Detail view of our With — Love cards. (Printed by Paper Meets Press)

Being your own worst client.

AKA designing your wedding collateral.

This is my first blog post writing under Smith & Diction and I’m making it a personal one, our save the dates. Chara and I have been working together almost every day for the past four years and have been dating for the past three of them. I asked her to marry me in the Spring and since then we’ve moved back to Philadelphia to open our own design studio called Smith & Diction (I’m the Smith part, and she is the Diction/words part.) I was banking on things being really slow when we were first getting started. So I was planning on working on the wedding collateral during that time just to keep my mind occupied but we kinda hit the ground running with client work and I didn’t really have much time to focus on the wedding stuff.

As we were approaching the one year count down I was like…oh shit I should probably get these save the dates going ASAP considering we’re having the wedding in Vermont and all of our friends and families live in every state but Vermont. I didn’t want to fall into the classic “designer designing their desinger-y wedding invitations” category but still wanted to give enough of a damn to make this feel truly special to Chara and me. My number one goal for these was to not look like anything you’d see on Pinterest.

The Concept

I know not many people are rolling into their invitation suites with a concept, but I couldn’t help it. I can’t really design well without a concept in mind. When you decide to get married it’s an awesome feeling; everything is so exciting and there’s a ton of hope. Then you start looking for wedding venues or just looking at the prices of ANYTHING that has the word “wedding” affiliated with it and you lose all faith in humanity. Everything is so scattered and all of your thoughts/visions for your big day are just a gigantic jumble. I really wanted to convey that jumbled feeling when it came to the save the dates. We had a few things figured out and that’s pretty much it. Everything we know is on this piece of paper. The date and the wedding venue and if you want to come you’d better book a place soon because we’re getting married in a giant tourist attraction the size of a state.

Back of invitation emphasizing to get your ass a hotel.

My idea is that the pieces of collateral will get more and more structured as we know more information and things become a little more definite. But the Saves are laid out on a grid system full of pinecones, leaves and typography built to feel loose, airy, and undefined.

I wanted every detail to matter all the way down to the process of opening the invite. As soon as you open/tear/shred the envelope you see MS & CO 10–08–16 aka Mike and Chara are getting married on this date. Technically you don’t even need to see the rest of this Save the Date, you can just throw it straight in the garbage. Just kidding don’t do that. PLEASE DON’T DO THAT. While we’re talking about details, they mattered so much to me that I spent close to three hours getting that stupid pine cone jusssssst right. Pine cones are incredibly hard to make and I’ll probably never do it again. But in the meantime I’m putting this little guy on every single thing I make to make me feel like I spent a justified amount of time on it.

Pine cone tests for smaller sizes.
Pine Cone Detail

Your eye is led around the front of the invite by following the delicate copper foiled lines from place to place each one telling you a new nugget of information: Save the date — October (Sat) 8, 2016 — Waitsfield, Vermont —

Getting married in Vermont is something Chara and I didn’t even really discuss much. I just mentioned it when we got engaged and then we kinda just stuck with it. We really loved the idea of our wedding being more of an “experience” rather than a thing you go to and then go home. We wanted everyone to come and spend some time with us, take a vacation, and experience a truly beautiful season in a beautiful state. Chara and I love to go on hikes and all kinds of adventures so we wanted to encourage our friends and family to get to see a little piece of what we adventure out to see every weekend. We knew some people would be like, “Vermont, now why the hell would you do that when your family is all around Pennsylvania??” so Chara wrote up a well-worded rationale for the backs of save the dates that hopefully helped provide some insight without writing a novel.

Getting to Vermont is a trek, and that’s part of why we love it. Please use our wedding as an excuse to take a vacation, filled with mountains and rivers and unbeatable autumn views.
Book a spot to stay soon because word is out that Vermont is beautiful in the fall.
Compass Detail

We’re getting married at a small inn on a mountain that has a handful of rooms available for the wedding party and a few other guests so we wanted to create a little something special for those people who would be staying so close to us. We made a business card sized “Stay” card, included with the save the dates that we hand embossed with this “Mike and Chara and Mike and Chara” mark that nods toward the concept of a ring going on forever, you know…the idea of marriage and all.

Anyway, the stay card comes with all the information the guests would need to book a room for that night and so on.

Stay Card with Embossing

We also wanted to write notes to certain people but didn’t want to just toss in a piece of scrap paper with all of this other considered material so why not design a note card? It would be fun they said. It would be easy they said. FedEx won’t deliver it to a different house on a different street they said. Anyway, we wanted to create something that we could use for anything at all involved with the wedding. Something that was versatile but personal.

We came up with this 4x6 “WITH — LOVE” card with a few elements from the save the date letterpressed on it. It’s printed on a beautiful Flo-White 110# stock by the master Scott McClelland of Paper Meets Press. I go to him for all my letterpress needs; his attention to detail, pricing and quality is unmatched. We were so happy with how these came out that we decided to order 500 of them so we could use them for thank you cards after the wedding as well.

4x6 With — Love Letterpressed Card

I wanted to take a second to shout out to Mary Olson. She helped me every step of the way with getting these bad boys printed. I came to her with a laundry list of executions I was looking for and she said no problem and made almost every single one of them happen without the sacrifice of my first born child. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks so much for your patience and help.

Save the Dates
Size: 5x7
Paper: 130# Cougar Opaque Smooth Cover in Bright White
Printer: Crossmark Graphics
Printing Technique: Copper foil
Typefaces: Domaine Sans Display — Bold Italic, Domaine Display — Regular, Andes — Ultralight

A7 (Euro flap) Gravel from Paper Source. Buy Here.

“Stay” Card
Printer: Print Place
Embosser: Hitt Marking

With––Love Card
Size: 4x6
Paper: Flo-White 110#
Printer: Paper Meets Press