We officially kicked-off our busy wedding season with Jen and Joe's wedding at Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove, Minnesota over Memorial weekend! Surprisingly, this May wedding was hotter than any wedding day we shot on while living in Hawaii! Jen and Joe shared a first look on the grand staircase at the venue, followed by bride and groom portraits near the golf course! Then the two committed to each other in front of their beloved family and friend!
I love getting to know other colleagues in the Minnesota wedding industry and learning about the services they provide- all while being able to offer my bride's educational tips on wedding planning and recommendations of local wedding vendors. This month I reached out to Burnsville based custom wedding invitation designer Sarah of A Milestone Paper Co. to get the 411 on wedding invitations, design and etiquette! Be sure to check out their website for more information about the services and products they offer and follow them on Instagram to keep up with the latest and greatest!
How did you get started in custom wedding invitation design? I took a roundabout path to get becoming a designer. I have always loved design and sketching, but had never thought of it as career material. I think it seemed too fun to be a job. I became a middle school English teacher, but when our oldest son, Jack, was born I quickly found that I didn’t feel good about balancing teaching and parenting. I always felt that I was shortchanging someone. I took a leave from teaching to be home and eventually started dabbling in invitation design with my sisters. We noticed a mostly unfilled niche for great custom design coupled with hands on customer service to fit all budgets, so A Milestone Paper Co was born.
I’ve often heard guests say that receiving the wedding invitation in the mail gives them their first glimpse of the theme of the wedding and sets the tone for the event, would you agree? I definitely feel the invitations set the tone for the event, but there is more to it even than that. They also reflect the couple’s style and should give you a feel for their personality and the vibe of their wedding. We often include a little nod to something important to the couple - the city skyline, the shape of Minnesota, a sketch of a beloved pet…..
Can you explain the design process, what can a bride expect if she’s interested in custom invitations? It’s always our goal to make the process fun and easy, and often clients say they breathe a sigh of relief after our first meeting knowing that all their questions will be answered and they’ll have lovely, personalized invitations. It starts with a meeting at a coffee shop for local couples or by phone or FaceTime for those who live out of town. We talk about the wedding style and vision and then look through lots of invitations so they can show me things they like and don’t like. I take lots of notes and put all of our ideas together in a set of design ideas sent about a week after our meeting. We then start the fun process of revising to perfect the design.
For a bride that want’s to be eco-friendly but still follow traditional wedding etiquette of sending out paper invitations in the mail, what options do they have? In addition to offering recycled paper options, we often suggest sending a reply post card rather than a card/envelope to save on the envelope stock. We also have many suites that combine information onto just two cards rather than the three plus cards traditionally used. Finally, some couples are sending a beautiful paper invitation, but utilizing an online RSVP option to save the paper in that way.
When should a couple send out their wedding invitations to guests? Invitations are sent out about eight weeks ahead of time unless it’s a destination wedding. In that case, they would go out about 10-12 weeks ahead of time.
Do you offer assistance in mailing the invitations suites, such as figuring out postage, purchasing stamps etc.? Most couples pick up their invitations from me ready to stuff, seal and send on their own. I do offer mailing services as well though. I’m also happy to weigh the invitation suite to help in determining the correct postage. For couples who would like to include custom postage I’m happy to create the design and order the postage.
Why should a couple invest in custom wedding invitations? The custom process has two important benefits. First, you will end up with designs that are a perfect reflection of you and your style – no settling. And, just as important, you’ll have help every step of the way with questions, etiquette, and advice. We always aim to be a sweet spot in the wedding planning process.
A special thank you to Sarah for sharing her knowledge of custom wedding invitation design and sending us fabulous samples to photograph!
When Coleman and I got engaged in Hawaii in 2011, I wasn't yet shooting weddings, I had never been a bridesmaid and I probably had attended less than five weddings in my entire life. I had ZERO clue of what happened on a wedding day yet alone how to plan one.
