Selecting your perfect invitation and saving money along the way!

I've been selling wedding invitations for over seven years now and I can honestly say that I love what I do. I enjoy meeting wonderful young ladies and help them plan for the single most important day of their life. Finding the perfect wedding invitation is critical as it is the first impression your guests will have of what type of wedding they will be attending. Sure, the wedding dress is super-important, as is the wedding cake, and the wedding music, but your guests can't take them home and hang them on their refrigerator for weeks!

So, how do you find your perfect wedding invitation? The first thing that I ask a bride when I sit down with her is if she already has something in mind for what she is wanting. Some brides will already have their mind made up, so my job is made really easy.

For those that are less decisive, I then ask them what type of wedding they are planning - what their wedding dress is like, where will the ceremony be held, what time is the wedding, what are the plans for the reception, what is her budget like... This allows me to find out her style and her financial situation -- is she traditional or trendy, plain or fancy, upscale or casual? From there I can pretty well figure out which invitation will fit her perfectly.

For the traditional bride on a budget: I usually suggest something simple with black ink. The price to change the ink color is very minimal, so don't let those of you who are budget-minded worry about that. However, black ink is the traditional standard. That being said, there are several other colors that will still give off the "formal" feel that aren't black. You can also dress up your invitation by adding an inital or design to the top.

Usually, I start brides off in the thermography section of my wedding invitation books. Thermography is a finishing technique applied after printing that raises the ink and gives the effect of engraved printing. It looks like a genuine engraved invitation, but without the extra expense. The only visual difference between the two is that if you turn them over and look on the back side, you will see a dent on the genuine engraved invitations (a "bruise") that will not be visable on an invitation printed in thermography. In the engraving process, they actually make a metal plate that is pressed into the paper to raise the letters.

Now, for those brides that are traditional and money is no object, then I have no problem selling them genuine engraved if that is what they want! I just feel like I'm ripping off people when I sell them, because it just doesn't make sense to me to spend all that money. But, I also understand when they tell me that they can't settle for anything less than the best, so I'll let them have it!

My husband likes to pick on me and tell me that I'm too honest to be in business. What he means, is that I will tell a bride when she's getting ripped off, even if it means that I'm going to make less money. I have always given 25% off the book prices from the national wedding companies that I represent (Carlson Craft, National Engraving, Regency Thermographers, McPherson's, and NuArt). I feel like I am helping out my customers by saving them a wad of cash and in-turn I get more business because they recommend me to their friends. It's worked for me for over seven years now, so I guess I'll stick with that philosophy!

Then, there are the brides that are more trendy and want something that will make a statement and won't be forgotten easily. For them, I usually start by finding out what colors or theme they will be using with on their big day. If their wedding day is in December, I may recommend a holiday-inspired invitation. If the ceremony is to be held on the beach, a simple invitation with a nautical feel may be the ticket. If they are doing everything red -- they are in luck! There are some exquiste invitations in red these days -- red ink, red paper, a red border, red trendy and so cute!

There are those brides that are into the "fru-fru" invitations (myself included). These brides may be drawn to the invitations that are matched with a vellum overlay or adorned with a coordinating bow. There are tons of precious invitations that fall into this category, but beware -- they more "stuff", the more money!

For the bride that is only concerned with saving money, there are many beautiful invitations for you too!!! Nothing upsets me more than the fact that Wal-Mart sells do-it-yourself invitations. To all of those who have gone that route: TAKE THEM BACK BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE! They cost MORE than some of the high quality invitations printed in thermography (raised lettering) that you can get from a professional printer. They make you think that since they are from Wal-Mart and you have to do them yourself you are getting a good deal. What they don't want you to know is that they usually don't include double envelopes (which is standard on most any invitation from any of the national companies) and that they are only selling you 25 or 50 at a time. If you need 50 invitations or less, then that is the only case in which I can make sense of buying your invitations from Wal-Mart! Ask for the "Tempo" book at any Carlson Craft retailer -- it's full of beautiful invitations and has outstanding prices.

When trying to save money here are some tips:
* Don't order an envelope liner (no one will notice, I promise!)
* Stay away from invitations that have bows, vellum or the "pearlized" stuff on them -- they are beautiful, but they cost more.
* Include your reception information at the bottom of your invitation rather than buying a separate reception card.

