Styled Advice: The Ins & Outs of Stationery

Invitation by the Papery / Styled Bride Wedding/ Photo by Brooke Courtney
Invitation by the Papery / Styled Bride Wedding/ Photo by Brooke Courtney

From save-the-dates and invitations to menus and escort cards, we adore paper. Whenever we’re working with couples, we always suggest turning to a professional stationer because they know the ins and outs of their industry. Plus, they will help to ensure your invitations are unique to you and stand out in the mail (your invitations should never be emailed!). But there are a few different types of stationers – graphic designers who create unique custom designs for each couple and designers who can customize designs from corporate stationery companies.

We’re thrilled to welcome owners Carolyn Brandhorst of The Papery, Robyn Platoni from Chick Invitations, and Sarah Reed from dodeline design to the blog to talk about their roles as designers in the stationery industry. Below, all three provide insight into their design processes, how they personalize invitation suites, their favorite paper pieces to include, and more.

What is a stationer?

Robyn: A stationer is someone who can help you pick out all of the stationery you may need for your every day life or a special event. We can help you with navigate the etiquette guidelines for occasions and correspondence as well as different printing methods, papers and techniques used to achieve a certain look.

What are the benefits of working with a stationer?


1. You get an education about what you are choosing or not choosing -i.e. process of printing / different kinds of printing.

2. You get someone who has an eye for design.

3. You have many choices of different styles all in one place.


1. A personal experience where you can meet and work directly with a designer who can customize, edit and advise you.

2. Seeing and feeling paper types and qualities. Pictures are great, but the paper and printing really makes a piece special. This is so hard to do online!

3. Flexibility! There are a lot more options available than what you see online. By working with a stationer, you have a lot of choices to achieve a certain look and budget range.

What should brides and grooms know before they begin the design process? Describe your process.

Carolyn: Brides and Grooms should come in having done their homework, meaning a basic idea of what they like and do not like. Colors they might want to focus on, styles they are drawn to etc. The process for me is real simple…I love to start our meeting chatting about “their” day. Not just their colors or their style, BUT what they are envisioning the FEEL of their wedding to be, just from that I can pick up a lot. I can then dive in and get the process going with showing them some things that come to mind and then everything slowly starts to come together!

Robyn: Our process begins with a complimentary consultation where we sit down and discuss the overall feel of your event, design ideas, color schemes, etc. We will review the overall outline for your day and figure out which component pieces that you will need in order to give your guests all of the information they need to make their arrangements. We’ll also go over the printing methods and paper options that are available. From there, we put together a custom proposal for each couple and then begin designing. Generally, we come up with two unique concepts for a couple to choose from and then revise and edit as necessary from there!

Sarah: It’s a good idea to come in knowing your budget as well as what you need. Remember that your invitation quantity is not your guest list number – it’s a households number, so definitely make sure you give the correct information to your stationer and don’t over order.  Secondly, you need to have at least a general idea of what you want to send your guests: will a simple invitation and response card suffice, or do you need to share hotels, directions, maps, itinerary information, etc.?  Also, do you have a grand vision in mind of pockets or belly bands or gold foil?  Having a few ideas to begin with will help us guide the conversation, educate you on printing types and the like, and ultimately find the happy medium between budget and vision.

 How do you personalize your designs for couples?

Carolyn: Everything we do is personalized for that couple. Anything can be changed/modified or created from scratch to make each couples invite personal to them!

Robyn: All of our custom options are completely unique for each couple. We really want each suite to really feel like it’s coming from the couple and reflects their personality and style! Even our Collection pieces offer a very custom experience where we can change colors, add components and patterns.

Sarah: We approach wedding invitations and stationery from the perspective of a graphic designer – nothing is ordered ready made “out of a book,” so the sky is the limit on the kinds of invitations we can and do create. I love doing something unexpected in an envelope liner or on the back of an invitation. They are areas that don’t get addressed a lot of time, so it feels extra special to have, say, a monogram on the inside of your envelope or pressed on the back of the invitation.  I also love infusing an invitation with a sense of the place you’ll be tying the knot.

Besides save-the-dates and invitations, what are the most important stationery pieces for couples to order?

Carolyn: PROGRAMS – I think that people are interested in who is participating in the wedding and maybe why they are participating, meaning a relation to the bride and groom. I also love the Thank Yous and the In Memory of section, this can get very real and touching, and people appreciate that. MENUS –  People are “foodies” today and most couples spend a lot of time choosing their menu, so nice to explain and get it down on paper…plus the menus also become a design feature on the tables!  

Robyn: These are often a forgotten piece of stationery, but thank you cards and monogrammed stationery!

Sarah: Creating something fun and special for the bride and groom’s chairs is always a fun project, but I also love creating special welcome books. Sometimes we get to do really special ones – true little booklets tied up with twine that give your guests a personalized look at their weekend in a fun new city.  If I had to pick one more, I would say it’s a lot of fun to do the rehearsal dinner invitations, because there are fewer “rules” about those and a lot of times we get to be a little more lighthearted and fun with those.

Make sure to follow along with Carolyn, Robyn, and Sarah!


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