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Designer Insight, Trends & Stationery Essentials
By: Kristen Castillo

Your wedding stationery may be made of paper but, your save the dates, invitations, programs, menu cards, signage, guest books and of course, thank you notes represent a lot more than just pretty paper. A few pieces or altogether, your stationery sets the tone for the wedding.

Whether your style is sleek and modern, fun and bright or romantic and vintage, you definitely want to make sure the look is well suited to you and your guy.
Eisenhower Photography
Jessica Brown, owner of Love Notes Stationery reminds couples how wedding stationery from save the dates to thank you notes make “a lasting impression from beginning to end,” including the wedding’s color scheme, the event’s style and the overall relationship theme.

“Weddings are always very personal occasions so make sure your personality shines through in the save the date and wedding invitation,” says Sandra Chazen of Inviting Invites, noting “colors, materials, fonts, motifs and wording can help to set the tone for your wedding.”

Brynne Fischer of Harken Press agrees, calling save the dates and invitations “a sneak preview” of the wedding.

“Whether you’re having a ballroom black tie affair or a rustic outdoor wedding, your invitations should reflect that,” she says. “Everything should be cohesive and make sense with your overall wedding vision.”

You can find invitation inspiration from many of the colors and themes at your event.

“Think of the overall look,” says Melissa Ward of Whimsique Designer Invitations & Stationery, noting décor colors like those from napkins and charger plates often show up in stationery.

WORKING WITH PROFESSIONALS
While it’s not always easy to find your stationery style, the first thing to do is to find a stationer you like and respect. This is not the time to choose invitations from a book. Instead you want to work with a professional designer who can capture your vision and your style throughout your stationery.

“When shopping for invitations, you want quality, you want variety, you want expert advice and top notch service,” says Chazen, who encourages couples to hire an invitation designer “who is passionate about paper, printing and design.”

Professional designers have an eye for colors, fonts, wording and themes so they know what will work and what won’t. They’ll offer great service, invitation advice and will work with your budget.

“A stationer can help you get the most for your money and suggest creative details you may not have thought of,” says Fischer. “I love adding thoughtful and unexpected details to really make wedding stationery special and unique for each client.”

TRENDS
You may already know what you want your stationery to look like or you may need some help.

“I want to know what you like, as well as what you don’t like,” says Ward who wants brides to show her wedding elements like flowers, linens and other décor.

Brown says she’s seeing “a lot of vintage and shabby chic with a modern twist,” as well as invitations that are “a little more fun and bold,” including “ombre designs with flowers, bridesmaid’s dresses and décor” and also “a lot of bright yellow.”

Lighter tones are trendy too. Pinks and blushes are popular colors, as are golds and creams, which Ward calls “romantic.”

Since weddings are full of fantasy and fun, “Sparkle is always big,” says Ward, explaining many brides want rhinestones or glitter paper.

Graphic patterns are fashionable too, especially on the backs of invitations. Chazen says she’s seeing, “stripes, dots, chevron, vintage floral, paisley, tile, retro, morocco, damask and art deco.”

Feeling whimsy? Many couples are choosing spirited invitation styles, like “bikes, whimsical flowers, hot air balloons, birds, watercolor,” says Chazen. “Anything hand drawn will add a whimsical feel to your invitation.”

Laser cut stationery is trendy too because as Ward explains, “You can get really detailed and intricate.”

For an elegant look, consider foil stamped invitations. “Shiny metallic foil will light up your invitation design,” says Chazen.  “Gold, silver and copper metallic are the most popular for wedding invitations.”

One invitation style that’s consistently in vogue? “Most brides still want pocket invitations because they’re organized and clean,” says Ward. “They’re classic.”

Finish your stationery with the perfect postage! “Buying vintage stamps on Ebay or Etsy, especially for a particular theme or vintage-inspired wedding, can be the perfect finishing touch to an invitation suite,” says Fischer. “You can search for stamps that use a certain color in your wedding palette.”

INVITATION ETIQUETTE
Once you’ve worked with a designer to create your ideal invites, you need to pay careful attention to your etiquette. Do the wrong thing and you’ll definitely send the wrong impression.

Plan to send save the dates about six to eight months before the wedding and the invitations about six to eight weeks before the big day. Be sure all of your guests, including out of towners “have enough time to make hotel and travel accommodations, especially if it’s a destination wedding,” says Fischer.

