Wedding Cards - A Testimonial

On the morning of my wedding, I was totally prepared to take everyone's advice to just kick back, relax, and enjoy the day. I truly thought I would wake up, get my hair and makeup done, drink a few glasses of champagne and leisurely approach the walk down the aisle without any complications. That's what the months of planning were for, right? That's why we chose a venue the whole wedding party would stay at together - we'd all wake up to breakfast and no one would have to get stuck in traffic, and we'd all be right there and it would be eaaaasy. 

It sounds great, six months ahead of time, to not have your wedding planner show up til noon. In theory, it sounds great not to see your husband before your "first look." Dream scenario - your poor mother doesn't come down with a sinus infection two days before your wedding.  But weddings occur in real life, in this very real dimension, on this planet, so of course, there are complications, and hungry pregnant bridesmaids, and rain, and sick moms, and oh, did we forget to order lunch and did no one bring champagne and HOLY CRAP HOW IS IT ALREADY 11:30 IN THE MORNING AND AH! HIDE YOUR FACE YOUR FIANCE IS COMING UP THE STAIRS. 

It was hectic. I was tightly wound up and having a hard time enjoying myself.  But I remembered that I'd brought some cards with me I hadn't had time to write yet, so I made the conscious decision to step outside on the porch with a cold cup of coffee, by myself, with a pen and two cards: one for my mom, and one for my dad. I know my wedding day was about me and my now-husband, but to me it was always going to be about family, too - especially given the amazing example of marriage set by my own 34-years-married parents. (Ideally, I would have bought these adorable, custom embroidered handkerchiefs I'd seen on Etsy weeks earlier, but, let's be real -I ran out of time and a few cards is a lot easier on the ol' wedding-cleaned-out-bank-account than some gorgeous, impractical linens).

So I spent twenty or thirty minutes out there alone in my robe, with my hair and makeup set, just taking a few minutes to jot a note to my parents to tell them how thankful I am for them, their relationship, and their contribution not only to my wedding day, but inevitably, to the fabric of my own marriage. Eventually, that glass of champagne arrived in my hand, and my coordinator arrived right on time, and my trooper of a mom got there in time to get her hair done, too.

It was really nice. I think they liked the cards, but, more than anything, it was an essential component of enjoying my own wedding day. Once I was finished, I went inside to rejoin my bridal party and felt lighter, centered, and ready to celebrate with everyone.

And then! One of the groomsmen brought me a gift from M. I was elated. Not because it was a gift, but because this man, who'd been just as busy as I all week, had taken the time to think about a gift, go purchase it, and write me a lovely card to boot. Not having been able to see him all morning, it was the perfect way to feel connected with him during the wedding day frenzy and meant as much to me as any other part of our wedding.  (I am going to be honest and say I totally did *not* get him a card. I did get him all the details for a lovely wedding day though, so I don't feel that badly about it now.)

So knowing how important those three cards were to my wedding day, I decided to design a few myself, in hopes that future brides can feel the same love, gratitude, and connection on their own busy, crazy, beautiful wedding days and bring the focus back to what the wedding is all about. 


Wedding: Agates + Gems + Copper

I finally had the pleasure of getting to work with Bird Dog Wedding on Julie + Brent's wedding, first by addressing the couple's fantastic wedding invitations (which the groom designed himself and were produced here locally by Vertallee).  Hot pink ink was requested for the calligraphy, and I mean *hot* - we're talking pop off the page neon.  Ink is tough to find with that kind of opacity, and a few art stores were intent on directing me to the wrong things, but I got it right after a few tries. 
The results (as displayed in these kind of terrible pictures) were worth it!

To get me further out of my comfort zone, not one of the wedding-day signage or lettering needs would be done on paper. This was both scary and exceptionally fun. I was initially concerned about having and obtaining the right tools for the job, but, instinct prevailed and it all went smoothly.

We did placecards and dessert markers on polished agate slices. Table numbers on enormous hunks of polished agate. Signage on beautiful wooden planks, hand sanded and stained by the groom (again, what a guy!) - and their menu on an old window. Paper is officially out once we start writing on windows, y'all. 

I don't have a ton of great photos but here's a peek at some of the bright, beautiful vision brought to life by this team of creative, organized, resourceful individuals. I wanted to crash this wedding (but I didn't). 


My Biggest Project to Date Was Unpaid

Since last August, I knew the biggest challenge of the upcoming year was going to involve working with the toughest client on a fully custom invitation suite to one of the most important events of her life thus far.
What's more, is that despite the hours and hours of brainstorming, vendor research, supply building, paper purchasing, custom illustrations, lettering, calligraphy, digital tweaking, not to mention revisions, assembly, and actually mailing the damn things - I wouldn't be getting paid.

That's right. Zero reimbursement for my time and materials.

