- Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Q&A with Lorraine Miller, founder and owner of Lorraine Miller Design 

What are some of the hottest trends you are seeing in invitations this season?
Trend #1: Specialization
One of the hottest trends happening in invitations today is specialization. By that I don’t mean “custom” design, which has been around for many years and is often beyond the scope of what most couples want to spend on their invitations but rather what I call “specialization,” which means choosing a design that means something special to you. This can be as simple as picking a sophisticated font that speaks to your personality as a couple, then tying it in with a splash of your wedding party colors. Or it can be choosing an invitation that reflects some aspect of the wedding you are planning, be it the time of year or the location. Allowing your invitation to communicate something special about your event, such as a snowflake motif for a winter wedding, a Manhattan cityscape for a wedding in the city, or an ocean or beach design for a Hamptons affair, will get guests excited about your wedding and gives them a hint of what’s to come.
Trend #2: Creating a Complete Look
The next hottest trend I am seeing in invitations is the ability to take the invitation design and apply it to the many other pieces of wedding communication you need. When you allow your save-the-date card, invitation, ceremony program, escort cards and thank you cards to follow the same look, your wedding starts to take on an added level of creativity that’s both smart and fun.
Trend #3: Going Green
Another very hot trend in invitations today is an increasing number of eco-friendly printing and paper options. More and more couples today are planning some aspect of their wedding to be green, even if they are not having a completely green event. Choosing eco-friendly invitations and thank you cards is one of the easiest ways couples can go green.

How have invitations changed over the years?
Letterpress, which has been gaining in popularity over the past several years, is one of the oldest forms of printing, dating back to 1447 when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Prior to that, most people announced weddings through the town crier, while the very wealthy hired monks skilled in the art of calligraphy to prepare hand-written invitations. Later on, engraving was invented which lead the way for a very elegant and luxurious approach to wedding invitations. Unlike letterpress, engraving had a more hand-lettered look, as each letter was hand carved into a metal plate and than pressed into paper giving the type a raised quality. Much more recently, thermography was invented as a more cost-effective alternative to engraving.

Today wedding invitations come in all shapes, sizes and formats. While some opt for the traditional 5x7” format, square, oblong, tri-fold and circular invitations are also widely acceptable. Three-dimensional packages and video DVD’s take wedding invitations beyond paper and while they may not be appropriate for everyone, these invitations definitely get noticed.

Why should couples care about the environment?
So many of our products and services today, while seemingly helpful to everyday life, are adding harmful toxins to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat and are ultimately affecting our health in very negative ways. In addition, we are using our natural resources at a much greater rate than we are replenishing them and therefore need to do whatever we can to reverse this trend. As a couple planning a wedding, you have a unique opportunity to support a large number of vendors who are leading the way in protecting our planet.

What is a “green” wedding?
A green wedding is one where the couple chooses environmentally-friendly options for some or all of their wedding needs. Once a couple starts to think about the impact their decisions will have on the environment, and the power they hold by choosing vendors who are environmentally responsible, they often decide to go green wherever possible in order to minimize any negative effects their wedding will have on the environment. Keep in mind that choosing green options does not need to be the theme of your wedding. You can still be green without making it the main focus.

Does doing things "green" mean more expensive or less choices?
Doing things green does not mean more expensive or less choices. In fact, it can often mean just the opposite. You can absolutely plan the wedding of your dreams and still make smart choices that have a lesser impact on the environment. With invitations, choosing simple designs that don’t require inner envelopes, metallics or layers of added paper and embellishments can offset the cost of using 100% post-consumer waste “tree-free” paper. The printing method you choose can also make a difference. With today’s technology, digital offset printing has been gaining in popularity as the quality improves and more and more couples are choosing it for its contemporary feel and environmentally-friendly nature. Since digital printing does not require the use of plates that engraving, offset, and letterpress printing do, which get used once and then sent to a landfill, digital printing is considered one of the most cost-effective and green methods of printing for short-run wedding invitations. But make sure you choose a product that was printed using non-toxic inks along with 100% post-consumer waste paper.

How can a bride "green" her invitations?
Choosing invitations printed on 100% post-consumer waste paper means that no new trees were used to make them. Many companies offer recycled paper, but it’s important to know what content of the paper is recycled since many papers are only 10-30% recycled. Always check to make sure the paper is chlorine-free and that the inks being used are vegetable-based. There are also a number of other tree-free papers including 100% cotton which is widely popular for letterpress, as well as papers made from hemp, bamboo and banana. Avoiding metallic papers, coated papers, inner envelopes, envelope liners, and extra layers will also help keep your invitations eco-friendly.
One of the latest trends in green invitations is plantable paper. After the wedding, guests can plant the actual invitation in a flower pot or garden and see it grow into a beautiful bouquet.

Will guests notice if your wedding is green?
This is really up to you. If encouraging others to be environmentally responsible is something that is important to you, you might consider sharing your efforts as a way to spread the word. There are various ways of doing this. One way is to include some information about your green efforts on your website. You can also include a short message on the on the back of your escort card or favor tag, such as “Please honor our commitment to the environment by recycling this card” or “No trees were used in making this card.” Another option is to choose an eco-friendly item for favors such as organic fair trade chocolates from Endangered Species Chocolate, herb kits from World of Good or aromatheraphy candles from Dancing Light Candles. Making a donation to the World Wildlife Fund or planting trees through Arbor Day Foundation in lieu of or in addition to favors are also great ways to demonstrate your commitment to the environment.

Can you recommend any resources to help the DIY bride 'go green'?
Check out TheGreenBrideGuide.com. There you’ll find everything you need to plan a green wedding. Be sure to visit the F.A.Q. section, a great place to get started.

How can you help a couple make their invitations personal, custom and unique?
One of the best things about working with a small design company such as ours is the opportunity to be creative with your invitations in a way that is generally not available when you work with larger companies. For example, in our Design 360˚ program, we allow couples the ability to create all of their communication pieces in the same design motif that they’ve chosen for their invitation. As mentioned earlier, this can include everything from the save-the-date cards all the way to the thank you card, but it doesn’t stop there. If you need t-shirts for a pre- or post-wedding event, stickers for your guest welcome bags, or graphics for your web site, look to us for help.

Also, because we are small, we are able to offer custom design options at reasonable prices. If you have a special idea you want for your invitation, just give us a call. Helping you create the invitation of your dreams is what we love to do so don’t hesitate to ask.

***Lorraine is generously offering discounts off her prices exclusively for Cloud Nove Events e-zine subscribers who place orders before May 31, 2010. If you're interested,
contact Lorraine here. ****

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