Friday, February 25, 2011


Here is the final styled shot Erica Loeks and I designed for an upcoming marketing project I'm doing. Read more about this invitation here.

A great big THANK YOU to Erica for her photographic talent. This was a long shoot but it was so fun because Erica is a great person to spend time with. If you're in need of a thoughtful, creative and upbeat photographer for your wedding or any event give her a call.


Here's the third of four style shots Erica Loeks and I did for an upcoming marketing project I'm putting together for Armato Design & Press. Read more about the invitation here.


Here's the second styled shot that Erica Loeks and I designed. The goal with this invitation was to make ginkgo leaves look winter-y. Mission accomplished. Charcoal gray will do that pretty well and the violet color is just cool enough without being predictable {a.k.a. blue}. Go here to read more about the invitation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The Something New Wedding Fair was a great success. Here's the link to see all the great vendors of the fair. And hey, why not "like" the IWA on Facebook while you're at it. You'll be kept in the know about what's going on in the Twin Cities wedding community with weekly round ups and information on upcoming shows and events. Go to the Armato Design & Press web site to see full descriptions of the invitations pictured above and below.

A HUGE thank you to Sarah McGee Photography for shooting the event AND making the images available to vendors. It's important work and it's great that it's done by such a pro!


Here's the first of four style shots Erica Loeks and I did for an upcoming marketing project I'm putting together for Armato Design & Press. This is one of my favorite invitations. See more of it here. And go here to see the work we did to get this shot.

More photos to come...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I love letters. Their form, their design, their shape as an object, their way of conjuring complex emotions with their simplicity. When I get a new font specimen book in the mail I pour over it like it's a long awaited love letter. I. Love. Letters. I have always wanted to try my hand at calligraphy and, believe me, someday I will. But for now I will leave the beautiful art of hand lettering up to people like Rosann Konieczny.

Rosann began her career as a graphic designer specializing in hand lettering and type design. Then motherhood called and her career took a different path. She was able to pursue her passion for hand lettering and her desire to provide a unique and personal service. Rosann is a Minnesota based artist who has clients from around the nation. She specializes in wedding stationery, but also has clients like The American Institute of Architects, Minneapolis Saint Paul magazine, Twin Cities Business Monthly, Carlson Companies, and Fantasy Flight Games.

I am just waiting for a client to come to me wanting a letterpress hand lettered invitation or business logo. I know just where to go.

P.S. {A Girl} You Should Know is a new post category highlighting a Minnesota wedding professional. And yes, sometimes it will be {A Guy} You Should Know.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


BHLDN is all over the wedding blogosphere so I know I'm not being too unique in my excitement over it. But dig this dress! Not only does it challenge convention while at the same time referencing tradition, but what inspiration for invitations: the pattern, the palette, the style. Must design now...

Friday, February 11, 2011


I just ran across this gorgeous and oh so inspirational wedding at Etsy. This is truly a handmade work of heart and it speaks to this entire week's Wedding-Phile posts of branding your wedding. This couple's brand is easy to spot: everything has a handmade touch from the brides dress to the centerpieces to the lovely food. They spent the majority of their wedding budget on photography. And why not? If I made everything for my wedding I'd want some beautiful proof of the wonderful day that was shared by all AND proof that everything was made by a loved one's {or my own} hand.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the article:

"We came up with three essentials {for the wedding}: food, drink and shelter. Food and drink were easy enough. We decided that a giant tent was the best way to keep everyone warm and dry, in case of bad weather. We spent the majority of our budget on those three main points, giving us the opportunity to be creative with everything else."

"We wanted this day to be a true reflection of us as a couple. Time and time again we felt pressure to do things a certain way. In the end, the question we asked ourselves was, 'Are we doing this because we want to, or because we think we should?'"

