Choosing Wedding Invitations: Requesting the Honour of Their Presence at Every Price Point

(Ed. note: Today’s post is an excerpt from iDo: Planning Your Wedding with Nothing But Net by Christa Terry. Check it out!)

Once upon a time, wedding invitations included an outer envelope, an inner envelope, a folded invitation card, a response card with its own envelope, a reception card, and a bunch of little squares of tissue paper that kept runny ink from getting all over everything. Really elegant invitations were made of oversized heavy ecru cardstock engraved with richly colored inks. You can still get invites of this sort, but be prepared to pay a premium for them. There is an art to packing a multi-component invitation, and the whole process is thoroughly outlined at Rexcraft.com/Custom/Rexcraft/Rexcraft_Etiquette.cfm. To make a long story short, response cards, RSVP envelopes, and reception cards take up different positions depending on how the invitations itself is folded and where the text appears. The thing is, it’s unlikely that any of your invitees will be particularly familiar with this paper folding etiquette, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

via Woodland Papercuts

The big players in the nuptial paper world are the invitations, which come in hundreds of sizes, shapes, colors, and configurations. That said, be prepared to see the same paper and printing options again and again and again if you’re planning on buying mass-produced invites. An affiliate program launched by Carlson Craft has, to some extent, dominated the online invitation world with their cceasy program. You’re going to see a lot of online invitation shops that look just like the sample site at Free.cceasy.com—the prices appear to be set by Carlson Craft so you’re not going to find a better deal unless you can find a store that isn’t a part of the cceasy program that carries the same merchandise. Good luck with that.

You can stick it to the mainstream by looking at the many, many alternative options out there. The plainest of modern invitations typically consist of one envelope, a single invitation card, a response card with an envelope, and a reception card, but there’s no reason to settle for unadorned vellum. The inner envelopes and tissue squares of yesteryear have been replaced by ornate ribbons and charms, brightly colored wraps, and complicated systems of overlays. The more intricate invitations are usually the most visually interesting, but they can also leave recipients feeling a little confused. If you suspect your loved ones won’t be able to navigate the complex scheme of knots and bows on highly embellished invites, opt for something simpler.

Some invitations will always be more impressive than others. Oslopress.com crafts dramatic invitations made of laser-engraved birch, cherry, oak, maple, and walnut woods. At Bluemagpieinvitations.com, you can order custom designed invites in beautiful fabric enclosures. Would you prefer that each of your invitations be hand painted by an artist? Stop by Momentaldesigns.com to get a feel for the cost of originality. It’s not at all difficult to find invitations in bottles, scrolled invitations, seeded invitations that can be planted, and cards that come wrapped in silk envelopes.

Be aware, however, that impressiveness is almost always pricey.

(Image via Woodland Papercuts, which you should also check out!)


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What are Casual Wedding Invitations – and are They Really Casual?

When a bride-to-be tells us she’s planning a casual wedding, what she often really means is that she’s planning a simple wedding. A truly casual wedding – and make no mistake, they do happen – might have people showing up in jeans, coolers of Bud, a groom in board shorts, and the bride herself wearing nothing more complicated than a sundress. Think backyard barbecue weddings without the dressing up that backyard barbecue weddings usually receive.

casual wedding

Simple weddings, on the other hand, are about dressed-down ambiance and understated elegance. Typically, simplicity begins by stripping a ceremony and reception down to their barest elements and then building them back up again very carefully using a minimalist, free-spirited aesthetic as a guide. Think supermarket flowers arranged by the bride herself in an assortment of carefully chosen vintage milk glass – all thoughtfully thrifted, of course. Simple sheath dresses, perfectly tailored, on both the bride and her maids. A cake that looks just rustic enough to pass for homemade even though its look was specifically requested by the couple.

