I love everything paper and stationary and I’m known to send my friends and family written correspondence – whether it’s birthday and holiday cards, thank you’s or just “thinking of you” notes. So, it was important to me to have wedding invitations I love.
While we could’ve gone with a pre-made option from a site like Minted (which has amazing designs and I use for our Christmas cards every year), I wanted some custom elements – specifically a custom monogram and a map.
I wanted our wedding invitations to be simple, elegant, clean and romantic. Here’s the Pinterest board for the inspiration for the wedding invitations:
To start the wedding invitation design, we needed a monogram. It would brand our wedding and we planned to use the monogram on all paper goods. I wanted our monogram to incorporate the greenery and nature of the Loire Valley with the majesty and grandeur of the Abbey.
I turned to my sister, Christine of Wood & Grain, to design the monogram. She has always been the artsy and creative sibling in the family. I’m so proud of her and her successful stationary and handmade decor shop inspired by nature.
Based on the various monogram designs on the inspiration board, Christine came up with the following iterations of the design. The first two designs felt a little too bulky and she came up with the last design to slim down the shield and to incorporate the leaves as part of the shield design.
I really loved how the final design turned out once it had been digitized:
Main Invite Design
Once we had the monogram, we could move forward with designing the rest of the wedding invitation. We wanted to keep the invitation suite simple and provide only a main invite and a map. Since we had guests from North America and from France, we decided to forgo the RSVP card (especially because we didn’t want the RSVPs to get lost in the mail). Side story: a friend has sent us their wedding invitation from Belgium four months before their wedding… and we didn’t get it until 2 months after we had attended their wedding! Instead, we opted for RSVPify (an online service) to manage our guest list.
First off, we had to create two sets of invitations – one in English and one in French. I put together the verbiage in English and had the Frenchman translate it into French. We looked at samples online in both English and French to ensure the correct wording and etiquette.
To make our design into reality, we turned to our friend and graphic artist, Kelsey Estrada. We provided her with the verbiage and our design brief. Luckily the Frenchman works in a creative and artistic industry so he knew all the details we had to provide: including specifications on size, color, font style, etc. Kelsey digitized the monogram and the map elements and put all the designs together and ensured that they fit the specifications required for the printers. Here’s how the final digital file turned out:
Side Note regarding the RSVP Due Date
U.S. wedding etiquette typically recommends asking guests to reply two to three weeks prior to the wedding in order to provide the caterer with the correct guest count. We asked for our RSVPs to be returned two months before our wedding.
Because we were having a destination wedding, we took some liberties with our RSVP due date. We knew that with our North American guests, attending our wedding would require travel plans, which meant, they would definitely know if they were attending at least two months before the wedding. For our French guests, we realized our wedding fell into summer vacation (when most of France is shut down and the French have gone on their month long vacation). This also required pre-planning on their part and we knew most of our French guests would know if they would be attending our wedding by the end of June.
This date also aligned with the time period we would be visiting the Abbey for our first (and only) site visit. We wanted to make sure we had a good idea of how many guests we would expect so we could finalize our venue details while we were there. And to be honest, asking guests to RSVP well ahead of time minimizes the stress that can happen last minute (for example, figuring out how many favors to buy, escort cards, etc. which we had to ship well ahead of time to France).
If you’re planning a destination wedding, I would recommend you choose a RSVP reply by date based on what makes sense for you and your wedding plans.
The Map Design
I was set on including a map in our invitation. If you know me, not only do I love to travel, I love maps. I also wanted to design the map myself and to include a bit of my art and creativity in our wedding invitations. The two types of map designs I liked were the hand-drawn look and the watercolor design — see more of the inspiration on my Wedding Invitation Maps Pinterest board.
I am not an artist, so I knew the watercolor option was out of the picture. Since I was creating a semi-DIY’d invitation, a watercolor map would also be difficult to reproduce, especially if I wanted to go with letterpress printing. So I went with the hand drawn option and had so much fun researching the Loire Valley and sketching out these elements.
I wanted to include Paris and the iconic Tour Eiffel on the map… well, because it’s Paris! And also, most of our guests would be coming from Paris. For the Loire Valley elements I included vineyards and a gabare (a traditional boat found on the Loire river). As a reference point, we included the nearest largest town to the wedding location, which is Saumur, mostly known for the mushrooms grown there, and also a reputable wine region. And for Fontevraud, I sketched the Abbey.
For each of the images, I made sure they had definitive lines which would be captured in the letterpress printing. I scanned each of my illustrations to Kelsey and she did her magic and I love how it all turned out. She also included the compass detail on our monogram which added a cute touch to the map.
In Part 2 of our wedding invitation series I’ll discuss the type of paper we selected for the invitations & envelopes and how I found our letterpress printer.
Unless otherwise credited, all photos are by LesSoufflet.com