Tuesday, 5 February 2013

It's just going to go in the bin anyway... Isn't it?

I’ve heard this so many times since becoming a wedding stationer, “people are just going to put the invitations in the bin anyway.” However, this proclamation always surprises me. I have kept the wedding invitations of five cousins and my brother, plus the order of service of another cousin. Over half of these weddings took place well before I’d even considered becoming a stationer so it isn’t because stationery is my ‘thing’ either.  I haven’t got a single favour or any other momento for most of these special days, and I certainly wouldn't expect to be given something, but the invitations make a lovely keepsake in place of such things. 

Perhaps I’m just sentimental but I like having the stationery which documents such an important day.  It seems to me that an invitation or order of service is the perfect keepsake for your guests and family, they document all the important details of your day, your names, the date, the time, the venue. They’re also easy to keep. I know a number of people still have their invitations to my wedding and one even kept my wedding R.S.V.P. card and bought us another one purely because she wanted to keep the set we sent out with our invitations as a keepsake. Some family even still have our engagement invitations. I genuinely like having this little bit of traditional evidence of the weddings I have been invited too.

In fact, I’m very disappointed when I don’t get a solid invitation (or even a phone call or text message in some cases). Two wedding invitations recently have come via word of mouth through family. We missed one of those weddings because the time had been mis-communicated by an hour and we had no invitation to double check the night before. In both cases we’ve been left feeling a bit, well, unimportant? Unwanted maybe? Like we aren’t really worth an invitation (or even an email).

Perhaps this was a cost saving exercise, and fair enough, not everyone can afford luxury wedding invitations. The concept that wedding stationery is ‘disposable’ and therefore the ideal choice to cut from the budget doesn’t really ring true with me, though.

In my experience the invitations don’t just go in the bin. Some will, sure.  Just the same as some people will bin your favours, some will leave your meal or parts of it and some won’t drink the champagne you’ve chosen. However, your stationery could be more of a lasting momento for many of your guests than any other part of your wedding. Guests can’t keep a carefully decorated cupcake, a lottery ticket doesn’t usually mean much to anyone unless it is the winning ticket and most guests don’t end up with a copy of the professional photography to remind them of the beauty of your day.

However, your invitations last and not only that they also give your guests a sneak peek at your day. They can give a hint of style, a clue as to a colour and these hints then serve as reminders for years to come. They can serve as the prompt that accesses memories of your wedding whenever your stationery is seen.

Alternatively invitations can be totally personalised to the couple, they can be a celebration of you as people. A good bespoke wedding stationery designer will be able to incorporate your style and personality into your stationery and create a design that screams who you are almost before the names are read. I have been known to spend more than 30 hours in a week illustrating a single bespoke design, just to get it perfect and create something completely personal to the bride and groom but also using skills informed by years of training and professional experience that can’t just be picked up. And that’s just to illustrate a design, never mind proof it, print it and assemble it.

I don’t create stationery to be binned; I design your stationery with the intention of giving your guests something worth keeping. I want to create something that is perhaps worth more to your guests than the champagne on arrival or the whiskey miniatures on the tables, even if they only realise it when they find the invitation again in a year, two years or five years time and it sparks a memory of just how much fun they had celebrating your big day with you. A good invitation can remain cherished long after the flowers have wilted, the champagne flutes have been tidied away and the wedding hat has been packed away in its box in the attic. 

My aim with every design I produce is to make something that will be cherished, and I’m sure many other professional stationers feel the same.

Angela McGurk
WINNER – The North of England Wedding Awards 2012.

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