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What you need to know about wedding stationery 

 

Invitations, place cards, and seating charts oh my! Wedding stationery is something that just about every wedding will need in one form or another. Not only do you need to think about invitations for communicating the details of your wedding to your guests, but there’s all the day of elements that are often forgotten to the last minute.  

 

But choosing stationery is no easy matter. With services like Minted available as well as custom stationers now available to couples, there are many options to choose from.

 

This week I had the privilege of interviewing Anika Loewen, an amazing local Edmonton wedding stationer to chat about the what you really need to know about choosing wedding stationery. 

 

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Video Transcription

Corina – Hello, everybody and welcome. My name’s Corina Waldie. And I am the owner and creative director of Your Personal Fairy Tale, and the host of Wedding Wise, an educational YouTube channel devoted to educating couples who are planning their weddings. So, as I mentioned last week, one of my major goals with launching this channel was to invite some of the amazing creative partners that I get the privilege to work with when I produce weddings for my clients. So together that we can go in-depth into a topic related to planning your wedding. And this week, we’re going to deep dive into a topic that you’re almost guaranteed to experience at some point during your wedding planning journey. And that is your wedding stationery. So today, I’d like to introduce my good friend, Anika Loewen, a local Edmonton wedding stationer, and the owner of Wedding Design by Anika. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today, Anika.

 

Anika – Thank you.

 

C – Before we start digging deep into what our viewers want and need to know about purchasing stationery, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?

 

– Absolutely. So I am a certified graphic designer. And I started off just printing in local print shops. And I love doing it. One day about six years ago, my friend came up to me and said, “Hey, you do prints. “Do you want to do my wedding stationery?” I said, “You know, okay sure.” And I love doing it. It opened up and entire new world of paper and methods and I just went, “I wanna do this.” And so, since then I’ve actually made it the primary part of my business. 

 

– Well, that’s wonderful. I think it totally relates to that, is that I do just falling into something.

 

– Right.

 

– And that’s that. And all of a sudden you sort of like fall in love with it–

 

– Exactly.

 

C– So to speak, to be cheesy. But then it’s like you just never can go back to it. To the way things were, right?

 

– Oh yeah, for sure.

 

– Absolutely. So for our couples, what are the sort of different kind of stationery elements that they should be considering for their weddings?

 

– For sure, so, we generally tend to look at at wedding stationery in two parts. So you’ve got your invitations. So those are things like the invitation itself. Including RSVP cards, detail cards, maps, all of those kind of things. Including their little accessories. And then there’s day-of stationery. So, you know, stuff that would be coming, or being done later on. Things like seating charts, place cards, menus. Those items that are primarily used on the day. So, when we talk wedding stationery, we generally tend to talk before and during, or before and on the day type of stationery. And so, things like save-the-date cards would go more along the invitation side of things. And then anything used for the day would be on the day stationery.

 

– Absolutely. And you know, one of the things about day-of stationery, and I think the invitations in general, is, it’s a great way to add some more pizzazz and personality to your wedding in ways that is so much more flexible than just going to Staples and buying a template kit and printing them off. 

 

– That’s right. Absolutely, it’s becomes uniquely yours.

 

– Exactly. And I can tell you from the wedding design and planning point of view it’s that it’s a great way to add in some wonderful textural and design elements into an overall design. And there’s those things too. They’re wonderful keepsakes because a lot of the stuff’s rented or it’s temporary because flowers, and that sort of thing. But something that people can keep as mementos.

 

– Absolutely. And if there’s something specifically that means so much to the couple that can be incorporated into the stationery. And like you said, it becomes an amazing keepsake. But it also, when people open up the stationery, they’re like, “Oh we know who this is coming from.” Because it is so them. And that’s one of the things that I love to hear my couples say when they open up. It’s like, “This is so us!” And that just totally makes my day when I see that.

 

– Of course. So, you know, it’s sort of in the same vein then. Talking about why would somebody want to do custom stationery over using like a more mainstream option, like, Minted say.

