Having worked in the stationery industry since 1987, I know what is trendy, what is timeless, and what is proper in the paper world. Let me share some of my knowledge with you.
You raised over $600 for the West Elementary School in Long Island, a school that lost its building and supplies in Hurricane Sandy. We salute your creative efforts, using paper and paint, to help others. Thank you for allowing us to help.
- Forgetting to put the time on it
I don’t know why, but the “time line” is the most often omitted line on a wedding invitation.
Often we are so consumed with spelling everything correctly, we miss the vital facts of date, time and place.
- Putting too early a response date
The trend these days seems to be asking for responses four weeks prior to the wedding.
The truth is that unless the wedding is a destination affair, the most caterers and venues really only need to know exact numbers a week before the event. If you put too early a response date, it precludes you from inviting your “b list” without them knowing that they were a secondary thought, because the response date may have passed by the time they receive the invitation.
- Addressing the invitations by hand by a non professional
As much as I love an engraved invitation, I believe that the whole package must look pleasing. So if you are not going to splurge on lovely hand calligraphy, and there is a budget, I would strongly recommend doing skillfully done computer calligraphy with a thermographed invitation. The entire wedding invitation package should look neat and pleasing.
- Not checking proofs carefully
I cannot tell you how many times I have found spelling errors on proofs that customers have signed off on. A few people close to the bride and groom should review the proofs before they are approved and sent to the printer. Normally the stationer or designer is so intent on getting the proper nouns perfect, funny things can slip through the cracks. Addresses of venues are tricky, and should be verified, family names and middle names can prove challenging, and sometimes everyone is so focused on the proper nouns that a word like marriage gets spelled incorrectly.
- Ordering too few
In my business, clients are cautioned upfront that they should have a minimum of ten extra invitations in their order. Somehow two invitations always seem to get lost in the mail. Another odd phenomenon that occurs is that people with “wedding brain” often forget to invite the most important people….their parents, themselves or their first cousins….to avoid a last minute invitation disaster, please order a few extra invitations and even more envelopes for addressing changes or errors.
- Putting dress code near ceremony and not near reception
Most guests know how to dress in a house of worship. The tricky thing is dressing appropriately for the reception. Black tie goes near the party and not the ceremony, be advised.
- Being clear about AM and PM
Different faiths and cultures have varied traditions. As an example, someone attending a Jewish wedding may not know that the ceremony must take place after sundown on the Sabbath, so when they are invited at nine o’clock, the host must be clear that they mean in the evening. Even though the time of day may seem obvious to the host, it really makes sense to be definitive about time and place.
- Insufficient Postage
Here are the tricky things about postage. There are rules about size, weight, orientation and thickness of mailings these days. You can never be too careful about postage. Square response sets incur an extra fee for mailing. Sending wedding invitations overseas is totally confusing. We tell our customers not to put return postage on rsvp envelopes for invitations going abroad. Since the post office is raising prices each year, attention must be paid to new rates, and to new rules.
- Neglecting to hand cancel
It breaks my heart when customers spend a small fortune on lovely invitations, have them addressed beautifully and then throw them in the mailbox. Wedding invitations should be taken to the post office and hand canceled. In NYC there is a special services window at the post office that does hand canceling. There is a small fee for each envelope over 50 pieces. The post office asks that you take your mailing in early in the day, so that it will be posted before the end of the day, and sent on its merry way. Hand canceling helps you to avoid having what I call “tire tracks” run over your precious envelopes before they reach your guests.
- Not listening to your heart
This final mistake is very psychological in nature. Too often brides and grooms get talked into using wording that doesn’t really fit their situations. When a client is ambivalent about what to do, tradition is a friend. There is indeed a protocol on the best way to word wedding invitations. However after almost three decades of writing up wedding text for brides and grooms, I feel that each wedding story is unique. Some examples of acceptable breaking with tradition, provided that no one is being offended, would be including revered stepparents in the text, paying respects to departed parents (not technically correct, but I have seen it done nicely), or including grandparents who helped to raise the bride or groom. Whereas brides of yore did not have titles on their wedding invitations, a bride who is a doctor certainly deserves to have her professional title mentioned in the text, if she so chooses. The most common buck with tradition that I have noticed has to do with the mother of the bride. If she wants her first name in the wedding text, and no one objects to dropping the “Mr. and Mrs.”, after all marriage is a happy compromise on so many levels, I am not going to be the one to say no!!!!! The bottom line is that the invitation text and style should tastefully reflect the story of the people involved.
We just returned from AmericasMart in Atlanta, the home of an exciting trade show for the gift market. The show is huge and dense, with vendors from all over the country and the world. The Mart honestly combines the best of all trade shows under one meandering roof (three buildings.) It is one stop shopping on the wholesale level, and enables us to bring the best product and price to our sophisticated clientele.
