Planning a Wedding Series – The Stationery

I really love pretty stationery. I think I might even love it a little bit more than wedding flowers. Marcelle from Toast Enterprise describes the role of wedding stationery so beautifully. She says, “Adding these touches is like adding gorgeous earrings to an already perfectly polished look”. The wedding stationery has two functions, one is for decoration and its second function is to guide your guests through the wedding day proceedings. Wedding stationery is also the one element you can use to truly express your personality and also have some fun with.

But unfortunately it is one of those decor items that many couples overlook, or are not willing to spend on. I think many couples are not quite aware of just how much effort goes into those pretty table numbers, menus and name tags. I helped out at two weddings where the stationery was made by the bride. And that was the first time I realised why stationery is “expensive”. Making beautiful stationery takes skill and lots of time.

Nevertheless, we see it as a really important part of the wedding decor. So in this week’s planning post we asked some of the best wedding stationers in the industry to answer your burning stationery questions.

  Designed by Susan Brand Design

Designed by Seven Swans,  Images: Welovepictures

Designed by Seven Swans,  Images: Picture me and U

Designed by Seven Swans,  Images: Welovepictures

1.What percentage of my budget should I allocate for the stationery?

The cost of your stationery obviously depends on what you want. Some brides would like it very plain and simple and thus do not need a big budget. Other brides like ruffles and laser cutting and various stationery at the reception. That will be more expensive. The ballpark percentage most stationers give is about 5 % of your budget. R 1500 – R 3000 should cover the basics, about R 5 000 to R 10 000 for a package that includes details such as pre-drink bottle labels, confetti sticks, straw flags, individual menus printed on napkins, complex order of service, quirky tags, food labels etc. But be up front with your stationer about the amount you are willing to spend. Many of them are willing to work within that parameter.

Designed by Pink Pigeon, Images: Yolandé MarxDesigned by Doodles, Image: Anneli Marinovich  Laser-cut name tag by Doodles, Décor & Design by Wedding Concepts, Image: Annemari Ruthven

2. How long before the wedding do I need to attend to my wedding stationery?

Save the date invitations can be done as soon as possible, one year to six months before the wedding. Invitations can be sent out three months prior to the wedding. The designing process of the invitations should start four to five months prior to the wedding. Reception stationery can be designed a month prior and the last stationery can be printed a week before the wedding. But some stationers would still be willing to help you 8 – 4 weeks before the wedding. The point is to start sooner rather than later!

Designed by The Toast Enterprise

 3. Do I have to have stationery items at my wedding?

Our friend Barry at Event & Design told us that wedding stationery is not a requirement. However he says, “It does take care of some practical matters at the wedding as well as adding a little extra flair”. Jolindi from Chrystalace agrees, “The wedding stationery helps ease the guests through your wedding day – signage, order of service with the programme and words to the hymns, table seating plan and seating cards, I would say is the most important. Your guests would be a little lost without them”. Amy Mongie from Doodles also reminds us that beautiful stationery could mean you need fewer flower arrangements. Menus or wine lists can add dimension and interest to your tables. A clever and fun themed table plan can fill up a dull spot or become a feature at the pre-drinks area. It’s important to remember that stationery items should always tie in and enhance your colour scheme or theme they should never add clutter or just be there for the sake of it.

Designed by M Studio

 4. Can I DIY it?

Amy Mongie from Doodles thinks there are definitely stationery elements that you could DIYIt can be nice to mix it up a little. They recently cut a gorgeous personalised stencil for a bride who had bought her own tags but decided it would be too much to try and write 180 thank you tags herself. However, before you start you need to know that doing your own stationery can be very time-consuming. You will also need a few tools to get that professional look. Marcelle from The Toast Enterprise says she often finds that brides are under the impression that somehow doing everything by themselves will be more cost-effective. However in reality retail shops often charge such a fortune on paper and supplies, that in the end it would have worked out at a similar price if one had visited a stationer. Susan Brand from Susan Brand Designs told us that brides often phone her in panic saying that they thought they could do it, but that they have run out of time. So make sure you also have enough time before you take on this DIY. Anelle from Seven Swans learnt the hard way (from her own wedding) that DIYing can be quite stressful. Her advice is to try elements that are not individual to all guests (it is easier making 1 frame for the menu than hand-stitching 120 place tags or making 130 popcorn confetti boxes).

