13 Wedding Invitation Questions to Ask Your Stationery Designer
Working with a stationery pro for your wedding is nothing short of magic. They're paper alchemists—fastening, folding and layering materials until a dreamy bid for your big day forms. There are so many talented artists out there, so knowing some essential wedding invitation questions to ask in your preliminary chats will help you determine which is your perfect match.
Going into your vendor interviews with a thoughtful slate of asks will help you easily compare one designer to the other when it comes to the details that matter most to you. (Does one offer custom wedding wax seals as an element? Does another use only sustainably sourced materials?) And, of course, give you a welcome window into each stationery designer's creative process, so you can better understand the eye for detail and delicate hand required to envision and assemble a suite that speaks to your love story.
We've assembled our list with the help of wedding stationery expert Carly Klaire, co-owner and creative director of Brooklyn's Lovers For Life Events (@loversforlifeevents), to make sure you've got your bases covered and you go into your vendor interviews confident. If you're still looking for your interview crew, you can search around The Knot Vendor Marketplace to discover and connect with some stellar local stationery designers in your area. Scroll down to see our key questions.
Meet Our Expert
Carly Klaire is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and designer with a trademark effortless style. She co-owns Lovers For Life Events, a bespoke wedding design studio that specializes in unique stationery, with designer Ryan Pearsall.
Questions to Ask a Stationery Artist
Let this list be your bible when sitting down with your final few stationery designers. These queries will cover the ins and outs of their individual processes, help you nail down their paper vibe and see where you can lean on your artist to add special details you wouldn't have thought of (but that make all the difference). And feel free to take or leave what you see fit—for example, if you chose three designers to chat with based on their letterpress work, you won't need to ask about printing techniques.
1. Where do you pull inspiration from and what's inspiring you the most right now?
While asking a stationery designer directly about their stationery aesthetic won't hurt, opting for this two-part question will give you a much better understanding of what a designer can do in terms of creativity. Case in point: Lovers For Life pulls most of their inspiration from their couples. "Each suite we design is inspired by the couple's love story, so each thing we create really has a unique touch and personality," says Klaire.
Knowing where they get their sparks of inspiration will give you a look into what the breadth of their design style looks like and how your suite will come together as a personal representation of your relationship. And, oftentimes, a more tangible vision of where their mind is at. For example, Klaire notes that she's taking cues from unique textiles, embroidery and home decor moments, so a pattern that reads like whimsical wallpaper is likely on the table.
2. Can you walk me through your full suite of paper offerings for both mailers and day-of stationery?
You already know they can create beautiful invitations, but you should also get a sense of just how many varieties of paper your stationery artist can create for you, especially if you're looking for elements like menus, place cards and signage to display at your nuptials. Even if you're primarily looking for invites right now, you might love the design so much you'll want to carry it through your big day.
3. Where does your scope of work start and stop in terms of design and printing?
"Understanding the details of what's included in your stationery package will really help to understand any additional fees, handling or set up that might incur throughout the process," says Klaire. Some vendors, like Lovers For Life, will handle everything from the design, to the print coordination, to the guest addressing, to the envelope stuffing and sealing to ensure a super-seamless experience for the couple. It's also wise to inquire with your designer if they offer any of the services above for an extra fee, if they aren't included in the package you're looking at.
4. What level of customization do you offer? And do you specialize in one particular style or can you recreate anything we want?
Depending on your price point and which stationery designers you select to speak with, you could be looking at a wide array of customization wiggle room. Some designers offer semi-custom wedding invitations, which means that you can choose from a slate of predesigned templates dreamed up by the artist with the option to customize elements like text, colors and even add a few embellishments. (These will usually print a little quicker and cost a little less.) Other stationers will start from scratch every time to make stationery that's truly custom within the bounds of their aesthetic expertise.
"When you work with LFL, we hope it's because you love the look of our stationery—we, of course, want to tailor the designs and palette to your wedding, while still aligning with the design aesthetic of our work," says Klaire. "Sometimes you just know you've found the perfect couple… Lovers for Life has a unique style that doesn't necessarily fit everyone's vision, so it's ok to say no if you don't think your aesthetics align!"
5. How do you make the invitations unique each time? How will you ensure the invitation suite aligns with our wedding aesthetic?
