digitally printed wedding invitation by Bride Design

A few weeks ago I posted about the basics of offset lithography printing, the most commonly used high-volume, commercial printing process employed today. As discussed in the article, offset printing shines when used for large print runs, where precise color matching is required or where specialty paper stocks are being used. But what if you only need 100 invites, with just text and line art, printed crisply on standard 70 lb. text weight paper? Then perhaps digital is the right choice for you.

With offset lithography, the printing press needs to be specially set-up to print your job. As you print more and more offset pieces, those set up costs are absorbed, making it more affordable when working in high-volumes. With digital printing, there are little or no setup costs, making this method an excellent choice for low-volume jobs. Little set-up also means quick turnaround times, so if you need your job in a hurry, digital printing generally offers faster delivery. Digital printing also provides easy and accurate proofing, since your proof will be an actual sample of the final printed piece. What you see is exactly what you should be getting in the end.

If your designer is using spot colors to achieve exact color matching, then digital may not be the best option. Digital printing's four-color process (also known as CMYK), is forced to simulate precise colors like those from the Pantone Matching System, by using cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks. Offset lithography and some other printing methods, allow the use of pre-mixed inks in highly targeted colors in addition to the traditional four-color process. That being said, if you are looking simply for affordable four-color printing, digital has the advantage.

For more on digital printing, continue to check our site for additional posts. If you have questions about this or other printing methods please send us an email at Our expert stationers will answer reader questions on Fridays, and we're always happy to discuss the methods and techniques used to create the stationery and paper products we know and love.

~Erin, Bride Design

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Keen Calendars

Here is a selection of cool calendars for 2009 (and one birthday calendar that you can use for several years). I know it's already February but there's no time like the present to start getting organized. Besides where did January go so fast?

Photo Credit: Satsuma Press
Here is a beautiful letterpress calendar by Satsuma Press. The calendar is titled "Pattern + Texture" and was inspired by the artist's love of Japanese textiles. Purchase this lovely here.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Paul
Oh, I think I've inadvertently started a theme. This calendar caught my eye because I love letterpress and I love Koi. Each month features a different hand drawn illustration of koi. Purchase this calendar here.

Photo Credit: Rock Scissor Paper
I love this woodgrain birthday calendar from Rock Scissor Paper. What a fantastic idea to keep all those special days organized and in one place. Click here to purchase this one.

-dana [shimmer studio]

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wrapped in Loveliness

One of the things I love about bridal showers are the perfectly wrapped boxes of loveliness waiting to be opened by the bride-to-be (or the nearlywed couple if it happens to be a couple shower!).

But, these papers can bring such wonderful accents to basic party decor, so why stop at just the pretty boxes? Gift wraps are perfect for other uses to extend the look (and you can upcycle for a green touch!).

They can be used as:

1) Napkin Rings (a great way to find a second purpose for odd-shaped papers)
2) Plate decor (or cupcake wrappers)
3) Confetti (gently strewn about tables for a "snow dust" affect)
4) Party Streamers (hang from the ceilings or tie to round paper lanterns!)
5) Gift Packaging Toppers (slice the leftover papers into thin strips and make pompoms to top a gift!)

What's even better is that you don't have to select from designs in traditional colors or designs anymore, there are a wonderful variety of designs to select from. Choosing a certain design as an accent can add just the right touch of personality — whether the bride-to-be is crazy about the color orange or a couple shower where the groom-to-be wouldn't mind opening a couple of his own gifts, too!

--Cathe (Feterie)

(Images courtesy of Sarah Marie, Feterie, and Funnel Paper Goods)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Copyright 101

We all know the word copyright and we all know the little c in the circle (©) stands for copyright but do we actually know what a copyright really is and what that little symbol really means? It seems like today with computers and with the internet copyright gets confused and often times misunderstood, if not simply forgotten. A good understanding of copyright is more important than ever.
The US Government defines copyright as the following: "Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works." What this means is that the instant an artist creates a work (visual, performance, or written) that work is copyrighted and is legally owned by the artist. If someone finds an illustration or picture they would like to use for a project they must pay, or get permission from, the artist or the person that owns the copyright to use the work. Only the artist can sell the rights to use or to purchase their work. The artist may sell their artwork, or the rights to use the work for a specific use or for a specific amount of time (or both).

If a person asks another artist to recreate a piece of artwork
(or if they do it themselves) it is considered a copyright infringement. There is a fine line between inspired by and out-and-out stealing. If you can identify any piece of the new art as being derived from the original inspiration it could be considered a copyright infringement.

If you love a piece of artwork I encourage you to contact the original artist and work with them.

When working with royalty-free clip art or rights managed stock art and photography read the legal section to make sure the artwork is being used as it was licensed. All reputable stock art companies will have a legal section that will go over usage rights of purchased or downloaded art.

Copyright laws protect artists and help artists make a living! Please help keep artists working and successful! Thank you.

For more information on copyright laws visit

Monday, February 2, 2009

Letterpress Love

Many of you may be just starting your search for wedding stationery.  Taking a look at this site and other online alternatives is a natural first step.  One of the tough parts about an online search of letterpress is that it is very difficult to truly convey the luxurious texture and impression you get with letterpress printing.  But thanks to my talented photographer friend Liora Kuttler, I have some great photographs of the impression you get with letterpress invitations.  Hopefully, you can see why I have fallen in love with this ancient art.  So, without further ado, here are some great impressions.