– Okay, absolutely. So once again, like, the uniqueness portion of things. My ideal client, and the ones that we love to work with are clients who want to make their stationery an experience. For their guests. That it becomes them. And when they open it up, the guests just go like: “This is amazing.” And they understand that that experience comes with a little higher price tag. When you have things like this to print or minted, if that’s the way that the couples want to go, that is perfectly fine, I know that you can’t have a budget a massive high budget for everything, and you have to choose what you’re gonna put your money towards but if stationery is a priority for you, custom stationery is amazing because it can be uniquely you. And so when people go to Vistaprint and mint it, it’s a case of just what their priorities are and Vistaprint, it’ll work, it gets the message out, which is the primary thing, but it might not be the quality that they’re looking for–

 

– Absolutely

 

– Right? Minted, although it’s a great, they have great designs, a lot of people forget the fact that it’s based in the States and so with our fluctuating exchange rate for Canadians versus those in the States, and tariffs, and paper goods, and shipping and handling, all of that gets affected with the exchange rate and duty fees. And so a lot of the time, when couples look on the websites, they see two, three dollars. But they have to remember that that two-three dollars is actually based in American dollars, and so they’re actually going to be paying four-five dollars based on the same thing. And then adding shipping and handling on top of that. So there are those things for people to keep in mind when they are choosing which way that they’re going with their stationery. And the cheaper option might look like the more expensive option until they actually do the math.

 

C– Of course, absolutely. You know, especially invitations, I think they’re sort of that first chance for you to really make an impression on your guests, as well. They’ll know about who you are but one of the things I know I’ve encouraged my clients to do in the past is to consider the fact that it’s a great way to communicate so much about your wedding. You know things like for example, even something as simple as the formality of it. You know it’s sort of a little bit of an etiquette faux pas to write white tie, black tie, formal attire only, people do it but you know, it’s so much more easily communicated if you just reflect that in the stationery. 

 

A- That’s right.

 

– Right? And unfortunately, when you send something like a vista print style invitation that is going in, it is, you know, you want this formal wedding, it doesn’t convey the same thing as opening up a custom stationery piece. So within the world of custom stationery that you know, there’s also so much more than a standard flat leg, squares, rectangles, that sorts of things, what kind of customized things can people do to make it their own? 

 

– Oh this is a topic that I absolutely love. So there are so many ways that we can personalize, so even if it is just a regular square things, there are many things that we can do to it. But if clients want to take it up a notch and do something a little out-of-the-box, per se, we can make the stationery a different shape, we can fold it, we can, you know, do different types of printing on it. And so we, so one of my favorite things to do, is, actually to do what is called a die cut. So a die is basically, essentially, a large paper cutter. So, like, you would go, and whole punch something, this is the same thing, except larger. Actually, brought one with me today. So this is a die. And so, as you can see here, it’s rubberized, but this is a blade inside here. So a machine actually takes that and punches it directly onto the paper, which cuts the shape that you see on the back here.

So this is an item that is very-very popular with people who want a really different shape than just a square. And so I’ve done invitations for corporate events especially that they have this really unique die cut, and then so the paper’s folded in special ways once it’s been die-cut, and so that’s a huge way that couples can really take their invitation out of the box and give their guest the experience when they actually open it up.

 

– Absolutely. And what are some other unique ways that you can, you know, do things to your invitations. Like, for example, there’s plenty of interesting things that to give your invitations a more luxurious feel, you know, like letter press, and foiling, and acrylic, and some things that are really super popular right now because people are wanting to create that experience, are those those sort of services that you offer, as well?

 

– Absolutely. So we definitely do all of the above, I like to say, if we can print on it, we wanna print on it. Because we love experimenting with new materials and I think that’s the reason why print is so much fun, it’s, there’s so many things that you could do with it. When it comes to foiling, foiling is very similar to doing a die cut, so a specialty tool needs to be used. It’s actually called a foiling plate, and basically what it is is a piece of metal that has a mirror or reversed image of what design you want. And this gets cut out and literally heated up and punched through, like, gets punched through foil onto the paper. And this, one of the reasons why it’s very expensive is that they have to create this tool before they can even touch it to the paper. And so when couples come to me and they say: “We want everything foiled.” I go, “Wow, you must have an amazing budget!” Because each one of these starts off at approximately $200. 