If fully custom invites are your bag, digging into the early stages of what your designer's creative process looks like will help you see if it's simpatico with how you're able to express what you're looking for in an invitation as well as what special details they might draw from to make your design. Klaire says that she'll typically ask couples to talk about their personal love story, covering any quirky details about their relationship, what they like to do on a random Tuesday night, where they travel, their favorite meal, what their animals' names are—all are fair game to incorporate those coveted personal touches into your stationery suite.
Also, touching base on the methods the stationery designer will use to make sure your invites and other paper goodies are cohesive with your wedding vibe will determine how much supplementary material you'll have to have on hand (like the vibe of the other vendors already booked and your oh-so-trusty Pinterest board) before you get started. For example, they may want to know two or three flower varieties you're definitely going to have in your centerpieces to incorporate into the whimsical wildflower invitations you're asking for.
6. What printing techniques do you offer?
The printing style you choose for your wedding invitations is one of the most important details and, if you have your heart set on something specific like letterpress and you've sourced your stationery designer options accordingly, then no need to inquire further. But if you're still undecided (and don't know the difference between the look of digital printing and thermography), it pays to ask your designer what styles they offer and which they recommend based on your desired look.
7. Do you do your own calligraphy? If not, can you recommend someone?
Some artists have some serious penmanship chops along with their eye for design, so it's smart to check with your stationery designer if they also do calligraphy. If that's not on their slate of offerings, stationery designers have relationships with calligraphers in the area more often than not. If you want your envelopes addressed with the flourish of a pro, it's good to check with your stationer for recommendations.
8. Do you offer packages or discounts when bundling services?
"Book all services at once, it helps the stationer to plan the agreed upon work into their calendar, rather than contracting one service at a time," says Klaire. The pro elaborates that, sometimes, a designer will also be more likely to discount if the client commits to multiple stationery services at the start of the project. For example, if the couple commissions wedding invitations, save-the-dates and day-of menus, then a bundle could be in the cards. Though, don't go in prepared to negotiate with your vendors and automatically expect a lower price, just follow their lead on if they already have some sort of discount threshold in place.
9. How will we be viewing the proof(s) of our stationery?
First and foremost, always make sure you can see a proof before you print! It's not only your first line of defense against typos and other mistakes (which can happen), but also a way to see how your color palette and stationery details harmonize. Depending on their design process and what type of invitation you choose, some stationery artists might share your proof digitally as a PDF and others might print/assemble a physical sample for you to touch and feel. We recommend opting for the latter—sometimes colors and fonts can look much different on a screen than they do on paper. Also, don't forget to verify what happens in case of an error in the proof (whether it's your error or the printer's mistake).
10. What does your estimated production timeline look like with the scope of work we've discussed?
Be sure you head into these convos with your ideal invitation mailing date in mind, giving yourself a cushion to account for any delays. Ask what your designer's typical production timeline is to know when you have to have every stage in the process complete. This will also give your designer a chance to present any concerns they might have about the turnaround time, given their other clients' deadlines, so you can truly figure out the best way to fit in all of your desired stationery services.
11. How do we figure out what to write on our invitations? And is your invitation wording customizable or do you have templates to choose from?
Figuring out what to write on your wedding invitations can feel a little daunting—so many details to squeeze in and only a few words to set the tone of your big day! Luckily, your designer will likely be able to help. They might have a selection of turnkey wording and phrases that are sure wins, but can also assist you in workshopping text that feels true to you.
Lovers For Life's process goes like this: "We provide our clients with a worksheet that includes a variety of options to kick off invitation meetings," says Klaire. "Through the development of the suite, we'll work with our clients to workshop the copywriting to ensure it feels natural to the couple, style of events being hosted and digestible for the guest."
12. Does sustainability play a role in your design and construction process at all?
If your aim is to have an eco-friendly wedding, checking in with your potential stationery designer about their sustainability practices is likely top of mind for you. Elements like recycled paper and soy-based inks are popular options for designers erring on the greener side of things, so to speak.
13. Can you walk us through any design elements you offer that go beyond paper and envelopes, like wax seals, belly bands, vellum wraps and the like?
It's the little details that can really make your stationery sing. If you're interested in elements like foil detailing, the incorporation of textiles, wax seals, curated vintage stamp bundles and all of the other paper-related goodies out there, see what's available directly from your designer to envision how your suite comes together.