Behind the Scenes: Packaging Wedding Invitations
The process of designing and producing custom stationery involves so many layers. From initial inquiry and quoting all the way down to packaging and shipping to clients, there are countless levels of consideration, industry knowledge, and hands on creation required to bring invitations to life. It is so much more than a pretty design on a piece of paper. With behind the scenes posts, we are pulling back the curtain and giving an inside look into the process behind our custom stationery.
This is part five of our custom stationery series.
In part four of this series, we walked through our entire assembly process. We left off with our suites fully stuffed, sealed, addressed, and with all postage applied.
The packaging process is important to us because we want the entire experience to reflect the time, care, and investment that went into creating our product. Paper is the foundation of our business, so why not show it off our love for it in our packaging? I want our clients to feel as if everything has been thought of. One of the ways we show this attention to detail and make the clients’ lives a little easier is by alphabetizing envelopes. This makes it easy for clients to verify everything is there when they receive their pieces.
stack in groups
I want shipments to be packaged in a manageable way for both us and our clients, so after things are alphabetized, we stack invitations in small groups. The number of invitations in each group is based on stack height, which I keep between 1.25” and 1.5”. The quantity in the stacks depends on how thick the envelopes are. For two piece suites and save the dates, 25 envelopes may add up to that height, but for four or full piece suites it may only take 10 or 15 before reaching that range.
trim and pre-score wraps
I then measure the exact height of a stack, putting a small amount of pressure on the invitations to emulate how tightly I want the paper to wrap around them.
We use transparent vellum to wrap the groups of invitations, which I love because it gives clients a sneak peek of what is inside, while also protecting the suites. Vellum is also a recyclable material, which is really important to us.
Because our wrapping method is so precise, we measure, trim, and score all sheets prior to wrapping, and we batch all sheets at once so things are more efficient. Based on the length and width of the envelopes and the height of the stacks, we cut the sheets of vellum down and score so we can fold easily with no excess paper. While this is kind of a lengthy process, the end result is beautiful, clean and very reflective of the care we put into the suites themselves, so I think it’s worth it.
When the sheets of vellum are trimmed and scored, I wrap the stacks of invitations. Because we took the time to measure and score beforehand, the stacks fit perfectly and the process is never a struggle. The method itself is fairly straightforward, but because it has no raw edges or excess paper, it creates a really refined look, and packages are easily opened.
print, trim, and apply labels
I apply labels with our logo, the stack number, and a note that things are organized alphabetically. These labels are printed on a really beautiful cream parchment that matches our brand and aesthetic well, and I use the ATG to apply adhesive to the back of the paper so they will stick to the vellum.
Wax seals are also placed on every label. Rather than pouring and stamping directly on the label, I pre-make wax seals on the flat surface of my desk. When they cool, I can peel them off, apply adhesive to the back, and stick them on the labels. Vellum is known to warp under heat and moisture, so doing things this way keeps the wrapping crisp and even.
Each of our stationery clients also receives a custom heirloom folio. These are a beautiful little gift that ensures the suite will be stored safely through the years, while also being easily accessible, and an extension of their suite itself. I make these personally by hand in our studio, designing each one specifically for the suite it’s to be paired with. Book cloth color, texture and size are created to match the suite, and we finish things off with a vellum bellyband calligraphed with the names of the couple and wedding date.
I’m planning to write another behind the scenes post, showing the process behind these folios, including some really neat tips I learned while taking book arts classes in college. Stay tuned!
We try to make things as straightforward and clear as possible, so along with the stationery and heirloom folio, we also include a little packet of information for the client. One card has information on mailing their stationery—a basic rundown of how the post office works and how to get the best experience possible—and another card includes a handwritten thank you note. While I also always thank clients through email, there’s something special about a handwritten note, so I always take the time to do that. The cards are placed in an envelope that coordinates with their suite and closed with a wax seal, and I write their names on the front in a matching ink.
