A Tale of Two Invitations

Years ago we distilled our wedding invitation offerings into four distinct collections. The purpose of this was to streamline our rather time consuming process in a way that left room for customization but would speed up the design and typesetting. Each collection focuses on a specific style and era of typography that gives us parameters in which to work while maintaining flexibility of papers, colors and overall tone. Of all the collections, the City of Big Ornaments is near to my heart because of its ties to the city and the challenges of creating a representational work with the ornamentation in the studio. It's also one of our most popular invitations and we've done versions of Phoenix, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Houston and of course, Chicago.

Emmy and Ira came to us desiring this style for not one but two invitations, both Chicago and New York. They planned to have two wedding celebrations with slightly different guest lists, so we had the fun of altering the skylines and colors to accommodate both places. We like to cater the skylines specifically to buildings or places each couple prefers, even if it is only a rough representation. Emmy and Ira had two such requests for their New York invitation:archjudsonHere they are in ornamental form, along with a shot of the final print:


emmyirainvite7These are the final invitations for both locations. We used heavy kraft and white paper stock, both 100% recycled with speckles. Mossy green envelopes worked for both sets, and we flipped the color palette for ink on each.


emmyirainvite4This style works best with simple typography that projects a mid-century vibe. It's not too overpowering or stylized so as to compete with the ornamental cityscape. Emmy and Ira liked the idea of the type looking like business forms from the 50's.



Temmyira1Our collaboration with soon-to-be-married couples often ends with the invitations, but we had the pleasure of working with Emmy and Ira on a number of additional pieces to coordinate with their invitations. Skipping a guest book, they decided to print two large pieces that could be signed by all of their guests and then framed in their home. Again, we designed these to mimic the invitations with some different elements between the two. These cityscapes were created with wood type and ornaments given the 18x14" size of the prints, and they are a little more generic so they could be easily flipped and repeated.





Temmyiralog2Cds as wedding favors are a popular choice and we created simple pocket sleeves for these here. Years ago I designed this custom die for pocket sleeves to resemble vintage LP sleeves; we've used it for hundreds of projects.

emmyiracdLast but not least, Emmy and Ira needed little placecards for their Chicago event. These are simple tented cards with just a piece of the skyline in miniature form. Individual names are handwritten... can you imagine setting type to print each individual one?!

emmyiraplacecardAs we acquire more type and ornaments, I look forward to creating new, varied and more complex cities and representational images in the spirit of clever letterpress printers of the past. But we can't accomplish this without the enthusiasm and imagination of our current and future clients.

Going to Tarrytown

Like Marissa and Ned, Sarv and Graig were keen on wedding invitations that would resemble mini posters and they had great inspiration in the form of this vintage book cover: ramona

Given that letterpress printing doesn't have the opaque vibrancy of screen printing, we ran a few tests to see if we could successfully achieve two light colors on dark blue paper and were happy with the result; the colors were muted in a faded, old fashioned way. We decided on creating a piece that was 7x10", so that it would fold to 5x7" and mail in a standard A7 envelope. The image worked perfectly as a two-color linoleum cut after a little adjustment to the overall size and placement:


The type is set in a mix of deco-meets-nouveau styles to pull the overall design into a more cohesive and streamlined form. It is printed in gold to pop out from the navy paper. The typesetting was very particular to achieve a subtle curve along the artwork.




I loved having an opportunity to use our DeVinne type for their names; it's a lovely and quirky typeface from the turn of the century that sadly doesn't get enough play in the studio.



The invitation folds in half, and on the front panel (what you see when you pull it out of the envelope) is a snippet of the overall artwork with their initials rendered in our mortised initial caps and an ampersand from the 19th century typeface, Dakota.



The envelopes are sour apple green, and the reply cards are pale yellow to give a little pop to the color palette. We continued the abridged image on the envelopes in gold (the return address is on the back flap) and carried through the multiple typefaces on the reply.



Here's a shot of the final suite. I intentionally did not score a few so that Sarv and Graig would have some unfolded ones as keepsakes or to frame.


Stephanie + Keith

Stephanie and I met at IndieWed back in January, and she was instantly smitten with our Wanted! Wedding Collection. She loved the idea of the 3-panel, accordion fold style, so that their names could be large and the details could be on the second panel. We looked at a number of color options, but greens seemed to stick, so we went with a dark chartreuse and warm gray on textured off white card stock. Gotta love the 'messiness' in this wood type!

These little fan-like ornaments used throughout are new to the studio. They were a recent purchase from Skyline Type Foundry and have already put in appearances on a number of projects.

More little ornaments from the same Skyline collection. The more type the merrier... and check out the shading on 'DINNER'. Can't get that detail in magnesium or polymer plates.

And it's finished out with a mad libs-style perforated reply postcard.

While working on the invites, we also put together some fun flat cards to be used as thank you notes and anything else the couple might need them for. And because Keith goes by both Conley and, ahem, Keith, we put their first and middle names on the cards. These use some of our tiniest wood type, which is just shy of an inch.

We had such a good time with the invites and note cards, Keith wanted to do a run of rehearsal dinner invitations as well. These could be more playful and definitely push the Wild West theme (unfortunately we didn't have any small gun ornaments as requested, but did have some pretty awesome manicules, or little hands).

There's a lot of heavy forced justification in this layout, which is a great way to tie together disparate typefaces. And the diamond shaped linotype slugs were found at the always great Platen Press Museum type sale back in May. The pointers next to 'given by' are over 100 years old, and were made right here in Chicago.

To stand out from the invite, we printed on kraft stock and worked in brick colored envelopes. What's really WANTED! in this picture? The chance to work with Stephanie & Keith again!