Designed by Chrystalace

5. What are the latest trends for wedding stationery?

Crystal Print – Wood-engraved menus, laser-cut table numbers, personalised place mats, bunting, menu printed table runners, pinwheels, game sets for guests at the table etc.

Jolindi from Chrystalace – The latest trends are wedding colours being very elegant with monochromatic tones, clean lines and matching stationery that are letterpressed and solid coloured envelopes. Another trend is stationery that is not printed in the conventional way, either engraved on wood or printed on fabric or any other playful way to express the bride and groom’s personalities and style.

Barry from Event and Design – Wedding stationery is becoming a bit more toned down in comparison to a few seasons ago. The focus is definitely simplicity with focus on great design.

Amy from Doodles – We see lots of brides who want to personlise their stationery elements. Tell your story on the back of your order of service. Choose table names or numbers that mean something to you and tell your guests why they are important. It’s the small things that pull a wedding together and add that personal touch. Another trend is shapes – circles, birds, leaves, flowers, butterflies. Shapes add interest and depth to a printed table plan and can be a beautiful touch to the table decor as individual guest name tags – tied to cutlery or sitting on a wine glass.

Anelle from Seven Swans – Add personality and a bit of fun (perhaps add the lyrics of one of your favourite songs to the welcome note, label the place cards with the nicknames of your guests, add a cute saying to your desert table or menus – the options are endless … all you need to do is be authentic and 100% yourself!). Think of different formats like the fan order of service or hanging installation seating chart. Vinyl is very popular at the moment and is stuck on the dance floor, mirrors and even glasses. Kraft is still gorgeous, especially when paired with white silkscreen or have a stamp made to hand-print brown paper bags for the sweets table.

Marcelle from Toast Enterprise – Modern, more minimalistic looks are emerging, cleaner lines and more use of typographic elements. Strong patterns are something that we have been using more at the studio. The monograms we are creating are more illustrative and symbolic. Stamps are a hit at our studio at the moment as it can be used on almost everything. Digital, interactive save the dates are hugely popular at the moment, which we will see much more of. Other trends at our studio are VIP admission tags, customized zoo cookies, designer chef jackets, laser-cut photobooth props, laser-cut brooches instead of floral boutonnieres, our famous laser-cut cake toppers, designer food displays such as platters for food, fortune paper tellers, more elaborate custom pouches.

  Designed by Event & Design, Images: Jani B and Moira West

 Tips from our stationers:

  • Be sure to ask for quotes and pricing guides to get a relative idea on costs!
  • Amy: “When visiting your venue think about your stationery items and look for ideas of where or how you can display them. The first question I always ask brides is “How and where are you going to display your table plan?” or “How are you going to display your table names – standing, hanging or in the flowers”.
  • Lovia: “If you’d like to skip the costs of a save the date ask your designer for a jpg of the monogram they designed for the invitation with just the date underneath. Still send out your invitations beforehand, but send an email 3-2 months before the wedding with just the monogram jpg and the subject line: ‘just a quick reminder’. The jpg should be sufficient – don’t clutter the email with anything else. Another tip from Lovia is to do research! See what you can get away with where there is no design necessary. As soon as you have to go on Microsoft Word to do something you know you’re doing it wrong. Another way to cut costs with stationery is to look for free printables for generic items – such as the table number and thank you tags. With personalised items (such as menus, guest names, order of service etc.) it’s best to have someone design it. Laying out any text in Word is a big NO NO.