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  • Guest Seating

    By far one of the most time-consuming tasks of planning a wedding is figuring out where everyone is going to sit for the reception. Unless you intend on having an informal setting where guests can choose their own seat, a little directionality is going to be necessary to avoid seating confusion.

    I frequently get asked if I design place cards (the answer being yes), and I always end up responding with the same question: Do you want place cards, escort cards, or both?

    Unsurprisingly, this leads to a lot more questions when I explain that place cards and escort cards are two different things.

    Place cards (or place rocks, or place leaves, or whatever creative idea you come up with) are typically waiting at a guest's seat before they arrive. They'll list the guest's name and chosen entrée, if applicable. Designating someone's seat at a wedding is a very old-fashioned custom that isn't usually seen nowadays. I can only assume that it dates back to when it was thought to be improper to have the same sex sitting next to each other, or even for husband and wife to be elbow to elbow at the dinner table. The idea was that using place cards to designate guests' seats for them would invigorate the flow of conversation, keeping it animated and fresh, as well as keeping married couples from getting handsy during the first course.

    Escort cards, on the other hand, are not quite so specific, and will normally be laid out on a table or some other creative way for guests to pluck up as they enter the reception venue. They'll indicate the guest's name, table number, and chosen entrée, if applicable. Place cards can work in tandem with escort cards, but are not necessary.

    And the third option, which many couples don't even think of, is seating charts. Escort cards and place cards are really only necessary if your guests were asked to choose an entrée when they RSVP'd because said meal is usually indicated on the escort/place card. However, if you've opted to have a buffet reception or family-style dinner, neither card is needed because guests will fend for themselves. Seating charts can help cut down on cost and waste, depending on how fancy you make them. Seating charts lists all of the guests and which table they'll be seated at. Keep in mind that while it may be tempting to organize your seating chart by table (and prettier), listing your guests in alphabetical order will make it easier for everyone to find their table and prevent a traffic jam at the entrance of your reception!

  • The Electronic RSVP

    In a perfect world, everyone wants their big day to be three things: memorable, fun, and as inexpensive as humanly possible. With what the wedding industry is today, that last item is not an easy thing to check off when you're trying to create your dream wedding. Being frugal is difficult when you come across a venue, a dress, a cake, or even a centerpiece that makes your heart flutter with excitement. Obviously, that's not what your wedding is about, but no one should ever tell you to dream smaller for such an important day. Your big day is exactly that, yours.

    Thanks to Pinterest, DIY is huge in the modern wedding world, and many couples have found great ways to save money on their big day. My friend built his own centerpieces for his wedding two years ago, while another skipped the assembly fee for her invitations by stuffing, stamping, and sealing them herself (with the help of her fiancé and a lot of wine). 

    Digital is all the rage now, too. I get many clients who ask what I think about having an online RSVP instead of a paper one. Many couples opt to have their guests go to a webpage to RSVP or even create an email address specifically for their wedding. While I'm clearly biased and will always prefer a traditional paper response card, there are many benefits to having your guests RSVP online:

    • Less paper. The most obvious benefit of a digital RSVP is that there's no paper involved (unless you opt to have an insert informing guests that you're doing an online RSVP). Not only does this mean less waste (you should always recycle your response cards), but this also means less time spent on the designing, printing, and assembling of your entire wedding suite.  
    • No postage. If there's nothing to mail, then that's one less stamp you need to purchase. Postage can often be the most expensive part of your wedding suite, especially if the mailing envelope requires extra stamps.
    • No mailing. No one enjoys dealing with the post office, especially when mail gets lost. Digital RSVPs remove the worry and wait of the postal system. No more lost response cards!
    • Less money. Obviously, if you're not having a traditional RSVP done, you're saving quite a bit of money. For couples who opt to list the URL of their RSVP on their invite (I see nothing wrong with this, but some choose to do a separate insert instead), they're saving on paper, envelopes, postage, design, and printing. 

    Keep in mind that there are some disadvantages to a digital response card. Before deciding to take this route, look over your guest list and make sure that you're comfortable with the online abilities of everyone you're inviting. Is there someone who can assist Great Aunt Muriel in RSVPing? Are you posititve that everyone has access to the Internet? I understand that it's 2017, but everyone's situation is different.

    Like a traditional RSVP, you will still undoubtedly have to track down some people via phone or email when they miss your response deadline. With a digital RSVP, you may even get a few guests who call or email to respond. Be patient, and make sure to track all of your responding guests in a spreadsheet. Some online services, such as RSVPify and anRSVP, even have built in tracking for users. When using a digital RSVP, it's best to give guests an extra week to respond. Traditionally, guests are asked to respond 4–6 weeks before your big day. Building that extra week into your timeline will allow everyone to respond in a timely manner and cut down on your stress! 