In wedding parlance, simple can mean almost anything. You know it when you see it, we think. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, but that doesn’t mean that the bridal accessories, venue, refreshments, clothing, décor, and transportation didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Wedding invitations are one area where couples mistake simple for casual. A truly casual wedding invitation would be one written by the bride-to-be herself – and we all know that ain’t happening. A simple wedding invitation, on the other hand, is one that employs uncomplicated language and isn’t fussy. No tissue paper inserts or gold embossing here. Think letterpress invites on plain (yet quality) cardstock. Maybe with a quirky graphic custom designed for the couple for good measure. And the wording? Straightforward, like so:

Jane Marie Smith &

John Jacob Johnson

Invite you to share in their joy

on their wedding day.

Saturday, May 25, 2015

at five o’clock in the evening

Perdullis Inn

6 Severo Way

Salem, MA 01915

Dinner and dancing to follow

If this all sounds wonderful, you’re in good company. More and more couples are opting not for casual wedding invitations but rather for simple ones. It makes sense. Weddings, though no less expensive, are certainly getting less fussy as time marches on. And we like that.

Do you?


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Your Bridal Style: Dressed Up or Dressed Down?

You’re planning a wedding, focusing on your guests’ experience and creating an event that is a reflection of your and your spouse’s two hearts. It is, we know, a lot of work! There’s so much to think about… the venue, how you want people to remember the day, cake flavors, wedding favors, and more. But maybe you’re forgetting something.

Maybe you’re forgetting your own bridal style.

We’d wager you have a personal style, but maybe you want to rock something a little different on one of the most important days of your life. Could be that in the day to day you’re a dressed down tomboy and you want to glam up – hello CZ wedding jewelry – for your ceremony and reception. How do you want people to see you? Flirty and fun… or sophisticated and elegant? Dressed up or dressed down?

dressed up bridal style

The wonderful thing about planning a wedding is that when it comes to your bridal style, the sky is the limit. Be yourself, or be someone else. Your wedding is the ultimate excuse to play dress up. You can be princess for the day if you really want to – just imagine yourself as royalty! Or not, if you balk at the notion of stepping out of your favorite pair of jeans. Not that we’re suggesting you get married in them (though there’s nothing wrong with that) but we do think it’s fine to consider the real you when you’re envisioning your bridal style. Carefree and comfortable is a wonderful look to pursue.

dressed down bridal style

There are no right or wrong answers. Though do consider where you’ll be spending the bulk of your wedding… indoors or outdoors, in the heat or frosty cold, on grass or parquet floors. This is your time to shine and we recommend creating your own light instead of mimicking someone else’s. Dress up or dress down, it’s all wonderful. Create your own bridal style – one that’s relaxed, happy, confident, and beautiful.


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Wedding Planning Luxe: Live Event Painting

If it wasn’t enough that brides-to-be had to choose between a DJ and live band, now there’s wedding photography versus live event painting. Okay, maybe not, but live event painting is definitely a trending wedding add-on! If you love art, hiring a painting to capture the emotion of your ceremony or reception might just be for you.

live-painting-wedding-unique-details

What it is: Live event painting is just what it sounds like. An artist comes to your ceremony or reception and, over the course of the event, creates a one-of-a-kind, romantic painting that you can hang proudly in your home.

How much it costs: Every artist is different, and painters will have their own styles, favorite medium, and price tags. But expect to pay anywhere from $500 to more than $5,000.

What to consider: Does your wedding venue allow painters? Be sure your ceremony or reception venue is okay with having an artist in attendance using materials like paints and solvents.

Now as much as this is modish at this moment, live event painting is nothing new and is actually rooted in centuries of tradition. On top of becoming a treasured keepsake, your finished painting may appreciate in value over time and will certainly be a family heirloom that outlives you. We love the idea of having the finished work scanned and printed onto thank you cards so guests get to see the result of the artist’s work.

What’s also very cool about having a live event painter at your wedding is that watching the artist at work can be yet another diversion for guests. When your loved ones aren’t actually gathered around the painter doing his or her thing, they’ll probably be talking about your choice to have a real live art pro in situ. That’s why we recommend choosing an artist who won’t be bothered by a little friendly chitchat or questions from your wedding guests. That way, he or she won’t mind the interruption and your guests can learn more about this luxe trend.

