Tuesday 14 Oct 2014

Invitation Design

When it comes to designing something, I’m the demanding client who wants things exactly this certain way. In other words, I pay attention to details: “That text needs to move up”; “The emblem looks off-center”; “Change the word ‘that’ to ‘who.'” Sometimes I resort to printing a design draft, scribbling madly, and emailing an iPhone photo of my modifications. It might be easier to just buckle down and learn photoshop. (In all my spare time.) Well, it’s on my list—right under “Read camera manual” and “Learn German.”

Invitations set the tone for an event; they’re the guests’ first taste of the experience. And I love the aesthetic qualities of a really beautiful piece of good-old-fashioned mail. We wanted elegance and earthiness together—clean designs, textural paper—a suit-and-tie wedding on the farm.

We hired the New York firm Alpine Creative Group, recommended by a friend. First task was our black-tie-NYC-engagement-party invitations: in keeping with the wedding aesthetic, but a little more formal. I had an idea for a motif. My mother gave me this bracelet made by our friend Mary Hughes (for Hughes-Bosca Jewelry). The links are castings of an ancient Roman bridle buckle. I love the form because it’s equestrian without being too literal; geometric but also organic. Alpine’s artist, Stephanie Checton, drew the bracelet, and we printed it in gold engraving on eggshell card stock:

Engagement Invitation

I had cufflinks made for Philip from the same casting:

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

For the wedding invitations, we met with Barbara Schaffer at Alpine to brainstorm and look at samples. We were drawn to one particular trifold invitation style. It allowed space for artwork, and we liked the way the front image accordioned out to a wider landscape.

We wanted to use the scenes guests would see at our wedding: stone walls, a pair of rustic Adirondack chairs, an old barn, brass-capped stalls, and at the top of the field where our wedding would be, an enormous tree with a two-person swing. Stephanie made beautiful drawings from my sketches. (We also sent her some photos of the farm; then we took artistic license with the details and composition.)

Our Save The Date cards were 4.75-inch squares, letterpressed, with subtle gold edges:

DSCF0193SaveTheDate

We placed those two chairs beside the boardwalk at our wedding. Guests crossed a bridge over the stream, then walked through the birch grove:

Photo: Michael Wilson

Photo: Michael Wilson

Photo: Michael Wilson

Photo: Michael Wilson

We used the bridle buckle again for our S + P monogram. The wedding invitations were the largest piece, at 6 x 8.25″ (closed). We stuck with letterpress for its tactile quality—a nice sense of depth on the thick, textured paper:

DSCF0186

Weddinginvite

IMG_0427

The only thing I’d change in all this beautiful work is one small piece of text. I wanted these to say “Suit and tie.” I was told by those in the know that although “Jacket and tie” is used on invitations, “Suit and tie” is not. So we chose “Elegant attire.” On our wedding website’s Attire tab, we defined what “Elegant Attire” meant (and I made a note for ladies that there’d be flooring throughout, so heels would be fine—no need to walk on the grass). Still, of course we got questions. Which was all right; not everyone checks the website. But my feeling is this: why confuse people? Writing should be clear. Forget convention, and write what best conveys your meaning.

At the wedding, our elegantly-attired guests saw the scenes from the invitation. They drove past the barn on the way in; the stalls by Lucas Equine were set up in the tent for our ceremony (and occupied by Hurricane, Grappa, Otter, Glasgow and Ray Ray); the tree was at the top of the meadow, a short way up the hill from the open-air cocktail area.

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

The tree swing became a destination during cocktails. Some of our guests knew that the foot of that tree is the resting place of Philip’s father’s ashes. Having the wedding in his field was a way of keeping him with us, and it was moving to see so many of our friends visit him—consciously or not—and enjoy the peace of his place on the hill.

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Michael Wilson

Photo: Michael Wilson

Enclosed with our wedding invitations were the RSVP cards and, for family and wedding party, invitations to the rehearsal dinner and Sunday brunch.

We chose a border reminiscent of punched leather:

DSCF0196

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

For the brunch invitations, we reversed the ink colors to caramel text (in a more casual font) and artwork in dark sage:

DSCF0189

Brunch

We brought back that beautiful bracelet form, this time closer to actual size, for the RSVP cards:

DSCF0199

RSVP

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

For envelope linings, we chose fiber-textured papers in earth tones:

DSCF0530

A band of similar translucent paper held the wedding invitation and the rest that came with it:

DSCF0533

The finishing touch was custom stamps: our reining stallion, Gunners Special Nite, on the engagement party invitations; a Jocelyn Sandor portrait of Glasgow on our Save The Dates; Hurricane, Otter, and Grappa on our wedding invitations; Grappa and Otter touching noses on our RSVP cards; and for our thank-you notes, another reiner—Ruf Hearted Jac, the horse that got me hooked on the sport, and the horse Philip rode to win the Rookie Non-Pro at the Cowboy Capital Classic.

DSCF0527

Stamps

At the wedding, a simplified version of our Save The Date artwork adorned the programs, which we trimmed with leather cords.

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Parker Young

DSCF0536

Our signature-cocktails menu used the same script:

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

Photo: Kristen Somody Whalen

As did our dinner menu:

Photo: Parker Young

Photo: Parker Young

Photo: Parker Young

Photo: Parker Young

Our caterer, Oliver Kita, makes artisan chocolates at his Hudson Valley shop. For something totally above-and-beyond, he added our gold-foil monogram:

KSW_3029rt

Guests took jars of our honey as party favors:

KSW_3413rt

Here we are in the those two rustic chairs in the birch grove, at the end of the night. We were the last to leave and didn’t know Kristen was still around, in her car, debriefing with Parker. She came running out of the darkness to snap this shot:

KSW_3470rt

 

 

 

You might also like:

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter