Why You Should Hire a Designer for Your Wedding Invitations

Invitations, oh my! So many brides are overwhelmed with details of the wedding day and might not understand the benefits of hiring a designer for their wedding stationery. What are 5 benefits to hiring a designer and why are these important?

Invitations are not only the first things you guests get to see that truly represent the look and feel of your wedding, but they are also one of the only things you’ll get to keep as keepsakes of this important day in  your life! Stationers come not only with design knowledge, but they also know all the logistics that come along with them:

  1. Where to get the best paper and materials

  2. Where to get the best print quality at the best price

  3. What information you need to include on your invitations

  4. What your reply by date should be

  5. How many you should order

  6. How you should address them

  7. How much postage you need

  8. How and when you need to send them out

  9. What day-of details you may not have thought of & how to make those designs cohesive with your invitations!

  10. etc!

The reason why all wedding vendors are worth their value is because they are experts in their field and they make your life easier and your vision come to life!

What are 3-5 common misconceptions about custom wedding invitations that you think all brides should consider? How will preparing for these things help make their experience enjoyable/stress free?

  1. Don’t leave your stationer as your last vendor to hire! Start on your invitations early! So many couples come to me asking for rush jobs but they are simply not possible most of the time. Long timelines are not only due the entire design process, they also include the time needed to source materials (handmade paper may take weeks to make), to print (may take up to 4 weeks), and to assembly and address! Not only that, but your stationer is giving you a buffer incase anything happens (i.e. misprints, paper shortages) because they’ve been there before and know that these are the type of emergencies that short timelines cannot handle! Starting early = stress free both you and your stationer

  2. If you’re going to do custom invitations, it’s worth it to do letterpress and/or foil. Digital may save you a small amount of money but the look and feel of your invitations suffer more than it’s worth in my opinion. Unless you have watercolor-y designs, upgrading to letterpress or foil is always worth it. You didn’t hire a stationer to get something you could find anywhere—you hired them to create something beautifully unique and luxurious! Spending a little more on printing & paper = avoiding possible disappointment later.

  3. The bulk cost of invitations are going toward printing and materials. Sometimes couples have sticker shock but they may be even more shocked to know that the materials and printing fees are higher than the design fees! At the end of the day it’s likely that less than a third of what you’re paying is what your stationer is getting! Understanding these costs means that if you’re looking to fit within your budget, you’re really looking to lower your material costs, not design costs!

  4. Calligraphy addressing is an incredibly time consuming process. You’re not paying for someone to write like normal. Not only do I spend time preparing materials, I also have to warm up my hand to the script style before each session. It always takes me at least 5 or so addresses to get the centering of the script correct. Once I’m finished addressing, I spell-check each address twice and then redo the mistakes. This is why calligraphers usually only allow 1 round of revisions and charge a re-setup fee if you need more after that (for example, if you added people to your guestlist.) Start collecting your addresses ASAP and make sure to triple spell check so you can give your calligrapher the final document to avoid any extra costs or delays!

What are some trends that are being overused? What do you foresee as being popular in the future/what do you think brides should try more of?

A lot of the things I see on Pinterest are overused because couples use the platform a lot to plan their weddings. Mostly these trends are kitschy and rustic instead of elegant and timeless. I personally think being timeless isn’t super important as long as it makes you happy! I think doing whatever you like is what you should do—just find the vendors that fit your vision so you can execute it WELL! :) My number one recommendations that couples should try more of is GET A PLANNER (if you don’t already have one.) Take it from someone who tried to plan her own wedding and it was a hot mess until I hired planners to make it so much easier and amazing! If you plan your own wedding and it becomes a disaster, there are no redos… so why not hire the experts to do it right the first time? Believe the hype of planners; they are worth their weight in gold! Planners also make my life easier and will help guide me towards your vision and help you stay in budget (especially when it comes to what day-of details you should get or pass on.)

Any tips on how a bride can have her invitation suite be an extension of her personality and who she is on a wedding day, or how to not have her invitations that look like every other bride’s aesthetic?

I once heard an artist say, instead of copying someone else’s work, she writes down exactly what she likes about the work and then creates her own based off her notes. If you want something that is unique to you, it isn’t about copying what you see on the internet, it’s about understanding WHY you love what you’re seeing and translating that for your stationer to create. The process is much more organic, free, and exciting!

Do you have any tips of encouraging words for brides who are in the wedding planning process and who might feel overwhelmed?

I find myself overwhelmed when I look at things as a whole. Break down your to-do lists in chunks and aim to accomplish these goals on a daily/weekly basis. You’ll chip at it little by little and before you know it, you’ll be done! Don’t jump from one unfinished task to another because your list will always stay long and overwhelming. Good luck!

