Wedding Invitation Series 3: Customizing Your Invitation Design

If you missed the first post in this series, you can check it out here



Hooray! Now onto the design of an invitation. The fun part! By this stage if you’re going for a custom design, you should have had a chat with your designer, and gone over the details of what information you want conveyed through your wedding paper. 

Your designer should also be aware of the style you want, the mood you want to evoke, and any preferences you have. Really, the more information you give, the better!

Here are a few things to keep in mind for the invitation.


1) The Invitation sets the tone

Many couples usually have a strong vision for their wedding day, and my role is to finesse that into a beautiful physical piece that is representative of that. After all, as you probably have heard many times, a wedding invitation is the first glimpse of your wedding day that your guests will have. Use it to set the tone, create anticipation, and bring excitement!

Sometimes, couples don't have a set vision yet—either because they can't decide between many options or because they don't feel strongly about anything—and I work with them to help clarify what they want. It's important for me to deliver designs that the couple feel represent who they are (or who they aspire to be) authentically.


2) Think about how guests will interact with it

We start designing with not just the look of the piece in mind, but the feel. My personal approach—gleaned from years as a branding and print designer—is to think about how a guest will interact with an invitation suite.

How will they open the envelope and pull out what’s inside? What do they see, what do they feel, what are they thinking? Does it bring them delight and put a smile on their face? Are those things in line with what my client wants them to be? How can we make them so?


Hand-made Save the Date scrolls for a black-tie affair by Chavelli |

3) The Visuals

When it comes to what’s printed on your invitation, what do you envision? A nautical theme? Beautifully intricate lace patterns? Florals? Or is it purely typographic with a touch of calligraphy? Are colors bright and numerous? Or clean and white with rose gold?

Thematically speaking, it’s nice to have a tie-in to the wedding, but not absolutely necessary. Don’t feel like you have to match the decor at your wedding day, and certainly don't feel like you have to pick two colors and make everything in those exact shades! (It's quite passé in my opinion!)


4) Tactile choices

I carefully consider paper choices—thickness, texture, color— as well as finishing and special effects like metallic foil, embossing, edging and die-cuts to see if it will add something to a suite. It isn’t about packing in all the awesome details you can afford, it’s about it being true to your vision. Invitations do not need layers upon layers of paper to enchant your guests!

Embellishments are also another thing to consider. Ribbons, vellum sleeves, wax seals and the like. I use what the couple has told me about their wedding to inform the decision making process. Many suites don't need any of these embellishments at all to look beautiful, but it adds to the experience of the invitation—imagine your guest delicately unfurling a beautiful silk ribbon to reveal the beautiful calligraphy underneath. Ah the anticipation of romance ahead!

You don’t even have to do an invitation on paper! Acrylic panels, wood, even cement blocks and leather are options for you to get creative. 

Side note: always keep production costs in mind. This is where pricing will escalate, as the raw materials, manufacturing and labor will be a factor!


5) Special features

Nautical New England wedding invitation with a custom illustrated map by Chavelli |

The best part about your invitation suite should be the small touches you include that are super personal and distinctly you (and your partner!). For example, I love creating custom maps for couples and including them in the seamlessly in the suite—for one beautifully nautical themed New England wedding, the couple's story of love was hand-illustrated into a nautical map which tied in perfectly on their invitations!

Cultural includes are another thing to consider! For example the Chinese character commonly known as "Double Happiness" is used often in weddings to symbolize marriage. If one or both partners has Chinese heritage this symbol can be included subtly (or boldly!) into a suite, such as on a small wax seal. It's a nice way to acknowledge heritage, regardless of how non-Chinese the wedding itself will be. 

I also love exploring totally off the wall ideas, like sending mini champagne bottles with custom labels designed as save the dates, books sent in mini boxes, and more! Of course shipping then turns into the big factor...(eek!)

Chinese Double Happiness character in calligraphy

Even if you aren’t hiring a designer to work with you on a custom suite, I encourage everyone to think through these steps as you develop your own wedding invitation, that way you can make it perfectly and personally you.


Next up: Getting those envelopes addressed!



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