The Custom Design Process: Katie & Adam

This is the fourth installment in my series, The Custom Design Process, where I walk through the steps I've gone through with a particular client to come to their final custom designed invitation. I find it so fascinating, once a design is finished and the invitations have been printed and mailed, to go back in my files and look at the very first draft for my client. Because most of my proofing process is digital, I have files saved in my email and on my computer from every single step of the way. Some designs are very close at the first draft, and the final design isn't too far removed, but others start out SO far from how they finish. If you've ever wondered what the process can be like, here you go! Katie & Adam

1. Inquiry- The first step in the process is for the client to reach out and start the conversation about what s/he is looking for in an invitation. Sometimes this includes sharing Pinterest inspiration, color choices, and general feel. And sometimes, it's a big fat "I have NO idea."

Katie had ideas. Lots of them! She was a bride on a mission, and provided me with lots of direction right from the get go. It was so easy to hone in on her style--she sent me links to invitations she was leaning towards, which made me see right away that she wanted something more traditional with a little creative flair. "Nothing boring" is what she said. Their colors would be navy, light green, light blue, and light pink, and their reception was at Alden Castle, a Longwood Events venue in Brookline, MA. She picked out a design from my own collection that was closest to what she wanted, and they had already done a Save the Date that she wanted to match, at least somewhat, in style:

 
 

2. First Looks - The next step is for me to start drafting up some samples based on the ideas the couple provided. I generally provide three First Looks.

Katie wanted to play with the iconic chandeliers of Adlen Castle, since they had used an image of a chandelier on their Save the Date. But she also said they might like to use some kind of lace image. The examples she sent me all had a sort of lacy border around them, so I tried to incorporate that in one of the First Looks. The third option used a fine paper with gold and tiny glitter accents in a layered style:

3. Honing in - The next step is for me to create another set of proofs based on elements from the First Looks that the client wants to see more of -- which fonts they like, which layout is best, and which color combination they prefer.

Not surprisingly, they went with the Chandelier design. The image was actually pulled from a photograph from inside Alden Castle, so the chandelier was a perfect match to their venue. Next up was the 2015 Battle of the Fonts. If am slightly font-obsessed, Katie Reynolds was certifiably font-crazy. (I can say that because she knows it's true, and she knows I love her for it!). They didn't love the formal, swirly look of the fonts on the first draft, so I sent over some script options and then some new versions based on their choices. We also swapped out the border to a navy:

When I say Katie was font-crazy, I say it lovingly, but I also mean it. I think she had dreams nightmares about fonts. I won't let the public in on how many emails really went back and forth on the tiniest of font details, but the short story is that we settled on the font from Option Two, with the ampersand from Option Three, with lots of glyph alterations. We also added back in the green border in addition to the blue, and I lightened up the chandelier to make it feel a little more delicate:

 
Reynolds_Fitz Chandelier_INVITE
Reynolds_Fitz Chandelier_INVITE
 

3A. The Inserts:Once the design is in place for the main invitation, I move on to the insert cards.

In this case we needed a Reception/Details card and an RSVP, which I actually started before the invitation fonts were settled on. Katie had been very specific about wanting one of the cards to be light lettering on a dark background:

 

After seeing these first drafts, Katie asked if we could bring in the chandelier, and had the idea to maybe incorporate an image of Alden Castle. I switched up the page orientation, and did a rendering of the castle. Once we sorted out the fonts, those were swapped out as well:

4. The Details - Putting the finishing touches on a design is maybe my favorite part. This is where I hand my design over, so to speak, to the couple, and let them perfect all the details to their taste and their event.

Once the three main pieces were put together, we started playing with different ways to present the whole package. Katie wanted a sash with some kind of square seal with either their names or a monogram, and we added in a green RSVP envelope to add another layer of color. The whole piece was presented in a white envelope with navy liner, with printed addresses on everything. I LOVE how this all came together!

5. The Accessories - For many of my clients, the invitation is just the beginning. As the wedding nears, there are other items that get added to the list -- welcome cards, menus, programs, favor tags, you name it. All these printed items can (and should, if you ask me!) be coordinated with your invitations. And the good news is, once the invitations have been finished, all the hard work and decision making has been done. The other pieces come together much more quickly because the design theme is already in place!

 
 

Katie and Adam decided to carry the design through their Rehearsal Dinner Invitation, which was to be held at the Hampshire House, also in Boston. I employed the same techniques I used to manipulate the image of Alden Castle, and switched up the colors to make it feel different but related:

They also added ceremony programs with coordinating fonts and colors:

Photo: The Feds Weddings
Photo: The Feds Weddings

And menus that poked out of the napkins and incorporated the chandeliers that hung over the tables:

Photo: The Feds Weddings
Photo: The Feds Weddings

This invitation, along with many others, is available on my Etsy shop!

Stay tuned for more Custom Design Process posts!

The Custom Design Process: Shayna & Kim

This is the third installment in my series, The Custom Design Process, where I walk through the steps I've gone through with a particular client to come to their final custom designed invitation. I find it so fascinating, once a design is finished and the invitations have been printed and mailed, to go back in my files and look at the very first draft for my client. Because most of my proofing process is digital, I have files saved in my email and on my computer from every single step of the way. Some designs are very close at the first draft, and the final design isn't too far removed, but others start out SO far from how they finish. If you've ever wondered what the process can be like, here you go! Shayna & Kim

1. Inquiry- The first step in the process is for the client to reach out and start the conversation about what s/he is looking for in an invitation. Sometimes this includes sharing Pinterest inspiration, color choices, and general feel. And sometimes, it's a big fat "I have NO idea."

