freed hands

Stationery

Let's Talk About Minted

StationeryJesse Jo StantonComment

Just going to go there. Hold onto your hats, folks.

Minted, if you’re unfamiliar, is a great online tool for designing and ordering your wedding stationery. They have worked with tons of designers to come up with customizable templates that you can have them print and mail to you at a good price point. Wedding planners are partnering with them to boost their businesses whilst giving you a great deal. Their process is automated, so Millennials can accomplish the task without interacting with a single human. I’m not throwing shade about any of this — it is fabulous and I, myself, love not talking to humans when I’m accomplishing tasks. I get it.

It’s gained a lot of popularity over the past few years, and with that, has bred some confusion. Why would I pay a stationery designer to make my wedding invitations if Minted can do it instead?

Well, I’m gonna tell ya. If you are looking for a certain level of service, quality, and overall guidance, Minted (and similar sites) might not be the best option for you. I’m going to make a case for hiring a stationer (like myself!) today, so you can make the call with all the information at your fingertips!

Photo by Marisa Belle Photography

Photo by Marisa Belle Photography

WHERE TO START

It is a fact that these sites are loaded with designs. This is a great thing, and also an overwhelming thing. You can’t send Minted your moodboard and have it return only the suites that make sense for your aesthetic. Working with a stationer immediately narrows in your vision, so making selections is a more streamlined process, with a lot less noise.

ONE OF A KIND

This is an obvious one, but if paper that doesn’t look like anyone’s else’s is a priority to you, these sites are not going to be your jam.

UH-OH, PROBLEM!

Not sure how to address an envelope to your gay uncles who are both doctors? Got thrown a curveball by your cousin who just moved to Germany? Your fiancee’s niece married a French guy and has a bunch of strange characters in her last name that the computer can’t process? An experienced stationer has your back. These kinds of things come up WITH EVERY SINGLE CLIENT. It could be a late address, a change of date, a rehearsal dinner invitation — anything! There are always questions and exceptions, and experienced stationers will always have your answer or a game plan!

COHESIVE DESIGN

Another benefit of working with a stationer on your wedding invitations is that he or she should also be able to create your day-of stationery (menus, place cards, signage, etc.) to coordinate perfectly with your suite. This way, you aren’t scrounging together signs from Etsy that all feature different hand-lettering styles. You may hear people talk about your wedding “brand” and while it sounds kind of silly, it’s a real thing. All of your pieces should be related.

ALLLLL THE PRETTY THINGS

You love those wax seals and want a gold one with your wedding monogram on every envelope, but HOW. Silk ribbon? So pretty, but where do you get it!?

If you’re interested in gorgeous embellishments (which really take a suite to the next level, IMHO), working with a stationer eliminates roughly 600 additional hours of work. Your stationer can even assemble everything for you, so you don’t have to lift a finger (or burn a finger pouring hot wax everywhere…).

VENDOR-FRIENDORS

At the end of the day, the rest of your wedding vendors are likely humans. While the online shops are convenient, nothing can replace two humans communicating to each other about your big day. Stationers communicate directly with planners, who communicate with everyone else. Working with a custom stationer is another way to ensure a smooth and confusion-free big day.

Photo by Daniel Kim

Photo by Daniel Kim

Let's Talk About Supplies

StationeryJesse Jo StantonComment

I wonder if Ina Garten just woke up one day with impeccable taste and knew exactly which fancy olive oil she preferred. It’s possible, but not likely. Filling your toolbox — or, in my case, the collection of empty boxes and candle jars that my husband will definitely throw away first in the event of my passing — is usually a process that happens over many years, with tough lessons sprinkled throughout. My process of finding my favorite things included a lot of scouring the internet for others’ favorite things, trying the different tools out, and deciding if they work for me, too. Maybe that’s what has brought you here! Welcome. Happy scouring. I hope I can help.

Photo by Rachael Koscica

Photo by Rachael Koscica

CALLIGRAPHY

I started my calligraphy journey with a kit from The Lettered Bride by Ashley Lurcott (I’d link, but no longer available anywhere!). It was comprehensive, but basic, and served as a perfect introduction to using these weird little things called nibs. I recommend finding something similar on Amazon just to get the juices flowing.