What I like best about this wedding is that they focused on what was important to them and then played that up to the extreme. Not everyone can or wants to have this kind of wedding. Making everything can be challenging, stressful AND if not done well, can look amateurish. The point is this: find something that tells your story and make it the focus of everything you do for your wedding. From the stationery to the vows and the flowers to the favors, make your mark.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


This post was originally inspired by a post I saw iDiY and I thought it was a perfect subject for my week of mini session reposts. Granted, I made up the story but it just serves to remind you of the little things in your life that may give you inspiration for your stationery. Loving pattern as much as I do, the entire post made me swoon. That's right, a security envelope made me swoon. MANY security envelopes made me swoon. Oh, the things we take for granted.

When starting the custom design process, I encourage my bridal clients to think about what inspires them, what is meaningful to them in their relationship as a couple and as individuals, what do they just plainly like to look at? I like to look at patterns like these {found here}:

So, to illustrate my point, I thought I would create a sketch of an invitation for a bride who was really taken with security envelope patterns. Maybe she's an artist and he's an accountant and they wrote love letters to each other, and all of his letters came in security envelopes written at and sent from work. Feeling too shy about writing love letters at work and sending them from work, he wrote quick and slipped each note into an envelope with patterns such as these on the inside. And now, because of him, she associates these patterns with the pattern of their love story {which is way better than thinking of bills when seeing these patterns, in her opinion}. She wants them on their wedding invitations but, with an artistic twist, she wants to see them in sunflower yellow an steel grey. And can you imagine the fun she will have with envelope liners?

See? This is how an invitation can take shape if you dig deep and think inside the envelope {if you'll allow the very appropriate pun}. Here's a closer look:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Donna and Rob knew right way when they got engaged what they would give as favors at their wedding: bronzed ginkgo leaves. It was natural then, that the invitation should allude to the ginkgo, symbol of strength and longevity. This is what we came up with together. Floating ginkgo leaves with Art Nouveau inspired vines. For their fall wedding chocolate brown and rust orange colors were used. These invitations were simply perfect to foreshadow their day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Deciding on a custom invitation can be an exciting... and daunting decision. You have decided that pre-designed invitations don't describe your story or your style, but now the pressure is on to first find a designer that can do that for you and then communicate enough to said designer to allow her to represent you as a couple and your upcoming wedding. A good designer can do a lot with color, fonts and layout, but she can not read your mind or know your history without a depth of input from you. Armed with this knowledge a "pretty" design becomes a great design that tells your story.

I offer as an example the cd favor above. Kristin and Darren wanted to give music as their favor and they chose songs that meant something to them as a couple. In talking to them about the cd insert and sleeve I found that they not only had a number of great songs that described them, but a long list of inside jokes between them. I had them send me that list and I put together a typographical illustration with the central theme of "Introducing the Garretts". These were set on the plate of each place setting at the reception. They not only were gifts to guests but they were a great conversation starter with people asking each other if they knew what "System 9" meant, etc. Not only that but the insert is a framable piece, their first piece of art for their home.

Custom invitation designs begin with a simple conversation about you as a couple, the type of wedding you envision and styles you are attracted to. This conversation is an essential part of finding the perfect expression of your individual wedding. Though it is not a very romantic notion, it is helpful to remember that wedding stationery, like business stationery, is more successful when there is a single, unifying theme and look to it. That is what a designer is there to help with. You can make this process more effective by considering the following:

1. Tell me everything! How did you meet? What do you like doing together? Is there a specific motif or symbol you would like to include on the invitations? This could be anything from the lace on your dress to your location to a private joke you have between you. What kind of feeling do you want to convey with your invitations? Are you a formal or casual couple? Will it be a formal or casual wedding? Why did you choose your wedding location? What are the colors you are using? What flowers will you have in your bouquet? Your maids' bouquet? What do you want to avoid with your invitations? Do you have an interesting story about how you met? how you were proposed to? how you live as a couple?

2. What components do you want? Will it just be an invitation and reply card? Will you include a map/directions card, accommodations card, reception card? What about save-the-dates, programs, thank-yous? Will you need place cards, menus or packaging for your favors?