Image via http://timree.com/site/fine-art/


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The Meaningful Bridal Bouquet

The language of flowers sounds romantic, but the original Victorian glossary of flower meanings is actually much more complex. It was originally created, so the story goes, to make courtship a little easier in a time when letting your feelings show was all but verboten. Now it remains a little quirk of history – an oddity you can draw inspiration from or not when you’re thinking about your bridal bouquet, reception flowers, bouquet jewelry, etc.

pink orchid bridal bouquet

Creating a meaningful bridal bouquet isn’t easy, though. It turns out that those Victorians were sometimes a dreary bunch. I guess if you’re using flowers to communicate clandestinely with potential partners, you’re eventually going to be using them to facilitate your secret breakups. Consider an arrangement of bright daffodils and daisies wrapped in delicate fern leaves – you might give this to a crush whose innocence you value. On the other hand, a bouquet containing pretty asphodel speaks only to the giver’s regrets.

Lilacs? Mean love. Lavender? Can mean distrust. Yellow carnations communicate rejection and disdain, whereas striped carnations are a straight up “no”.

Though it’s fun to scroll through lists of flower meanings, I don’t recommend using the Victorian language of flowers to create your bridal bouquet. First, it’s highly unlikely that none of your wedding guests will know what your floral choices mean – or give a fig about them if they do. And second, cobbling together a bouquet of symbolic blooms probably won’t result in the bridal bouquet of your dreams. Better to turn a blind eye to this antiquated code so you and your floral designer can create something beautiful, seasonally appropriate, and just right for your ceremony.

What’s your bridal bouquet’s inadvertent meaning?


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The Skinny on CZ, Rhinestones, and Swarovski Crystals

Shopping for wedding jewelry and bridal accessories and gowns and shoes can be just a little confusing. There are sometimes so many options in front of brides-to-be that it’s easier just to step away from the computer and think about something else. We get it. We really do. But we also spend so much time curating our inventory of wedding jewelry that we tend to forget how overwhelming it is.

Looking through a page of 50 wedding jewlery sets is fun – bump that up to 150 sets and suddenly it’s more than a little tedious. There’s nothing wrong with options, sure, but how do you even start narrowing it down? By color? By style? Or how about by gem? Even that can be tres confusing because again, there are so many options.

That’s why we want to help you narrow down what you want. We can’t choose your wedding jewelry for you, but we can give you the knowledge you need to make an amazing choice yourself! So let’s talk about stones. Specifically, cubic zirconia, crystals, and rhinestones – how they’re the same, how they’re different, and when you should wear which!

Rhinestones

The Rhine is a river than runs through Germany, and rhinestones are so named because the original sparkling diamond lookalikes were cut from the rock crystals gathered along the river. Now most rhinestones are made of hardened glass that is hand cut like diamonds and coated at the base with a mirror-like finish that enhances the sparkle of the individual facets. Aurora Borealis rhinestones were first created by Swarovski are coated with a metallic glaze that turns ordinary rhinestones into iridescent jewels.

swarovski crystal tiara

Glass Crystal

These gems are created from a mixture of glass and lead – without the lead, glass crystals wouldn’t have the same ability to catch the light. Clear or colored, a crystal’s radiance will be determined by the lead content, the quality of the glass, the ability of the cutter, and the placement of the individual facets. Glass crystal can be cut into beads or like gems, and then used like rhinestones.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski crystals are precision cut glass beads made with a top secret recipe of natural minerals, metals, and quartz. They were first created in 1892 in Austria when Daniel Swarovski invented a new kind of crystal cutting machine that allowed cutters to create quality cuts like never before. Because of their unique composition, Swarovski crystals are incredibly brilliant and are uniformly clear all the way through. Fun fact: The facets on Swarovski crystal always meet at a single point.

