Stationers share their all-time favorite ideas for making your paper goods uniquely your own without breaking the bank.

By Lauren Katims
November 19, 2020
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Credit: Amanda Lane

Adding special, meaningful touches to your wedding invitations is an easy way to personalize your celebration right off the bat. After all, your paper goods are the first element of the big day that guests will see—why not make them as unique as your love story?

Maybe you want to work in a symbol that speaks to your favorite shared hobby, an illustration of your alma mater or the place you got engaged, or your favorite colors. Whatever you decide, know that subtly incorporating glimpses of your life can give even the most formal invitations a hint of personality, making them more fun for your guests to receive in the mail. An added bonus: Personalizing your invitations doesn't bump up the final cost as much as adding textured layers of material or choosing high-end or unique paper would, says Erin Burkhard, owner of Be In Love Designs, which means there are a number of options available to you that won't break your budget.

Look to your locale for inspiration.

Whether it's the one where you live or the spot where you're tying the knot, look to the town or city around you for inspiration. An illustration of the city's skyline or some of your town's well-known landmarks can really provide a sense of place, and since these can be flat-printed onto an invite, they don't have to cost a ton of money. Maps highlighting important places—either from your relationship or that will be part of the wedding weekend—can be fun, too.

And don't be afraid to work with your stationer on modifications to any landmark-specific designs they already have. While adjusting their original design will cost more, it's generally not as expensive as commissioning an entirely new design. Rob Charlton, owner of Goosefish Press, once changed Boston's famous Citgo sign to a Shell sign in an illustration of the city's Kenmore Square because his client worked for Shell Oil Company. For another client who wanted an illustration of Fenway Park, Charlton added his client's grandmother's senior housing unit into the buildings surrounding the baseball field. For another, he incorporated the office building where the couple works. "I'll try to add a little thing to stock skylines," he says.

Highlight your shared (or separate!) hobbies.

Do you two love to cook together? Symbols that speak to your time in the kitchen could easily be worked into an illustrated crest. Are you travel buffs? A passport-inspired design with "stamps" from all the places you've been can help tell your unique love story. And if you have entirely different passions? Burkhard says you should play those up, too. After all, not every couple loves the exact same things. Opposites attract! "I tell couples to really look into what their particular interests are," says Burkhard, who recently created a colorful invitation combining the interests of a bride who liked sewing and a groom who liked skateboarding. "It was completely them and it totally fit their venue."

Go back to your roots.

If you and your partner plan to highlight your different cultural backgrounds during the wedding, start by doing so on your invitations. It's a great way to tie the whole event together. Our pros suggest printing one side of the invitation in English and the other side in the language spoken to really blend traditions and ensure everyone feels involved.

Don't forget the rest of the invitation.

Have fun and get creative with the envelope liner, says Michelle Espinosa of Paper & Lace. If your wedding has a theme, the liner is a good place to include elements that speak to it. For example, Charlton illustrated nautical flags on the liner of an invitation for an oceanfront wedding.

For couples who want their invitation to stay traditional and formal, use the insert cards to include a personal illustration or more casual text, says Espinosa. That way, you have the beautiful, classic invitation you've always wanted, but a more fun, personal piece you can cherish, too. And if budget is a concern—requiring you to pick just one personalized element—Charlton recommends opting for the personal liner over a custom stamp, which can oftentimes go unnoticed.

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