Weddings can involve a lot of paper. Guests can be sent save the date cards complete with maps, lists of area hotels and attractions, and (god forbid) registry information. Invitations can include separate reception and reply cards (the former are perfectly correct, the latter a nouveau riche travesty). The ceremony can feature custom made programs, while the reception can be home to seating cards, place cards, menu cards, and the guest book. Despite the possibilities, or perhaps because of them, wedding stationery is best kept to a minimum. Here are some ways to have fun with your paper without felling too many trees.
The paper wedding invitation is absolutely mandatory for even the most casual weddings, and chances are any reception is going to involve some cards as well. On the right, for example, cards are laid out for guests to write good wishes to the bride and groom. These can then be pasted in a book in lieu of the traditional guest book that everyone hates to sign. On the left we see a formal invitation with a subtle fern motif, separate reception card, and a reply card with envelopes. These reply cards have become de rigeur, but I continue to protest against them. They are designed to make replying so convenient for guests that they will actually RSVP, but every wedding magazine still features a question from a bride asking how she can get a proper head count for the caterer since no one has sent in the little cards. If guests are sent formal wedding invitations, they should reply in writing on their own stationery. If the invitations are less formal, guests can phone or email whomever they know whose involved in the wedding, whether that is the bride, groom, or his or her parents. If the guests don't know any of those people's phone numbers or email addresses, they shouldn't be invited to the wedding.
Wedding papers offer a great opportunity to present a decorative theme. On the left a stationery suite in light blue and cream uses long thin formats and justified type to present a modern spin on a traditional color scheme. The suite includes (clockwise from top left) a seating card, handwritten menu card, ceremony program, reply card, reception card, place card, and invitation. Although tables at wedding receptions are most often denoted with numbers, you could also give them each the name of something to do with your theme. On the right seating cards direct guests to tables named after different kinds of shells. Each table could be identified by a sign with the name of that shell or a centerpiece displaying the appropriate shells in a bowl or on a tray. Shells could also decorate the invitations. Or tables could be named after different flowers, with the Tulip Table featuring a centerpiece of, you guessed it, tulips, and the bride and bridesmaids carrying bouquets that mixed all the flowers together.
The invitations can match the reception decorations in more subtle ways. The stationery at left in letter pressed on paper that resembles wood veneer, which would go wonderfully with the veneer covered vases shown in the previous post. For those of you with too much time on your hands, make envelope liners for your invitations using vintage or contemporary photographs, then decorate tables at the reception with photos of the bridal couple and the weddings of their parents, friends, and relatives.
After looking around a bit, it seems so hard to find reasonably priced invitations you really like that you might as well make your own. On the left colored stationery, napkins, and matchbooks are personalized with a custom-made embosser, which creates a colorless raised image and is traditionally used for monograms. On the right plain stationery gets printed up into invitations at home and embellished at the corners with a craft punch. I love the lacy look this gives, especially when combined with those brown paper lunch-bag-esque envelopes.
As an event planner, I've learned that seating card displays look beautiful for about two seconds after the guests start to show up. But by creating little accordion holders, like those shown on the right, cards will always keep in line. On the left sheer ribbon is used to hold down seating cards that might fly away at an outdoor reception. These techniques also give you yet another opportunity to use whichever colors you've picked for your wedding decorations.
Of course you don't have to use seating cards at all! These non-cards still direct guests to their tables and continue wedding themes. Little bunches of lavender double as favors for the guests and could echo flowers used in bouquets, centerpieces, or as a decorative motif on invitations. On the right tiny paper parasols fit right in with a beachy or Caribbean-themed wedding. The only downside of these cuties is that it's harder for guests to find their names.