Invitation wording can be tricky, especially when it comes to signifying who’s paying for the wedding.

“If your parents are helping with the wedding and so are you and your fiancé, then at the top you would put something like ‘together with their families,’” says Brown, noting if you’re hosting the wedding on your own, simply write: “The honor of your presence is requested at the marriage of…”

When the bride’s side is hosting the wedding, Brown suggests writing something like, “Mr. and Mrs. John Weldman request the honor of your presence as their daughter…”

Other wording suggestions? “Spell out your states and drop the zip codes,” says Brown.

One sticky etiquette question has to do with not including children at the wedding.

“It is not proper to indicate on the invitation or any other piece, that children are not welcome,” says Chazen, explaining the “no kids” preference should be shared by word of mouth.

“A reasonable compromise is to add ‘Adult Reception’ or ‘Adult Only Reception’ to your reception card,” Chazen says.

Another etiquette concern is how to mention where you’re registered for gifts. It’s considered rude to list your registry info on your invitations.

“The most proper way to let people know where you are registered is by word of mouth,” says Chazen, noting you can list your registry information on your wedding website.

STATIONARY SUGGESTIONS
Most couples create a cohesive set of wedding stationery including save the dates, formal invitations, RSVP cards, programs, menu cards, thank you cards and many other elements like maps, directions and hotel accommodation cards.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to have a few more invitations than you actually need. Ward suggests ordering at least five extra invites.

When it comes to programs, you don’t typically need one per guest since many guests don’t pick one up at all and many guests such as couples share one program.

Remember to give your photographer an invitation to shoot. You can keep an original invite for your memories but wedding photos showing your stationery is pretty cool too.

What’s Hot in Weddings
By: Kristen Castillo

Your wedding may be a classic affair, but incorporating a few trends will keep the party timely and fun. Pick a few trends or embrace them all – this is your special day to call the shots.
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Host An Intimate Affair
Many couples are choosing to create smaller guest lists. According to The Wedding Report, “The average number of guests in 2009 was 128, a decline of 11.7% from 145 in 2008.” A smaller event means you can focus your budget and your energy on what really matters to you like music or catering. Plus you’ll be able to spend lots of time with your guests on your wedding day.

Go Dark
It may seem anti-wedding, but dark accent colors like black and blue are all the rage. Use the dark hues in moderation for a look that’s striking when paired with stunning white or romantic ivory.

Create A Wedding Website
Creating your own wedding website is lots of fun for you and very helpful to your guests. You can use your website to track your guest list, add links to your wedding registries and also offer up information about accommodations and things to do.
It’s also a terrific opportunity to display lots of sentimental photos of you and your groom. You can even use the site to blog about your planning process – you never know, maybe your soon-to-be sister-in-law will have advice for you on choosing an invitation font! Build the site early and update it often.

Print Menu Cards
Keep guests informed about what’s for dinner. Get the precise menu listing from your caterer and then print out the particulars on menu cards. You don’t need a card for each guest. Simply print out a card or two for each table. Your guests will appreciate knowing the menu, especially if they have allergies or certain food preferences.
Hulse Photography
Choreograph Your First Dance
You’ve seen them on YouTube and on lots of commercials and TV shows – those amazing wedding dances choreographed to perfection. They look great and now’s your chance to get footloose.
Give yourselves lots of time to master a routine. If you need the professional guidance, sign up for lessons at a local dance school. Then practice, practice, practice and live it up on the dance floor like you’re a couple on an episode of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Enjoy A Couple’s Shower
Who says you have to have a bridal shower that’s girls only? A couple’s shower is co-ed and can be less-fussy and very cool. It is also a perfect time for your friends to get to know his friends a little better.

Get Racy!
A boudoir photo shoot allows you to take personal photos for your groom. The sexy, sultry images are for your eyes and his eyes only. While male and female photographers offer the boudoir sessions for brides – many brides say they’re more comfortable modeling for females. Unleash your worries and strike a pose!

Be Dramatic With Lighting
Help your wedding shine with superior lighting. Candles, mood lighting and strategic spotlights can help you add drama and intrigue to your wedding. Many times your florist, videographer or photographer can help coordinate the glow you’re after.

Do A Good Deed
Make a charitable donation to a worthy cause instead of giving guests wedding favors. Spread the good will by asking guests to donate to the organization as a wedding gift.

