From The Studio: 20’s Glamour Luxury Boxed Invitation (Bling, Brocade and Feathers, Oh My!)

April 13, 2011 § 5 Comments

It’s my favourite day of the week again, Workshop Wednesday!

This past Sunday, we were thrilled to be a featured vendor at The Original Wedding Soiree in Mississauga. The show’s theme this year was “20’s Glamour” – black and white, pearls, crystals, feathers, brocade, and all manner of glam accessories.

To fit the show’s theme, I decided to whip up a luxurious boxed invite fit for an over-the-top roaring 20’s theme – a little art deco, a little bling, and a lot of fun! It was a big hit with the brides and grooms at the show, and I’m sure it’ll get lots of attention in our showroom as well.

While I love working with my clients on *their* perfect invitation vision, it’s definitely fun every now and then to be able to do my own thing. This project was no exception – I had a blast putting it together, including the accessory menu, table number and place card…and yes, that is a glittery hanging table number you see. Told ya it was over the top!

Here’s the eye candy:


Sometimes it’s so cruel that I’m already married…

Although my best friend, who helped me work the show (along with my hubby!) did pronounce that if he were to get married, these would be his invites of choice.

Then again, he says that all the time😉

The Invitation Advisor: Email and Digital Wedding Invitations? Fresh or faux pas?

April 12, 2011 § 5 Comments

Hey y’all, it’s Tuesday and it’s time to talk invitations and wedding stationery once again with The Invitation Advisor.

I wanted to address something that was brought up on twitter today (seem to be getting a lot of blog ideas from twitter lately – and [total plug] if you’d like to follow us, it’s @hip_ink) and it got me thinking. I’ve briefly addressed it in a couple of posts before, but I wanted to take a more in depth look at…

Email and digital wedding invitations – you’re probably hearing about them more and more, maybe you’ve even gotten one. So, are email invites a fresh new way to reach your guests or just a big wedding faux pas?

Oh yes, it’s time to get the soapbox out. I know not everyone will agree with me, and some of you may think I’m a stuck-up you-know-what, but since it’s my blog…you’re all entitled to my opinion. *Your* opinion is totally welcome in the comments section!

I’ll give you three guesses as to my opinion on the matter, and the first two don’t count. Yes, you’re right…my opinion is that email invitations are a big no. Like a “hellz no”. Yes, fine, you can call me a unabashed paper-lover, a cruel paper-nazi, heck, I may be the Godmother of the Paper Mafia; but, believe it or not, being a custom invitation designer is not the only reason I object to email invitations.

Your reaction may be, “Sure Sarah, we know, but why should we listen to someone who would send a paper invitation to her cat’s birthday party, pizza and movie night, or the grand opening of her can of Diet Coke”? Okay, busted. Still, I’m not here to tell you what to do, I’m here to make you think about the stationery choices you make and how they are going to impact your big day – especially your guests, who are, or should be, a very important part of your wedding.

So why do I feel email and digital invitations, in the majority of cases, are not appropriate for weddings? To be totally honest, it’s because your guests don’t want to receive an email invitation. Period. You may think your hip, cool friends would think it was awesome, but they probably won’t. Your middle-aged guests definitely won’t. And let’s not even get into how your older guests will feel. Yes, it’s your wedding, so you are allowed to do whatever you want. But like it or not, your guests will have opinions and those opinions and pre-conceived notions about your event will be directly impacted by what they see and hear about it beforehand.

So many blogs will tell you “it’s your wedding, do what YOU want, don’t worry about etiquette and tradition”. I’m here to tell you they are wrong. Do you really not care at all what your guests think? I doubt it. Does your entire wedding need to be centered around pleasing your guests? Of course not. But if you don’t really care about your guests’ experience (which includes the way you invite them), why bother having them there in the first place? Are you guests happy to share your big day with you? Yes. But do they expect things in return for sharing that big day with you? You bet they do.

I’ll repeat my mantra for those who weren’t paying attention in class: your invitation sets the tone for your wedding.

What kind of tone does an email invitation set? Most likely, the wrong one.