So that can go up depending on how big of a foiling plate you need. So before they even this even touches paper, it’s $200 plus. So I like to educate my couples on that. To make sure that they understand the reasoning behind the fact that why this technique is a lot more luxurious and more expensive. And one of the reasons why places online, like Minted, can actually charge less for foiling is because the pieces that are foiled are never your names. 

 

C – They’re never those custom elements, like you know, monograms, or your names, or those sort of things.

 

– Right. Because the fact that they have one of these in stock for save the date, or we’re getting hitched, or we said yes, and they’re just reusing the exact same foiling plate over and over again. And so it costs them almost nothing by the time they do 10 to 15000 prints with this. So they can reuse this and it costs them very little. So if you, as a client, want to make the most out of your foiling, I recommend not putting your names. 

Because this can be used over and over again with a small setup fee, on different elements, that you’re, or different parts of your invitation suites or your day of stationery. And so I actually recommend doing a monogram or a little tiny detail that can just be used over and over and over again. Because it just adds that little pop of colour and you’re getting the most out of your initial investment. 

 

– And getting to use it over and over again.

So you know, we touched a little bit on save the dates and invitations and that sort of thing. But that’s something that just about every couple has to do generally going to send. Yes there is, you know, an equal trend now, and people are doing evites but the trend’s still very much just to send formal, more traditional invitations. So in that sort of circumstance, what are the things that people really need to consider entering into the process of working with you before, you know, they really start to, before they get into this idea of creating invitations?

 

– For sure. One of the things that they really need to know before coming to me is their timelines. Timelines are incredibly important with stationery and timelines have shifted actually in the past 30 years just with the types of weddings that we do so 30 years ago you would send out your invitations and RSVP card and you as a bride or a groom would be getting the RSVP back the day of your wedding going, “Oh, have another plate down!”, right? With the requirements that people are coming to us as stationers now and caterers and whatnot, we need to know that information a little bit beforehand. So couples are now, as soon as they’re getting engaged are sending out a save the date because engagements tend to be a little longer these days, as well, so we’re talking a year, or two years, and so because also sometimes the venues are hard to nail down. 

So they’ll literally send a save the date out as soon as they know, so that people can mark it on their calendar. As well as, when a lot of people in their circles are getting married in the same year, it’s nice to know, “Okay, we’re getting married too. “This is the day we can’t get married, at the same time”. 

 

– Exactly.

 

– Right? 

 

– Yeah, well, you know, the average engagement for 14 months according to the statistics, I’ve seen, you know, as few as a few months, I’ve seen as long as two plus years, you know, when I got married, almost eight years ago now, we had a two-year engagement, so that we can have the wedding that we wanted, you know, and so those are a great way to notify your guests, you know, that my wedding’s coming up, you know.

I think especially in the world of destination weddings, which in and of themselves are rising in popularity because there is so much more that you can do in a destination, rather than sticking to your hometown, but like the save the date is great notification, for your guests so they can kinda start thinking about and then planning their lives accordingly.

 

A– Absolutely, and in today’s age, like, there are some companies that require their employees to give at least a, you know, have all of their vacations dealt for a year, so some people need to know as far in advance as possible and also, with, you know, flights, for destination wedding, it’s not a cheap gig for couples to ask for their guests, so you know, people do need to save up for those type of weddings, as well. So giving people notice is great, so then the invitations, people say, like, “How far in advance do we need to have the invitations out?” And I generally like to say, like, having them out a minimum of four months prior, like, in the mail four months prior, which means, we need to start them earlier. And having an idea of what you want, too, like, if you don’t know that’s fine, we’ve got lots of samples that we can pull out to showpiece and whatnot, but we recommend having all of the invitations out at least four months prior, and then giving yourself at least a month between where you have an RSVP cutoff and your actual day, so in that time, you can communicate with your caterers.

 

– Yes, absolutely.

 

– What is needed, you can round up your Uncle Bob who decided, “I didn’t wanna send my RSVP card in, “or I’ve lost it”, and then also you can give that information of RSVPs to us as the stationers, so we can work on your day of stationary, like your seating chart, because those things do take time. So timelines are super-super important and having an idea of that, when you come into a consultation is absolutely critical.

