As with many aspects of wedding planning, the stationery suite offers seemingly endless possibilities for the happy couple to get creative, with pretty personalized touches ranging from custom maps to koozies. To help those in planning mode get inspired and make the most of their stationery selection experience, we turned to Elizabeth Upchurch, owner of Jackson, Mississippi-based stationery and gift store Fresh Ink, for guidance. Here, she explains the ins and outs of everything from how to communicate with a designer to which standout signature items to consider.
Get creative with your sources of inspiration. While some people go into the planning process with a clear vision for each element, others can find it tough to know where to even begin. To get in the creative mindset, Upchurch recommends consulting the usual sources of wedding inspiration, but also thinking outside of the box. “Though Pinterest, Instagram, and traditional bridal magazines provide inspiration to many brides, we also look to other creative design areas for unique perspective,” she says. “Fashion, floral, and home decor design as well as venue details can provide unexpected inspiration that we translate to paper.”
Know the essentials, as well as the “extras.” A wedding stationery suite includes save-the-dates and invitations, of course, but it can also encompass “extras” that bring additional personalized touches to other aspects of the occasion. In addition to the crucial pieces alerting guests to the event, Upchurch lists thank you notes, napkins, and programs as the traditional “essentials” most often selected. Gift tags for attendants, hostesses, or welcome bags/boxes; koozies; custom maps and itineraries; place cards; and complementary invitations to wedding-associated events like engagement parties and farewell brunches are also popular. While some may consider such pieces superfluous, Upchurch says these small opportunities to use personalized paper can make a big impact. “Pretty custom favor tags won’t break the bank, and they will be so memorable. A napkin with the signature drink recipe will definitely be swooned over!”
Remember to communicate. When it comes to collaborating with the expert who will help execute your dream wedding suite, Upchurch stresses the importance of communication. “Work with your designer to identify common threads from your inspiration, then try to give clear direction about your likes and dislikes,” she says. The same goes for the other people involved with your stationery suite. “An artist would rather know sooner than later if something is off track because changes are much harder to make after ink and paint are involved.” In addition to being upfront about your creative preferences, discussions about budgets and pricing expectations should happen early on so there is no miscommunication later, and don’t be afraid to ask for different pricing options or what your designer deems splurge or save-worthy. Finally, be sure to discuss timelines with your designer, too—custom projects tend to take longer than people typically expect.
It’s okay to strive for consistency, but keep an open mind. “Some customers prefer a tightly coordinated look, while some clients prefer a look that has common elements but is less structured,” Upchurch says. The good news is, there really are no rules when it comes to creating a wedding stationery suite. “Fonts and colors do not always have to be matchy-matchy to be part of a beautiful suite together. While keeping your colors consistent can be beneficial, remember to not be overly rigid. Ebb and flow can bring a project to life. Just like you would not only use one shade of grey when decorating your house, using various shades of your event colors can provide depth and dimension to your paper suite.”
TSG Tip 249 from Elizabeth Upchurch of Fresh Ink in Jackson, Mississippi. Stationery suite featured above by Fresh Ink. Invitation calligraphy by Tara Jones Calligraphy. Return address calligraphy by Rebecca Busby. Painted crest by Rachel Rogers Design. Engraving by Arzberger Stationers. Photography by Sara Gatlin Photo.