I first got into wedding stationery in my first year of Uni. I had just joined Instagram and came across a page called Ladyfingers Letterpress and I was blown away by her gorgeous designs (check it out, you won’t be disappointed!) and hand drawn type! Being a huge fan of typography since an early age and studying graphic design it was like typography porn!
I decided to research into it and look at more wedding stationery and was just blown away by what could be done—a total lightbulb moment! What ensued was a sketchbook of ideas and type after type ideas!
What are the highs and what are the lows of the job?
As with any job, there are lows but there are definitely more highs! Receiving those finished, printed, glossy A5 invitations in a huge pile and thinking “I designed these” and just holding them is one of the best feelings in the world!
love knowing I have created something that so many people are going to see, that has become part of someone’s most special day; it is sometimes overwhelming—it reminds me why I became a designer. So when you get those fussy clients who never seem to be happy or just want change after change, when it comes down to it and you’re holding their invitations in your hand, nothing really compares, for me anyway!
I love paper, I love ripping it, scribbling on it, scrunching it up in a ball, but mostly I love touching it, rubbing it between my fingers and feeling the textures, the weight of it! That is definitely one of the perks to being a wedding stationer, that and introducing people to it. The amount of people who have said ‘Oh I never thought about texture or what kind of paper I wanted’. To me, paper is as important as the design.
When did you decide to take the leap into full-time freelance and what were the hurdles that you faced?
Becoming a full-time freelancer has been such a hard decision, but I’m a firm believer of everything happening for a reason and my well paid job had recently ended in redundancy so I thought, if there was ever a time, now would be it. I had been working alongside my full-time job for the past year or so and I felt I couldn’t progress as much as I wanted, I couldn’t market my business like I wanted so I took the plunge!
The hardest thing so far is making sure there is enough money to pay the bills, to have a wage even. I’m lucky enough to have a very understanding boyfriend who wants me to follow my dreams but I always worry about the strain I may be putting on him by switching from a well paid job to self employed. But I am optimistic for the future!
What advice/tips would you give another wedding stationer?
In terms of creativity, I would say find your style but don’t be afraid to try something new. In terms of offering a service I would say, don’t bite off more than you can chew! Always do it as long as you love it, if it feels like its becoming a chore then take a step back, take a break and revisit it after a week off! I find it very hard to switch off sometimes and forget to just take a break, or just get away from the computer, or even spend some alone time with my boyfriend!
Wedding fayres are great for making connections. I try and do four or five in a year but not too many because some can be so costly with little return. Research into who is attending, whether you think spending that time and that money is worth a slot amongst other possible local companies or if you feel you are much more suited to selling your work elsewhere, online for example.
Word of mouth is key! I would say 85% of our work is word of mouth, and that’s the best because you know its from a great review, its from someone you have already worked with and no doubt that person has got to see what you have made already and they are more likely to be at ease with what you have to offer.
My main tool of the trade is Illustrator; I use it for almost everything but I can also draw free hand and I’m quite a crafty person. I think it’s good to have that scope to branch out to as many people as you can because you never know what they are going to ask for. If you specialise in something specific for example just graphic stationery and nothing handmade or hand finished I think you definitely need to state that on your website/business cards etc. as not to waste not just your time, but a prospective client’s time either.
What questions do you think every wedding stationer must ask the couple?
It’s very easy for clients to go all out with their stationery! Most people come to you already with an idea of what they want in their head and that idea can turn into this giant project of hot foil printing or pearlescent card stock! With this is mind I think the most important question to ask a couple is “What is your budget?”, that way you know when to reign in these extravagant ideas before they see them as to not disappoint if they are on a budget, and if not then sky’s the limit! You know you can put that time and effort in and still make a living!
What information do you feel couples should ask when speaking with their stationer?
There are so many questions to ask your stationer, one of the first things that comes to mind is “Can you work to our deadline”? When working with weddings there are always deadlines, invitations have RSVP’s to return, then the table plans need creating, the place names, table numbers and any extras. Make sure your stationer can turn this around in the timeframe given to them, leaving time for their printing and delivery.
Examples of previous work are always a must I believe, if that stationer is just starting out and you are giving them that chance (we all have to start somewhere) then just ask to see some previous design work to put your mind at ease. Not everyone will have a qualification, but you can’t fault pure talent!
Always state your details clearly, if you wish to have two sets of invitations, for example one set for the groom or one set for the bride if it’s a religious ceremony, be sure to state this from the off due to print runs being doubled or extra cost that would not have been seen beforehand.
How do you find inspiration?
Being a graphic designer and photographer, I am a very creative person. I spend hours trawling through creative magazines, Tumblr, Pinterest (obviously my fave) but also by listening to music! I can sit and draw out lyrics and doodles for hours on end. I also research other stationers, trends and what’s out there at the time! I try to be a little quirky and add something different to my designs whether its bright colours or just beautiful type.
What’s the next step for you and your business?
I want to establish a name for myself properly by producing great work, get a good online presence up and running via Etsy and my own website portfolio and then hopefully working towards one day having my own little shop! I can but dream!
Stacey Chadfield is the creative director at Awyr Glas.