New This Month

Expert Advice from Stationer Kara Underwood Gordon

Known For
Customized invitations that capture a couple's distinctive spirit

Where to Find Her
Magnificent Milestones in Chicago, where she's the owner (

When should couples hire a stationer?
Eight months to a year in advance, depending on when you need to send save-the-dates (six months is the norm) and how elaborate you want your invites to be. This will give you the chance to perfect the design, which can take up to six weeks and often involves reviewing two or three PDFs. It also allows two weeks for your envelopes to be calligraphed, if you choose, and finally, enough time to get your invites in the mail six to eight weeks before.

Beyond the main suite, what other kinds of paper goods should people consider?
All those little day-of details, including menus, coasters, napkins, signage, and favors. We just did a really cute ceremony program that fanned out like an accordion.

Any advice for those who have no clue what direction they want to take?
Start by looking through samples -- either on your own or with a stationer. I always tell couples to pick out any detail that catches their eye, be it rounded corners or a font style, because some people can't verbalize what they like but know it when they see it. Then, build from there. Brainstorming the stationery design can even lead you to your theme or palette if you don't have one yet.

Are there any unexpected costs couples should keep in mind?
You'll either need to hire a calligrapher to address each envelope or pay your stationer to have them printed (it isn't included in the price). Also, postage can be fairly significant. Rarely is a 44-cent stamp enough.

Where do you suggest splurging?
I'd spend more on the printing technique. Letterpress, where the ink is pressed down into the paper, is huge right now -- it's contemporary and fun. Engraving lifts the ink up and looks more formal. With either, you pay extra but get a keepsake.

What trends are you noticing?
People love the look of maps. We often use vintage ones as envelope liners. And for destination weddings, I've hired calligraphers to draw ones with little icons, like Champagne flutes to represent the reception site.

Thoughts on electronic invites?
Naturally, I prefer printed pieces, but if you're in a time crunch -- maybe your engagement is only six months long -- and you don't really have the flexibility to wait until the save-the-dates are designed, proofed, and printed, then have your stationer create a version that you can send in an email, and mail a paper invitation later.

Anything you wish you'd see more of?
Yes: "Will you be my bridesmaid?" invitations! You can have so much fun with them, and your friends will adore receiving them in the mail.

Top Tip
"Your suite doesn't have to match perfectly -- in fact, it's more fun to mix things up. As long as the theme, colors, and fonts are consistent, you'll end up with a cohesive look."

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