CZ wedding jewelry 2

CZ

These are true simulated diamonds that possess a clarity and brilliance close to that of the gems they imitate. Cubic zirconia is a man-made gem produced by applying huge amounts of pressure to carbon and other elements – essentially copying a process that takes nature eons to complete. Dyes can be added to the mix to give CZ gems color, but whether clear or colored, cubic zirconia is most beautiful when cut by an expert and mounted in an open-backed setting.

Are you leaning toward CZ wedding jewelry that will mimic the look of true diamonds or a more playful crystal wedding jewlery set?


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Should You Have an Unplugged Wedding?

The newest trend in weddings is not some sparkling bridal accessory or the color of the moment, but rather the unplugged wedding.

In this, the age of ubiquitous iPhone, it’s not unusual to have your view of the bride and groom blocked by some taller guest taking hundreds of snapshots with a tablet. Most of us have gotten used to the fact that at least one guest per wedding will be live-tweeting the ceremony and reception. But a growing number of couples are now asking guests to disconnect for a few hours – and the hope is that everyone will have a more meaningful, more enjoyable time in the process.

Wedding photographers in particular are advocating for the unplugged wedding. While a majority of wedding guests fancy themselves photogs, snapping away during the ceremony kiss and the first dance, there’s the question of whether they (or the couple) will ever even look at those Instagram pics. The professional photographer who is at the wedding to work, on the other hand, has a vested interest in getting the best shots – and isn’t there to enjoy himself or herself. Wedding guests, the notion goes, should put their gadgets away and just enjoy the wedding. They can always check out the “real” photog’s online gallery later.

unplugged weddings - discount wedding veils

Other arguments for the unplugged wedding: Turning off phones means no chance of a ringtone interrupting the ‘I do’s. No chance of someone with their head down in a pew texting instead of listening to the couple’s original wedding vows. If guests aren’t taking pics, there’s no chance of unflattering cake smashing shots ending up on Facebook or Tumblr. The bride won’t have to deal with guests lining the aisle with iPhones held high.

But is it etiquette-appropriate to request that your wedding guests turn off (or even turn over) their digital devices for the duration of the event? I’ve heard stories of guests being asked to leave for violating no phone rules, but I’ve never actually been to a wedding where the couple requested that phones stay in pockets.

I don’t think I’d be particularly offended to see a politely worded request on the ceremony program, a la “The Bride and Groom request that guests turn off their phones for the duration of the ceremony and reception. The photographer will be posting photos online. Please just enjoy yourself.” But I also recognize I might be alone in that opinion!

Have you been to an unplugged wedding? Or are you planning one yourself?


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Remember, Wedding Trends Change Slowly

Sometimes fashion conscious brides-to-be come to us for a free style consultation worried that the wedding is not for a year. How can they possibly choose a wedding dress or buy wedding jewelry when who knows what’ll be in style in 12 months?

It sounds like a tough question to answer, but it turns out it’s not. The answer is that what’s on trend now in wedding fashion is likely to still be hot in six months to a year. Because the hope is that once a bride walks down the aisle she’s done shopping for wedding dresses and wedding jewelry forever, trends don’t change as quickly as they do in high fashion.

Consider how long strapless wedding gowns were the it dress – a pretty long time, right? And even now that straps are back in style, plenty of brides are still saying their vows sans straps. Eventually, we predict that the strapless neckline will go the way of leg of mutton sleeves, but not for a while yet!

And by then, who knows… maybe leg of mutton sleeves will be back on the racks.

wedding fashion changes quickly - bridal accessories

The point is that when you’re buying wedding accessories and your gown, don’t worry too much about trends or timelessness. Thirty years from now, your wedding photos are going to look dated no matter what you pick because thirty years will have gone by. If your dress and wedding jewlery has come back into vogue, chances are your best man’s suit or mother’s dress will seem like a relic.

