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!

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

_MG_1558
_MG_1558

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:

_MG_1560
_MG_1560

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!