The only thing we knew that we wanted from the start was a unique ceremony/reception location and to have a debt-free wedding.
Since our wedding five years ago, I have had the fortune of immersing myself in the industry as a wedding photographer and boy oh boy are there some things I would have done differently along with some things we did that I would still highly recommend. I figured I'd share my confessions and recommendations as a former bride now turned industry pro!
- Hire help. I was a control freak at the time (and still am)- not in a Bridezilla sense because I like to think I was still sweet as a pea (bridesmaids can you back me up here!?)- but I had to plan and be a part of every detail. Our wedding was unique in the sense that we rented out a piece of land on a lake in Wisconsin which had never been done before at this particular location (goal number one checked!) It was incredible but with it meant I had to plan EVERY single detail, the things you don't think of- like how are garbage cans going to get there, who is going empty them throughout the night etc? Luckily, we have very loving and generous family and friends who I detailed with a list of uhummm... "chores," I guess you could say? Looking back, I wish I would have hired a wedding planner and help so that our dear loved ones could enjoy the day and relax; after all the wedding was just as much for them as us.
- Take a honeymoon right after the wedding. I've only been on one honeymoon but I have a feeling there's just something about the hype and excitement of taking that trip right after the wedding day. We got married on a Saturday, spent Sunday relaxing and then flew off to the DR Monday. It still felt fun and appropriate to where my embellished "Bride," tank top to the airport- which meant lots of well wishes and excitement and a few free drinks from strangers on the plane down there! Plus after all of that hard work and planning, a vacay is definitely well deserved!
- Book a videographer. When we were going through our budget the first thing we cut was the videographer. Our rationale was, when in the world would we sit down and watch a video of ourselves? Fast forward five years later and this is my BIGGEST REGRET. Wedding videography has come so far and there are some insanely talented videographers. And to answer the question I posed above- I'd love to watch our wedding video every anniversary and someday show our little Rocco daddy's Magic Mike version of the garter toss and dance!
- Stay humble the day of. Although I was a control freak leading up to the wedding, when the day actually came I knew I had done everything in my power to communicate my desires for the day, but that doesn't mean everything would pan out as I envisioned and I went into the day ok with that. My only expectation the day of was that as long as Coleman showed up, I was going to have the best day ever-and I did! Even though you've spent hours on hours, and thousands of dollars on this day, try to remember what it's ultimately about- which is the union of you and your soulmate. Don't sweat the small stuff. Rain, wilted flowers, traffic or a late bridal party, in the big scheme of life and marriage, it's all small stuff.
- Stay within budget. Yes you only get one wedding day, but do you really want to spend the first few months of marriage or in some cases years paying off that one day? Someone once told me getting married was like buying a $20,000+ car and driving it off a cliff, it happens so quick and then it's gone (hence another reason to invest in a videographer!) Decide how much you want to spend and then work with your fiancé to determine priorities. We worked our butts off to ensure everything was paid in cash (goal number two checked!) I honestly feel the day was so much more enjoyable knowing that we didn't have any looming debt to face when we went back to reality after the honeymoon.
- Make your own memories! The year we were planning our wedding was the same year Pinterest blew up. I kid you not that I created a whole Pinterest board of wedding photographs that I had to have, and even worse I gave a collage of these photos with a timeline of when we were taking them to my wedding photographer. I now realize how awful and offensive this was to our photographer! After all, we hired her because we liked her vision, but giving her this collage of other photographer's work was basically a slap in the face saying that we weren't trusting that same vision we hired her for. Plus, no matter how hard you try, the Pinterest photo you adore- you will never be able to re-create it exactly; your hair, your dress, your wedding location, none of that will add up to be that exact same as what's in the photo you love and it simply won't measure up. So don't waste time trying to re-create someone else's memories, focus on creating your own and trusting your photographer. To this day I want to send our photographer an apology note for that-Kim we adore you and please forgive me for that!