Arts | Febuary 2017
Shiny paper with bright-eyed couples in love beaming are sitting in people’s mailboxes as the first save-the-dates of the year begin to arrive, with formal invitations to follow. From engagement announcements to thank-you notes, there is a lot of paper involved in weddings. Even the first anniversary is the paper anniversary, a tip for all newlyweds with anniversaries coming up.
While save-the-dates are a chance to be fun and creative, formal invitations set the first expectation guests will have of the big days ahead. “I think the invitation needs to reflect the family, couple, and event itself. If your wedding is more casual, you do not want a huge, fancy invitation and vice versa,” says Baylor Stovall, owner of the Stovall Collection in Memphis, TN.
With a background in art, she purchased the stationery store Papel in the early nineties and has been operating under the Stovall name for the last 18 years. In the nearly two decades of business, wedding trends have come and gone as Stovall has helped families commemorate all of life’s biggest moments — from birth announcements to sympathy acknowledgements. Currently, the trend in stationery is a return to the traditional and most clients interested in the art of letter writing are millennials, according to Stovall. One of the most traditional methods for invitations specifically is engraving.
Engraving includes powdered ink pressed into paper using a copper plate, giving a soft, matte finish and leaving a raised bruising on the back of the paper. 100 years ago, engraving and letterpress were the only options. Today, a world of options has been opened, from digital to thermography, a process involving a raised plastic offering a similar look to engraving at a fraction of the cost.
“You really want to get with a good stationer who is familiar with the processes and how they will affect the look you want at your budget. If you fall in love with a great, traditional look and you see it engraved, there is a good chance we can make it into thermography and make it look good,” says Stovall.
While the average cost of invitations is $6-$12 each and 2-3% of a wedding’s overall budget, they can go much higher or lower, depending on the amount of customizations a bride wants. With all the customization options, engraving is no longer the most expensive. A plain, engraved invitation, without bells and whistles, can be more affordable than a wedding invitation that may have layers, linings, ribbons, specialty boxes, and hand-painted edges, just to name a few offerings.
The aesthetic itself behind the design follows interior design trends, according to Stovall. As you see metallic accents in home furnishings, you see these same accents in weddings so foil is hot for stationery. Calligraphy and custom monograms are also requests Stovall sees regularly. These elements add personality while allowing brides to keep things traditional. In addition, personal touches, such as the custom monogram, help to tie details of all event elements –— from invitations to napkins to programs forming a cohesive wedding style or theme.
“We never want weddings to look corporate, so when you have elements that are going to flow all the way through, you want to make sure it flows but does not look too branded. We want to see the whole thing come together beautifully so using a stationer for all the little details helps to keep it all together. We might give some specials on things like cups and napkins, too,” says Stovall.
Beyond the look of a wedding, there is the ritual of tradition to consider. According to Stovall, who has attended the Protocol School of Washington and is certified in the art of etiquette, there is a reason behind all the little details. Whether you are requesting the honor of your guests’ presence in a house of worship or the pleasure of their company for that trendy loft space downtown — you know the one — there is a method to the madness. A good stationer knows design and also can help navigate the waters of etiquette.
“The great thing about etiquette is that when you do it enough people start to know what it means,” says Stovall. If an invitation is addressed “and guest,” a plus one is included. If children are not mentioned on a household’s invite, the parents should know the kids are not invited. Etiquette can help alleviate some of the guesswork for guests and hosts alike. “It’s the little details that anchor us into the history of invitations and traditions. They also help to prevent sticky situations in families when you say ‘well this is how it is done,’” says Stovall.
No matter if you get married in a big church wedding or a backyard barbecue, it is the most formal, most traditional event of your life. The traditions are more than etiquette; they are a reminder of how special an event a wedding is for the people involved. “People should just enjoy the process. It is such a joyful time and it is also a stressful time. Find a stationer that can help you relax, make it joyful, make it in your budget, and know that everything will be correct. Have fun with it!” says Stovall.
Meet the Press
You’re Invited! From save-the-dates to thank-you notes, Baylor Stovall
shares wedding stationery tips and etiquette
Story by Mary Eckersley