Shayna was on the ball with invitations. She contacted me ten months before her wedding, and even before her engagement was officially announced. This girl was excited. She said she wanted her wedding to be "Romantic, Classic but Unique, Rustic, Fun, Energetic". It would be at Sakonnet Vineyard in Little Compton, Rhode Island in June 2015. She gave me a little guidance with colors: "Pastels. Pink, yellow, gray with some bold accents in the pink family." I visited the venue's website, and found gorgeous photos of waterfront countryside and rolling hills.

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2. First Looks - The next step is for me to start drafting up some samples based on the ideas the couple provided. I generally provide three First Looks.

I tried to capture the seaside vineyard vibe, bringing in some softness and romance with pastels and pinks. Honestly, I wasn't loving any of them, and had a hard time grasping what Shayna was going for. How do I capture seaside winery (which makes me think of navy and white and burgundy) with her color scheme? I came up with some very rough drafts, mostly with the intention of feeling out her style a little more:

Crowell Banner Mounted Crowell Ombre Mounted Crowell Peony Mounted

3. Honing in - The next step is for me to create another set of proofs based on elements from the First Looks that the client wants to see more of -- which fonts they like, which layout is best, and which color combination they prefer.

Of the three, Shayna liked the peony design the best, but as expected, none of them were very close. She liked the fonts from the peony design, but was looking for more of a watercolor look--she didn't like the crisp edges against the grey, and wanted the whole thing to look softer. So I stayed with a floral theme, and came up with some other options. To take care of the watercolor, I asked my aunt, Susan Farnsworth, if she would take a crack at painting some peonies for the design. I tried one with a white background to brighten it up, and one with a textured grey:

Crowell Floral2 Crowell Peony

We were getting closer in style, but it turned out Shayna jumped the gun on invitations a little too early in her planning (yes, there is a limit to how early you should start!) We let the design sit for almost 4 months, and as Shayna's wedding was drawing near and her wedding details were falling into place, she realized it didn't quite work anymore. In her planning, she had found that her style was actually a little more traditional and preppy, and she asked if we could scratch the original designs, and start over. So, back to step 2 it was!


2. First Looks - The next step is for me to start drafting up some samples based on the ideas the couple provided. I generally provide three First Looks.

She had developed what she called an "obsession" (her words, not mine) with pink and white stripes, so that was a specific request. In general, she wanted the invitations to be more traditional and formal feeling, so I took another shot. I couldn't quite give up on the peonies, so they made a reinvented appearance:

Crowell, Shayna_Border Crowell, Shayna-01 Crowell, Shayna-02

3. Honing in - The next step is for me to create another set of proofs based on elements from the First Looks that the client wants to see more of -- which fonts they like, which layout is best, and which color combination they prefer.

Turns out, Shayna's original instincts were closer that she thought! The peonies were actually still her favorite, but the design was a little too bright and modern, and she wanted to adjust the wording. So, I lightened up the peonies, made it more symmetrical and swapped out the wording:

Crowell, Shayna_Peony

We were getting closer, but Shayna still felt like the font was too modern, and she didn't love that we had lost the green leaves. So, I added in some formal script, got rid of the all-caps, and brought the leaves back in. I also added the option of removing the rectangle in the center, softening it up even more:

Crowell, Shayna Peony_Peony Crowell, Shayna Peony_Peony_No Rectangle

4. The Details - Putting the finishing touches on a design is maybe my favorite part. This is where I hand my design over, so to speak, to the couple, and let them perfect all the details to their taste and their event.

Shayna was ready to lock it in! She loved the version with no rectangle, and after a few drafts of the RSVP and Details card (we tried out those stripes again for a minute) we settled on the final design. The text was printed in dark grey and light pink, and we carried the peonies over into a vertical RSVP card with blush envelope. The invitation was mounted on a blush backing, and a peony-lined envelope brought the whole suite together.

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It was a lot of work to get to the finished product, but I love how it came out! I love a challenge, and honing in on the perfect design for a client who doesn't exactly know what she wants is all part of the fun. It's so rewarding to finally get there and see it all come together!

5. The Accessories - For many of my clients, the invitation is just the beginning. As the wedding nears, there are other items that get added to the list -- welcome cards, menus, programs, favor tags, you name it. All these printed items can (and should, if you ask me!) be coordinated with your invitations. And the good news is, once the invitations have been finished, all the hard work and decision making has been done. The other pieces come together much more quickly because the design theme is already in place!

We designed ceremony programs, a seating chart, and menus with printed names that served as place cards (love that idea!)

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We did custom stickers for her welcome boxes at the hotel, and we finally brought in those pink stripes on the stickers for their spice jar favors:

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What a gorgeous wedding! The bridesmaids wore bright magenta dresses, there were just-popped peonies everywhere, and Shayna and Kim were glowing. Congratulations to the happy couple, and thank you so, so much for your business! It was a pleasure helping with your big day!

This invitation, along with many others, is available on my Etsy shop!

Stay tuned for more Custom Design Process posts!

Gorgeous Wedding Photography by Michelle Girard

The Ultimate Luxury Wedding Invitation - Think INSIDE the box!

For a while now, I've wanted to delve into the ultra-luxury side of wedding invitations. I don't own a printing press and I'm not about to go out and buy one. So at this time, high-end printing methods are not part of my repertoire. But I can, and do, provide a super-custom design experience with a heavy dose of creativity and personality. I got into this business because I wanted to provide a couple with a reasonably priced, fully custom invitation that feels more like a creative experience than a store-bought product. And whaddya know, I've actually been successful! People want that. So, why do I want to go upscale? Well, in this case, it was just for the fun of it. If I had the budget for it, what would I splurge on? Foil printing? Check. Gorgeous fonts? Check. A mix of fine paper and luxe envelopes? Lots of details like double faced paper and hand calligraphy? Check. An un-boxing experience (literally) that rivals a new Apple product? Definitely.

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These days, I rarely take the time to design for an imaginary client, so I really went whole-hog on this one. I started with the box and the Italian paper. I was inspired by a friend of mine who did her own invitations, packaging all the pieces in stacked white envelopes, each slightly smaller than the next, each with it's own card inside. It was like you were opening a collection of secret messages or clues to a treasure hunt. Such a cute idea, I took it a step further and nestled the whole thing inside a BOX. After doing some research, I found that you can literally seal the edges of this bad boy, throw an extra stamp on it (based on weight) and pop it in a mail slot along with your electric bill and it goes through the mail right like that!_MG_2006

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The idea of playing around like this, for an imaginary client, is to try out new techniques, but also to add to my portfolio of ideas and inspiration for future real clients. I love a challenge, and it's so fun to be able to try out big ideas like this, even if it's not for a paying customer. Of course, it does also give me a new listing on Etsy and something to blog about! :)

Do I have your wheels turning? Let's work together on your custom project! Complete an inquiry form and we'll chat!

The Custom Design Process: Kira & Willem

This is the second in my new series, The Custom Design Process, where I walk through the steps I've gone through with a particular client to come to their final custom designed invitation. I find it so fascinating, once a design is finished and the invitations have been printed and mailed, to go back in my files and look at the very first draft for my client. Because most of my proofing process is digital, I have files saved in my email and on my computer from every single step of the way. Some designs are very close at the first draft, and the final design isn't too far removed, but others start out SO far from how they finish. If you've ever wondered what the process can be like, here you go! Kira & Willem

1. Inquiry- The first step in the process is for the client to reach out and start the conversation about what s/he is looking for in an invitation. Sometimes this includes sharing Pinterest inspiration, color choices, and general feel. And sometimes, it's a big fat "I have NO idea."

I've known Kira for most of my life, but we only see each other for a week each year, and we spend most of our time in swimsuits and bare feet. While I feel a great connection to Kira and her family (our mothers are like sisters) I wasn't sure what kind of style she'd go with for her wedding. So, I asked all the normal questions, and while she gave me a little guidance, the general response was "Work your magic!". She said they were having a backyard wedding, with greys and purples and a casual, international feel.

2. First Looks - The next step is for me to start drafting up some samples based on the ideas the couple provided. I generally provide three First Looks.

I tried to hone in on the backyard feel. Fresh flowers, strings of lights, etc. The first two designs were to be a layered flat card:

GaNun_Kira Floral Mounted GaNun_Kira Lights Mounted

The third design played with the idea of travel a little more, and I found this perfect quote that totally fit Kira and Will (and the fact that they had traveled together all over the world and were getting married at her parents' home!)

GaNun_Folder Enclosure Outside

GaNun_Folder Enclosure

3. Honing in - The next step is for me to create another set of proofs based on elements from the First Looks that the client wants to see more of -- which fonts they like, which layout is best, and which color combination they prefer.

Not surprisingly, Kira, Will and their parents all loved the map design. Kira wanted to try out using the fonts from the Light String invitation, and she wanted to see a little more purple. In general, she wanted a more casual, whimsical look. We weren't sure about the grey, but I said I'd send them a few physical samples, and maybe we'd lighten it up with the envelope. In round two, I brought back the lanterns for a minute just to see if they liked that theme in the map enclosure:

GaNun_Folder Enclosure Lights GaNun_Folder Enclosure Swirl

4. The Details - Putting the finishing touches on a design is maybe my favorite part. This is where I hand my design over, so to speak, to the couple, and let them perfect all the details to their taste and their event.

They ended up sticking with the heart design, and we switched to a vertical layered card for the RSVP to bring in some more purple. The online RSVP added convenience and dropped the cost a little, and I set them up with their own URL. The sash on the front was switched up for a purple band with a little of the map peaking out as a second layer. Fun fact: I was very careful to make the heart cut-out (yes, that was cut out of every single invitation!) over Scotland, where Kira's entire family went on vacation recently, and where Kira and Will share many fond memories.

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5. The Accessories - For many of my clients, the invitation is just the beginning. As the wedding nears, there are other items that get added to the list -- welcome cards, menus, programs, favor tags, you name it. All these printed items can (and should, if you ask me!) be coordinated with your invitations. And the good news is, once the invitations have been finished, all the hard work and decision making has been done. The other pieces come together much more quickly because the design theme is already in place!

Turns out, Kira and Will have a plethora of talented friends, and Kira's pretty crafty herself. I was lucky enough to attend this wedding myself, and it was gorgeous, super comfortable and homey, and so personal. They carried the travel theme throughout the whole backyard, with a world map seating chart, and tables named after some of their favorite places in the world. We sat in London!

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One of Kira's friends drew portraits of the bride and groom and the whole bridal party. Definitely one of the coolest ceremony programs I've ever seen!

11061275_10100196212914579_3349086340278405520_oPhoto Credit: Melissa Mullins11713723_10100196214676049_6454582835795878915_oPhoto Credit: Melissa MullinsPhoto Credit: Melissa MullinsPhoto Credit: Melissa Mullins11700687_10100196221517339_7951828998221277186_oPhoto Credit: Melissa MullinsWill's Dad gave a toast at the wedding, and pulled out the invitation, bringing the whole experience full circle for everyone there. "Life brings you to unexpected places, Love brings you home." I got chills (and teary-eyed) and was reminded for the thousandth time why I love what I do!

