Down the Paper Trail

By: Kathryn Bechen

Is it really possible to have unique, luxurious, and economical wedding invitations for your big day? The invitation designers we interviewed about today’s trends all say “YES!”

Lea Armstrong, of Wedding Paper Divas, based in Mountain View, CA, notes that their company has access to thermography printing which means the ink is raised off the paper and looks similar to engraving, yet saves hundreds of dollars. “This has been one of our most popular looks for those opting for luxurious yet economical invitations,” she says. She also notes that couples who choose traditional flat printing tend to opt for textured paper to add a sophisticated look to their piece. As for popular colors, Armstrong says jewel tones are still big sellers but their number one color is chocolate brown. Gray is also one of their top five colors, beating out black. She predicts that chocolate brown will still be a popular color this fall with deep mauve, gold, and navy blue also expected. Nature elements such as trees and florals are big motifs right now according to Armstrong, and she thinks that will still be true this fall. In addition, monograms have been one of their top five designs but this year, instead of doing just the initials, they are doing the whole first names of the couple. “It’s a unique twist on something traditional,” she notes.

Although Wedding Paper Divas invitations are purchased solely online, the order does not go to the printer until it’s reviewed by three individuals: a wedding etiquette expert, a design expert, and a Q&A department. “There is lots of hand holding to make sure the order is perfect,” Armstrong says.

Victoria Schaefer-Ramirez, owner of Invitation Theory, based in Spring Valley, CA, says color is HOT right now. “The wedding might be cream and brown but couples are still incorporating color into their invitations,” she notes.

Schaefer-Ramirez uses several layers of different papers to create borders and then she embellishes them with ribbons, buckles, rhinestones, and other unique items, depending on the theme of the wedding. Many of her invitations are three dimensional. She utilizes a graphic designer and professional printer, but designs and assembles the invitations herself. She describes her design style as “a little edge to classic designs but not so urban that it won’t stand the test of time.” Today’s couples are still looking for unique invitations Schaefer-Ramirez says, yet they also want traditional wording and etiquette. “I’ve given a lot of guidance on etiquette in the past six months; I’ve noticed the request for that has been even stronger lately,” she notes. Many of her clients either hand write their addresses or use calligraphy, although she said some brides want computer generated addresses.

Schaefer-Ramirez says monograms have not been as popular with her particular clients this year, and thank you cards with the couple’s first names written out are now “in” rather than using a monogram, she says. She notes that she is also seeing fewer programs and more escort cards. Meeting with her clients in their own home or work environments to get a feel for who they are is typical for Schaefer-Ramirez, because she feels it’s important for couples’ invitations to reflect their personalities. If it’s more convenient for them however, she will also meet with them at her home office. Denise Scatena, owner of Blue Ribbon Invitations, based in San Diego, CA helps her clients choose from a variety of invitation books when they meet with her at her design studio/office in the North Park/University Heights area. They can also order online from her website if they prefer, and she also works by phone with couples who are located outside of San Diego. “I help them narrow down their choices and I support them in finding the line that will best fit their taste and budget,” she says.

Popular designs Scatena has noticed lately are pocket designed invitations with layered papers, and instead of enclosure cards, her clients are streamlining things by directing the guests to RSVP on their personal wedding website.

Scatena says shimmer papers in brown, white, and silver are still popular colors and damask and patterned prints behind the text or along the side the text are “in.” She says black print is not as popular as brown, blue, and different shades of purple, and she also notes that two color inks are now available at a much more affordable price and can create a customized personal look. Laser die-cut invitations with a laser pattern cut into an enclosure or even the actual invitation are also fun, she notes. She finds monograms are still popular and run the gamut from intricate designs and flourishes to something more simple.

In addition to helping her couples choose their invitations, Scatena also acts as their etiquette consultant based on the theme they want to convey, be it contemporary, formal, or “super formal.” “I also help them with wording for sticky family situations,” she says.

Scatena says she teaches her couples how to put their invitation sets together and that it’s a fun thing for the bridesmaids and family to get involved with helping assemble the invitations too.

Designer and manager of Truso, Julie Galyan, notes that home décor and fashion trends also impact weddings. “A couple of years ago damask and brocade was popular in home décor and that has trickled down to wedding invitations,” she says. Galyan, who meets with clients by appointment only at Truso’s location in the Del Mar, CA area, says Old World and French cottage looks are now popular with a lot of textures in the paper, use of fabrics, handmade papers, and “going green” with recycled papers. She notes that it’s not always less expensive to use recycled papers, and although she totally supports “going green” she advises that it’s also not always possible to get the weight and quality of papers with recycled papers so that is a consideration for some couples. Galyan custom makes each invitation by hand, taking into account the client’s taste, theme, and budget, and she uses unique embellishments such as fabric and ribbons. “I made one invitation where the bride liked a fabric I found in a placemat,” she says. She’s never made the same invitation twice. If couples prefer, she can also refer them to invitation books, but she says 95 percent of her couples want custom invitations. Galyan notes that some brides are even electing to make their own invitations, and she notes that she makes every effort to stay within their budgets. “Monograms are still popular but I am seeing them used in non-traditional ways such as incorporating flowers,” says Galyan. “Monograms are timeless and classic, as is calligraphy,” she notes.

The bride and groom choosing the invitations together has been popular this year notes Galyan. “They seem to be planning small and more intimate weddings together and using more detail,” she says. When it’s all said and done, Scatena probably sums it up best: “Couples want their guests to say, WOW, where did you get that invitation?”


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