What you’ll learn very quickly is that everyone has a different grip, level of pressure, and overall lettering style. This means that a nib that I loooooove may be too sensitive for your heavy hand. Trial and error is the name of the game, folks.

I get all of my calligraphy supplies from John Neal Bookseller. Here are my faves:

NIBS

  • Hiro / Leonardt #40 Nib (Blue Pumpkin)

  • Brause Steno Nib 361

  • Brause 66EF Nib

INK

  • Dr. Ph. Martin’s Iridescent Ink: Copper Plate Gold, Copper, Bronze, Nickel

  • Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleed Proof White Ink 

GADGETS (necessary, not in a ~baby-wipe-warmer~ kind of way)

  • Topolino Magnetic Stirrer 

  • We R Memory Keepers Laser Square & Mat (I have the Slider Writer, which is no longer in production, but same-diff)

Special walnut with white writing! | Photo by Rachael Koscica

Special walnut with white writing! | Photo by Rachael Koscica

WOODEN SIGNS

Another trial and error situation for me, but I will try to save you some splinters. I get all of my wood from Home Depot. I bring in a diagram of how I want them to make cuts, usually so I can maximize each 48x96” board to get the most 24x36” and 24x48” pieces — my most popular sizes. I like birch wood best. Then, I bring it home and (have Daniel) sand it down and stain it. I’ll include some supplies that we’ve found make this process SO MUCH EASIER. Last step is to seal it before I letter it. This makes the ink glide more easily, and not soak into the wood as much. I am so excited to share these tools. They have each saved me about 500 hours of my life.

PREPPING THE WOOD

LETTERING TOOLS

Photo by Marisa Belle Photography

Photo by Marisa Belle Photography

ACRYLIC SIGNS

My best recommendation for sourcing acrylic is to NOT go to Home Depot or Lowe’s. I see that everywhere, but I don’t understand the suggestion when there are plastic wholesalers everywhere! Find a plastics supplier near you, make a friend, and send him or her the sizes and thicknesses that you want. You may be the only person in line for pick-up that has ever ordered a 5x7” piece of plastic and/or does not work for a commercial construction company, but whatever — it’s cheaper, faster, and better.

You may also see affordable acrylic on Amazon. I have had some luck with this in a pinch, but you really want to control the thickness of the acrylic. If you want to letter a large sign, you and your clients will not be happy with a flappy piece of thin plastic. You might need a .25” thick piece. Quality matters, folks!

I recommend mapping your design out on a piece of butcher paper first. Then, WINDEX THAT SUCKER to get the oils off or you will deal with bleeding ink. My favorite markers are linked above, too — Uchida Deco Color Paint Markers. Super permanent, won’t come off without a violent show of force, but so opaque and perfect.

NOTE: You might read on other hand-letterers blogs that they use water-based markers that come off with Windex and allow them to reuse acrylic. I do not like scratched acrylic, and I do not like making clients worry about smudging my work on the day, and I really, really (prepare for honesty here) do not like managing rentals — barf — so all of my pieces are permanent and yours to keep. To each, their own, though — find what works for you!

Photo by Rachael Koscica

Photo by Rachael Koscica

PAPER & PRINTING

After a few years of paying way too much for paper at Paper Source (which I love, but why pay retail when you are a wholesaler, right?), I decided to become an Envelopments Dealer. I love it. I use them for about 75% of all of my paper and printing needs. It’s easy, it’s efficient, and they offer tons of printing methods (foil stamping, letterpress, etc.). I love having all of those options in one place. I’ll list all of my favorite paper and printing sources below!


Again, happy scouring — and happy trial and error-ing! Hope this is helpful. What did I miss? Let me know!


Let's Talk About Postage

StationeryJesse Jo StantonComment

You ordered your invitations, are racing against your planner’s suggested deadline for getting them in the mail, and BOOM. You realize you forgot about postage. It happens all the time. Or maybe you thought about postage, but now the post office is telling you that your envelope is too heavy or rigid for the stamps you chose.