This invitation, along with many others, is available on my Etsy shop!

Stay tuned for more Custom Design Process posts!

Wedding Photography by Melissa Mullins

¡Viva Brasil! The Baby Shower Invitation for Brazil's Littlest Soccer Fan

A couple of months ago, a friend and past client of mine, Nicole, asked about doing some baby shower invitations for a friend of hers. The expectant couple are huge Brazil soccer fans, and they are having a boy. Nicole was thinking something in the Brazil colors (yellow, green and black) with maybe a soccer ball theme. Whenever I think of soccer fans, I picture them wearing their favorite team's jersey, and the Brazil uniform in particular is really recognizable. I thought it would be cute to make a onesie that looked like the jersey and maybe use the family name on the back. As soon as I started the design, I thought to add the "Jr." and I think it really makes the whole theme work!

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As I was wrapping up the design, Nicole asked if I could add the registry information on there somewhere, and I suggested we do a little soccer ball insert. It came out so cute, and get this--it fits perfectly wedged into the folds of the envelope! I can't believe I've never noticed this handy little feature in Paper Source envelopes!

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I am kinda obsessed with how this came out, and I cannot wait to do more teams and different sports. Up next: Red Sox and Patriots (shocking, I know). Planning a baby shower for a big sports fan? I'd love to design one for you! This Brazil design is up on the Etsy shop, but as always it's just a sample of what we can do. I'd love to work with you!

A Modern Baby Shower Invite With *Just Enough* Purple

_MG_2077 When my friend Melanie approached me to design a baby shower invitation for our mutual friend, Kristin, she started by saying she wanted something "chic, modern and sophisticated". The shower was going to be a high tea in LA and it needed to fit Kristin's California style. She was expecting a girl, but didn't want to go too "pink crazy"--she mentioned liking yellow and aqua in addition to purples, pinks and maybe grey.

Hmmm... A baby shower with a sophisticated feel? Oh boy! (or girl, I guess...) I wasn't sure where to start, so I decided to go with the tea theme and play around with the colors she ask for. I thought I'd try a design with zero pink:

Betts Teacups-01

The girls loved the design (even though I spelled her name wrong!). BUT, the plans had changed since Melanie had first contacted me, and it was no longer going to be a tea party! Since they loved the colors so much, I kept the color scheme and went with a few other design element ideas, keeping just enough purple!

Betts_Stroller Betts_MonogramBetts_Mobile

Turns out my original fonts were spot on, because they loved the third design with the mobile the best! I think that was my favorite too, and I was able to pull the shapes from the mobile and use them on an insert card and the envelope liner. I love how this came out!

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Because Kristin is my friend and I was so excited for her, I just had to make her a set of thank you notes to match:

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I love that this design could easily be used for a gender neutral shower, or we could even switch out the colors to welcome a baby boy. Versatile designs like this are perfect for the Etsy shop!

Kristin had a lovely shower, and just last week gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Mama and baby are doing great. Congratulations Kristin!!!

The Custom Design Process: Jen & Andy

_MG_1989This is the first in what will be a series of posts that will take you through my custom design process for wedding invitations. I find it so fascinating, once a design is finished and the invitations have been printed and mailed, to go back in my files and look at the very first draft for my client. Because most of my proofing process is digital, I have files saved in my email and on my computer from every single step of the way. Some designs are very close at the first draft, and the final design isn't too far removed, but others start out SO far from how they finish. If you've ever wondered what the process can be like, here you go! Jen & Andy

I featured Jen & Andy's wedding invitation back in January when I wrote about my favorite invitations from 2014, but I didn't go into too much detail about the process. Here goes!

1. Inquiry- The first step in the process is for the client to reach out and start the conversation about what s/he is looking for in an invitation. Sometimes this includes sharing Pinterest inspiration, color choices, and general feel. And sometimes, it's a big fat "I have NO idea."

Jen and I have known each other our whole lives, and she was getting married at the vacation spot where we met. It's a beautiful lakeside setting in New Hampshire, at a family camp that's been there for almost 100 years. To start, Jen said, "when I look for inspiration on Pinterest i tend to go with pictures associated with words like gypsy, modern hippie, boho". She told me her colors would be grays with pops of red. She also said she trusted me to come up with something...

2. First Looks - The next step is for me to start drafting up some samples based on the ideas the couple provided. I generally provide three First Looks.

For Jen and Andy, I created three drafts of a Save the Date to start. This was going to be a destination wedding for their friends and family, and the original plan was to send out a Save the Date way ahead of time that would include lodging information, etc. and follow with a formal invitation later. Jen said she liked the pine trees, and liked the whimsical script font, but was picturing a brighter red. She also said they had just had engagement photos taken (by Heather Fairley Photography in Denver). They were hoping to use a shot or two for the invites, so I waited a few weeks to see those before the second round of drafts went out.

3. Honing in - The next step is for me to create another set of proofs based on elements from the First Looks that the client wants to see more of -- which fonts they like, which layout is best, and which color combination they prefer.

In this case, I received a folder of gorgeous engagement photos and a totally new idea started to form. Jen and Andy are musicians and music lovers, and this photo in particular really spoke to me:

20131117-Andy&JenEngagement-08

An idea started to form around the idea of a record cover, and as I started to piece together the format and design, I realized this was going to be best seen in person, rather than a digital mock-up. And since Jen was a friend, I decided to surprise her with the design. The plans had changed a bit, and this invitation was going to include a lot of information. After gathering all the details from Jen, I got the draft finished, printed and assembled and sent it along in the mail, just telling her to keep an eye out!