I’ve heard a number of reasons behind why email invitations are a great idea, so let’s look at a few of them:

Eco-Friendly, Saves Trees
I hear this one all the time, and to be honest, I think it’s often just an excuse. There are a huge number of eco-friendly options out there – tree-free papers like 100% cotton and bamboo, plantable wildflower-seeded papers, wood invitations etc., not to mention eco-friendly vegetable-based inks etc. Why not choose one of those options instead? I think it’s easier to say that you’re trying to save the environment than to admit you’re trying to…

Saves Money
This is the big one, of course. Why pay the cost of buying wedding invitations and postage when you can send them online for free? Of course. Ever heard of the phrase, “you get what you pay for”. Remember it, because it’s true. There are a number of low-cost invitation options that can be had – yes, even the big-box craft store boxed invites (with 40% off coupon, ‘natch) are a better alternative than sending your invitations via email. Like it or not, most of your guests will assume you are sending an email invitation because you are trying to cut costs, and that probably isn’t the impression you want to leave them with.

Saves Time
I guess that depends on the type of email invite you send out, but unless you are literally sending a text-based invite, my bet is you could just as easily buy an invitation online or at a local stationery store in around the same time you could send out a nicely-done email invitation. And what about the time it will take you to compile everyone’s email addresses? And what about your guests that don’t have access to email? What will you do for them? Suddenly this “time-saver” doesn’t seem to be quite so great after all.

Receive RSVPs via email
You don’t need to send an email invitation to receive your RSVPs via email. You can certainly include an email address for those who would like to respond via email on your RSVP cards, and there are services out there that will track your RSVPs online, or even allow your guests to call a phone number to RSVP and collect your guests’ information for you.

Ability to include all the wedding details
This is exactly the reason why wedding websites were invented, and more and more couples are choosing to include their website information on their invitations. Do your guests really need direct links from the invitation? Probably not.

I heard a videographer say once, “What if I told you I could show you a video of your grandparents wedding? Would you be excited to watch it? What if I then told you that you couldn’t, because they didn’t think it was important enough to preserve the memories of their big day?”. I feel like invitations can be similar as well – there are so few tangible things that are mementos of your wedding. Wouldn’t you love to see your grandparents wedding invitation – feel the paper, see the printing, touch their history? Somehow, I don’t think an email invitation would give you the same feeling. What about your own grandparents? They’ve probably been waiting forever to hold your wedding invitation in their hands. An email invite probably won’t cut it for them either.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. Are there times when an email invite could be acceptable? Probably (just don’t say you heard it from me!)

If you are having an extremely small or very informal event, email invitations could can work – again, you need to match the formality of your invitation to the formality of your wedding. An email invitation will never be considered formal at all, so should only be used for a casual wedding event.

If you are a creative/web genius and can whip up an amazing video/flash/video/awesomesauce digital invite – sure, could be fun. I’ve seen some very creative multi-media invitations out there, but again, I think they are best used as part of an overall invitation package – not on their own.

If you do choose email invitations, do yourself a favour and get help – use an online company to help you create an invite to send to your guests, like Glo, which offers stylish digital invites you can customize. Or, check out Etsy for designers who will personlize a digital invite for you to send to your guests.

My final word(s): Inviting people to an event via email has it’s time in place, just as paper invitations have theirs. Would you find it odd to get a fancy paper invitation to a casual dinner at a friend’s place (okay, if your friend is not a stationer)? It’s just as odd to entertain the idea of inviting guests to an event as important as your wedding via email.

Or Facebook…please don’t get me started…

From The Studio: Alice in Wonderland Bridal Shower Invitations

April 6, 2011 § 6 Comments

I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite so excited about Workshops Wednesdays as I am today!

After much pimping of the premise of these invites, a few twitter sneak peeks, and a lot of promising to show them to you and not delivering – here (finally) is a look at one of my fave invitation suites to date:

Yes, had to throw a little eye candy in first – couldn’t resist!😉

I was approached by event specialists Anna McCusker & Co. (located in Hamilton, Ontario) to create these bridal shower invitations for a fabulous Alice in Wonderland themed bridal shower in shades of fuchsia, turquoise, purple, gold and black. The bride was looking to incorporate quotes from the book on the invites themselves, and had come across this stunning Alice invitation suite from designer Jag Nagra, and wanted something similar, but incorporating a more ornate, vintage and whimsical feel.