Go Bold!
Use your wedding jewelry to make a statement. Many brides are showing off bright colored jewels, big earrings and chunky necklaces and bracelets. Follow your personal style, but don’t be afraid to go big and bold on your big day.

Embrace Natural Centerpieces
Your reception floral style can take inspiration from Mother Nature. Go for a look that showcases branches, berries and succulents.

Serve A Signature Drink
Pick a specialty cocktail to serve at your reception and then give it a great name – marvelous margaritas, romantic rum & colas or summertime sangrias. Garnish the drinks with fruit, sugar and one of those cute drink umbrellas.

Snap Engagement Photos
Sure you’re busy prepping for the big day, but be sure to take time for an engagement photo session. The photos can be used for a scrapbook, invitations and your wedding website or as gifts for family.
Plus the pics give you a chance to spend time with your wedding photographer before the big day. You’ll be glad you took these photos for the memories and for the photography trial session.

Dish Small Bites
Wedding guests don’t always want a full course meal. Instead, serve yummy dishes in appetizer portions. Mashed potato bars are super trendy. The classic comfort food is being reinvented as a reception hit, complete with fix-ins like cheese, bacon bits and chives. Delish!

Hang Out In Lounge Seating
It’s your wedding day and you want to be comfortable. Enjoy your surroundings and your company in a lounge setting. Think cool couches, hip lighting and lots of style. You’ll relish the chance to kick back and savor a few moments of rest and satisfaction.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Plan a dessert bar featuring candy, cookies and pastries. Guests will love the yummy nibbles and you’ll really please them by offering takeout bags and boxes. They’ll take a treat home and smile, reminiscing about the good time they had at your event.

Save The Planet
Eco-friendly weddings are very popular these days and for good reason. They’re a way to reduce waste on your big day and call attention to important environmental issues. Some ideas – throw eco-confetti, serve organic juices and garnish tables with reusable centerpieces like potted plants. Do your part for the earth and share a worthwhile message with your guests.

Give Your Bridesmaids Fashion Freedom
Not every bridesmaid gown needs to match the style, color and fabric of the other bridesmaids. Feel free to mix things up by allowing your bridesmaids the freedom to choose their own gown. The one caveat? You get to pick the color. Give your bridesmaid a bit of direction, such as “pick a pale yellow dress,” and then trust your wedding party to make good style choices.

Say Cheese!
Photo booths are very in vogue at wedding receptions. The strips of photos, which are available in color or black & white, are incredibly silly and sassy at the same time. What’s not to love?

Don’t Forget Cocktail Hour Entertainment
Everyone expects a band or a DJ during the reception, but often the cocktail hour is noticeably quiet. Boost the party with the sounds of a good time! Hire a musician or a DJ to entertain the crowd while they sip drinks and settle into the event.
Plan An After Party. The ceremony and the reception are the expected parts of the wedding day. Go one step further by planning an after party for you and your guests to cut loose. Serve up sliders and tasty drinks. Then crank up the tunes and rock out for the rest of the night.

Send A Message
Your wedding shoes may look sweet or sexy, but they’ll really turn heads if you write a message on the bottom of your heels. Use paint, nail polish, permanent markers or fun adhesive jewels to send everyone a bridal message. How about, “I Do” or “Kiss Me.” The message can be split between the two shoes or you can spell out the message on one shoe and use the other for a cute embellishment like a heart or your initials.

Pack Swag Bags
Thank out-of-town guests by giving them swag bags when they get into town. Don’t forget to include maps, necessary wedding info, transportation information and anything else you’d like to share with your family and friends. A few snacks and some sunscreen are practical ideas that work for all guests.
Amore Wedding Photography
Include Fido
Your wedding celebration wouldn’t be complete without man’s best friend or your doting cat. There’s no need to shy away from inviting your family pets to your big day. In fact, some couples incorporate the pets into the main event. Your groom’s pooch can be his best man or your birds can be the “love birds” at your wedding.

Switch Up Your Centerpieces
Tradition says all your centerpieces have to be the same, but modern approaches call for a unified look that’s not necessarily matchy-matchy. Choose similar flowers, colors and textures – then grant your florist the freedom to be creative.

Order A Groom’s Cake
Groom’s cakes are back and they’re full of pizzazz. A groom’s cake can be anything your groom wants it to be, from a sports themed masterpiece (soccer anyone?) to a music themed dessert for your guy’s Guitar Hero aspirations.