Website: http://owlpostcalligraphy.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/owlpostcalligraphy

Instagram: http://instagram.com/owlpostcalligraphy

DIY Tutorial: Simple Rehearsal Dinner Makeup

It's my favorite thing to see all the beautiful makeup styles available for brides. What's even better? Being able to learn how to do it yourself! As a photographer, it's so fun to see the magic happen when a bride sits in the hair and makeup artist's chair. I've worked with Linda Margarita, who is so gifted at what she does on the wedding day. She, along with her assistant Madi, teamed up with me to document a DIY look for your own rehearsal dinner, engagement photos, or even a night out with your love. If you don't feel confident doing this on your own, definitely consider hiring Linda for your wedding day. If you're feeling brave and want to try this on your own, just follow these easy steps below: 

 

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DIY rehearsal dinner engagement photos date night wedding makeup tutorial Linda Margarita Hannah Forsberg Atlanta Wedding photographer film

 

Instructions:

  1. With already moisturized prepped skin apply foundation (Madi used Too Faced born this way) with beauty blender
  2. Conceal (Madi used shape tape by Tarte) in a triangular pattern to create a brightening effect
  3. Set under-eyes and face with powder 
  4. Contour and bronze (Madi used Too Faced chocolate sole)
  5. Powder with luminous powder (Madi used Hourglass ambient light powder)
  6. Highlight top of cheek bones 
  7. Lightly fill in brows 
  8. Use a pink champagne color for the lid and your bronzer for the crease 
  9. Apply mascara and lashes 
  10. Add your favorite lip / spritz your face with a setting spray & wha la your done!

 

Want to see more Tutorials?

 

Credits:

Hair/Makeup Artist: Linda Margarita // www.lindamargarita.com

Photography: Hannah Forsberg // www.hannahforsberg.com

Film: Contax 645, Fuji 400h, Developed by The Find Lab

 

Meeting Cindy Chi of Owl Post Calligraphy

Cindy and I crossed paths from Instagram in the middle of 2016. I had discovered her work on Instagram and my first thought was, "Oh my goodness - she is so talented". As a wedding photographer, it's so lovely to be able to have brides who invest in their wedding stationery - not only does it set the tone for what your wedding is going to be like and the experience your guests will have, but it sure is so much fun to photograph and play with!

With Cindy, I loved her delicate lines and deliberate design. I think that in Atlanta, it's so rare to find designers who are able to incorporate both. After working on a few collaborations last year with Cindy, we had become good friends. It's been amazing to watch her business take off and see how she's been able to take her business full-time after being a graphic designer. She is the most kind, supportive, and talented people in the industry that I've met - and, she even designed my new logo for me! I've decided that I definitely would love to have her create my wedding stationery for me, when the time arrives. ;)

I'm so excited to introduce her to you (if you haven't met her yet) and for you to hear more of her story. Please be sure to give her some love from the links below, and to also check out her latest launch: semi-custom suites!

 

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Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Cindy! I’d love for readers to get an idea of how this all took off for you. Then, we can go from there.

It’s so funny that I ended up being in the Wedding Industry because I was not the girl who grew up planning and dreaming of her “Big Day.” But when I got engaged, the crafter in me went crazy! I had a Harry Potter themed wedding so much of it was DIY, including learning how to do calligraphy to address my own invitations! I graduated from UCLA with a Design & Media Arts degree but I always loved being hands on, so becoming a stationer and calligrapher was a perfect combination of design and craft. Once I fell in love with calligraphy (I would literally come home from work and practice 5+ hours a day) I knew that this is the dream I had to chase. My day job was draining me and I knew I needed to be my own boss so I could have creative freedom. With that goal in mind, I spent another 1.5 years building my portfolio, saving money, and designing for my first clients before finally going full-time in November 2017!
 

What’s it like to have a one-woman show? Where are you based?

Being a solopreneur is both incredibly stressful and extremely rewarding at the same time! My husband is also a freelance artist (filmmaker) so working at home with him is so nice. When I still had my day job I was working from 8am-6pm then coming home and working another 5-7 hours AND weekends while I was building my business. I was exhausted and felt like I never saw my husband as I was consumed up with work 24/7. Don’t get me wrong though, being a business owner means I work more hours than I did at my old day job but somehow the mental fatigue isn’t as draining. Because I’m doing what I love, I work twice as hard (and long) but feel less tired than I used to! I’m based in Los Angeles, California, which (to be honest) is my first struggle since the cost of living here is pretty high (thank goodness I’m not in NY or San Francisco though!) But my husband needs to stay here for his work and so I just need to work twice as hard to make this little business of mine work.