The fabulous Mandie Charlton from Shutterbrugs Photography took these awesome photos of our little “Alice”, and I’m thrilled to finally get to share them with you.

Oh and yes, the details have been changed to protect the innocent, but how awesome would it have been if the bride’s name really *was* Alice!?!

UPDATE: Although names and details were changed for the photos above, I can now share the details (and photos) of the big day! Here are some amazing photos of Diana’s Alice in Wonderland bridal shower, taken by the fab Elizabeth Kaye. Gorgeous!

We have so many unique and interesting projects coming up, I’m just bursting to share them with all of you!

I definitely think Workshop Wednesdays are going to be my new favourite day of the week…

The Invitation Blog PSA: What *You* Need To Know About Wedding Blogs

April 5, 2011 § 5 Comments

Another week has flown by already, full of fun meetings with clients, late-night design sessions and lots of amazing inspiration.

So, why am I so crabby? Ok, well maybe not crabby, but there’s something I need to speak up about, and not everyone is going to like it – what’s new, right?

Today we’re not talking invitations specifically, but more the wedding industry as a whole. I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.

When I see something that I think is confusing to couples, I feel the need to speak up about it and try to make things clear. And when something is bothering me, I like to clear the air about that t0o. So, let’s consider this a bit of a two-in-one: partly fact, for your information, and partly opinion, to make me feel better.

If this were a letter, it would start with, “Dear wedding bloggers – I still love you, but it’s tough love, and it’s time to get your ‘stuff’ together”.

Wedding blogs – they are all the rage right now and they are chock full of eye candy and inspiration. Do I have issues with wedding blogs as a whole? No, not really. But I do have issues with the practices of certain blogs out there (and no, I won’t be naming and shaming), and certain trends? You bet I do.

Mainly, my issue is transparency. My opinion is that wedding blogs need to be transparent about every aspect about what they are posting, because in the wedding business ethics need to be of the utmost importance.

***Disclaimer: I am not talking about every single wedding blog here – there are some that are very transparent and are totally doing it right. But there are way more that aren’t.***

So, let me drop some knowledge on you, for those who may not be aware of the following:

FACT: Wedding blogging is a business
I’m talking the big wedding blogs out there, and you know the ones I mean – the ones that post daily (or multiple times daily). Blogging is a business is the wedding world, and there are lots of people making money off of it. While the medium is different, a blog is in essence a digital magazine, making advertising revenue from vendors who are hoping that their content will entice you to visit and see their ads, click their links etc. Next time you visit your favourite blog, notice the sheer number of ads down the sidebar. Seriously.

OPINION: That’s cool, just don’t pretend otherwise
I have no issues with wedding bloggers trying to make money doing it – it’s a tough job, and not everyone is cut out for it. A successful wedding blogger has a certain type of talent that is rare, and deserves to be respected and remunerated accordingly. No issues with that either. I just think it is important to remember that in the world of “big” wedding blogs, there is definitely a business aspect – it’s certainly not someone working hours upon hours *just* because they love weddings.

FACT: Not just the ads are advertising
So, it’s generally pretty obvious where the ads are on a blog, but did you know that it’s not the only place where you’re going to find advertising? Often you’ll see things like sponsored posts – a vendor that has paid the blogger to be featured on their site, but in a way that doesn’t come of as advertising (sort like those “advertorials” in magazines). Or how about those popular “Preferred Vendors” – different blogs may have different names for their lists, but that’s basically what it boils down to. Those are advertising as well – the vendor is paying for their listing. While the listing is likely “curated” (meaning the bloggers pick and choose who is going to be included), it’s not like the blogger in question is just providing you with a list of vendors they like.

OPINION: Be transparent. Be transparent. Be transparent.
This one gets to me a bit, because while there are a number of very well-known blogs that are 100% up-front about identifying sponsored posts clearly or letting people know that they vendors on their “list” are paying them, there are so many more who don’t. Why is this an issue? First, because it’s misleading you into thinking what you’re reading is a true opinion or recommendation, when it fact it’s basically still advertising – someone is getting paid to publicize that vendor. Where’s the harm? Let’s say you’re in the market for, oh, I don’t know…invitations. You keep seeing the same company blogged about everywhere, on every preferred vendor list etc. You are going to assume that vendor is probably pretty awesome, because you are relying on their social credibility. If you found out that the only reason they are getting that exposure is that they are paying for it, do you suddenly feel differently? Probably. Does it mean the vendor isn’t awesome. Of course not. But it probably leaves a bad taste in your mouth, because you didn’t realize. It’s not necessarily an issue of right and wrong, but it *is* an issue of ethics.

