Tips for the Modern Wedding

design, invitations, weddings

I’m really getting into the wedding spirit over here! I shipped out my latest creations to an amazing couple in South Dakota this morning. I’ll post photos after I know they’ve had a chance to mail them out – I don’t like to be a spoiler! The invitations incorporate the wedding colors and the couple’s love of outdoors. I’m also finishing up a poster for a “thumbprint guestbook” for the same wedding. It’s going to be beautiful!

I thought I’d take this opportunity to give some tips for the modern couple. There are a lot of amazing trends out there right now, and I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites for y’all! These are great ways to support local and small businesses, keep up with modern trends and also make wedding planning easy for you (and future couples!).

Get connected! For couples who are connected and have very connected friends and family, I recommend adding a suggested hashtag (like #MonroeWedding 0r #ScottEmilyBigDay) to your wedding website or program. If you have friends and family far and wide, the folks who can’t make it to your ceremony can keep up with your smartphone-equipped guests all day on Vine, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Make the most of local vendors. When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we knew we were going to be moving to New Orleans at some point, so we wanted to incorporate elements of the city into our down home Virginia farm wedding. We have a friend here in New Orleans who makes handmade soaps out of natural ingredients and we felt like her craft fit with our natural, recycled, vintage feel and would make the perfect guest favor. Think about your surroundings and geographic region. What are the local treats, specialties and artisans in the area? How about a crab boil kit with Old Bay seasoning and a custom wooden mallet for weddings in the Baltimore area? Or beeswax candles for an Ohio wedding? I’m a big fan of useful favors – something that won’t just sit on a shelf.

(Images from Laser Beam Creations and Honeyrun Farm)

Indulge in the vintage trends. My favorite thing we did for our wedding was skip the tableware rentals. Years ago, I was a cater-waitress and bartender and saw just how much rentals can cost. I decided that I was happy to pay for table cloth rentals – those can add up if you purchase on your own and rental tables are huge. We found bamboo picnic plates (again, we got married in outside and had the reception in barn!) in two sizes and purchased silverware in mismatched sets at thrift stores. If bamboo isn’t your thing, think about purchasing mismatched china at thrift stores as well. If you are patient, you can even find Fiesta Ware second-hand in various colors (cheaper than online!) that will look like a matched set! What do you do with the vintage goods after the wedding? Donate it back to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. For a fraction of the cost of renting, you’ve basically made a charitable donation with your wedding money and had a unique set of dishes for your big day.

Be kind to the environment. In addition to recycling stations at weddings, I’m seeing a lot of “living centerpieces” which I love! For our wedding, we chose to support a local “pick your own” flower farm in my hometown just outside the DC area, where we felt the environmental impact was low, it was good for the bees, good for the local economy and the flowers were not being shipped in from Central and South America, like many popular tropicals. Consider cut flowers from your region when selecting arrangements. But the green alternative is to have a living arrangement – like potted miniature roses, cyclamen or hydrangeas. These come in a variety of colors and can be grown in green houses so you can find them blooming year round. If you’re on a tight budget, stick with greens – ivy, succulents, ferns, clover, shamrock plantsĀ  – or things that you could grow at home from seeds or bulbs like paperwhites, herbs, ornamental kale, chard and lettuce, or do a long trough of wildflowers from seed. Just be sure to read the package and make sure the germination time works with your schedule. You could always solicit help from a local nursery or florist. Living arrangements also make great guest favors!

Last but not least, help future couples out! And help your beloved vendors out too! Review anything and everything you use (venues, florists, suppliers, stationers, etc.) and always credit your photographer/designer/dressmaker/other artisan when you post pictures on social sites. It’s a nice thing to do and it helps future couples pick out great vendors too! You can find review spots on individual websites/blogs, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Google, Bing and lots of other wedding-specific blogs and magazine websites. Spread the love!

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Holiday Cheer in the Workplace

business, design, invitations, printing

It’s that time of year, when all the day-jobs start hosting their holiday get-togethers, hopefully celebrating the prosperous year they had and, for sure, thanking all the employees for their hard work. We will be hosting our annual dinner and dancing event in a couple weeks and it’s a tradition that our employees look forward to all year. This is my one time of year to design something a bit out of the corporate mold, while still keeping it classy. Below are a couple of my Holiday Party invitations from past years. This year I let my fabulous Marketing Specialist take the reigns and she came up with a clever magnet invitation/reminder that was a pretty big hit. There’s no reason to send boring holiday cards and invitations just because your firm might be on a budget this year!