Lemme help you out. I love pretty paper, but more than anything, I love order. I know — boring — but exactly what you need when it comes to wedding planning and the chaos that alwayyyyys ensues. Plan ahead. Here’s your guide to postage!

First, let’s talk options.

Photo by Rachael Koscica

Photo by Rachael Koscica

CUSTOM POSTAGE

Custom postage is a fun way to reiterate motifs or themes in your suite. Do you have a monogram? Is your liner a beautiful floral pattern that you want to incorporate everywhere you can? Custom postage does the job, and eliminates the need to sift through pages of USPS Forever stamps of old white presidents. It has a considerable markup, and you need to know the denomination of the stamp (how much $ you need per envelope) before you order, so if this is your jam, plan wayyyy ahead and budget for it!

Photo by Daniel Kim

Photo by Daniel Kim

VINTAGE STAMPS

They just don’t make ‘em like they used to, right!? Vintage postage is a great way to add some nostalgia and personality to your envelopes. There are several sources for vintage postage online, or you can have your stationer curate a collection that matches your suite perfectly. There is typically a markup on these, too, so you will pay more than face value for stamps, and, since postage used to be printed in smaller denominates, will likely require several stamps per envelope to meet the postage requirement. Thanks, inflation!

USPS STAMPS

Every once in a while, the Post Office remembers that people like stamps, and they release one that isn’t a flag. It’s remarkable, and you can count on every single stationer stocking up on these like the apocalypse is near (shoutout to the Rifle collection that changed all of our lives). Keep an eye on their website through your stationery design process, and swoop in if a not-ugly stamp is released!

 
Photo by April Maura Photography

Photo by April Maura Photography


Now, let’s talk tips.

WEIGH IN ADVANCE

I will say this every day for as long as I run a stationery business, but what Minted cannot do for you is go to the Post Office and talk to a human. If you do decide to forego the humans and order online, make sure you take a completed suite (with all elements including liners, inserts, etc.) to the Post Office to be weighed ASAP. Look very closely at your kind associate’s nametag, and when he or she tells you that your wedding invitations will require [x] amount of postage, write it down. I can’t stress this step enough. It’s the only way you’ll know if your suite is 1.1 oz., versus 1 oz., and therefore requires additional postage! If you go with a human, he or she should handle this aspect and pass the information on to you!

POST YOUR RSVP ENVELOPES

To avoid horrifying your guests (this is definitely taboo with the more ~mature crowd) or losing out on all of your RSVP envelopes, don’t forget to put stamps on your RSVP envelopes before you stuff your invitations!

REQUEST HAND-CANCELLING

When you drop your water bill in the mailbox, it begins its long and relatively violent journey to city services. It’s sorted via machine, which means it gets sucked up and pooped out …and no one cares. HOWEVER, when you pay big bucks for a gorgeous suite with a liner and a wax seal and calligraphy, you might care. You should care. The Post Office will “hand-cancel” your envelopes at your request, which means that they will use their actual hands to process the envelope. Real talk: they don’t seem to love doing it, so ask nicely, and mention that you are sending wedding invitations. And stand your ground if they try to tell you they don’t offer that service (it’s not true). I’ve had so many clients take on their assembly and then tell me they were turned away at the very Post Office I go to — send your stationer instead because familiar face usually means less runaround! I often bring my chubby baby with me and force him to smile at them so they are particularly weakened.

PLAN AHEAD

My best piece of advice is to plan. Figure out what you like, so that you are ready to drop those suckers in the mail and have a celebratory glass of wine without a Post Office meltdown. Figure out right away if you are going to go the custom, vintage, or USPS route. Note: if you are having your envelopes calligraphed, your calligrapher needs to know how much space to keep blank for stamps, so this is extra important!

There you have it! Postage is oft-overlooked detail but a very important one. It can elevate your suite in a special way, or lead to 100 returned envelopes… WOMP. Share your questions about anything I missed below!

PS. — I’m already starting to sense a theme with my blog and it’s looking like “PRETTY THINGS ARE GREAT BUT HAVE YOU HEARD OF PLANNING!? IT IS SO GREAT!”. Bear with me. Any enneagram ones in the houuuuuse!?

Photo by Karlee K Photography

Photo by Karlee K Photography