Before – Invitations

Proof copy of the invitations

Proof copy of the invitations

A lot of people put a lot of effort into their wedding invitations. We didn’t go as crazy as some people do, and sadly we aren’t able to come up with something as amazingly brilliant as this “album cover” concept, but we did want something nice to send to people.

It was clear that for this part at least, my graphic design “skills” would not be required.

We shopped around, found a local printer and design house called Hello Lucky, and went in for a consultation with the very nice Stewey. They had various styles of art, and methods of printing, but we settled straightaway on regular digital printing rather than letterpress. Hello Lucky has some wonderful-looking old letterpress* machines in use, but they do add significantly to the price.

*Letterpress
Letterpress printing seems to be quite the thing at the moment, with old machines being renovated, new ones being bought in large numbers, and small businesses being set up.There is a bit of an argument about what true letterpress should look like. Some enjoy the indented effect on thick soft cardstock, whereas others say that the type should only “kiss” the paper and leave the ink behind without indenting.The effect has become so popular that it is recreated on many websites, by having the text look like it was indented slightly. It’s possible to do this in CSS3, with no extra graphics necessary. Here’s a tutorial

As for the design, we were less certain. They had lots of lovely designs to choose from, but we didn’t really know what direction to take. We thought we could emphasize the US/UK angle, or ignore that and just go for a cool design. Cassie and I differed on the definition of cool, of course. In the end we decided on a design that showed it was going to be a destination wedding for most people – a stylized Las Vegas skyline.

Next came the colors; this took even longer. We weren’t going for a wedding with a theme or a particular palette of colors. This is apparently unusual – many people start with a palette and everything stems from there. For us,  Stewey brought out the swatch books. Luckily, they had a limited (carefully chosen) set of colors to choose from, so it wasn’t so bad.

We were sent a couple of examples of the design in PDF format, and this is where Inkscape came in very useful. I was able to open the PDF files, break the designs up into their component objects (PDFs are a vector graphics format, after all), and change the colors to try out out other combinations without needing the designer to send more proofs.

This would go on to be very useful when we needed graphical motifs and highlights for other items. I could borrow parts of the invitation proof on their own, such as a flower or cactus, or the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign, which became a key part of the program design.

As for colors, we settled on “Wine”, “Burgundy” and “Icee” (a pale blue). These colors went well together, we thought, and they ended up being using in many of the other bits and pieces.

Hello Lucky printed the invitations, envelope labels (with addresses from our guest list), double-sided RSVP postcards, and a card with extra information for the guests. Because the shop is on our way home on Howard Street, we were able to drop in and collect them. They all looked great, and it was then a simple case stuffing the envelopes and applying stamps and address labels, before mailing them to our guests.

We started receiving RSVPs quite quickly, and we found that several got a bit scuffed in the mail, due to the soft thick cardstock we chose. It would have been better to use a smoother stock, but they did look great. We’ll be keeping many of the RSVPs because people wrote nice messages on them.

Verdict – Invitations are a very personal thing, so do what you like. I recommend Hello Lucky, but for us at least, letterpress was too expensive.