I've found wedding invitations to be a fun little project—not to mention a cheap wedding present! I've had occasion to do two sets of invitations, for two sets of very good friends of mine, and both came out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Both couples, at various points in these processes, took pains to apologize for being too "nitpicky" or "difficult," but I think if you compare this blog to almost any other blog I've written, you'll see that both went just about as smoothly as a design project can go.
I'd assumed I'd have to think of these in a very different way than other kinds of design I do, but actually, they wound up being less of a departure than I would have thought. As it turned out, I basically thought of the event itself as "plot" and the friends involved as "characters" and attacking these much like I would have a DVD or book cover.
For example, the first invite I did was for Melissa Ahart and Chris Murphy. Melissa is a poet and a school librarian, and Chris is a rock star and a music teacher, and their wedding was going to be held the weekend after Thanksgiving, so they wanted to emphasize fall colors.
After a couple false starts that were pretty much purely decorative and pretty conservative, we wound up here:
To clarify what you're looking at, this is the front and back of a single unfolded card. (I've changed the addresses and such to protect the innocent, because Melissa in particular doesn't need any more internet stalkers—apparently there's a whole MySpace contingent obsessed with the fact that she did "devil horns" during the credits when she was on Jeopardy.)
Here's the reply card that came with it (again, front and back):
The fall colors are obviously present, but the big innovation is the ampersand, which I liked because it evokes both literature (it's a big typographical character) and music (it kind of looks like a treble clef, if you squint), while the literal meaning ("and"; i.e. linking two people) couldn't be more appropriate for a wedding.
Originally, I was thinking of that as a smaller card pasted onto a larger piece of heavy kraft paper, but budget concerns led us to print it as all one piece, which actually came out looking pretty nice, and maybe even slightly less clichéd for a wedding invitation. Melissa found these great kraft paper envelopes to mail them in, which tied everything together nicely. Everyone seemed pretty happy with the results.
That was about a year ago now, but this next set of invites I finished up less than a week ago, this time for my friends Dan and Betsy. Now Dan and Betsy are world travellers—in the course of their graduate studies over the past few years, they've been hopping back and forth across continents, most notably to Dublin and Edinborogh. So they do a lot of communicating through the mail—or email, really, but snail mail has more evocative imagery. (I particularly enjoyed the fact that, since I wound up dropping the invites in the mail for them, people from London to New Jersey received mail from a couple in Edinborogh, with a return address in Cleveland and a New York postmark.)
Again, I showed them one purely decorative option that was attractive but unspecific (which I won't show here in case I run out of ideas the next time someone needs a wedding invite and I want to reuse it), and then this one, which is what they chose:
The postmark obviously references the travel theme, birds seem romantic (and mobile!), and the brown just kinda felt right—Betsy said it reminded her of the ink on the 14th century manuscript she'd just been reading, so that worked out. Though, looking at the two final invites together, I'm not sure why I seem to find brown to be such as romantic color...
Anyway, like before this was a two-sided, unfolded piece, and I managed to talk Dan and Betsy into getting them screen printed, so the actual printed things look really gorgeous, particularly the front where the two colors overlap. I wound up stuffing the envelopes myself this time around (the happy couple being overseas), and it turned out I couldn't get my inkjet to print return addresses on the back sides of the envelopes without chewing them up, so I came up with what I thought was a pretty fun solution: I bought a package of circular stickers at Staples and printed little "seals" with the return address on them to close the envelopes with:
And that was that! Dan and Betsy tell me the RSVPs have already started rolling in.
Now, as a special bonus treat, here's the save-the-date card I did for Melissa and Chris. I did it before the invites, and if I had it to do over again I'd probably connect the type a bit more between the two pieces, but how do you not love this concept for a wedding the weekend after Thanksgiving? (If I remember correctly, the idea of the hand turkey was Melissa's.) I spent more time than a grown man should in tracing my own hands to make crayon hand turkeys, none of which looked quite right, so I did a quick google search for "hand turkey," just for reference, and stumbled across this hand turkey done by some anonymous child at some elementary school. It is the platonic ideal of hand turkeys.