Wow, I can't imagine those long work hours. That's incredible hustle and grit. How did you come up with the name “Owl Post Calligraphy”, and what should we know about your business?

I wanted a name that felt fitting for what I was doing, but was secretly revealing something about me. So for people who are Harry Potter nerds like me, they know that “Owl Post” comes from the mail delivery service in that universe, which I thought would be fitting for a stationery company! For those who do not recognize the name, I thought it sounded cute anyway (or at least I hope! haha.) As far as my niche, I specialize in fine art weddings. Most of my couples are in love with handmade paper, ribbons, wax seals, and organic calligraphy. My favorite things to do are venue illustrations and also unique embellishments (like hand-foiling edges or adding texture with paint, etc.)

I love handmade paper! There's something so delicate about the texture, its weight, and it just reminds me of the beauty of the past. I love it! So, who would you say is an Owl Post Calligraphy Bride, and what about your brand stands out in their minds or what do you uniquely offer that differentiates you and your business from the competition?

The Owl Post Calligraphy couple is inspired by nature and Old-World ephemera. They love the natural decay and imperfections of things. Their dream venue is an old romantic chateau or castle, or even a lush organic garden. My couples love that I work with tactile details and texture. Some love my lush romantic designs while others love my clean typographical designs.

What are 3 things that you strive to do for every single bride you serve and why?

When my couples email me upon receiving their invitations telling me how happy they are, or that they cried when they opened their invitations—that is success to me and it’s what I strive for in every couple I serve. Why? Because I know how important (and for many, once in a lifetime) this event is for my couples. They trust me to design something they love that will be remembered for decades afterward and that’s a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly! So my top three things I strive to do with every couple are:

  1. Respond to emails quickly! I always respond same-day if possible, even with new inquiries! I know what it’s like to sit around waiting for vendors to respond and it’s a pain!

  2. Design invitations that complement their day-of visions! I always ask about what their style is, what their color palette is, and what their dream invitations should evoke. Even knowing who their other vendors are (photographers, florals, venue) tell me a lot about what kind of look they are going for.

  3. Give them an authentic and honest experience. I always tell my couples I am not here to squeeze them of their money. I price everything fairly and I’m not upcharging my services because they’re for a wedding. I want to establish trust so that my couples know what I’m telling them is truly what’s best for them. I always make suggestions based on their budget without sacrificing quality. I used to be a bride, I know what sticker shock is like!

What can we expect to see from Owl Post Calligraphy over the next year? How are you evolving? Any fun projects or products you’re offering?

This year I am aiming to really improve my couples’ experiences with me in terms of ease and shorter timelines. With my semi-custom collections, I want the process to be as seamless as possible while also offering designs they’ve never seen before and feel truly custom. A few of my collections this year are more luxe, using multiple printing processes and unique sizes. I hope to make ordering day-of details to match these collections easier too!

 

 

What is the best part of owning your own business in this wedding industry, and serving couples in this stage of life? Why do you continue to do what you do?

The wedding industry is amazing because we are celebrating LOVE and isn’t that what each human being is striving to find, give, and receive in this life? :) There’s nothing more amazing to being a part of two people’s celebration of eternal love. It’s also the day that everyone goes BIG to make their dreams come true. There are not many times in our lives where we get to literally throw something that is just like it’s out of a fairytale! It’s so exciting and once in a lifetime! I continue to do what I do because not only do I love what I do, but I love the couples that I work with and making their memories is so rewarding and such an honor!

 

Website: http://owlpostcalligraphy.com

Semi-Custom Collections: http://owlpostcalligraphy.com/all-collections

Facebook: http://facebook.com/owlpostcalligraphy

Instagram: http://instagram.com/owlpostcalligraphy

How to Make the Best of Your Bridal Appointment

Last week, I had the privilege of introducing you to Gabi Lee, owner of the Atlanta bridal shop, The Sentimentalist. Now that you have gotten the chance to hear more of Gabi's story (and if you haven't, you should take a moment to read it), Gabi has been so kind to share her knowledge and wisdom on how to make the best of your bridal appointment when looking for your dream gown.

 

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Trunk shows! Could you explain what those are, and why a bride might want to consider going to a trunk show, versus a regular appointment? Biggest benefits or differences?

