"I've been obsessed with weddings since I opened my stationery studio in 2006. And I collected Hello Kitty greeting cards as a kid, so I've adored paper even longer," says Cheree Berry, owner of Cheree Berry Paper in St. Louis, Missouri (pictured here, with her family). "For my wedding, I included as much as possible in unexpected ways—if I could have made my Carolina Herrera dress out of paper, I would have!"
Seven and a half years and three kids later, Berry is still designing suites—more than 18 from Cheree Berry Paper have appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings (and shown on the following slides)—but she says she could never pick a favorite.
Along with advising brides to break in their shoes before the big day, to make a point to talk to every last guest (Berry had 325!), and to not sweat the small stuff, she dishes on how to create one sweet stationery suite, without compromising your budget or personality.
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Have Some Fun
"Paper's a good way to get people talking and interacting. Use the insert pieces or envelope liner to have fun! Or, do that with the seating cards, the favors, or with what you print on your cocktail napkins or programs, such as fun facts about you and your fiancé. For example, I was always really into surprises as a kid, so I decided to make my own 'grab bag' favors for guests. Everywhere I went, I collected paper airplanes, whoopee cushions, light-up rings, old-fashioned candies, knick-knacks, and little tchotchkes, and before I knew it, I had hundreds of items to fill the bags, which was really fun. Guests tore right into them, and even wore some of the accessories while they were dancing, and that really made it fun."
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Let Your Stationery Be All About You
"Stationery really is the one component of a wedding that you can personalize to make your own. Flowers aren't customizable; they grow out of the ground and are then grouped into a formation, but if you really want to share your story, paper is the vehicle to do it, and that's really cool. There's a bride who loves a certain color palette, or one who's definitely modern. And for me, I'd say I'm whimsical at heart, and I think that came through in our suite (pictured) because I had so many little surprises in mine. From a design standpoint, the more personal information that we get from a client, the better. If we know the couple got a dog the year after they met, and that dog is very special to them, we might put a little dog on the reply card or tucked in somewhere that's not on the main invitation."
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Mind Your Manners But Don't Be Stuffy
"We always educate our clients on wording etiquette, and with the design, let them break the rules. We keep the wording sacred because we don't want them to pull out their invitations in ten years and see some trendy line of copy; instead, it should feel pretty classic."
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Do Some Math
"We always remind brides that an invitation is not sent to each person but to each household. Just because you're inviting 150 people, doesn't mean you need 150 invitations. Now we're accustomed to asking, 'How many addresses do you have?' Not, 'How many bodies?'"
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Number Reply Cards
"We advise clients to number the back of reply cards. That way, if a guest doesn't give you all the information you need, you can keep track in an Excel document with your guests' names and those numbers."
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"We always push for people to order an outer envelope ("A" in the picture shown) because it makes the piece of mail feel more special. Plus, it's probably the one time in your entire life when you'll mail something that needs it. We also always remind brides to hand-cancel their invitations because you want your invitation to arrive on people's doorsteps in the best shape possible."
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Say Yes to Calligraphy
"The calligraphy trend is huge, and there are so many different styles now, from oversized calligraphy to just gorgeous handwriting. It's artistic, but also sacred, and we're finding that brides prefer that personal, handmade touch of a calligraphed moment."
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Consider Neutrals or Metallics
"Neutrals, metallic, and foils always withstand the test of time, even though those tend to lean more formal, neutral color palettes are stronger than ever, and blush shades are growing increasingly popular."
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Keep All of Your Wedding Weekend Paper Cohesive
"Brides no longer just send out a wedding invitation, but a whole weekend itinerary, covering Friday welcome drinks all the way to Sunday brunch, so invitations arrive as little wedding care packages. For the events surrounding the wedding, have some fun with the paper, letting each event have its own theme, graphics, and colors, but when it's all said and done, the entire suite should work together."
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"I love a cornucopia of printing methods! We really thrive on texture. It's very common for our sets to be letterpressed but with an engraved monogram on the back, a foil-stamped pattern on the envelope liner, and a beveled edge on the invite. But, for the invitation itself, we tend to letterpress or engrave. While I love that engraving can really hold up the typography's detail, it's a little cheaper to use letterpress, meaning brides have more financial freedom with the rest of their set. All printing methods are created equal; each one has its own strengths. You can't get the same sheen with engraving that you can with foil, for example, or when we need a bold, saturated punch of color, flat printing is the best option for that—and happens to be the cheapest."