For most events, invitations are the first taste guests get of the fun to come. Top invitation-makers and stationers recognize the importance of this essential party preview, and they are offering new designs, technologies and big-brand recognition to make sure their event clients make a fine first impression.
ALL IN ONE
A decidedly cosmopolitan clientele keeps New York's Alpine Creative Group on the leading edge of invitation design. Meanwhile, a turnkey operation including departments of graphic design, assembly, offset printing, letterpress and engraving “allows for quick turnarounds on projects at reasonable pricing,” says CEO Steve Paster.
Alpine often starts with a custom design, then lets other clients take advantage of the high-concept creation. Paster offers the recent example of an invitation to the opening of a Philippe Starck-designed building in New York. The custom, contemporary invitation used Mylar mounted to a thick cover stock, which was then printed and laminated. “This type of invitation has become so popular that we have received four recent requests for similar designs,” Paster notes.
Two invitation experts are counting on brand recognition to attract clients who understand the prestige a well-known name can lend to an event.
North Mankato, Minn.'s Carlson Craft has teamed with the 200-year-old Royal Doulton Co. to produce invitation designs based on Royal Doulton's much-admired china patterns. With materials such as vellum and heavy cotton stock, and motifs including roses and silver filigree, the designs have been popular for wedding invitations and save-the-date announcements, says Carlson Craft's Beth Fleming. And with more Royal Doulton-inspired designs scheduled to debut at the end of the year, she believes the product will continue to be a strong seller.
At Indianapolis-based Cathy's Concepts, another British-pedigree brand — Laura Ashley — is a recent inventory addition, resulting in the feminine Hydrangea line. While the Laura Ashley name “lends a romantic, elegant feeling,” says director of sales Vicki Hardin, a wedding planner might suggest the printable products to “the do-it-yourself” bride who wants to add her own special touch to her wedding invitations and programs.
Other invitation experts rely on well-known clients and top-tier designers to add cachet to their offerings.
One such company is Mountain View, Calif.'s Wedding Paper Divas. Co-founder Ed Hahn cites actors Tiffani Thiessen and Jason Priestly as fans of Wedding Paper Divas designer Jill Smith's “bold, whimsical, simple and classy” invitations. Particularly popular is a 110-pound card stock invitation digitally printed with a “striking modern paisley” in vibrant colors. Hahn notes that the design's buyer is likely to be a woman who lives in an “urban setting or has a very cosmopolitan taste and feels her mission in life is to be unique.”
Former Chicago Sun-Times creative director Andrea Liss is the artistic force behind Evanston, Ill.'s Hannah Handmade, and it is her two decades of design experience that draw such notable clients as NASCAR, Swarovski and basketball legend Michael Jordan. Counting in-house corporate marketing professionals and independent event planners as her buyers, Liss says she uses such materials as “handmade papers, fancy fabrics, metals, wood, fresh flowers, acrylic, leather and suede” to create invitations that attract target guests and meet specific event objectives. She adds: “My in-house experience in the corporate setting makes me particularly well-suited to projects for corporate events and fundraisers.”
For invitation seekers with a taste for technology, there is always the option of a sleek, custom-loaded CD.
Describing her company's product as “modern and unique,” Leah Teitelbaum of Miami Beach, Fla.'s CD Invites cites the Vintage Wedding CD, introduced in March, as a hot seller. Mixing today''s technology with yesteryear's sepia tones and scroll motifs, the invitation includes a 20-image personalized slide show, e-mail RSVP link, and — for the truly traditional — a matching printed invitation card.
Teitelbaum, who says CD Invites plans to add bio, gallery and interactive menu options to upcoming versions, notes that the product “offers out-of-town guests a way to feel more part of the event, and it serves as lasting memorabilia.”
Alpine Creative Group
Wedding Paper Divas