Trunk shows are the cool ;) But not as complicated as people want to think, ha! It’s just a weekend where we love on one of our designers a little extra. Let’s say it’s the Rebecca Schoneveld Trunk Show weekend (which it is, btw!)- that means extra and sometimes new pieces from her NY studio will be joining our permanent collection in ATL for a few days. AND all of her pieces are 10% for that weekend only AND maybe she comes along for a little visit. It’s the perfect time to come if you know you are in love with that particular designer or already have your perfect dress picked out and have enough time to snag the discount or meet the designer.

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What are 3-5 things a bride should do to prepare for a trunk show/appointment to make the best use of it?

If your schedule allows, only come along for a trunk show weekend if you know you dig that designer. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a bummer for you and one of the waitlist girls, ya know? So, do a little research on the visiting styles- online or on IG- and if you have some faves picked out, there is a bigger chance they will be in store during the trunk show weekend ;) Bring your pertinent people and come ready to buy because trunk show weekends are the ONLY time we extend special order discounts AND you’re fave dress might be on it’s way out of the shop by Monday morning! Otherwise, prepare per usual - bring supportive people, some basic wedding plans, your budget, and an open mind ;)

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What are 3-5 common misconceptions about trunk show/regular appointments, that you wish brides knew?

Oh geez, there are SO many, ha! With trunk shows, we are often asked if clients will be limited to only viewing and trying on trunk show dresses- which is a big ‘No way!’. You’ll have access to our full collection per usual- just with some extra special visitors and that designer-specific discount in the mix. Trunk shows also don’t mean that EVERYTHING from the designer is visiting. There are everyday misconceptions about everything from the special order process to certain style “rules”. So no- the dresses are not made by hand in our back room while ya wait AND there is really no such thing as “I can’t pull off sleeves, or ivory, or an a-line dress”. Of course you can, silly!

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I know that appointments can be emotionally draining for the bride. I’m sure you’ve seen instances when there are a lot of people accompanying a bride to her appointment, sometimes saying things that are cutting, unnecessary, or hurtful. What should a bride do in these situations, and for future brides, how many people should they bring with them?

This is the #1 way an appointment goes south, and we see it every. darn. day. It can already be a serious challenge for a girl to find a dress she feels truly beautiful in, so it still baffles me when moms, sisters, and friends make the process harder or criticize the bride to the point that she won’t feel beautiful in anything. Our most important job as consultants is to uncover the dress of your dreams, not push it on you, to assist YOU in feeling confident and beautiful in the dress YOU truly want- ya know, hopefully enough to buy it! Or even just enough to have a good time and feel pretty in. I suggest bringing a shopping team with the same priorities, which is smaller than you think...smaller than you think you want, but oh so worth it. Just remember that you are not required to bring your wedding party along and you do not “owe” anyone your wedding day look. It’s mega personal- let it be.

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Any tips or encouraging words for brides who are in the wedding planning (and dress hunting!) journey?

Enjoy your engagement. Stress is expensive, so make choices that will keep you the most calm, even if they seem to cost a little extra at first. And when it comes to dress shopping, don’t overdo it. Spend a solid wine night doing a little online digging and then just visit stores that carry your vibe and your pricepoint. Avoid FOMO and snow blindness by NOT over shopping. My general wedding planning advice is always to invest in a great team (a wedding planner, lots of service staff, a professional photographer, etc) so you can relax on your wedding day- and same goes for the dress. Find a great store that cares about you from shopping day 1 until the day you pack up your wedding dress for storage. We care. A lot. So, get with it ;)

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Meeting Gabi Lee of The Sentimentalist

I met Gabi in the fall of 2015 at a workshop where I was an assistant. While I instantly felt drawn to her passion for design and gowns, her love for her business and those around her is what struck me the most. She owns the sweetest little shop, called The Sentimentalist, currently located on the west side of Atlanta. However, this is going to change, pretty soon! 

Over the last 3 years, I've been able to not only myself grow as an artist and wedding photographer, but also see how her shop and team has grown. Since meeting, we've been able to collaborate on various projects together: from editorials to photographing different details and items around her shop, to trunk shows. One of the things that I love most about Gabi is how kind and passionate she is. She is so good at reading people, and instantly makes them feel loved, welcome, and at ease - you know that she's on your team - something that is so important when you try to go find your wedding gown. I am so excited to introduce you to Gabi! Stay tuned, because in the next installment, you'll be able to read more about some tips and tricks to making your wedding gown experience the best.

 

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Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, Gabi! I’d love for readers to get an idea of how it all began. Then, we can go from there.