Instead of worrying about style, think about what YOU like. Maybe the dresses you really love and the wedding jewlery you are lusting after isn’t in all the bridal mags. Or maybe it is. But that shouldn’t matter. What should matter most is whether they make you feel beautiful and special on what will be one of the best days of your life.

After all, wedding trends change slowly!


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Choosing Your Wedding Scent

You’ve got the ultimate dress (and the most luxurious undies for underneath). Your perfect crystal tiara is perched on your dressing table. You found the most beautiful wedding shoes. Now it’s time to think about perfume. Nowadays, many brides-to-be don’t have a signature scent they’ve been wearing for years and years because it’s fun to try different perfumes or switch scents with the season. If that sounds like you, why not think about picking a special perfume just for your wedding day?

Narrowing down your options is when it comes to your wedding scent shouldn’t be that different than choosing that crystal tiara.

First, consider what impression you want to make. Do you envision yourself dazzlingly happy? Stunningly beautiful? Enveloped by romance? Strikingly serene? How you imagine you’ll look and feel at the altar can help you as you search for a wedding day fragrance.

Next, think about the theme of your wedding. A wintertime wedding decked out in white and silver calls for a very different scent than a ceremony and reception on a tropical island! For the former, think in terms of warm, comforting perfumes. Maybe something heavier. For the beach, fruity florals are just right.

Finally, consider what you want your perfume to accomplish. Are you hoping to make your soon to be spouse swoon? Try something musky. Wearing your mother’s classic perfume, on the other hand, is a wonderful way to honor your mom without having to wear her out of date wedding gown.

So if you have a perfume you adore, wear it. And if you’re allergic, don’t think you need to smell like roses when you walk down the aisle. But if you were thinking about choosing a special wedding day scent, do it! It’s just one more way to customize your big day!


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When Choosing Bridesmaids Dresses Is a Chore

Paloma wrote in to ask:

I’m so sick of thinking about my bridesmaids’ dresses! I’ve been dreading having to make a decision about anything. I can’t even decide on a color! Can you help?

I get it.

Choosing bridesmaids dresses can mean the best day out with your girls ever… or a nightmare of scrolling through pages and pages of dresses because you have no idea how you’re going to choose between the kerjillions of gowns out there. Seriously, today’s brides-to-be have a ton of options, and that many choices doesn’t always make deciding on a color scheme or style easy.

Once upon a time, it was easier. Every bridesmaid wore the same satin dress with dyed to match shoes in a shade determined by the bride’s bouquet of silk roses. Matchy-matchy was IN and it was so simple once you had your wedding colors. But now? Plenty of brides are still opting for matching gowns on their ‘maids (without the dyed shoes, thank goodness), but there are lots of other ways to dress a bridal party.

For instance, you could:

  • Pick a color or even a palette of colors, and let bridesmaids choose any bridesmaids dresses in that palette from a designer like Dessy bridesmaids dresses. Some brides will give ground rules, like no strapless dresses or full length, but some let their ‘maids take the lead.
  • Put together a set of guidelines, like cocktail length… jewel tones or pastels… strapless… polka dots… Grecian… whatever. Then let bridesmaids shop for bridesmaids dresses they love that fit into your criteria.
  • Pick a pattern. When letting bridesmaids pick their own dresses, this option is for only the most laid back brides, since ‘florals’ might mean different things to different people. But brides can also choose a series of patterned dresses and ask their ‘maids to decide who will wear which dress.
  • Really consider what gowns will look best on what brides and create a palette of not just colors, but also girlfriends. You pick not only colors, but also dresses – and then assign those dresses to individual bridesmaids. This works best for laid back bridesmaids.

Is it any wonder brides-to-be can get frazzled over frocks for the bridal party?

The best advice I can give you if you’re starting to consider just go matchy-matchy even though you’ve never loved that look is to browse tons and tons of pics. The more bridesmaids dresses you look at – and I mean just look at, no pressure because this should be fun – the more confident you’ll be when it comes to actually making a choice. And loving that choice! Don’t rush it, think creatively, and remember that whatever you pick, your besties will adore it.


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