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It was designed to look like a record case - A folded card, with a pocket on the inside to hold the necessary insert cards and a printed record background. I used the original whimsical script Jen had liked, vamped up the red a bit, and made the whole thing a little more urban-feeling to reflect their Denver rockstar lifestyle. A few days after it hit the mail, I heard the good news: They loved it!

4. The Details - Putting the finishing touches on a design is maybe my favorite part. This is where I hand my design over, so to speak, to the couple, and let them perfect all the details to their taste and their event.

Jen asked to change text on the front from "Diamond Collection" to "Love at 45 RPMS", and we swapped out the photo for one where they were both looking at the camera. I love that Andy's guitar made it onto the cover, and that the color of Jen's shirt plays off the red in the invitation. Jen added her parents' names to the front, and it was good to go! (Aren't they gorgeous?)GaNun Cover Cropped

To finish off the theme (I love a good theme) I made the RSVP look like a concert ticket, and Jen asked for a tape deck card for song requests. I also added a little record symbol with their initials on the back cover--I love these little details! They chose a cement deep-flap envelope, on which I printed their guest addresses in coordinating fonts to tie the whole suite together.

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5. The Accessories - For many of my clients, the invitation is just the beginning. As the wedding nears, there are other items that get added to the list -- welcome cards, menus, programs, favor tags, you name it. All these printed items can (and should, if you ask me!) be coordinated with your invitations. And the good news is, once the invitations have been finished, all the hard work and decision making has been done. The other pieces come together much more quickly because the design theme is already in place!

Because Jen & Andy's wedding was a destination and the invitations went out so far in advance, they had some more information they wanted to relay to their guests closer to the date and prior to their New Hampshire arrival. When the time came for the "second send-out", as we were calling it, Jen sent along the information she wanted to include and asked if I had any ideas. I thought it might be fun to package the information as a brochure -- the invitation had hinted at a music festival kind of vibe, so I thought it would be cute to play off that idea. Plus, we got to use more of their awesome photos!

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Since Jen & Andy's wedding, I added their invitation to my Etsy shop, and I've had quite a few custom orders. The finished product is always different depending on the couple and their personal choices. Here are a few that show how different this design can look:

Peck Cover Torres Ivory Cover 1 Drumgold Cover

This invitation, along with many others, is available on my Etsy shop!

Stay tuned for more Custom Design Process posts!

*New!* Foil Printing (and The Most Personal of Personal Stationery)

_MG_1900 Ok, ok. Foil Printing isn’t exactly new. But it’s new for Katherine Elizabeth Events and I couldn’t be more excited! Foil has been a hot stationery trend in the last couple of years, so quite honestly, I’m a bit behind in offering it to my clients. But in keeping with everything I do for my business, I was adamant about finding a way to do it completely in-house before offering it as an upgrade. From design to printing and assembly, and even the packaging of my orders as they go out the door, I do it all myself. I like knowing that I have full control over the quality of my product, and I have trouble trusting outside sources to take over any of my production. (I’m well aware this is going to have to change at some point soon, since I do only have two hands and I am a growing business. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.) After much research, some financial investment and lots of practice, I am officially adding foil as an upgrade option as of TODAY! Woohoo!!

I have been fortunate to have had a couple of guinea pig clients to try out some designs on and perfect my technique. The first piece I wanted to upgrade, obviously, was my own business card.

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I knew I wanted to keep the navy, but since I was using foil I was going to have to simplify the design. So, I got rid of the rose in the top corner and the square shape, and designed a more traditional card (boring, I know, but it is easier to read).

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After lots of different tries, I settled on a navy card with copper foil, duplexed with smooth white paper on the back and “papaya” digital ink. I love how it came out!

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Next up was the hubby’s business cards. He works full-time for Anhueser-Busch In-Bev, but in his spare time he cooks and writes a blog about what he’s been up to in the kitchen. He’s always telling people about his blog, but has never had any cards to hand out. I had to change that!

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I am obsessed with the black on black foil. I think it’s so badass and perfectly simple and masculine for Anthony and his blog.

My first official foil order was hand delivered this weekend (my friend Alex offered to be a guinea pig for me before I made it “public”). This girl is obsessed with her English Cream Retriever, Macy:Macy

She had talked about wanting stationery with a Macy motif for quite a while, so I decided to whip up a sample and surprise her one day. To say she was excited would be the understatement of the year. There were definitely some squeals.

We worked together to design her perfect stationery, complete with a gold foil Macy motif at the top, and a collection of colors befitting her personal style. The border is digitally printed on the front, and the whole card is duplexed (think double thick) on a matching colored backing. The gold confetti liners were sort of an afterthought, but I think they really take the set to the next level!

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The Macy stationery is now available on the Etsy shop! Don’t have a retriever? No problem! I’m hoping to add more to the official collection in the coming weeks, but I’d love to make something custom for you!

Everything you need to know about Wedding Hashtags (6 DOs and DON'Ts)

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It seems as though, these days, every wedding incorporates some form of modern technology in the planning and execution of the big day; from wedding websites and online RSVPs to self-service photo booths and crowd-sourced videos. One trend that's gaining major ground is the wedding hashtag; a simple, FREE tool (which is hard to come by in the big wide world of weddings) that makes it easy to collect social media content related to and posted from your wedding. Hashtags can get out of hand... #weddings #newblogpost #writingonaplane #gopatriots #justgotabloodymary. When people use them in this way it's really just to be cute, and defeats much of the purpose of a hashtag (#imguiltyofthis). If you work in the social media world, you know the point of a hashtag: to "tag" posts, tweets and photos relevant to a topic or brand with the intention of making that content searchable by that tag. When I searched #doyourjob yesterday, I got a huge stream of Patriots fan photos; food prep for Super Bowl parties, pets dressed in Brady jerseys, and even a life-size stuffed Patriot mascot laying next to a dude in bed. Just what I was hoping for.