I can confidently say that attaching yourself to a small-business owner is pretty much THE way to do things, if you aren’t interested in a more traditional career route. I found myself working for Elizabeth Dye and her store, The English Dept., while juggling college, restaurant jobs, and an internship with a wedding planning company, while unsure of any of these paths in particular. Once I started to move up in her company, I started to understand more about the the business model and subsequently fell in love big time. And I started to see the potential value of opening something similar in ATL. After my mother visited me in Portland and I eventually started making plans to move home, we began to brainstorm a store of our own ;) I guess you can say I stumbled into it… but thoughtfully...if that makes sense.
 

What’s it like to have a brick & mortar?

A challenge and a blessing, like everything ;) It’s a real, living business with constant increasing overhead, personale challenges, and endless accounting. We are just as much product and experience based and we are a service company, so it’s a LOT for one company to accomplish well, especially with increasing reproduction competition, online retailers and re-sell companies undercutting us at every turn. The brick & mortar market is generally pretty dire at the moment, but bridal is well positioned to survive if it’s done with unparalleled customer service as well as the flexibility to change with the digital market. I plan on doing the best we can, but every time you order a wedding dress online….a pretty store somewhere dies- it’s just ugly facts.

 

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How did you come up with the name “The Sentimentalist”, and what should we know about your business? I know that you love vintage pieces, and even, the red couch was your grandmother’s!

I’m pretty sure Rhiannon, our sales manager/my bestie/sister/co-shop-founder brought it up after a night of white wine and biz brainstorming. We couldn’t connect with anything “super bridal” that felt genuine. We weren’t the romantic, or the idealist, but we were something that felt significant, special, and sentimental.  We care a lot about the quality of everything we sell and imagine them as keepsakes in the making, which is why vintage inspires us and our designer collection. It also inspires the way we do business, old-school-above-and-beyond service, that recreates the luxury shopping experiences of the past. Everything is thoughtful, from the tea service to the decor- enter grandma’s red couch ;)


Who is a Sentimental Bride, and what about your store stands out in their minds?

Our bride is cool duh- a little bit the non-bride, a little bit the fantastical bride, and a little the fashion bride. Somehow also simple and most concerned with comfort. We only work with small, independent, North American designers and we know just about everything about their collections. So we are highly educated to find or create the perfect fit for all kinds of sentimental brides. We are also low-pressure, well-prepared, and keep our brides educated along the way. These things contribute to strong relationships with our clients and a pretty great reputation for our service. This service, along with our pretty space and cool collection, sets us apart from most...we hope!

 

What are 3 things that you strive to do for every single bride who walks into your door? How do you know that you’ve been successful in doing these things?

We usually have to spend some amount of time disarming our brides, ha. A lot of them are either dreading this process or have had some sort of horrible bridal experience in their recent past. We embrace the chill, boho gal with open arms and understanding ears, so watching that defense break down and this certain crazy PEACE come over our gals when they realize they are somewhere that understands them...that’s goal #1. Seeing them feel beautiful and comfortable and then beautiful again, all while feeling comfortable...that’s #2. Selling them a dress, when it’s the right fit, that might be #3.
 

Who are your most popular/favorite designers?

We love all of our designers, of course! And that’s because they are all unique ;) They don’t just crank out repetitive collections of ‘this year’s trends’, but rather create smart, timeless, and versatile looks. We love Daughters of Simone for their LA-boho-babe vibes, Carol Hannah for her couture custom color ball gowns, and Leanne Marshall for her ballet perfect fits. We are grateful to have close relationships with each of them that foster symbiotic sales and lasting growth.
 

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What trends do you foresee and love currently, and what trends are so overused that it pains you?

Unique embellishments are all the rage r n- pearls, opal, moonstones, one-of-a-kind laces, and iridescent fabrics. I’m down with most of it, but subtly is always key. Overused - all iterations of the “naked dress”- unless it’s epically executed, I don’t consider the absence of fashion to be all that fashion, ya know?


What can we expect to see from The Sentimentalist over the next year? How are you evolving?

Our biggest moves yet! Ha! Deets are still on the down low, but we’re hoping to be able to see & dress twice as many brides by this Summer ;) Our retail & vintage collections will be diversifying and growing and we hope to be able to help brides with even more of their dressing process, from undergarments to alterations. Change or die, apparently...so, we are changin’!


What is the best part of owning your own business in this wedding industry, and serving women in this stage of life? Why do you continue to do what you do?

One of the most rewarding things about what we specifically do is dismantling the often horrible and sometimes scary preconceptions that many brides have. Watching a girl fall in love with herself in a dress, when she expected to hate the process and maybe even her body, that’s the real good stuff. That makes it obvious that we are still relevant, and needed, and a place of refuge for some women. That’s enough, really.