FACT: Many “weddings” you see on blogs aren’t real weddings at all
These days, there a large number (and growing) of “weddings” featured on blogs that aren’t real wedding at all – rather they are styled photo shoots, where a number of vendors get together and work on a concept, then shoot all of their work together as a cohesive “look”. It’s a great way for vendors to showcase their work, and because everything has been specifically created to work together, it can be a fantastic source of inspiration. But, you need to keep in mind – it’s not real.

OPINION: Styled shoots are great, but be upfront
I personally think styled shoots are fantastic – great exposure for the vendors involved, and likely the opportunity to be a bit more creative and out-there than with most weddings, and a great way to show brides what kind of looks are possible and providing inspiration when it comes to their choice of style, colours etc. But, it’s imperative that it’s clear what you’re seeing is a styled shoot and not a real wedding. Where’s the harm? First, judging vendors based on their work on styled shoots is questionable – remember that it’s not a real wedding situation, so there is no demanding bride, argumentative groom, lighting issues, last-minute surprises etc. Styled shoots are a controlled, planned situation with perfect conditions – completely unlike an actual wedding. So seeing the work that a photographer has done on a styled shoot is great – but don’t ignore the work they’ve done on actual weddings, because they are two completely different situations. You want to know that your photographer can’t just shoot great pictures of models in a studio, but can shoot great pictures of real couples in real situations. Second, and probably more importantly, it seems like styled shoots are causing couples to aspire to have weddings that just aren’t realistic – whether it’s budget, style, theme, whatever. Styled shoots have their place – but probably sparingly, and always presented as such.

FACT: The real weddings you see are hand-picked
Blogs, like magazines, are intended to be aspirational – to show you the best of the best, the newest and most trendy ideas etc. They aren’t going to show you weddings like most of the ones you’ve been to, and probably not even like the wedding you’re planning. The weddings you will see often have a beautiful bride, an amazing location, great details, some quirky touches here and there (and usually a pretty big budget as well) – they aren’t necessarily attainable for the average bride.

OPINION: Reader beware
I completely understand why bloggers choose the weddings they do, and I love wedding eye-candy as much as the next person. But be aware of what you’re looking at – an above-average wedding in one way or another. It seems that some couples these days are feeling like “everyone” is doing this or that, or that they “must” have a specific style, or a specific vendor, or whatever, based on what they see on wedding blogs. It’s great to read blogs for inspiration, but they aren’t a roadmap for *your* wedding, and in fact many of them start to look very much alike after a while. If you want a wedding that is personal and unique – do what’s in your heart, not what everyone else is doing.

Do I have some kind of hate on for wedding blogs? Not at all – I think they can be a great resource, but as a reader, I think it’s important that you are aware of exactly what you’re consuming.

Oh, but I do have one last pet peeve:

Hey wedding bloggers, can you throw us stationers/invitation designers a bone please. I see tons of gorgeous photos of invitations, menus, programs, placecards etc. and then no mention in the vendor list of who the stationer is. Kinda irritating, if I’m being honest. Who seriously needs to know that the bride wore Jimmy Choos (when the label is obvious in the ubiquitous shoe shot anyway), but doesn’t need to know who creating the stunning wedding stationery? Get that stuff sorted, will ya? Thanks.

So, am I alone? What are wedding blogs doing wrong? What are they doing right? I’d love to hear your comments.

And yes wedding bloggers, I get that right now I’m swimming in crocodile-infested waters with prime rib underpants on – but I welcome your comments too😉




Friday Finds: Invitation Designers – You NEED to Read This! Seriously.

April 1, 2011 § 6 Comments

Have I lead you astray before? Of course not!

So when I post about something on The Invitation Blog – whether it’s another vendor, a product, whatever – you know it’s the real deal.

The real deal today is Paper Clique and Let’s Talk Stationery. If you are an invitation designer, you will want to stick around for this. Trust me.

Up-front, honest-to-goodness truthiness: I have been a member of Let’s Talk Stationery for about a year, and was one of the very first Paper Clique members. So yes, you are getting an insider point of view, but I have not been and will not be compensated in any way for posting this information. Sharing it’s sheer awesomeness with other designers is what prompted today’s post!

Paper Clique is a game-changer in the invitation design business, hands down. As the new prestigious, premium membership section of Let’s Talk Stationery, Paper Clique is offering the best tools out there to stationers and designers: lots of freebies [membership to Wedding Clipart Studio, Tutorial Kits, Action Sheets, Guides, Ebooks, How to articles etc.], premium giveaways [gift certificates and more], premium discounts [myGrafico, Local Traffic Builder, Catprint and more] and weekly updates [The hottest blogs, newest discount codes, success tips]. All members are heavily vetted to ensure that the information shared among Paper Clique members is safe and secure.

Sounds good right? But you haven’t heard the best part yet. As a Paper Clique member, you have access to a huge library (currently more than 100,000) of Digital Stationery Engineering Templates. Yes, I hear you asking yourselves, “what the !@#$ are digital stationery engineering templates”. Ever spent an hour measuring and drawing a pocketfold in Illustrator? Cursing trying to match a paper colour on screen? Being stumped at how to accurately represent a patterned stock? Paper Clique’s exclusive templates (Currently available for Envelopments and Do It With More Options, with additional vendors coming soon) take all the guesswork out of putting together realistic, perfectly-sized and accurately-scaled mockups. Fantastic for custom designs, and an amazing tool for those who sell to DIY clients – not only can it save you time when designing, but imagine sitting with a client and literally showing them how their invitation will look (while switching out colours and options) on the fly.

A picture is worth thousand words, right? Well here are some to prove it to you:

Click for a larger, more detailed view

You can also view a video of how Paper Clique Digital Stationery Engineering works on the Paper Clique homepage.

I’ve been using the Paper Clique Engineering Templates to do mockups for clients for the past couple of weeks, and it has been amazing – I never realized before how much time I was wasting just setting up mockups, and now it’s a breeze (and actually kind of fun too!). The great thing is that there is no software to install, no drain on your system resources, no steep learning curve – the Paper Clique Engineering Templates are available via download from the Paper Clique website in .png format, and can be used in any graphics program, in whatever way you like. Whether you need to create a custom sized cardstock layer, add items or manipulate a colour, it’s possible directly within the design programs you use every day.

The Paper Clique Digital Engineering Templates are the brainchild of the fabulous Renae Judkins, owner of Paper Clique and Let’s Talk Stationery, and all around awesome chick.

Paper Clique Digital Stationery Engineering is still growing – Renae’s goal is to double the current number of graphics to 200,000 by this time next year with more manufacturers, ribbons, graphics and backgrounds. And word from Renae is that the next evolution for Paper Clique will be a software plugin that will allow you to access the Engineering Templates directly from your favourite design program (Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop etc.). I know I’m super-excited at the prospect of this tool getting even easier and more efficient to use!

And what about Let’s Talk Stationery itself?

Have you ever wished there was a community of stationers and designers out there that you could look to for help, guidance and support. Where you could find out about the newest suppliers, the best printers and the answers to your toughest production questions. Where you could just talk…stationery? Well, that’s exactly what Let’s Talk Stationery is – an exclusive forum for stationery designers and vendors that brings together all aspects of the industry in a safe, supportive environment.

Let’s Talk Stationery has made such a huge impact, professionally and personally, on Hip Ink in the last year. When I have any kind of question, problem or issue it’s the first place I go – okay, these days, when I wake up in the morning it’s the first place I go. I have learned a ton, found great new suppliers, and uncovered the answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Most of all though, I have made so many great ‘friends’. Friends who are generous with their advice, who I know understand what I’m dealing with in this industry day-in and day-out and that I know I can count on for support when I’m having “one of those days”.

So, yes…I’m on my vendor love soapbox in a totally different way this Friday.

I.heart.Paper.Clique (and I’m betting that you will too!).

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for April, 2011 at The Invitation Blog @ Hip Ink.


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