So, tagging all the social media posts (your friend's selfie on the plane headed to your big day, the video of your walk down the aisle, the photo of all your college friends hungover at brunch the next day) is an awesome idea, right? You've hired a photographer to take the pretty, posed shots, but there's something about those less than perfect snaps that you want to collect and save. With a wedding hashtag, days, weeks, months, years(?) down the road you can search for your tag on your favorite social media platform and it's like reliving your day all over again through the eyes of your geusts (I do this probably once a week with mine--there are over 100 photos!) Are you sold? As you're starting to think about your wedding hashtag, here are some tips:

1. DO create a unique hashtag. Create a unique hashtag. Create a unique hashtag. Create a unique hashtag. I literally feel like I cannot say this enough. And by unique, I don't necessarily mean clever or cute. I just mean UNIQUE. Like, no one else will use this hashtag, possibly ever. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but I am constantly seeing couples choosing generic hashtags that aren't going to get them to that end-goal of being able to collect just their wedding content. Just yesterday, I saw a couple using #MattandAshley. Do you know a couple named Matt and Ashley? Chances are, you'll meet at least one in your life if you haven't already. Go to Instagram right now and search #mattandashley. The photo collection is all over the place; from at least 5 different weddings and about 17 different couples named Matt and Ashley (including a few tweens, which is just awkward.) If the whole purpose of a hashtag was to be able to easily search and find photos and posts from their family and friends at their wedding, Matt and Ashley missed the mark. Unless your name is super unique (like my friends #kiraandwillem), I'd stay away from anything that's simply your names, even if it includes any form of "wedding" or "2015". Even if you don't see it in a search today, there's bound to be a duplicate out there eventually if you keep it that generic. It's only January, but come June every weekend your social media feed will be packed with tagged wedding photos, and chances are, yet another "Matt and Ashley" will be tying the knot. There are lots of ways to make your hashtag unique to your wedding. Adding at least one of your last names is a great first step, or referencing the location or the date. If you're feeling creative, try to think of a pun or a play on your names combined. The most important thing is to search for your hashtag and make sure it's not already out there. My hope is that as more people learn about this trend, a sort of etiquette will evolve and there will be fewer duplicates. But to be on the safe side, make it unique to you!

2. DON'T make it too complicated. Before you go too crazy coming up with a unique and clever hashtag, keep in mind that you want it to be memorable and easy to both read and type. Choosing something like #mattandashleyweddingcapecod2015 may make your hashtag unique, but it's also sort of obnoxious. It doesn't even fit on one line on Instagram and takes up 32 of your precious 140 characters on Twitter! And don't do an anagram like #MAATTK (Matt And Ashley Tie The Knot) because that's just silly, and not in a good way. Try to keep it short, sweet and simple. Options like #CotterCapeWedding, #CapeCodCotters, #AshleyTakesCotter or #CotterMcKnaught2015 would all be great options for the "Matt Cotter and Ashley McKnaught" wedding. (Adding the year is a good idea if your names are more common, since you only have one year's worth of weddings to compete with.) If at least one of your first or last names is uncommon, you can definitely get away with something as simple as a combination of your names, adding the date or year as security. My maiden name (Egan) is very common, but my groom's name (Rotio) is not, so we were able to get away with simply #eganrotio. The chance that another Rotio is going to marry an Egan in this lifetime are pretty slim.

3. DON'T pressure yourself to come up with something clever. The fact of the matter is, not all names are created equal when it comes to wedding puns. If one of your last names is Nott, Wring, or Glover, you have some cute options (#AmyandNickTietheNott, #HePutAWringOnIt, #thegLOVErs2015). But if it's Egan or Scizewski, you're going to have a hard time making a cute wedding pun (although for my Bachelorette we did use #LastRodeoBeforeRotio which was genius). At the end of the day, it's just a tool, and you want your guests to use it. It's not going to have any effect on the amazingness of your wedding. Just pick one that works and move on. There are WAY more important things to be creative about (like signature cocktails and day-of stationery!).

4. DO make sure you let your guests know what you've picked! These days, many young wedding guests who use social media hashtags will ask around to see if there is an "official" hashtag before they post any content. If there isn't one that's been publicized, they'll make up their own (may times leading to the #mattandashley predicament). If you want a successful hashtag, it should be clearly communicated to your guests. If you make it a point to ask your guests to use a hashtag, this will also encourage people who don't normally tag their posts to tag the ones from your weekend, making your collection bigger and better. Including the hashtag on your wedding stationery is a great way to let your guests know. It could go at the bottom of an informal ceremony program, on a welcome note for hotel guests or on a small sign on the bar or the guestbook table. You can even create a #hashtag tutorial like the one we included in our welcome note to our guests:

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The older generations don't always understand these new-fangled technologies, and it's nice to include them instead of just assuming they won't be a part of it because they don't understand. No one wants to ask, but they want to know!

5. DON'T go overboard. Remember, this is a wedding, not a marketing event. Don't get me wrong--I love a well-branded wedding. But putting your hashtag on everything from coasters to koozies to table menus is tacky. And the more you push it on your guests, the more you run the risk of shifting your guests' focus from their real life experience of your wedding to their sharing of it on social media. You don't want to look around at your wedding and see everyone on their phones.

