We’ve ordered our invitations!

I was searching for some unique Japanese themed invitations, when I ran across these cherry blossom invitations on Etsy.

Cherry Blossom

We liked them a lot, but on a whim, I emailed Sandy at Lani Blue Stationery and asked if she could design a koi themed invitation. Not only was she extremely responsive, she actually had been working on a koi design already. I ordered a paper sample kit, and her papers were very nice. If you buy a paper sample kit and then place an order, she will deduct the cost of the sample kit from your purchase. (I think I forgot to mention that I bought a sample kit when I paid. Oops.) We fell in love with the linen paper, but her budget cardstock is nice too.


I sent emails with questions about fonts, textures, wording, etc. , and she was really pleasant. (You have no idea how much I appreciate a kind-hearted vendor right now.) We changed the layout a bit and the one of the fonts. I’ll post a follow up when our invitations are in hand. If they turn out as I expect them to, I’ll be definitely be ordering thank you cards and possibly place cards as well.

So, go poke around on Etsy, you never know what you’ll find.


I think save the date cards are a bit silly. I’ve read postings in wedding communities from women freaking out over the details of their save the date notifications. (Don’t get me started on their use of the acronym STD for save the date. It threw me the first time I saw it on a forum. ) The only reason I’m considering sending out save the dates is that my family needs multiple reminders that I’m getting married. Some will forget, some will lose track of time, and others will inevitably schedule a vacation or business trip for that weekend if I don’t remind them.
We’re also planning on sending our invitations out early. None of my family members live locally. I think my mother may be the closest to me at around 470 miles away. Three months notice isn’t enough time for people to schedule time off of work, save money for travel, and book their flights and lodging. So, the tentative schedule is September for save the dates and February for invitations.

Below are a few save the date and invitation designs that we like so far.

Ticket to Love
Ticket to Love save the date cards from the Something Different invitation line of Carslon Craft

At Our Wedding
At Our Wedding save the date cards from the Something Different invitation line of Carslon Craft

Shimmering Sentiment
Shimmering Sentiment invitations from the Something Different invitation line of Carslon Craft

Different is Good!
Different is Good! invitations from the Something Different invitation line of Carslon Craft

Napkin Invitation
Napkin Invitation from the Something Different invitation line of Carslon Craft

We really like the concept of the napkin invitation, but I think it would be more appropriate if we were having a cocktail party reception rather than a summer BBQ reception. We are toying around with the idea of cocktail napkins for save the dates. We would probably go through a specialty napkin vendor if we decided to do that. However, I have a feeling that their minimum order would be around 100 pieces, and we don’t need that many.

As you can tell, we really like the Something Different line of invitations. We viewed the whole book at The Dandelion Patch in Vienna. When we asked to view books of non-traditional invitations, the saleswoman didn’t seem too pleased about our request. We don’t need letterpress linen invitations from Crane with the vellum and the lined double envelopes. Those invitations are not us.
If we weren’t limited by our budget, I would love, *love* a custom invitation that had a unique cajun feel, but how do you describe that to a designer?
“We’d like an invitation that was sentimental and cajun influenced… a touch of Marie Lavaux, but not gothic… a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.”

Even though D. and I are now leaning away from having our wedding in the Leesburg / Loudoun County, there are tons of small, local vendors in that area who are extremely helpful.

I Do Wedding Essentials: Located on King Street, in the heart of downtown Leesburg, I Do is a small shop specializing in all kinds of bridal accessories: favors, invitations, garters, candles, etc. Kristin, the owner, also has really nice cake stands and candy buffet glass containers available for rent. (The website only displays a sample of the rental items she has available.) She is very nice and willing to help any way she can; she has lots of information regarding vendors as well.

Affordable Arrangements: Carly Johnson, the designer at Affordable Arrangements, personally grows most of the flowers she uses in her arrangements. She specializes in seasonal flower arrangements, but roses, exotic, and out of season flowers are also available through her connections with local wholesalers. Affordable Arrangements is a home-based floral business, but I have heard wonderful things about their arrangements and pricing.

Holly Heider Chapple Flowers, LTD: When D. and I were at the Leesburg Flower Show, we ran across Holly’s booth where she was tying up little nosegay bouquets on the fly to sell. She also grows some of her own flowers and reports that she is a preferred vendor for many of the area’s finest estates and restaurants.

Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association: The LCVA offers free wedding planning services. Susan Kitchen of the LCVA has been very helpful in providing potential ceremony and reception locations and has a lot of experience with event coordination. LCVA also offers assistance with reserving blocks of hotel rooms, and they provide welcome packets for your guests which include maps and brochures, so guests can explore the area.

Last Saturday, D. and I went to Paper Source in Georgetown. I’ve never been in a Paper Source store, but I heard amazing things about it. I love assemblage and decoupage. (I still kick myself for not studying more about assemblage in college.) I’ve always been fascinated with papers and boxes with compartments. I don’t know why. It’s probably the same reason why I like typeset sorts and trays. (Side Tangent: D. and I saw the Joseph Cornell exhibit while it was in town at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.)

Anyway, I walked into Paper Source and was overwhelmed. I wanted to feel all the papers. I wanted to buy invitation kits, paper flower kits, journals, ink, glue, etc… I dragged D. through the whole store, upstairs and downstairs. There were so many different things we could do with our invitations, decorations, and favors for our wedding that I could not figure out where to start. I picked up some information about their upcoming workshops. Hopefully, I can take advantage of the hands on aspects of the workshops to rule out projects that are just too expensive and labor intensive.
With our wedding being so small, I’d really like to create some uniquely personal invitations. Since our guest list is limited to our close friends and family, I don’t think we need save the date cards. Part of me wants to sit down and brainstorm with someone who already has all the supplies and experience crafting invitations, but another part of me says I won’t save any money by doing that, plus I want to play with the fancy paper and gadgets! Why should Sarah at Haute Papier and Mary Alice at Oh My My Design have all the fun?
Let’s be honest here; I’ll probably end up calling them anyways to at least get price quotes and review their portfolios. If one of above designers can envision and produce our invitations for around the cost of me designing and producing them myself, I’ll go with that designer.
Hmm, I wonder if I could arrange an “Invitation Design-Off”… The ManicBride Wedding Invitation Invitational. I could post the initial interviews, the works in progress, and then the final results. Of course, I’d let you all weigh in on the results. However, I would be the one making the final decision, obviously. Are there any other local (Northern Virginia/Baltimore, MD/DC) invitation designers that I should look into as well?

Back in January, I saw the “Trellis” place cards from Sharyn Sowell featured in some bridal magazine. I really loved the romantic look of the silhouette. I contacted Sharyn and found out that it takes several weeks to produce the order because the cards are handmade. I was fine with that; my wedding isn’t until 2008. There was a minimum order of 50 cards, and they were $100 per set of 50. I thought, it’s a bit pricey, but they look romantic and classy, and not too formal, so I placed an order.
Last week, I realized that I had not been charged for the cards, nor have I received them. I contacted her via email, and she was ecstatic to hear from me. Apparently, her computer had crashed, and she lost a bunch of order information. My cards were completed, but she didn’t have a way to get in touch with me. Because of the inconvenience, she offered to supply me with 25 extra place cards. I told her I didn’t need additional place cards; I had already ordered more than I needed. She said that she would enclose some of her letterpress cards instead. I thought that was very nice, and I anxiously awaited the package.
Yesterday, the cards arrived. And honestly, I’m disappointed. The “Trellis” design itself is very cute. I love it. However, the construction of the place card overall is fair at best. There are four paper components to the card. A scalloped-edged white under card, a black and white striped scalloped-edged over card, a piece of vellum, and then the scalloped-edged card with the “Trellis” design. The card components appear and feel like standard cardstock; the “Trellis” design was not printed using letterpress or thermography. I am aware that there are variations in handmade cards. However, I don’t think visibly crooked placement of the components or including some card components without scalloped edges as an acceptable variations.

This is one of the better constructed cards.
Trellis place card

It looks like I can take apart the cards without destroying them. I’ll straighten out the cards, re-scallop the edges, and glue them back together. I just wish I didn’t have deconstruct/reconstruct these cards.

*EDIT: When asked by her for feedback, I honestly described the concerns I had with the cards, and she kindly offered me a partial refund. I declined the refund telling her that I appreciate the work that went into the cards, and I guess my batch of cards were a fluke.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of the cards, and with a little more work, they will be perfectly fine.