It’s almost the holiday season, which means it is nearly engagement season! Deciding to marry your partner is a big, exciting decision and, once you have made it, planning a wedding can feel overwhelming.
Lucky for you, we can take a bit of the pressure off with a quick overview of your options for wedding invitation suites.
So – whether you are recently engaged, you are expecting to propose or receive a proposal, or are just “asking for a friend,” we’ve got you covered. Read on for more information about the importance of the wedding invitation design, and some ways to make a classic design your own.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Certain aspects of your wedding will dominate early wedding planning and drive the progress of the event. Your location and venue, for instance, will dictate how many guests you can accommodate. Confirming those will provide a foundation upon which to build the rest of the event. After those first few details are taken care of, your mind should turn to your guest list and your invitations.
The “save-the-date” cards and invitations you send to your guest list will be the first glimpse of your wedding’s look and feel, theme, and color palette. “Save-the-dates” are a relatively recent trend, which developed as social media allowed friends to stay in touch. Meant mostly as a way to help far-flung friends make travel plans, the “save-the-dates” are usually a quick heads-up with the date and location of your wedding.
Consequently, these can be much more informal than a traditional invitation. These can feature a candid photo of the two of you, a pretty, patterned backdrop, or a postcard-style mailing that features the town in which you will wed.
THE INVITATION SHOULD REFLECT THE PERSONALITY OF THE BRIDE AND GROOM
The look and feel of the design of your invitations should match the look and feel of the wedding, and both should play off of the personalities of you and your fiancé(e). The words on the invitation certainly matter, but the visual impression is going to set the stage for the entire event.
These days, a wedding can be whatever kind of celebration you want it to be. Gone are the days of the cookie-cutter wedding; couples now tailor every detail to their own personal tastes and quirks.
Wedding cakes can be replaced by personalized M&Ms, candy stations, and hot chocolate bars. Bridesmaids can don cowgirl boots, ballet flats, or stiletto heels. Recent years have seen more beloved pets walking their owners down the aisle or serving as ring bearers and flower girls.
Wedding invitations can be similarly customized. Want to entice guests with a floral motif? Go for it. Use the logo of your shared alma mater? Great. Include the caricature of the two of you drawn on your recent trip to Paris? Sure. The trend toward the personal has been growing for quite some time and, if that sounds like fun to you, make it your own!
Recently, though, many couples have been returning to the classics. This isn’t to say that these weddings are all alike. They are still unique to the couple. Rather, they feature classic design elements that never go out of style – think white tablecloths and sleek floral centerpieces. This trend extends beyond décor and dining. Couples are sending signals of “classic and chic” to their guests early, replacing circus font and exclamation points on their invitations with calligraphy on clean, minimal backgrounds.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HIGHLIGHT IN YOUR INVITATION?
Classic, clean, and minimal don’t have to be boring or generic. There are so many different ways to use calligraphy on your wedding invitation. Dozens of font styles can be combined with hundreds of layouts, giving you thousands of possible finished products. With those odds, surely you will find one that captures your event perfectly.
Before we get into all of this, take a minute to think about what you and your beloved want to signal with your invitation. How much information do you want or need to impart? Which aspect of the wedding do you want to highlight? Is there a dress code? What is your wedding color palette? What is (are) your personal style(s)?
If you work with a calligrapher to hand-letter your invitations (which can cost as much as $7 per invitation), he or she will have a personal style or two in which they specialize. If you purchase your invitations printed, you will have much more flexibility, in both style and cost. Printed invitations will likely run approximately $2 per invitation, and you can play with the design.
First, find a font to suit your style. A style like Marabella or San Sebastian suits formal invitations and traditional weddings. Styles like Lisbon and Capri are slightly more modern and suited to, for example, a chic soiree in a local art gallery. Turks & Caicos or Oaxaca are stylish, but laid-back, and perfect for a destination or beach wedding. Still other styles are more whimsical. St. Lucia, Anguilla, and New Orleans add a bit of flair to the invitation – perfect for a traditional wedding with a few twists.
THINGS TO INCLUDE
Once you have selected your font, start thinking about your text, layout, color scheme, and paper. A traditional wedding invitation includes lots of information across many pieces: the formal invitation, a response card and envelope, a direction card, a reception card, an accommodation card, and, if you want to accommodate guests with food sensitivities, a copy of the reception menu.
All these pieces mean you can be selective with the text included in your formal invitation: information beyond your names, the date, time, venue, and dress code of your wedding can be delegated to other pieces. This will allow the pertinent details to stand out and will help you stay true to a minimalist scheme, even with much information to communicate.
