invitations can be intimidating task |
by Jill Allison White
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted on Sunday, April
The guest list is finally finished and now all you have to do is
make sure everyone gets to the church on time. So, you turn
your attention to the selection of wedding invitations, a task
that sounds deceptively simple. After all, the function of the
wedding invitation - getting the guests to the ceremony at the
proper time, date and place - seems straightforward enough.
One look at the foot-thick sample books put out by most invitation
companies, however, and couples will find that choosing invitations
is more complicated than they thought, and the options nearly
"A lot of people, when they go in to order wedding invitations,
don't think to ask for anything other than the formal invitations,"
said Mary Klein of The Write Stuff, a stationery business she
runs from her house in Aurora. "I like to tell people not to
make decisions in 20 minutes or less."
As an independent consultant with "tons of samples," Klein
is able to give her clients a level of personalized service
that is often unavailable at stationery stores.
"I try to give them ideas, for wording and that type of thing,
that they may not have thought of," she said. "Also, they can
take the (sample) books home, which they can't do at a stationery
store. (I tell them to) think about it before they make a decision."
Many stationery stores do offer some extra assistance forcouples
needing to order wedding invitations. Card City USA in Lombard,
for example, offers appointments with experienced salespeople
to help couples wade through the dozen or so hefty sample books
on hand at the store.
Each book includes dozens of invitation styles, along with
ink color swatches, print styles and information about invitation
etiquette and wording options.
The sample books - which are put out by Regency, one of the
most prevalent invitation companies - also include sections
of invitation "trousseaux," whereby the invitations and response
cards are color-coordinated with everything from reception cards
to pre-printed directions and maps, wedding programs, church
pewcards, place cards, napkins, matchbooks, bookmarks and thank-you
According to Klein, following a theme can make ordering invitations
a lot of fun.
The opportunity to pick a whole package can really inspire
your imagination, she said. "There are so many great ideas for
those. One client I had wanted to coordinate the invitations
to everything: the engagement party, the rehearsal dinner, the
wedding. Even the invitation for a golf outing (for the groomsmen)
blended in with the other invitations. It had a similar border,
and we stayed in the same color family."
Klein also is able to help her clients with the wording of
their invitations, which varies according to who is paying for
the wedding, the marital status of the parents and other factors.
She is versed in the etiquette of formal invitations, but will
encourage her clients to be creative.
"I think people are nervous about changing the wording," she
said. "But if the wedding is at an unusual location or something,
it can be fun. One couple got married on the beach in the Virgin
Islands and had a reception later in Chicago. So they ordered
invitations that had a jungle scene in the background and the
invitation said, 'All right, we admit it, it was a wild thing
to do. But when you start planning a wedding, you quickly realize
it's a jungle out there. And so ... we eloped. Come celebrate
with us in a savage style.' "
Although Klein is adept at matching couples with unique, customized
invitations like these, couples who want invitations that are
specifically designed for them may want to seek the services
of a graphic artist like Eunice Sherwood, the proprietor of
Eunique Expressions in Buffalo Grove.
"I custom-design invitations uniquely for (each) bride and
groom," she said. "I meet with them first and we talk (about
what they would like). We try to make each one special. I did
the weddings for all three children in (one) family, and one
was a country-western theme, one was a hand-painted floral design
and the third used screened photographs of the bride and groom
when they were children."
An experienced calligrapher, Sherwood used to write the custom
invitations by hand, but now uses Personalized Expressions,
a software program she helped to design, and an ink-jet printer
to generate the calligraphy.
After running one camera-ready copy, she sends theinvitations
out to a printer. She is often kept busy in the meantime with
hand-painting envelopes to match the invitations, which she
hand-paints one at a time upon their return from the printer.
"I did a Halloween wedding where she (the bride) wanted a fall
theme but didn't want pumpkins or anything like that," she said.
"So I painted three tiger lilies on each invitation. The envelopes
had a matching design, except the flowers were buds."
Sherwood's hand-painted creations cost from $3.25 an invitation
(response cards and the appropriate envelopes included) to $10,
depending upon the complexity of the design. Her designs that
don't require hand-painting are somewhat cheaper, but still
more costly than the customized invitations that Klein offers,
which run from $1 to $3 a piece.
Those from Regency and other companies, which generally run
from 50 cents to $2 a piece (invitations and envelopes only),
are still the cheapest option, although they tend to be a bit
less flexible in their customizing.
Timing is another factor to consider and will vary widely according
to the type of invitation ordered and the company it is ordered
from. Klein said she can have invitations ready in as little
as a month, whereas stationery stores generally require six
to eight weeks.
Custom designs like Sherwood's take the longest - usually three
to six months, she said - depending upon the number of invitations
ordered and the complexity of the design. Whateve roption they
choose, however, brides and grooms should learn as much as possible
before making a decision.
"They should educate themselves about the printing process," said
Klein, who offers her clients a brochure on the subject.
"For example, a lot of people want engraved invitations, but
most people can't tell the difference between invitations that
are engraved and those that use thermography. (If they know
this), they can save hundreds of dollars."