I LOVE LISTS…
To-do lists, playlists, goal lists, all the lists.
So when I came across this list by BRIDES with every piece of stationery they claim you’ll need for your wedding I just had to look at it.
And as I scrolled down this ‘laundry-list-o-paper’ my eyes got fuzzy and my head started spinning. I get a lot of questions from couples who don’t know where to start and it completely makes sense. How could you not feel overwhelmed by this?
Truth is, even as a professional I am overwhelmed by what all the things I could offer. And there’s a big emphasis on the COULD here. Prior to becoming less waste motivated and plantable paper enlightened I too would create lots of these pieces because I felt at the time they fulfilled a purpose, were what couples expected me to do, and as a designer loves to do – design more.
When my mindset changed I started to see so many of these things as simply unnecessary. A good majority of the items on this list can be made to serve multiple functions and there are services that can take care of lots of these under one umbrella. My excitement now comes from exploring new ways to use less and literally “push the envelope” with designs that eliminate the extra and celebrate love in the details.
I’m excited to take this list of could’s and take you through narrowing it down to the should’s.
Before the Wedding
Engagement party invitation
Does anyone have engagement parties anymore? While I think it’s a great reason to celebrate, maybe it doesn’t need the formality of an invitation. I love the idea of calling up your closest friends and family, inviting them over for dinner, and sharing the good news in person! Then share on Facebook (whenever you feel like it) as any modern person would.
I was on the fence about this one. They can be useful if your wedding date falls on or near a major holiday or if you’re planning the wedding out of state or country. But I think there are better ways than a printed card to let guests know the date. Namely being a wedding website.
This is the start of where having a wedding website really cuts down on the types of stationery that you need. You can direct friends and family to your site, where it can start with minimal information on it. A nice photo of you or engagement photo with your names and wedding date are all that’s needed to start. Then as you have more information you can add to the site and guests will know to look back to it for info.
And if you have family that doesn’t use a computer send them a photo of you with a note and the details of your wedding day plans so far. Or give them a call and talk to them about it. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you!
Bridal shower invitation
Here I would keep the formality of an invitation. But I love the idea of giving them something that serves another purpose. I use plantable paper because it allows for a second life. Instead of throwing away the card they can plant it and enjoy it again when the wildflowers or herbs bloom. A flower pot and cloth bag of soil would make for a cute shower favor too!
I’m also looking forward to offering printed linen tea towels that can serve as an invitation and a favor from the day.
Bridal shower thank-you cards
Thank you cards will always be one stationery item that never goes out of style. Unless we really start throwing manners out the window! Where I think things can get messy here is thinking that you need specifically designed thank you cards that pertain to bridal showers. I a think a minimal, beautifully designed thank you note is something you should buy in bulk and always have on hand. Plantable paper is still a lovely material to use here. The thank you cards I am in the process of designing are nice large postcard style so they cut back on envelopes but still leave you with enough room to write a sweet note.
Bachelor/bachelorette party invitation
Correct me if I’m wrong here but word of mouth, Facebook invites and email seem to be the ways couples are communicating with their friends about pre-wedding parties.
What I think this opens up is an ability to reach couples with some fun and meaningful alternatives to traditional parties. In the coming months, you’ll see our designs of digital invitations that are easy to send and share. I’m excited to present a few unique suggestions to gather with your tribe and celebrate your love in adventurous and different ways. Stay tuned!
Rehearsal + WELCOME dinner invitation
These events are nice ways to get everyone together before the big day but sharing this information through your website or via email may be the fastest way here. That way as they are making travel accommodations they can also plan for the events around the wedding.
This is another area where I’d like to start designing beautiful digital invitations you can email to your wedding party or post on your site.
The Wedding Invitation
While I love the idea of saving trees and going with digital invites, there is still something heartfelt and meaningful about the formality of receiving a wedding invitation. I am working my hardest to make this sentiment express love in every form. Love for the environment with reusable and biodegradable materials, less paper and ink. Love for the words that come together to express respect and joy in family and tradition; and love in creating in a way that designs with a purpose, looking at the improving the function as well as the form.
There may come a day when digital invitations become the norm but for now, I am doing the best to bridge the gap and hopefully offer something that adds more thoughtfulness and meaning to a tradition that is still hanging on tight.
Outer AND INNER envelopeS
I’m a firm believer that good design can get things down to the essentials in beautiful ways. I love that our stationery eliminates the need for envelopes.