  • Snap Your Wedding

    Wedding hashtags are still very popular, and couples get pretty creative coming up with different ways to involve their guests on social media. Snapchat, while not new anymore, is still expanding the ways it engages its users, and one of the best ways is opening the creation of geofilters to the general public two years ago.

    For reasons I cannot fathom, custom wedding filters for Snapchat haven't caught on like wildfire. A custom geofilter is a unique feature, great for weddings and any other event that you want to add a distinct and personal touch to. They are a fun way to engage guests in your big day and get some truly memorable snapshots to look back on later (or not, if you're not quick to screenshot them!).

    I will now be offering custom wedding filters to all of my clients. If you're looking to have one designed, shoot me an email at aheinrichdesign@gmail.com. Pricing will vary depending the location and duration of your custom Snapchat geofilter. I look forward to adding this fun factor to your big day!

    Note: a single Snapchat geofilter can only be applied to one location. If your ceremony and reception are in two different places, I would suggest applying the filter to the reception instead of the ceremony, as it's definitely the location where you're more likely to get the fun and silly Snaps! Plus, you really don't want guests on their phones during your entire ceremony. 

  • Question: How far in advance should I contact you about designing invitations for my child's birthday?

    Like any event, you should plan ahead. While a children's birthday bash may not need the extended timeline that a wedding does, it's still a good idea to contact me at least two to three months before the scheduled party.

    Even if you haven't set a date or place to hold the party, just getting the design process started ahead of time is a good idea. It gets the ball rolling, and hopefully once you do pick a time and place to host your child's birthday, we've already got the invite design mostly done, and I can just pop in the missing information.

    While I would love to undertake every party and event that comes my way, it is incredibly hard for me to accommodate rush jobs. For events that need 10–30 invitations, please contact me at least two months beforehand. For events that need 31–50 invitations, please contact me at least three months beforehand. Anything larger than 50 invitations should be given a timeline of four to six months before the planned event. You should allow a minimum of two to three weeks for printing once you've approved the final invitation design. And remember, specialty printing such as metallic inks, letterpress, and hand-cutting can add to the length of time for project completion.

  • Question: Whose name should go first on the wedding invitation?

    The debate over who should have their name go first on the invite is a very old one that everyone wants to weigh in on when you're getting married. Your Great Aunt Muriel will probably tell you that the bride's name should go first, and, depending on the scenario, she may not be wrong. Traditionally, the bride's name is listed first, but this convention is rooted in the expectation that her parents are hosting the wedding. And how do you know who's hosting? Easy. Whichever set of parents (if either) is footing most of the bill is considered the host, therefore their names get listed at the top of the invite and their child gets listed first.

    Let's be real; it's 2016. While many parents still opt to finance their children's big day, today there are couples that pay for their own weddings, either out of necessity or choice. And nowadays, it's also not unusual for both sets of parents to contribute significantly to their children's wedding. Additionally, the rule of listing the bride first doesn't necessarily apply if the wedding is for a same-sex couple. Follow these simple tips to figure out the best wording for your wedding invitation without causing strife with your family (especially the in-laws!). 

    • As stated above, money plays a big part in deciding who the "official" wedding host is, and, therefore, who gets listed in what order on a wedding invitation. If you and your intended are financing most of your big day yourself, you rightfully get to call the shots on name order. However, if you want to be sensitive to your parents' wishes, ask them if they have an opinion on who gets listed first.
    • On the off chance that both sets of parents decide to contribute financially in a significant way, it's best to sit everyone down and decide who should be listed first on the invitation. Usually, whoever is paying for the venue is logically declared the host, but all parents should be listed on the invitation, host parents first followed by the other set of parents. 
    • If you and your betrothed decide that you don't want to list any specific parents on the invitation, but still want to make it feel inclusive, phrases such as "together with their loved ones," "together with their parents," or "together with their family and friends" are great ways to spread the love equally without naming names. This is also a good solution for children of divorced or remarried parents, or couples who have parents making roughly equal contributions to the wedding.
    • Still can't decide if you or your partner should be listed first when you're both hosting? Alphabetical order is an easy fix for the situation, or even writing out both of your names on top of each other helps. Sometimes one order looks better aesthetically than the other! Consider how the descenders and ascenders of your respective names may clash. 

    Have a specific scenario in mind and still not sure how to word your invitation? Shoot me an email at aheinrichdesign@gmail.com, and I'll help you compose the best wording for your wedding invite!