3. How many invitation sets do you need? Always order at least 25 more than you need. Keep in mind that it is better to have extra than to have to go back on press, which is expensive and time consuming. Also people close you often request a second copy for scrapbooks and/or framing.

4. Carefully consider the wording of each piece. Will it be formal or casual? Traditional or modern? Are there menu items to be included on the reply card? We will also need the addresses to be included: both the return address on the invitation and the mailing address on the reply if they are different.

Monday, February 7, 2011


This is not only one of the best invitations I've seen in a long time, {sadly, I did not design it, go here to see the whole invitation as one and with reply card, etc.} but it is a perfect illustration of a couple using their story as inspiration for their wedding stationery. I will address this more on Friday but wanted to post this specific invitation for the inspiration file. I'm just waiting for a client like this to come along and let me help them tell their story. Is it you?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


As promised during my mini session at yesterday's Something New Wedding Fair, below is the "transcript" {notes is probably a better word} of my talk about branding your wedding. If you were there, thanks for coming. I hope I helped. If you weren't able to attend, hopefully you can use the information below to help you plan your wedding stationery. I am happy to answer questions in the comments.

Custom design can be an exciting and daunting process. When done successfully the final stationery will be something that is both meaningful and beautiful not just pretty. This session will give you some things to think about and ideas to consider when talking to a designer about branding your wedding. I will use some of my invitations as examples as well as give you general approaches to branding or using a theme for your wedding stationery.

branding with COLOR:
It could be that your venue has a strong color component, or that you love a certain color of your favorite flowers, maybe the first gift your guy gave you was a certain color or maybe you have a signature color that is totally you. Whatever the colors are there will be certain styles that will naturally go with the color. Do those styles reflect you? If not, how can you make sure that the color and your style are resonant? The proper compliment to the color, or maybe instead of a bright you use a tint or shade of the color

branding with PLACE:
If you are getting married in a place with a strong brand most of the work may be done for you. Mill City Museum, The Walker, the Varsity Theatre, for example, all have strong looks for themselves, picking one or two elements from your venue to play up in your stationery and other pieces will tie everything together into a theme.

branding with TIME:
The timing of your wedding could be all you need to brand your stationery. Do you love spring time blooms or images of the fall harvest. Will these things be front and center in your wedding?

branding with TRADITION:
If yours is a family with strong wedding or family traditions playing these up in stationery and wedding theme can tie you to your own {or his own} history. Maybe you don't want to wear your mom's wedding gown but the lace on it is divine and you want to play that up in your stationery, flowers and cake for example. Or maybe your family has a Sunday morning tradition of doing crosswords over cinnamon rolls and coffee. Sounds like the perfect favor material: a get to know the couple crossword and some mini cinnamon rolls. The biggest thing here is to explain the traditions you plan on using as they may seem obscure to outsiders.

branding with NARRATIVE:
Do the two of you have a special story together? Most couples do whether it's a great story about how you met or how he popped the question. Or maybe it's your common love of science fiction novels or the fact that you both adore art. Whatever the story it can be played up in wedding stationery.

Kristin & Darren {above}
Though the entire suite is custom work, the inside jokes and special dates arranged in a cd favor is the piece that truly "Introduces the Garretts". Favors were set on each place setting and served not only as favors but as conversation starters for guests.

Laura & Jeremy
Laura and Jeremy go to the farmers market together often. Jeremy always buys Laura either peonies or dahlias which serve as a back drop of this invitation suite and it's creative layout.

Donna & Rob
Loved that the ginkgo symbolizes longevity and strength. They knew they were going to give bronzed ginkgo leaves as a favor and let that dictate use of ginkgos in their stationery.

Communication with your designer is key.
If you're going the custom route with your wedding stationery, there are some things to keep in mind when communicating with your designer:

1. Have some vendors pinned down before talking about your stationery. Colors, venue, flowers anything that you may want reflected in your stationery should be decided.