6. DON'T live-tweet your own wedding. Ok, so I don't actually think anyone out there is live-tweeting their wedding, but seriously.. for the love of all things Holy, do NOT have your phone on you! You have surrounded yourself with plenty of people who will keep an eye on the time, the details, and making sure everyone shows up when and where they should. This is your day. Take the rare opportunity to be phone-free and soak it all in. Believe me, there will be plenty of photos and videos taken by your family and friends. Leave it up to everyone else!

Have you seen any cute wedding hashtags lately? What are you planning to use for your big day? Leave a comment!

Two Food Lovers in Love (OUR WEDDING!)

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Anthony and I love food. We love to cook, we love to eat, and most importantly we love to sit across the table with those that we hold dear and share a meal. (Sharing a meal is different than the simple act of "eating", but that discussion is for another time). If you ask Anthony the way to his heart, he probably wouldn't say "through my stomach" because he's pretty romantic and I think I have other qualities he would list before my cooking. But, he would definitely agree that a mutual appreciation for cooking and eating good food was a huge building block of our relationship. We made pizza together on our second date! Our love for all things food has led us on many journeys together; amazing dinner dates, the perpetual hunt for new eateries, the food blog, and some memorable cooking disasters, just to name a few.

So when it came time to talk about the feel of our wedding, we both agreed immediately that we couldn't skimp on the food, and a fantastic farm-to-table caterer was a must. We eventually settled on Season to Taste, and it was one of the best vendor decisions we made! As one vendor after another started to fall into place, so did the feel and theme of the whole event. The focus would be on sharing a meal, and in general, the idea that "food is love". In keeping with the KE Events model, our stationery would start to tell that story, and then the details and decor on the day of would tie it all together.

We started things off with a postcard Save the Date that looked like a recipe for a good time!

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A great way to save money is to do a postcard -- it's $.15 less postage per card, and the envelope is another $.25 to $.50 depending on size. We sent 200 of these bad boys, so by sending a postcard, we saved $100! 

When it came time to design our invitations, I stuck with the theme, and tied in the red striped tea towels we would be using for our table settings.

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Anthony designed a beautiful website that matched all our stationery (he built the website, I created the content) and we accepted RSVPs online.

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Accepting RSVPs online is a fantastic way to use modern technology to make your wedding consumed life easier. Again, you save at least $1.00 per invitation (postage and envelope for returned RSVP cards). But more importantly, it's easier for you AND your guests. You automatically collect all your responses in one place that you can access from anywhere, and your guests can RSVP from their smart phone--no trip to the post office! We used a google form to collect ours, but many of the wedding websites out there now have online RSVPs included in their website templates. I can't recommend it enough! (If you hire KEEvents for planning and coordination, we even offer a free custom website with online RSVP as part of the package!)

When our out of town guests arrived at the hotel, we had prepared some goodie bags to welcome them. Inside was a little booklet I created with some information about the wedding and the area, complete with two maps and an explanation of what the heck a #hashtag is! (Click to see full size images)

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A Welcome goodie bag is certainly not a necessity for your wedding. It does add work, and some cost, and if your budget is tight it's an easy thing to skip. However, it's a nice thing to consider if you have a lot of guests coming in from out of town. We had over 150 people staying at the hotel, many of whom had traveled quite a distance to be with us and share in our day. My mom was a big proponent of the bags, and I wasn't about to argue. It's a nice thing to provide for your guests, but it also provides you with another way to communicate important information for your guests. Our little booklet included a personal note, the schedule for the weekend, wedding shuttle details and a tutorial on #hashtagging (for the older folks!) 

We got married at the church I grew up in, Melrose Highlands Congregational Church. The ceremony was so special to us. It included a poem written by my cousin and a song written and sung by some of my closest friends. I didn't want a boring program!

Photo credit: Nikki Cole Photography

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The reception was held at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Melrose, MA, which is an old utilitarian theater and event space that houses the Melrose Symphony Orchestra and Melrose Youth Ballet, along with many community events and a few weddings per year. The stage is where I performed in The Nutcracker for 8 Years as a child, it's right around the corner from my childhood home, and right in the center of my hometown. I personally didn't know anyone who had hosted a wedding there, and there were almost no photos online of the space set up for a wedding, so I was starting from scratch with decor ideas.

We went with long tables because I love the look, but also because I think they're better for conversation than the more traditional rounds. We did a family style dinner, and we wanted our guests to feel at home.

Photo credit: Nikki Cole Photography

Photo Credit: @clairemary on Instagram

Each table was covered with white linen and a layered  paper runner and decorated with simple paper roses in mis-matched jars and mason jars with fresh Maine winter berry. The bridesmaid bouquets were lined up down the length of the head table. The simple look worked to blend the rustic, farm-to-table meal with the grand, indoor, utilitarian space.

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Photo credit: Nikki Cole Photography

We weren't allowed to light real candles in the space, so my mom rigged up some stringed cafe lights to bring a cozy feel to the tables without any open flame.

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To fill the old theater boxes at the back of the hall, I hand painted large banners that coordinated with the logo I had designed. Each was 4 feet wide by 6 feet tall:

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The cocktail hour was held in a room off the main hall, and was pretty much filled to capacity with our family and friends. We made up a signature cocktail, The Crimson Camel; a twist on a Moscow Mule that represented our two Alma Maters (the Harvard Crimson and the Connecticut College Camels)

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For our favors, we bought spice jars from World Market and filled them with our Rotio spice blend for our guests to use in their own kitchens. I designed tags for the front that served as place cards, and a small hang tag with recipe suggestions. Anthony's Dad built us a giant "spice rack" to display them, and I wrote on the kraft table runner, "Spice a dish with love and it pleases every palate" along with a little map of the tables.

