The Art of the Invitation: Knowing what you want, or don't want when searching for a custom design

When you set out to create the perfect invitation for any event, it's always good to know what you want. It also helps to know what you don't want and to not know what you want.

So, let's start with the most important thing: knowing what you want. Unless you have the invitation in your hands, try not imagine what you want too specifically. The human mind has the capacity for endless possibility. Unfortunately, technology is limited by human ability. So imagine what you want, color, theme, paper, even size.  But be flexible and keep an open mind; sometimes what doesn't quite match our imagination has a way of becoming just what we want.

After that, know what you don't want. Remember, knowing what you don't want is just as important and helpful when starting the design process.  I don't want to send a postcard, I don't want it too big, I don't want a block font.  Do you want a card that folds, or something flat? Do you want to use envelopes? (If the answer is yes here, I am going to give you some very important information right now: find your envelopes first. I learned this from a very wise woman. My aunt says to me, "After I went all over town in a panic looking for the right size and color: Amy, you always find the envelopes first!" Sage advice indeed, trust my aunt.  Invitations can be created to fit the size and complement the envelope color; finding envelopes after the fact is much more difficult.)

Let's get to details.  Color, or only black and white? Do you want full-bleed printing, a printed background, or will you want it printed on a colored paper? Card stock or paper stock? Knowing the physical details of the invitation are a great way to get started. After that, you need to know the style. What kind of party is it? Are you looking for minimalist, fun, fancy, colorful, modern, traditional, retro? All these words mean something in reference to style; any word that brings to mind a picture or a feeling can be used to describe to a designer what you are going for. Even an unrelated inspiration piece, like a poster or photograph, a color scheme, a font you saw somewhere. It should match the party or event you have in mind. Being specific about elements helps a designer match your wants.

Next, work with your designer.  Remember, while these descriptive words a good place to start, everything evokes slightly different ideas in different people.  Don't expect it to be perfect the first time, it won't be. Designing something like this should be a collaboration. So be prepared to give specific feedback. When you say, this isn't what I'm looking for, but can't say why, you leave the designer a midst a million possibilities. When you can, say: I don't like that font, I want something more readable, fancier, swirlier, fun, or whatever.  Then you are giving a direction, and trust me when I say that is awesome. I don't mind if someone doesn't like something I have created the first go round; it's not about me, it's about them. But I love when someone says, I don't like this, could you please make it more formal, make it less formal, make it more fun, make it more scripty, make it more pink, make it ______ (insert direction here). We have a starting off point, and now we have a direction. It's all about communication. What I think I said is not what you thought you heard.

Do your research, look up different invitations and get a feel for what you want. Keep your mind open, be specific and flexible. Have fun. I know I said not everything is possible, but I guarantee it is possible to get just what you want in the end!

Here's a list of Do's and Don'ts when you are planning your wedding invitations:


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