2. Know what you like and what you don't like. Have verbal and VISUAL examples of both.

3. Be thorough and honest. Tell your designer everything there is to know about you and what you want for your wedding and it's stationery. Answer questions thoroughly and honestly. The designer doesn't know you, don't make assumptions about what they should know about you. If it's important to you, make sure your designer knows about it. A good designer will ask questions and will want you to be happy with your design.

4. Custom design takes time. Get the stationery process started 2-3 months before you want to SEND the invitations out. Earlier if you want save-the-dates that coordinate with your invitations.

Though branding sounds like such a corporate word to describe wedding stationery, it really does help to think of it that way. Branding is a way to communicate a single thought, theme and feeling. That is exactly what you want your stationery to do.

I was talking today about custom design, but I think considering what we have talked about today before looking for pre-designed invitations will also help you narrow down the many choices out there, as well as allowing you to have wedding stationery that is representative of you.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Hey Wedding-philes! I have some tickets to give away to this Saturday's Something New Wedding Fair. Leave a comment {make sure there is a way for me to contact you in case you're the winner} or become a fan on the Armato Design & Press Facebook page {and let me know you've done so by leaving a comment on my wall}. I'll draw a name for these tickets (two tickets will go to one person) on Thursday. The fair is at the University of Minnesota's Campus Club this Saturday. If you don't win check it out anyway. Tickets are $10 with a plus one as part of the ticket fee which means you can bring your fiancee or that stylish friend to see and learn right along with you.


I was lucky enough to spend last Thursday and Friday with the talented Erica Loeks of Erica Loeks Photography styling some photographs of my wedding invitations. I think both Erica and I learned enough to fill a book. Styling, while fun, is so very time consuming. I have some experience with photo styling in my previous life as a creative director for a small company, but there I was working with a pro. When it's your work and you're not a pro it just takes so much more time and the stakes are so much higher. Of course it helps to be working with a creative photographer (something that all brides should consider when hiring one for their wedding).

Here are a few things we learned:
1. It's a really good idea to do your research beforehand. This means finding out what style you are interested in for the shots, thinking about how you are going to use them, considering layout of the pieces, and
2. Be willing to go off script. You can plan and plan and plan but sometimes the best ideas just come to you on the fly.
3. Restraint. In this situation where we didn't have the use of a full studio and didn't know all the tricks of the trade, it really was best to practice the old adage "less is more".
4. Work together and plan your time. While Erica set up the lighting, I played with layout and props. Then we would come together and critique and rearrange. It was a good set up. Still each shot took and average of 2-3 hours to complete. That's right 12 or so hours for 4 final shots. I think this is to be expected for such styled shots but still it's more time than either of us thought it would be.

I suspect these are good things to keep in mind when you are thinking about your wedding shots as well {with the possible exception of number 4). I will receive the final photos in a couple of weeks and will post then. In the meantime here are more shots of the shoot {Disclaimer: I took these with my phone so the quality is what it is}.

Above: a layout that came on the fly. I love it!

A flowery layout where we had to figure out how to get large and small blooms to stand up and show themselves off.

Getting the lighting right any way we can.

Getting those small kermit mums to stand at attention with sticky gum and small pieces of card stock. Hey, it worked.


I am participating in the Independent Wedding Association's Something New wedding fair this Saturday. This is an organization I am so proud to be a part of and it's fair is top-notch. Always at the best locations, always the most creative wedding vendors the cities have to offer and always the best information a to-be-wed could want and need. This fair is offering a Wedding Boot Camp where vendors will speak on various topics like "Libations 101" and "Eco Chic Weddings".

I will be talking about branding your wedding. I will go over some of the questions I ask my clients to think about and answer when I'm trying to come up with a custom design for them. Things that couples wouldn't necessarily think about but questions that would help create an invitation that speaks to who they are as a couple. This also could be seen as a "how to communicate to your designer to get what you want" mini-session. And if a couple isn't interested in custom work thinking about these questions would help them find a pre-designed invitation easier.