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Each table was named after one of our favorite restaurants. Anthony built a miniature sandwich board for each table, and I created a "chalkboard" design for each one that told a little story of why each spot was important to us.

Photo credit: Nikki Cole Photography

The menus and table settings were meant to mimic the trend in some of our favorite restaurants - a clipboard style card holding a simple utilitarian menu, tucked into a tea towel.

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In keeping with the theme (and taking into consideration that we'd want it displayed proudly in the future), our "guestbook" was a collection of bamboo cutting boards.

Photo credit: Nikki Cole Photography


There were a couple other pieces that didn't get photographed -- an adorable Rehearsal Dinner invitation with an embossed silverware emblem and checkered envelope liner, and Head Table placecards for our bridal party. Only now, after writing this post and seeing all these photos collected in one place, am I coming to terms without how much work I did on my own wedding! Holy moly! And this doesn't even include the flowers!

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If you don't work in this industry, I would strongly recommend NOT taking on this many DIY projects for your big day. (Hire an expert like me!) Because I do this for a living, I was able to tackle it all myself, and was very prepared with a timeline that started 11 months out and left me two weeks before my wedding to catch my breath and take it all in. I recommend taking on 2-3 major projects max, and I would also suggest choosing projects you can tackle well before your wedding date. The other tip I have for getting DIY projects done on time is to ask for RSVPs extra early. Our RSVP date was a full 2 months before our wedding. You won't have your final count for Welcome Bags, Favors, Placecards, Menus and Programs until you have your RSVPs back, and if you have a bigger wedding (ours could have swung 100 people in either direction!) you'll want some breathing room.

Mermaid Bridal Shower Invitations

My cousin Annie got married back in 2010 and since I was the Maid of Honor, I helped my Aunt Sharon plan and execute a (beautiful, if I do say so myself) bridal shower for the soon-to-be Mrs. My aunt had the idea to do a "vintage mermaid" themed party, and gave me the reigns to come up with an invitation.

Since I was already designing the wedding invitations and they were going to be super fancy, I decided to go cute and casual with the shower invites. I googled "vintage mermaid tattoo" to find some inspiration for my mermaid drawing. Once I had the mermaid done, the rest of it fell into place. I didn't think to add the message in a bottle on the envelope until I was writing the poem and came up with the line "washed up with the tide". So glad I thought of it--I think it adds a nice touch!

**Update-- March 2015** This invite is still one of my best-sellers on Etsy, and since 2010 I've made some updates to the colors and envelope, both of which can be customized when you order!

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Passport Wedding Invitations

My friend Kerry got married in July, and when she asked me to do her invitations I was so excited! She and her fiance were planning a destination wedding in Jamaica and they had this vision for "passport" invitations, and already knew their colors. Piece of cake, right?

Now, I love Pinterest for all the inspiration it has to offer, but I feel like it makes it difficult to come up with something that no one's ever seen before. Kerry sent me some pins of some invitations she really liked, but I really wanted to create something special for them that didn't just mimic everything else that was out there. So I took inspiration from a LOT of different places (including the State Department) and came up with a passport invitation that I LOVE:

We ended up going with a postcard instead of a reply card with envelope. It was a play on a boarding pass, and the postcard worked really well with the passport/travel/destination theme! Plus, it saves money (and paper)!

When the time came for the wedding, Kerry also asked me to do her programs and table numbers for the Jamaica ceremony and reception.

The Newlyweds also had a reception at home with their friends and family who couldn't make it to Jamaica, so again Kerry called on me to make some Wedding "mad libs" that she used in place of a guest book! So cute!

Love these invitations? I'm now taking orders for personalized handmade invitations! Complete this form for a quote!

Skinny Black Tie Wedding Invitations

My cousin Annie got married back in 2010, and when she asked me to be her Maid of Honor, I was SO thrilled. She's been like a sister to me my whole life and I couldn't wait to help her plan her big day. She decided to have a black tie wedding at the Branford House in Connecticut, a beautiful stone mansion on the ocean. The theme was what I'll call "vintage elegance", with unique touches all over the place. From the antique centerpieces to the vintage place settings to the black and white family wedding portraits, everything was one of a kind, romantic and super special. I've never seen an event with more personal touches! It was a lot of work (and shopping, and hugs, and tears and glasses of wine) but in the end the day was perfect and well worth it!

SO, when we set out to think about invitations, I knew they had to be special. The main reason we chose to make them by hand was to save on cost, but the more I played around with the design, the more we all realized that this was going to just add another personal touch to the whole day. What's more special than receiving a handmade, one of a kind, wedding invitation in the mail? I was so excited!

The shape: I knew I wanted something different. It couldn't just be a typical folded invitation. So once I had the idea to create a sleeve of some sort, the shape sort of fell into place. I went to Paper Source to look at paper, and after an hour and a half, all the other details had fallen into place.

The design: I started out with a vision that included some sort of ornamental "swirl" and a complementary swirly, elegant font. I ended up scanning a piece of wrapping paper for the swirl, and I went with Edwardian Script for the cursive font. I'm really happy with the way they turned out!

The construction: It took 4 of us about 6 hours to put these together (and we're all artistically inclined!) Definitely not a simple construction, and if I did it again I may have planned the pockets a little differently. A complete invitation had 11 different pieces!

Love these invitations? I am now taking orders for personalized handmade invitations! Complete this form for a quote!