A few weeks ago, we got the chance to sit down and chat with BreeAnn Veenstra of Wildship Studio. This lady is a true expert in wedding stationery, and has a lot to say for brides- and grooms-to-be seeking wedding invitation advice. Read on for her take on stationery trends, etiquette and ideas!

BreeAnn Veenstra shares her point of view on wedding invites and other stationery.
BreeAnn Veenstra shares her point of view on wedding invites and other stationery.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved in the wedding industry, and what’s it like working with planning couples?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Illustration and started working part time as a freelance illustrator and full time as a production manager in a local print shop. It wasn’t until I got engaged and started designing our invitations that I realized I could also work as a designer in the wedding industry. Having access to a print shop really allowed me to go wild with our wedding paper elements, and I quickly fell in love with paper goods and the stationery world. I wanted to infuse our personalities into everything related to our wedding stationery, so I illustrated and designed our save the dates, invitation suite, guest books, portraits for the head table, place cards, a seating board, ceremony programs, rehearsal dinner invitations, thank you cards, well, you get the idea!

I had so much fun that I knew I’d do it again in a heartbeat for someone else. The opportunity came a-knocking when our wedding was featured on Green Wedding Shoes and brides started e-mailing me about my work. A few weddings later and I was hooked. It took a little while get things organized, but in early 2013 Wildship Studio was born.

I love getting to know my couples and finding ways to incorporate the details of their event, lives, and personalities into their invitations. I truly believe the invitations should be a reflection of not only the event, but also the people and their love that the event is honoring. It’s so fulfilling to be able to help tell their story of love through stationery elements.

A lot of our readers are trying to stick to a pretty strict budget, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by invitations. Any money-saving tips you can share?

There are fortunately a lot of ways to cut costs for invitations. You can swap the cost of belly bands for less expensive twine or a piece of ribbon to secure the pieces in a nice little bundle. To save on postage and envelope costs, make the traditional enveloped response card a postcard instead, but be sure to check postal regulations so that it qualifies for the discounted postcard stamp. Then, to reduce printing costs, have the response postcard printed single-sided and use a custom rubber stamp or hand-write the return address on the back. Sidenote: I absolutely adore custom return address rubber stamps because you can use them on a response postcard, on the back flap of the main envelope, and then you can re-use it down the road for general correspondence or mailing out your thank you cards after the wedding!

Digital printing is cheaper than letterpress or screenprinting, but you can reduce costs for any of these methods by printing with black only. Choose a fun colored paper or kraft brown paper to compensate for the black-only printing and the invitations will still pop! Or you can introduce color back into the suite with colorful envelopes.

If you have your heart set on illustrated or custom invitations but they’re just a bit out-of-budget, ask the designer about potential ways to cut costs on printing. There may not be as much flexibility for the design portion of the fee, but chances are there are some alternatives when it comes to printing. Are there less expensive paper options? Is the designer willing to provide the files so you can print them yourself at home? Or perhaps you can order the design as a custom rubber stamp that you can ink and stamp on cardstock at home!

What advice do you have for couples who are navigating the new world of wedding stationery for the first time? Is all of this stuff necessary? Is there anything you wish more people and planning couples knew about wedding stationery and paper goods?

The wedding invitations are a foretaste of what the day will be like, so couples should really put some thought into choosing the design and style to appropriately reflect their event. Everything from the colors to the wording will clue your guests in to details like how they should dress or what type of atmosphere they can expect. But weddings are still a celebration of love between two people, and each love story is so unique and special. I advise to stay true to the tone of your event, but don’t be afraid to stay true to yourselves either! What makes both of you unique and how can you incorporate that? Perhaps you both share a similar passion, such as bicycling or travelling. Or perhaps you can pay homage to a heritage with a pattern or little motif. I’m not saying to necessarily develop it into an entire theme, but I love when I am able to include a little personal detail that means something special to my couples. The guests that really know the couple will appreciate these details, and those that may not be as close will learn something new and feel more connected.

I wouldn’t say that all of the bells and whistles are necessary, because a lot of them are just that in the end. When you break it down to what’s really necessary you have the bare-bone basics: the invitation with all of the event’s details and a way for your guests to let you know if they’ll be attending. Everything else is an accessory, but these accessories are such a fantastic way to get you and your guests really pumped about your wedding!

Is there anything you wish you knew (about wedding stationery or otherwise) when you were planning your own wedding?

I poured over countless blogs when I was planning my wedding and ate up the ideas for every invitation post I came across, so looking back there weren’t many trends or notions of the time that I hadn’t been exposed to. That being said, there are things I would do differently now but it’s mainly because my style has matured.

Okay, I do have one thing. I wish I would have thought to scour Ebay for vintage stamps at face value!

What are some of your favorite stationery and design trends of 2014? Favorite colors, fonts, design elements, styles, etc? How have styles and trends evolved over the last few years?

Illustrated invitations seem to have started gaining popularity around five years ago and it’s a trend that has grown exponentially since then. Almost hand in hand with that, font choices and wording strayed away from the traditionally formal scripted styles to those that were more casual and in line with the bride and groom’s personalities. Hand-lettering became a popular alternative to traditional script fonts, which I adore because it can become a piece of art itself or it can complement illustrated work beautifully. I think these trends will remain popular for years to come, too!

Right now, I get really excited about bright and bold color pairings like navy blue and coral. The metallic trend seems to have died down only a little (if at all) and gold accents are still a classic way to add a touch of sophistication. I’m digging that envelopes are getting more attention, too! I’m all about adding envelope accents like fun liners and edge-painted flaps.

How important is stationery etiquette? Do you have any etiquette tips to share with readers?

While I’m not necessarily one to be a stickler for etiquette rules of old, there are some stationery rules that I feel are just as important as they were decades ago. For example, it’s still appropriate and respectful to choose your wording based on who is hosting or paying for the event: Mr. and Mrs. Parents Names; Together with their families; or something more flexible if the bride and groom are paying for the event in entirety. This is simply a way to acknowledge whoever is making the event possible. And while formal correspondence usually dictates that the man’s name comes first, it’s traditional that the bride’s name is listed first on the stationery.

There are two etiquette rules that I am seeing broken more and more and I must admit they make me cringe a bit. The first is listing any registry information or asking for monetary gifts, especially when this information is on the main invitation. While helpful or even expected for a shower invitation, I believe these things have no business being on a wedding invitation … no matter how cute and catchy the phrasing is. Giving a gift at a wedding is not obligatory and weddings are not about acquiring material possessions. Announcing the expectations of a gift draws attention away from what the celebration should really be about: the love for each other. If guests really want to know where a couple is registered at all they have to do is ask a relative or the couple themselves.

The other controversy is inviting your guests through a means of technology, such as e-mail, Facebook or text message. Call me old-fashioned, but a wedding is a special cause for celebration and the invitation, which is an announcement of that love, and deserves attention and respect. Yes, I understand that it saves money, but the process is so impersonal and automated that it depreciates the significance of the event! There is nothing lovely or special about e-mail or Facebook. They are good for daily correspondences or casual events, but a wedding is neither of these, really!