Expert Advice from Stationer Cheree Berry

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2011

Cheree Berry
Saint Louis

Known For Handcrafted paper products with creative detailing and unique flair

Where to Find Her Cheree Berry Paper

Top Tip Have the post office hand-cancel your invitations (it's free!) rather than run them through the machine, which can tear them. There's nothing worse than a beautiful piece of mail arriving in beat-up condition.

At what point in the planning process should brides hire a stationer?

For a custom-made invitation suite, bring someone on board around the 10-month mark. Ideally, you send out the save-the-dates six months before the wedding, so this allows plenty of time for consultations, design meetings, printing, and calligraphy. Stationers will work with any timeline, but to avoid rush fees, try to start the process as soon as you can.

What's included in a stationery "suite"?

Typically, it's made up of the mailing envelope, invite, RSVP card, and reply envelope. Save-the-dates, reception cards (used when the party is in a different spot than the ceremony), and inner envelopes are common add-ons. Recently, people have been tacking on a map or page of activities for out-of-towners.

What paper elements can stationers design in addition to the standard suite?

Besides ceremony programs and menu cards, we make items such as garland backdrops, banners, whimsical paper chargers for tables, and custom signage.

Are calligraphers hired separately?

Yes, and if you can fit one into your budget, go for it. Your stationer should be able to recommend someone. Why have gorgeous invitations addressed with messy handwriting? If hand-calligraphed details are too pricey, we can also give you that calligraphy look with a printer -- it's prettier than you might think.

Should couples have a specific style in mind when ordering stationery?

If you do, wonderful; if not, start with something concrete, like your color palette, and go from there. And don't be afraid to go in one direction for your save-the-date and switch it up a little for your invitation. Introduce a new pattern, font, style, or color. The two should complement each other, but they don't have to match exactly. It keeps things interesting for guests and helps set the tone for your day.

What trends have you been seeing?

Letterpress is really hot right now. That's when the ink is pressed down into the paper, giving it a rich, colorful texture. It's more labor-intensive than flat printing and requires thicker paper, so expect to pay about 40 percent more. If you can't afford to letterpress the whole suite, consider doing just the invitation. It's the most important component.

How else can couples save money without sacrificing quality?

There are a couple of different ways: If your heart is set on letterpress, use richly hued paper rather than colored ink, which gets pricey. Or consider foil stamping, where metallic foil is pressed down into the paper for a letterpress-like effect. It feels really sophisticated and would even suit a black-tie event.

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