If everything is being held together in an envelope or in our case as an all-in-one piece anyway, belly bands are purely decorative and in some cases don’t really add much to the design. In my opinion its an added expense that if saved could allow you to invest in another area or another way.
Not sure how this differentiates from the wedding invitation mentioned above. Fill me in if I’m missing something here.
Reception card (if held at a different location than the ceremony)
This venue name a location can be written on your wedding invitation. Your website is a great place to offer directions and more detailed information about the timeline of the day.
Same here with the website. Read the next part for where this info can go if you decide to not use a printed RSVP.
Response card and self-addressed stamped envelope
Besides online RSVP’s, postcard reply cards are one of the easiest ways to respond. They are stamped and addressed and ready to be mailed back to you.
For our couples, the reply card is the part that usually gets planted. And if you are using an online reply service we can design that extra panel to include a map of the venue, more details of the day, or a simple poem that expresses something special about you. The benefits of custom design are flexibility to make the pieces work the way you need them to.
Hotel accommodations card
Wedding websites are perfect for this kind of information. You can link them directly to the hotel site and give them all the details they need for their stay.
At the Wedding
Welcome basket tag
Welcome baskets, in theory, are a nice gesture to thank guests for sharing in your day. It’s a way to make them comfortable and excited this time they get to spend with you. However, I often see them as a waste of time and money. Creating unnecessary trash with plastic packaging and single uses disposable items.
If this is an area that is really important to you, take the time to create a basket that celebrates the things and ideas that mean something to you. When crafted with thought, they can be wonderful gestures to promote self-care, kind living, and responsibility for our environment.
If the ceremony carries specific cultural or religious significance that would be best explained and represented with a written piece then, by all means, a program may be a useful guide for guests. But I would take the opportunity to get the most out of a piece like this and look for alternative materials to create it from. Like the aforementioned plantable paper, or printed on a fabric napkin that would make a convenient way to wipe away all those happy tears.
Pew cards or “reserved” seating cards
Depending on your venue it may be necessary to mark off areas reserved for family. I can think of a few ways that this can be handled without the need for a throwaway item. Ushers escorting guests to designated seating arrangements, a kind child or adult at the end of a reserved isle letting guests know space is reserved, or markers like a well-positioned scarf or hat that make it look occupied.
This is sort of a prime example of where rethinking a solution can eliminate the unnecessary. I’d love to hear your suggestions on this too!
Escort cards, Place cards, Table number cards, Menu cards, Favor tags
I’m lumping these together because I believe they can be handled with pieces that do double duty.
A seating chart list beautifully written on a mirror can be cleaned off and used again, eliminating the need for separate escort cards. Place cards and favor cards can be created as one piece if designated seating is preferred. Even look for objects that guests can reuse later in glass or metal containers. I’ve also seen so many natural objects like stones, shells, leaves that stand in for cards.
Table number cards, favor cards, and menu cards can be designed as a single piece as well, having one at each table instead of every seat cuts back on throwaways,
One last piece of advice that I’ve mentioned before about gifts is that the biggest gift is seeing you get married. Choosing to not give tangible favors and making a donation to a local organization or charity that is important to you can be a beautiful gift in itself.
After the Wedding
Absolutely! Taking the time to put your appreciation into words is one of the most thoughtful and meaningful things you can give your guests and anyone who contributed to your day (vendors included!).
WRAP UP OF MY TOP 3 TIPS
IF YOU LOVE IT, Invest in IT
If stationery is important to you, then invest in it, research it, look for the best possible solution for you. The biggest ways that we create social and environmental change by putting our money into things that matter to our values. Look into locally and ethically made designers that are creating in ways that speak to you. What I create may not be the right fit for every couple but finding what is, is always worth your time and money.
EVALUATE YOUR NEEDS + AIM FOR ENOUGH
I may have crossed out something here that specifically fits a need you have. There’s no one size fits all. The important takeaway is that this isn’t an all or nothing. Both sides of the spectrum, lack, and abundance can leave you feeling overwhelmed but having enough is the beautiful sweet spot that makes everything alright!
DONT BE AFRAID TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
I think reinvention and reusability are amazing strategies to having a unique wedding and really creating with purpose. This change in my business towards sustainability is recent so I am learning as I go along. But so much of what excites me about designing for weddings is the ability to do something different and take risks. Pushing boundaries is the only way we explore and discover new things!
Hopefully, my thoughts on this list helped you fight the chaos of wedding stationery. I’m always available to talk so leave any questions or comments you might have below!