 

C – Yeah, you know, and I can tell you from the planning perspective too, you know, some of these vendors they’re asking for final numbers up to 30 days in advance.

 

A – That’s right.

 

– You know, and it’s not that they, you know, they need to order supplies, they need to prepare for your wedding, they need to make sure all of their ducks are in a row so you know it’s very important that when you’re considering these things that you’re definitely making sure that you meet yourself at all times so that we can make sure that we’re delivering what we’ve promised you.

You know, the other thing within that you mentioned that you have sort of a your consultation process, so what was that look like for a couple who’s coming in for the first time and they’re excited to pick out their stationery, you know, what process do you take that through?

 

– Oh sure. So normally when they approach our website, we do have a pre-consultation form that we get them to fill out, and this basically walks through important things like first of all, when is your day, you know, and what time is it, where is your venue, so those important pieces of information, and also gives them an opportunity to say, “This is what we found online “that we kind of like, this is kind of the style direction.” So that way then I can know approximately what to recommend. It also talks about how many invitations are needed. Many couples think that if they have 200 guests they need 200 invitations, that is gross overkill.  

We always recommend taking your total number cutting it in half and adding about 10 to 15% on top of that for keepsakes and whatnot. So once they book with us, I send out a little booklet for them to give them a little bit of an idea of what kind of pieces are needed for stationery and it breaks down called stationery 101 almost, and then when they come in to visit with me, we take that stationery 101 book and we have a matching work booklet that we literally work through and they take a look at paper samples, and different printing methods, so that way then we can actually narrow down what they want, and then once that happens, and we have a good idea of what they’re looking for, then I create an estimate based on everything that we discussed, and my software, basically, allows them to choose which parts of that that they want and then once the order is placed, then we go and start producing it.

  

– Wonderful. That sounds like a wonderful process, it sounds actually like a lot of fun doing those– 

 

– Oh, absolutely.

  

– But the other elements that add too, is, you know, we’ve kinda danced around the issue a little bit, but you know, for couples thinking about custom stationery, they’re not sure of their budget yet, you know, I’m not necessarily talking about, like, specialty things, but you can sort of, some of the more typical things for scenery now in terms of trends, like, you know, the decorating of the edges and other sorts of things, whatever that somebody’s budget need to be in order to work with you?

 

– So we generally start our invitation packages off at $750.

And it can be totally more, which depends on what I like to call the printing trifecta. So you have your quantities, your print method, and then the materials. So printing methods, like the foiling, like the die cutting, the letter press. Those are going to be quite, or a lot more costly just because it’s the nature of the tools required. Laser cutting, UV ink printing, all of that is going to be at a higher price point than just a straight digital print with an envelope. So we do recommend that kind, think at least 750 when they come to see us. The other one is quantity. If you have 20 guests coming, that means you need 15 invitations, you’re gonna get a lot more bang for your buck if you have, you know, at 750 to a $1000 budget. However, if you have two, 50, 300 guests, that $1000 is not going to go very far. 

Especially if you’re asking for day of stationery, like place cards, which you do require one for every guest. So it’s really important to know those numbers so that we can kinda figure out where you’re gonna lie. And then of course comes the materials. So the paper that we get, the pieces, like, the wax, all of those kind of elements together create what the cost of stationery is. And so when people come up to me and say, “What’s the cost of an invitation?” I have to say to them, “I don’t know, it depends on what you want.” Right, it’s like buying a house, you know, there are certain things that you want, and whatever you want, that’s going to affect the price that you have at the very end. So what I like to do is talk to them, get all of their information, and then they get to decide what they’re going to call a priority in their stationery and we go from there, basically, we use what they want as a springboard for creating their sets.

 

Yeah I know and I think it’s so true with not just that stationery but in every single decision that every couple is going to make, your choices are ultimately going to boil down to what the cost of something is going to be.

 

– That’s right.

 

– So you did mention place cards, we’ve talked a little bit about day of stationery, you know, and I saw a whole bunch of terms that are thrown there, escort cards, place cards, seating chart, you know, what are these things, how should somebody use them, in terms of their wedding day, you know, do I need all of them, or need one of them, you know, what are some of the best uses for them?

