February 15, 2013 Wedding Vendor Spotlight – The Inked Leaf
When I was planning my wedding I actually took a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) route when it came to my save the dates and invitations. I’ve always had an interest in graphic design and it was a fun project for me. By taking a custom approach to our wedding stationery, I was able to set the tone for the wedding from the moment guests got the invitations in the mail. As you may already know, we had a small destination wedding in Hawaii, but we had a reception back home for our friends and family who couldn’t be with us! For our reception we had Dueling Piano players for the entertainment, so I used that as the theme for the invitation suite. I used a laid-back typography invite card with casual wording, and a piano key theme throughout. I also designed similar song request cards that our guests filled out at the reception. I got endless compliments on our invitations and it was an awesome way to give our guests a peek into what our day was going to be like.
For those of you who aren’t graphic designers and want to trust the design for your wedding stationery to a professional, I’m excited to share this interview with one of my favorite people in the world, Sameeha Bricklemyer from The Inked Leaf! Although Sameeha did not do our wedding invitations (I had actually planned on having her do them, but when I designed this as a mockup to show her what I wanted, she said it was great, so I just went with it!) she has designed so many things for us! She created a Life is Good themed logo for our bridal shower, and styled the entire thing in a totally unique a beautiful way that perfectly captured the essence of “us” as a couple. She has designed a few different pieces of wall art that now live in our home, and the branding for my website! She is truly a talented lady. Her passion and her specialty above all things graphic design, is custom wedding stationery.
So what exactly is custom stationery? I’ll have her tell you, as well as a little bit about herself!
What IS custom stationery, and how is it different from what I can get from wedding paper divas, vistaprint, or another invitation site?
Stationery is so important because it creates a guest’s first impression of your wedding, and it becomes a treasured keepsake for years to come! By customizing your wedding paper, you have the opportunity to make that first impression a truly incredible one.
When most people hear “customization,” they think about picking out a stock design and being able to specify their own colors and information. However, that’s simply “personalization,” and that’s the limit that many websites will offer you. What I provide is something much more extraordinary – a completely custom design created just for you.
Instead of having you search through hundreds of pages of designs that were made for someone else, I start my process by talking to you about your personality, colors, themes, and interests. Then, I create design options solely with you in mind. I work with my clients until we reach their dream design, which is only perfect for me when you’re absolutely amazed by it. It’s an experience you just can’t get when working with personalization software on a website.
What does custom stationery cost?
Would you believe me if I told you that my prices are cheaper than stock designs you’ll find on many wedding paper sites? Well, it’s true! Most invitation companies will reel you in with a low “per piece” price. Then, they’ll charge extra for envelopes, RSVP cards, and more. By the time you get to your shopping cart, it’s pretty shocking.
I’m not saying custom-design isn’t expensive. It can be… with other design companies! I was a DIY bride and fully believe that spending thousands on invitations is frankly, ridiculous, and why should you have to? Weddings are expensive, and you shouldn’t need to compromise design quality because invitation prices can be through the roof! Unlike per piece prices, I provide total costs only, and work with my clients’ budgets whenever I can! Prices for common quantities are all listed on my website, www.theinkedleaf.com, and I provide custom quotes as well.
For DIY brides on a stricter budget, I also design any item as a printable PDF! Prices for those range from $20-40. Print-at-home wedding stationery is so popular now, and a printable design saves you the hassle of trying to wrestle with a desktop publishing program or a downloadable template in order to get something exactly right! I work with you until the design is absolutely perfect, and you save tons on printing costs. It’s a win-win situation, and makes DIY ceremony programs especially easy!
How does the custom design process go?
The first stage of designing is getting to know you! I want to know what you dream of as your perfect stationery, what colors you absolutely love, and if there’s a theme that you’re using or story behind it. Some clients have very specific ideas, and others just have colors in mind, and that’s totally fine! Our initial discussion gives me a great place to start designing for you. These discussions have created ideas such as a “love story timeline” save the date, and a unique “tying the knot” save the date using a Celtic knot for the bride’s Irish heritage.