Whatever your budget and style, you are bound to find something to fit the occassion. Just keep in mind that with this single piece of paper you are setting the tone for your entire day, so make sure that it is appropriate to your situation. Happy shopping and let me know if I can help you in any way!

The Wedding Day Emergency Kit

You have spent weeks, months and (for some brides) years planning for your big day. It may be small, but something is bound to go wrong, no matter how much forethought you put into every detail. So, we have come up with a list of things to include in an "emergency kit" that you can put together before the big day and then assign someone to keep up with throughout the event for you. This will virtually guarantee you a stree-free day where you will be left to enjoy the experience instead of worrying about any problems that may arise!

Putting together these items for a bride and presenting it to her at a shower is a WONDERFUL idea too!! This would make a great gift from a group of hostesses to provide to the bride. You could go the extra step and put it in a great basket, a toolbox, a sewing basket, or a monogrammed bag that she can use forever -- whatever it is, make sure that it will holdup and withstand multiple handlers and a very busy day! You could also do "his" and "hers" kits.

* Static-cling spray
* Sewing kit, safety pins, scissors
* No-sew fusing (so you can iron a hem back together if it falls out)
* Extra pairs of pantyhose for the girls and socks that match the men's suits (some of them are bound to show up in blue socks and a black suit)!
* Spot/Stain remover
* Two bottles of nail polish -- one for your nails and one for your pantyhose!
* Nail clippers, file, tweesers
* Makeup: lipstick, foundation, powder, blush, mascara, eye shadow, whatever else you use...
* Lotion
* Deodorant
* Hairbrush, comb, hairspray, curlers or curling iron, hair dryer, bobbypins
* Iron
* Extra backs for your earrings
* Extra Glasses, contact lens solution, lens
* Eyedrops that will reduce redness
* Kleenex or handkerchief
* Cotton Balls, Q-tips, Brushes and whatnot to apply makeup with
* Baby wipes or moist towelettes
* Golf Umbrella -- in case of rain -- you will be able to keep most of your dress dry with one of these as opposed to a regular umbrella.
* Straws -- for drinking without ruining your makeup!
* Lint Brush
* Shoe Polish

* Tylenol and Advil (some people can't take one or the other...)
* Antacids
* Gas Relief Pills
* Allergy Medication
* Cold Medicine (NON-Drowsy for sure)
* Throat Lozenges/Cough Drops
* Ace Bandages
* BandAids
* Perscription Medicines (for yourself!)
* Feminine Hygiene products: pads and/or tampons
* Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Mouth Waste, Floss, Mints, Toothpicks
* Mirror (if there isn't a bathroom nearby, or one in the dressing area)

* Bring an extra copy of the scriptures, poems, readings and songs that are going to be used in the ceremony
* Pen, Paper or Notepad, Tape, Stapler, Scissors
* Fully-charged cell phone (make sure it's turned OFF during the ceremony if it will be close enough to be heard).
* A lamintated list of all of your wedding day service providers and their phone number(s).
* A laminated list of your entire weddding party and their phone number(s).
* Clock or Watch

* Snacks
* Bottled water
* Camera (for those priceless candid shots)
* Double sided tape, Masking Tape, Duct Tape, Medical Tape
* Antibacterial Solution
* Sunscreen
* Matches/Lighter
* Loose Change (for vending machines, parking meters, etc.)
* Glue gun and glue sticks; super glue

How do I create a proper Monogram?

Marriage Monogram
The proper way to create a personalized monogram for the married couple is as follows:

* Wife's First Name Initial on the left
* Last Name Initial in the middle
* Husband's First Name Initial on the right


Personal Monogram
The proper way to create a personalized monogram for an individual is as follows.

* First Name Initial on the left
* Last Name Initial in the middle
* Middle Name Initial on the right


Block Letter Monogram
The proper way to create a block letter monogram (or a monogram where all of the letters are the same height) for an individual is as follows.

* First Name Initial on the left
* Middle Name Initial in the middle
* Last Name Initial on the right


Two Letter Monogram
The proper way to create a two letter monogram for an individual is as follows.

* First Name Initial on the left
* Last Name Initial on the right