I adapt different colors in my packaging based on the design of the suite because I want everything to feel cohesive. The little details like that also separate me from larger companies, whose product and process is sterile and uniform. It reinforces, I think, the care and attention I put in my work, and shows the human behind it all.
When all the elements are ready, I prepare the box for shipment. While there’s a lot of different ways to pack things safely, crinkle and tissue paper fit our branding best. I love using materials that are easily recycled and/or reused, so things are a bit more sustainable.
I lay folded tissue paper down at the bottom of the box and then start piling in crinkle paper, giving plenty of cushion. When there’s a solid base, I add the packaged wraps of invitations, and use more crinkle paper to cushion them against the sides of the box. I’ll do a couple test shakes with the box to make sure things don’t move around too much.
On top of the suites, I add the heirloom folio. Then, I lay down another layer of crinkle paper on top of it all, until I reach the top of the box. I then place the envelope with the information card and thank you note right on top, and seal the box up. I make sure all edges and corners have tape covering them, so water and dirt won’t be able to get in easily. Then, I add the shipping label and take it out to ship!
When we ship things with such high value, I always insure the shipment. While I’ve personally never had any issues (*knock on wood*), I would rather be safe than sorry. My contract does state that I’m not responsible for anything lost or damaged in the mail, but insuring covers both my back and my client’s back in the worst case scenario. Insuring the shipment also requires a signature for delivery, which is always a good idea when dealing with something as valuable as wedding stationery.
Packaging really is an extension of our whole brand and ethos, and a huge part of our process. Taking the time to do things with care and intention is what sets us apart from larger companies, and reinforces our values along the way.
Tools & Supplies Used
Large sheets of transparent vellum paper are used to wrap up small groups of invitations. I love that the translucency gives clients a little sneak peek of what’s inside the package, while also protecting the suites inside. Vellum is completely recyclable as well, which is really important to us.
I use parchment paper for labels on each of the wrapped groups of invitations. The look and feel of the paper fits well with our brand, and prints easily in our Pixma Pro.
Alongside translucent vellum and parchment, we use cotton paper to print our client information and thank you cards. It is a beautiful and luxurious paper that fits our aesthetic and brand well, and prints well on our Pixma Pro.
Canon Pixma Pro 100
We print packaging materials in house on our Canon Pixma Pro. We love how easily it handles handmade paper and envelopes, and the amount of control and precision we have. Color adjustments are easily made in both printer settings, and in Illustrator or Photoshop themselves.
A wax seal is added to the top of our labels on each of the wrapped groups of invitations. I use a low temperature glue gun and glue gun wax to create seals on the top of my desk. When cooled, the seals can be peeled off and adhered to the labels.
With a ruler, I use my X-Acto to trim down sheets of vellum for wrapping, and to trim down the labels from larger sheets of paper. There are tons of different models of knives, but I love my heavy-duty X-Acto. It has replaceable snap-off blades, so when one dulls down, you can snap off the tip and keep going.
I have an Alvin self-healing mat that has lasted me for six years and is still going strong. I use it in our packaging process when trimming sheets of vellum and labels.
I use my ruler to measure the height of the stacks of invitations, then cut and fold the vellum sheets accordingly. I love my cork backed, stainless steel ruler because of it’s durability against an X-Acto.
Clean folds are so important on our packaging, and using this to score and crease the vellum wrapping beforehand ensures that things look precise.
Scotch Advanced Tape Glider, 0.25” with Acid Free Adhesive
I use the ATG to seal the vellum wrapping paper and to adhere the label and wax seal on the wrapping. This tool is so great because the rolls are so inexpensive compared to small adhesive rollers, and so efficient compared to glue or any other method of application. It has low waste packaging comparatively as well. Be sure to purchase the acid free adhesive rolls to keep things from yellowing and aging over time.
And with that, we conclude our custom stationery series! While this really only skims the surface in how and why we do things, I hope it helps show some of the thought that goes into our every part of our process, even seemingly minor things. If you have any questions, or want us to walk through other parts of our process, let us know!