In an earlier era, brides-to-be busied themselves by sewing delicate linens for their trousseaus and making their wedding gowns. It's hard to imagine anyone today having time for such activities, but it is still possible to include elements that are handmade. One easy way to personalize the day is with rubber stamps.
Custom-made or store-bought, they offer many images and patterns for decorating invitations, programs, wrapping paper, and even cocktail napkins. You can use an image to create a consistent visual theme, stamping it on everything connected with the wedding. As versatile as rubber stamps are, however, they do not fit in with the tone of a formal wedding.
Stamps have been used for more than a century, although originally their function was utilitarian, not decorative. During the Civil War, impressions of stamps were required on nearly all business papers. In 1919 German artist Kurt Schwitters may have been the first to use stamps creatively when he began incorporating impressions into his collages.
Explore a rubber-stamp or craft store, or a website devoted to the subject, and you'll find an astonishing range of stamps -- from those inspired by illuminated manuscripts to those with emblems of popular culture. You can buy a premade one or have a stamp made of a black-andwhite image from a clip-art book or a pattern designed on a computer.
"The cleaner the image, the better stamp you get," says Donald Carucci, who owns Stampworx 2000 in New York City. There are two stamp materials from which to choose: polymer or rubber. Polymer, introduced in the early 1980s, generally makes a clearer impression. But rubber is more durable and is still favored among most stamp users. Carucci scans images into a computer and then uses a laser to engrave them onto a sheet of rubber or polymer. Some stamp makers prefer the older method, whereby they engrave the image onto metal, and then use a machine to press it onto a stiff board, and onto rubber.
Custom-made stamps cost as little as $10, yet can be used repeatedly. There are few other ways to so easily and inexpensively put your mark on the day.