"What event could be so worthy of such labor intensive, painstaking detailwork and cause you such stress? What kinds of important people would be receiving these invitations anyway? Who is this crazy hellcat witch woman for whom you were working!?" you might ask. 

And I would say, "Jeez, hey, I'm right here!  Don't talk about me like that! I can hear you!"

Yep. I'm the client, and I did my own wedding invitations and I would only wish it on those of you who love a good, Herculean task, and a fair amount of papercraft.

I didn't really have a good design process for the project, which may have been part of the whole "stress" issue. I'm exposed to SO much inspiration every day working in invitations at Paper Source, and through the channels I follow on Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest that it's a constant barrage of visual stimuli that I didn't really make time to process. So I would just sit down some evenings and, in between paid jobs, crank out a few elements of our invitations at a time. It was easy if the calligraphy tools were already out, if there was already a hot cup of coffee right there, if the playlist was already in full swing and I could just kind of zone out and do work that came naturally to me. 

Once I did that a few times, I had a bunch of bits and pieces of things that I wanted to cram into one suite, with a few goals in mind. So I set out to:

  • Make sure it represents Matthew and I, and aesthetically reflects the location and vibe of our wedding
  • Create a visually cohesive suite that efficiently communicates important information to our guests and makes them feel as if their presence would be truly appreciated at the event
  • Create a happy experience for our guests from the moment the invitation arrives in their mailbox, through the process of opening and enjoying the invitation suite, all the way up through our reception

and, admittedly:

  • show off what I've learned since January 2014 and celebrate that with people who've supported me along the way

So once all the artwork was done by hand, scanned and digitized and scaled and positioned and tweaked and complemented with some type, I sent them to print at my favorite local print shop here in Austin on paper that I've worked with before. I'd have loved to include a letterpress piece, or some gold foil, but cost was already getting out of control, so I stuck with digital printing which allowed me to use as much color as I wanted to in the final pieces.

After a round of revisions with the printers, I picked up all the assembly supplies and postage and started working on the antique gold ink calligraphy in the evenings while watching tv or a movie.

And then I realized, I am NOT going to be able to do this alone, or even with the help of Matt. Not only because we had to send out 165 of them, but because the components of EACH invitation were as follows: 

  • Outer envelope (addressed in gold, return addressed with embosser, postage stamped)
  • Lining of envelope
  • Invitation enclosure pocket, to be bound with a 
    • Gold embossed sash (of a custom designed stamp)
      • Which would hold an invitation AND
  1. A custom map (mounted on the enclosure)
  2. A details card
  3. A reply postcard (with appropriate postage)

So with the help of not one, not two, but FIVE Paper Source employees, 2 friends, and Matt, we worked for a total of FIVE HOURS assembling all these pieces into heavy little packets of art + love, aided by pizza, white wine, and some good music.

By the end I couldn't tell if I even liked the invitations, or if I was sick of them, or if anyone else would like them, but it didn't matter because they had to go out.

I took them to the post office to be hand-canceled (like hell I was going to let those babies get tossed around in some dirty sorting machine conveyer belt situation) along with a box of donuts, which was well-received let me tell you. If you take anything away from this, let it be that you ALWAYS bring the post office treats when you need 165 envelopes hand canceled.  

Off they went, out of my hands, and into the hands of our guests. 

I wanted to create a little piece of art that 275 (!!!) of our closest family and friends would be able to enjoy. I wanted people to feel loved, and to feel my commitment to Matt and this event through my attention to detail and beauty.  And I think they turned out alright. 


Marriage Material: Custom Wedding Invitations

This project meant so much to me. It was only my second full wedding invitation suite, but the first one where every piece was designed by yours truly, from 100% hand-drawn, painted, or written originals. From the script on the invitations themselves, to the custom floral liners, to the address stamp - all from my hand, to the digital workspace, to print (in this case, letterpress! Done by the lovely Studio Slomo here in Austin).

A specific and super-chic, elegant, vision from my clients (who also happen to be a dear darling friends, sue me) formed this from nothing into something - and I truly think they're something. I appreciate the trust and confidence they placed in me and am so grateful for it.

When you care so much about a client, the project is nerve-wracking to work on, twice as such to put them in a box and send them across the pond - and as nerve-wracking as that was, translate it to currency and double *that* for how expensive it was! (A lesson learned: I do not think I will be shipping invitation orders internationally anymore). I felt badly for not having anticipated that, but every day I'm learning. Also learned some lessons about the Pantone Color Matching System on Coated paper and if I were able to do it over again, would have asked for another round of revisions with the print shop on the liners to get a softer pink. We were on a tight timeline, though, and didn't have time for another round. 

Jess + Joe have been kind enough to let me share these, so, cheers to them and their lifetime ahead of happiness, health, and paying stupidly high taxes to retrieve things from customs (as long as they live in the UK, anyway).