After four days of perusing and buying, we concluded that retail is alive and kicking in Atlanta. The show is perfect for buyers of gifts, table top, fashion, home furnishings and stationers. The display space is a bit overwhelming when you first arrive. For our purposes, we were told to start in Building 2, make our way to the West Wing, and then to the temporary exhibits in Building 3. The hallways were a bit confusing to navigate at first, because each show room winds and winds and has several entrances and exits. After the first two hours, we finally figured out how to plot an efficient course for our buying needs.
The staff of the Mart, dressed in blue polo shirts, is helpful and polite, and NECESSARY when you get lost going from building to building. Parking is convenient and inexpensive, right in the heart of Atlanta. Our friend, Albert Maslia, who does marketing for the Mart, made sure that we covered the show in the best possible way. He made our stay and our first time to market a true pleasure. Because Albert enticed us to go to Atlanta, we will certainly be making the trip to AtlantasMart once a year going forward.
We found wonderful new sources for handbags, totes, international greeting cards, toys for pre-schoolers, eye glass magnifiers, iPad and iPhone cases, 3D stickers and glitter tattoos. All this new product will soon be gracing our shelves at Blacker and Kooby.
Enjoy the photos from our visit, including my new llama friend, and come see our new lines!
Here’s our interview:
(You could also read it on http://weddinglovely.com/blog/get-to-know-a-wedding-stationer-blacker-and-kooby/ )
Thank you to the people in wedding lovely who interviewed us for this piece and for including us in their lovely blog. – Blacker and Kooby.
Should I do Letter Press or Engraving?
When doing a formal invitation or even nice writing paper, I often get asked, “What process should I use, engraving or letter press?” The answer is really a matter of taste and design.
Engraving is a printing method which requires metal plates to be made for text, and an impression is made on card stock, which leaves raised text on the surface, and an indented “bruise” on the back. Paper snobs are forever turning over printed cards to see if the bruise is there.
Letter press, nowadays, is achieved with polymer dies, which are often discarded after the run. Text is pushed into card stock, and usually more porous (spongy) papers are used. The text looks indented, rather than being raised.
Most printing companies tend to favor one method over the other. So, sometimes the customer does not really have a choice. If you do have a choice, examine the papers and designs that are available with each printing method. Metallic inks work better in engraving. Motifs that bleed off the edge work better in letter press. You really need to look at the entire package.
What is hand-bordering? How is it done? Why is it costly?
When people order note cards with pretty colored borders, they often don’t realize how much of the labor is done by hand. They know they want a navy blue border, or a red one, and they often get a bit frustrated when a color they have always used is discontinued.
I love this video from Crane & Co., which demonstrates the bordering process. A real live person fans out the cards, makes them as evenly spread out as possible, and “womps” them with an inked pad. The result is a rather perfect looking, richly colored border on each card.
Mechanical methods simply do not yield the same effect.
Sometimes people are better than machines…..
Doctors and attorneys get emergency calls.
So do I!
One day I was walking outside, and my cell phone rang.
It was my friend, Stan.
He was so flustered, he could hardly speak.
What I finally heard was , “Vanessa, I have a stationery emergency!”
Stan had just received his son’s wedding invitation in the mail.
He was aghast at the fact that his and his wife’s names were not on the invitation.
I told him to take a deep breath, and relax.
The truth of the matter is that the groom’s parents do not really belong on the traditional American wedding invitation. Long ago, it was the bride’s parents who paid for the wedding, with the understanding that the groom would support their daughter after the big day. Since the bride’s parents were hosting the wedding, they would do the inviting.
Flash forward, we see that weddings are costly, and more than ever brides are wage earners. It is very common for the parents of the groom to help pay for the wedding, and even for the bride and groom to pay for their own event. What was tacitly understood way back then, does not fit every situation today.
Furthermore, different cultures have different traditions. In many European countries, each set of parents is printed in the two top corners of a folded wedding sheet. Middle Eastern weddings often have both sets of parents at the top.
Jewish wedding invitations often have a line under the groom’s name which says “son of Mr. and Mrs. …..” This implies that although the bride’s parents are hosting the event, the grooms parents are contributing, or simply being recognized. This is a good way to be inclusive, while not diminishing the role that the bride’s parents play in the event.
As I walked Stan through this explanation, his breathing became regular, and he exclaimed, “Vanessa, you have saved at least one life today.” I wasn’t sure if he meant his life or that of his son, but it didn’t really matter. It’s all in a day’s work of a Seasoned Stationery Diva!
My father, Fred Kooby, started Blacker and Kooby in November of 1963. He partnered with Joe Blacker for many decades until “Uncle Joe” retired.
Together they built a flagship store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, specializing in fine pens and papers.
Our longevity is testimony to Dad’s hard work and vision. I am so proud to work along side of him.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!