Based on our talk, I start designing and send a few options back to you. If you love one of them on the first try, we go with it! If you love parts of each or want to make changes, we keep revising until one of them is “the one.” And, if you think none of them can be “the one,” I keep designing until we find it! I don’t charge per revision, as many designers will do – my main priority is to make sure you’re completely satisfied with my products.
What kinds of products do you offer?
Just about everything! Our popular products include wedding invitations, save the dates, ceremony programs, and party or shower invitations. For weddings, there’s also reception decor (table names, place cards, escort cards, menus, seating charts), monograms, thank you cards, and even favor labels. And, for families, I can design custom stationery, baby announcements, birthday party invitations, t-shirts, fun or romantic gifts and prints for the home. I’ve even designed family crests, and drawn caricatures. The possibilities are endless!
What’s the point of a wedding monogram?
This is a question I get a lot! A wedding monogram is a great way to tie in all of your wedding stationery together. It gives you a cohesive look that really adds a beautiful detail to your wedding day. I’ve had brides use them as custom watermarks for photo booth pictures, favor label stickers, and on ceremony programs.
I design monograms using your likes or common interests, your theme or colors. We can use your names, or initials, or both. It’s perfect for beyond the wedding too! Many couples will use them on their thank you notes, personalized family stationery, or even make it a framed print!
I think monograms are so under-valued, but they’re a simple special touch that takes your stationery to another level. I offer monograms free with all wedding products!
How did you get into graphic design?
Right now, I can’t imagine not being a designer. But, I didn’t actually know it was for me until about six years ago, in my junior year of college. When I was young, I wanted to be an interior designer, but my dad (who has always been in the technology field), wanted me to do something with computers. While I was at UMBC, I was doing general courses with some focus on psychology. That semester, right before spring break, I saw a flyer about applying to be a part of the Visual Arts program. I really loved the idea of being a designer, but you had to submit a portfolio with 8-10 pieces of artwork, and I had nothing. So, instead of going on vacation or relaxing, I spent that entire spring break just creating an artistic portfolio from scratch. I submitted it, and got in! It was the best decision I had made.
How did wedding stationery become your focus?
While I was at UMBC I was on the Student Events Board, and I just had a blast with everything we did. I was able to design flyers and invitations for UMBC, and after I graduated, friends and family would ask for help with social design work. I was more than happy to help out friends with their save the dates and wedding invitations, and loved doing it!
During my own engagement, wedding planning was fun, but my absolute favorite part of it all (other than the beautiful engagement and wedding photos Brea took for us!) was the stationery. I could design for hours, and it never felt like work or a chore. After I got married in September 2011, I thought about going into the wedding stationery business. The thought of it was really exciting to me – I get to continue to be involved in my favorite part of the wedding planning process (without all of the stress of actually planning one myself!). The thought that in the future I could do what I love full-time was even more exciting! Over the next few months, I was able to build a steady client base with much support from friends, family, and most of all, my amazing husband Ryan. There’s no better spouse than one who’ll attend bridal shows with you and talk to couples and their mothers all day long about your business! In June of 2012, I was able to stop working full-time and put more focus towards The Inked Leaf. It’s an amazing journey, and loving what you do makes it all worth it!
Fun tip for brides: Bring a fresh copy of your invitation suite with you when you get ready on your wedding day! Your wedding photographer can take photos of the suite, and even use it as a backdrop to photograph some of the details. Since your invites will be designed to your style and will incorporate your wedding colors it’ll help to create a beautiful spread in your wedding album that’s all tied together nicely.
If you weren’t already convinced and knocking down her door, Sameeha is offering a 10% discount off ANY product to readers of this blog! That even includes non-wedding related designs. JUMP ON THIS!!! As I mentioned earlier, I have several pieces of beautiful wall art designed by her in my home, so even if you aren’t currently planning a wedding you can still get something great! What are you still doing here? Head on over to The Inked Leaf! Also check The Inked Leaf out on Etsy AND Facebook!