Like calligraphy, minimalism does not have to be boring or uniform. Many motifs, including flowers, greenery, or even something a bit more fanciful like pennant flags can be minimalist if used sparingly. A subtle stripe, some delicate flowers, or swath of bold color across a clean background add visual interest to the invitation without weighing it down. In the same way, a simple border can tie the invitation together without distracting from the text, and the possibilities are endless.
Try a solid or scalloped border, or one made of small stars if you are planning a July 4th wedding or if you are particularly patriotic. Some may look silly, but some may be unexpectedly stylish – experiment and see what you like!
CHOOSE A SIMPLE DESIGN
If you would like to include something other than your text, a simple design can create a focal point without overwhelming the invitation. Your initials or names in calligraphy would make a lovely header. Consider weaving your initials into a wreath or layered to create your own “logo” of sorts, or adorn your invitations with a script or symbol that means something to the two of you, such as the dates on which you met, got engaged, and are getting married.
Alternatively, a picture of your pet, a rendering of a favorite shared scene or constellation, or a drawing of your wedding venue will complement your invitation text nicely, and inject a bit of yourselves into its look and feel.
USING CALLIGRAPHY STRATEGICALLY
Strategic use of calligraphy can make an impact as well. A stylized ampersand linking your names, or scripted names with the rest of the text in a more utilitarian font are two elegant options. Mixing stylized script with a more common font within a large shape offers a nice alternative; all of the pertinent information is communicated in a visually interesting way, without too much negative space. Again, the possibilities are endless.
A square, a heart, a star, or even a letter can bind information together in an aesthetically pleasing way. Remember, the remaining pieces in your wedding suite will take care of the details. A minimalist invitation will put you and your fiancé(e) front and center; it should be something that you enjoy looking at and may even frame someday. Take advantage of the other pieces in the suite to make the invitation stand out artistically.
PLAY WITH COLOR
With this in mind, don’t be afraid to play with color! Black font on clean white paper is classic, of course, but a bright font color adds a touch of style where black might feel reserved. Using a color from your wedding palette, or a color that just makes you happy injects personality into an otherwise minimal design. If this doesn’t feel different enough, change up your color scheme for a bold look: use a clean, solid colored paper with calligraphy in a contrasting color. A black background, for example, would be nicely offset by silver text. Or, go for moody-chic and pair a deep blue with dove gray lettering.
Make sure to consider what colors say to guests. Pastels communicate softness and calm. Bright colors say “this is going to be so much fun!” Deep jewel tones add an air of sophistication (though white text on a black background feels like the ultimate in style). Metallics like gold, rose quartz, and silver lend a touch of opulence to your invitation.
Think about the look and feel of your event and try to communicate them through the colors you choose for each of your pieces. In fact, try using different colors throughout your suite: like a navy font on a clean white background for the event invitation, accented by a reply card in dusty blue, with a white font and an accommodation card featuring a stripe in that same blue. Your pieces should coordinate, but they certainly don’t have to match!
If including multiple colors feels like too much, consider going to the minimalism extreme by selecting embossed or translucent invitations. White invitations embossed with white text are perfect for a simple, chic wedding and reception. Black embossed invitations are equally chic but communicate a slightly darker vibe.
If you really can’t make up your mind about the paper color, think about adding your information to translucent paper. A plain border in the same color as the text will pull the invitation together, while the translucence will communicate elegance with a modern twist.
USE NON-TRADITIONAL PAPER
In the same vein, consider turning to a non-traditional paper for your invitations. Vellum paper will give the appearance of translucence without printing clear invitations. This style will print your details on a slightly translucent piece of tissue paper, laid over a darker background. Linen paper, a heavier, crosshatched option, looks and feels lush especially when paired with calligraphy. Cotton rag paper (which is so much more stylish than it sounds) adds an interesting, handmade touch, and would be perfect with a simple design for an informal wedding. You can even find snakeskin or leather-textured paper suitable for printing invitations.
If you are feeling ambitious, consider using unexpected shapes, folds, and cutouts in your invitation. Laser-cut the front of a folded invitation to resemble an elegant gate, or cut your invitation text right into the paper. A partial cutout can hint at a playful day. These options still allow you to keep things simple, with a dash of style, and they will stand out to your guests.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the possible use of calligraphy and minimalism in your wedding invitations. You can choose to go bold with color; to include personal touches or illustrations of your pets, home, or venue; or use calligraphy to communicate the vibe of your wedding. If it all seems overwhelming, remember there is no wrong answer.
If all else fails, remember that even though there are thousands of ways to express yourselves and your event, when all is said and done you simply cannot go wrong with a neutral palette, minimal detail, and a beautiful script. You will manage to communicate elegance and grace, and keep the snazzy details of the wedding a surprise!