Save-the-Dates
Wedding stationery is a must for brides and grooms and it’s never been more important to have save-the-date cards. As soon as you set a wedding date, send all the people on your probable guestlist a save-the-date card so they know to keep the date open on their calendars. After all, people are busy these days. If they know about your celebration ahead of time, they’re more likely not to plan any other activities for that date.

Host a Day-After Brunch
This post-wedding event can be a good time for you, your family and your out-of-town guests to catch up after the main event. The menu can be simple – pancakes, eggs, fruits, coffee and mimosas – but the real focus is on showing your appreciation and love to all the people who made your wedding a success.

Entertain the Kids
Sure your wedding is an adult function, but you don’t have to have a meltdown if your guests want their kids to attend the party. Hire a babysitter, prepare kid friendly activities like drawing and watching movies. Serve foods kids love such as pizza, burgers and mac & cheese. Give each little guest a gift bag with stickers, candy or any other items you think a child would like to receive.

Cap the Party with Snacks
End the late night fun with treats such as cupcakes, cookies and milk. You and your guests will like the sweet snack, even if they end up packing the nibbles for the road.

Get Personal
Write out your thank you notes by hand and include a personal message. Maybe you’ll mention how much you enjoyed seeing them at the wedding, how much you laughed at their jokes or how useful their gift is. Top off the note by including an image of you and your guy on the big day. Your guests will appreciate your gesture of gratitude and you know they’ll keep the photo for a long time.

Embellish It!
One of the trendiest floral styles is all about adding bling to your bouquet. Crystals in centerpieces and bouquets will add sparkle to your flowers and to your event. Go for the shine!

Get Sophisticated
Wedding colors can be whatever you love, but keep in mind many brides are choosing soft and sophisticated hues like ivory and champagne.

Be Girly!
Your wedding is a fantasy moment so capitalize on the dream by wearing ruffles and frills on your bridal gown. The look creates a romantic feel that’s sure to resonate with your guests.

Design Creative Wedding Programs
Wedding programs tell guests what to expect on the big day, but that doesn’t mean the programs have to be boring or predictable. Have a good time creating something to inform guests and be memorable at the same time.
Some ideas? A program modeled after a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter or a program inspired by your favorite comic strip – use comic panels to tell guests what will happen throughout the event.

Keep the Party Entertained
Who says you have to choose between a band and a DJ? Why not have both at your reception? A band could play the cocktail hour and a DJ could play breaks throughout the night. The current trend is about expanding your options, not limiting them.

Go Retro!
Who says your party needs to be traditional? Branch out on your big day with a themed party like a retro-inspired wedding. Host a throwback party with oldies for music and classic foods from your childhood.

Color Your World
Your gown may be white, but your shoes and accessories can have punches of color. Be your own guide on what color works for your party. Some brides add a metallic style with gold or silver accents; while others go for blues, greens or purple splashes of color. Choose a color and own the look. You’ll be sure to wow yourself and your wedding guests.

Change Things Up!
Many trendy brides wear one gown for the ceremony and another for the reception. This is a great option if you can’t decide between two gowns. It also works for brides who want two completely different looks – sweet at the ceremony and sexy at the reception. Make sure your hair, makeup and accessories match each look. Then enjoy your multiple wedding looks.
Another option is to go for a two-in-one dress that converts from one look for the ceremony into a different look for the reception.

Capture the Moments
You won’t regret hiring a videographer. Your event on video will be a valuable memento. Sharpen your investment with a high def video which will have high quality picture and superior sound.

Book ‘Em!
The hot album these days is the coffee table style wedding album, which looks like a professionally bound book. The album showcases your best photos and often has captions and special day notes. This is one book you’ll read again and again.

Create Striking Invitations
Go for letterpress personalized wedding invitations when looking for wedding stationery. The letters are arranged, inked and then printed onto the paper of your choice. The old-school approach to printing is timeless and sophisticated.

Spice Up Your Guestbook.
Guests will always sign in at your wedding and they may even share a message with you. But follow the trends and keep things interesting with new guestbook options. Consider using Polaroid cameras for instant pics; post it notes of well-wishes, personalized videos of your guests’ thoughts and even a scrapbook of photos, wedding advice and messages of love and support.

Weddings are enjoyable to plan, even if they are exhausting. Grab a hold of a few trends and use them to make the most of your celebration. Whatever you choose, remember, trendy brides make their own style. You may end up setting style trends at your own wedding – trends that other brides will try to emulate next year and beyond.