(2007, outside)

(2007, inside – invitation printed in-house and mailed in standard A-2’s)

(2006 – a simple one side that fits into standard business envelopes, printed in-house and perfect for the company on a budget)

Branding Your Big Day

branding, business, design, freelance, music, printing, Uncategorized, weddings

Today’s post is of particular interest to me because 1.) I got married two months ago and 2.) I would love to start heavily marketing this portion of my design repertoire. I love a good wedding and I really love it when the couple goes the extra mile to make the day as unique as possible. So many weddings are cookie cutter, with wedding planners cutting time and expense by using the same motifs over and over, but what I think we’re seeing more of these days is the DIY Bride. And in some cases, even a DIY Groom.

DIY is great for the couple on a budget. There are one million blogs out there (message me if you want a list!) from which to extract little bits of creative goodness for table settings, guest gifts, decor and lighting and endless other details. One place I hate to see couples skimp is in the paper products department – but I don’t mean toilet paper. Save-the-date cards and invitations are the first glimpse guests get of the type of wedding you’re going to have and the overall vibe they will be expecting when they arrive. Custom invitations that go beyond the standard “our colors are purple and pink and the script-y font means formal” can really make your invitation stand out among the hoards of other wedding invitations the average 25 year old former sorority girl receives in a wedding season.

I really love the idea of “branding” your wedding, which can be done on a tighter budget than you might imagine. We branded the living hell out of our wedding since I am a designer/marketer by trade and nature. But it wasn’t tacky and we received a lot of compliments on the little extra effort in making it very personalized to us as a pair.

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Before I set out to create these materials, I thought long and hard about what it was that brought us together. Among the many qualities I thought of that link us, I found that the root of our relationship was music. We met through music and stayed in touch with one another over the years through live music and we eventually bonded for good at a music event. Scott plays the trumpet, so I went very literal with the music theme. The quote on the save-the-dates was personal for me and people that know me well, thus a mix of our two lives was right there in graphic form. I decided that I could never narrow down a color palette, so we went with many colors which later translated into a beautiful display of seasonal, fresh picked wild flowers for bouquets and tables.

The invitations were next. I decided to make a mini music poster that was revealed when the subdued outside of the invitation was opened. I used actual photos of us doin’ what we do (anyone who knows us knows how I dance and has seen Scott play) and from the photos I drew the silhouettes. We also wanted to cut down on the number of questions about what to wear and would there be dinner and should I bring my dancing shoes, so we put in a lot more text than many people do. This touch isn’t for everyone, but we felt it was necessary for our wide variety of guests.

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Beyond the save-the-dates and invitations, I created labels for our guest gifts (soaps handmade in New Orleans by the fabulous Emily owner of Sweet Olive Soap Works!), return address labels, and “mad libs” with a wedding theme for guests to fill out at the tables.

With the outrageous price of cookie cutter invitations, I would recommend to any couple that they should spend the money on good design and personal touches over too many inserts and crazy heavy weight paper any day. We cut costs by using a local printer that gave me a great deal – Wythken Printing here in Richmond. If you cant work out a deal for your items, you can see if your printer will cut the price if you have all the components printed at once. Or you can order nice paper online and take it to your local Kinkos-type print shop and print it yourself.

I designed and then ordered the return address labels at Vistaprint and bought blank envelopes to stick them on. For the send-to addresses, I used my same wedding fonts from everything else and printed them on white labels on my printer at home.

I’m in the process of putting together a customizable invitation package for couples tying the knot – incorporating the individual silhouettes idea, among other ideas. If you’re interested, I’d love to talk!

Design For All Wedding Budgets

design, weddings

outsides of potential invitation template

potential invitation template opens to reveal “mini poster”

One of the things that has always bugged me about both lovely and current design AND weddings is the shear cost of it all. Currently, I’m working on several templates for potential wedding/shower/other invitations that won’t break the budget. My thought is that a portion of the design will stay the same from client to client, but a portion will be client-specific. In this case, the humans depicted will be variable – brides and/or grooms can send me a photo from which to create a silhouette specifically for their invitations and other collateral. Colors will be selected either from pre-set color schemes, or based on “wedding colors” if the couple has them. The front quote can change if there’s something special the bride and groom prefer. I want these customizable templates to cut down the excessive cost of wedding invitations, by cutting down the amount of time it takes to make a beautiful piece from scratch. There is no reason the budget-minded couple has to skimp on lovely design! Look for these and others at the Fried Green Design Etsy shop!