  

– Well technically you don’t need all of them, but it’s all about adding an experience for your guests. If your guests are having a hard time finding where they’re sitting, you know, that negatively impacts their experience, and so seating charts are really important, ’cause then they understand where they’re going and which table they’re going to be at. Place cards, really important, like if there’s a specific place that you want to put them, because of group dynamics, or just who works well with whom, at a table, those are going to be very important, and so also, if you know if you decide that those are not options for you, people might be going in and reserving tables by putting the chairs up against the table thing, “Nice spot!” So you don’t need it but they are very helpful in communicating to your guests where they belong really or where they need to be. And so seating charts are probably the most used during that time, so depending on how many guests are there, we recommend actually going alphabetical, like placing alphabetical, when people come into that way it’s easier to find themselves, these are for guests lists of above about 100, otherwise you can do them in table, like either way works, but it’s easier for people to find their name, if it’s alphabeticalized. And then place cards, there are ways that you can actually incorporate place cards into other parts of the stationery, I’ve done menus that actually were custom for the individual guests, and so it had their name, as well as their meal choices, and so it’s a nice way of combining the menu and place card into one piece. So that can cut down on some cost, as well.

 

– Now you’re getting,  you know, a little more bang for your buck.

 

– Absolutely.

 

– Right? And you know when I see these questions that are floating around sometimes especially in some of the Facebook groups there, like, “Oh do I really need a seating chart?” and those sort of things, and I’m just gonna say this right now, as a planner, you need a seating chart. From a logistics point of view, it is so complicated just have people come in and sit wherever, I think as, when I think about the experience that I want as a guest, I wanna be able to just sorta come in and be like, “Yes, I’m going here, I’m doing my thing.” You know, because ultimately, whether we like it or not, as human beings, we like that familiarity, we like to know, have a process in place.

 

– That’s right.

 

– You know, you don’t want that chaos on your wedding day, and to have to figure where everybody’s sitting, you know, and especially, if you’re doing, like, a nice table setting, you know, I’ve seen chairs get pulled up to another place so that somebody can sit with their friend because there wasn’t enough seats.  Just do the seating chart. I know they’re pain in the butt but just do a seating chart.

 

– Yeah and also for caterers, too, like if there’s somebody with serious allergies knowing where those people are and that they’re identified. 

 

– Yeah, of course. It just makes the whole thing flow a little bit easier.

 So yeah, and I think that’s really all, then we’ve touched on most of the things, so is there anything else that you just wanna add that our viewers should know?

 

– Just, you know, like, come in to consultation with us, with, like, a really open mind, and don’t be scared to showcase what you really like, and we’d love to work with what you present us and if you don’t know what you want, that’s totally fine too, we’ll figure it out, it’s, and if you don’t have a theme or anything like that, totally fine, we’ll get to that, but come with an open mind and if you don’t understand, ask questions. I love talking about paper, love it. So when I get the opportunity to discuss paper and printing methods, it’s just a wonderful experience for me, so ask questions, if you don’t understand, ask questions. Ask questions, ask questions, until you are comfortable with the process. And if somebody is honestly asking, I absolutely love it, because I would much rather them understand the process than be blindsided when an invoice comes at them, right?

 

– Of course, right? You’re getting the angry phone call, like “Wait a second, what?” Hold the phone. 

 

– Yeah, so yeah.

 

– All right, well, thank you so much, I think that we’re gonna wrap it there, so if you’re interested in checking out more of Anika’s design work, and potentially working with her, you can visit her website at www.weddingdesignbyanika.com or you can also check out her Instagram, I know she’s rocking the Instagram lately with lots of examples of her work, and she could be found at @weddingsbyanika.

So thank you everybody for tuning in, I hope, I look forward to seeing you all next week, so we’re actually gonna be moving forward to another wonderful topic next week, which is again something that will affect every single person for the most part, and that’s the wedding photography, so make sure you tune in to learn more about that. All right, and if you haven’t already, please head on over to our Facebook group, Wedding Wise Edmonton, and join in the conversation there, I’m gonna be posting our videos in there as well as other content to keep the conversation going, as well, so thank you so much, and I will see you next week, and have a wonderful day!  

 

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