Wedding stationery 101: how to design for a venue and theme

For my wedding last year, I had the pleasure of designing the wedding stationery. This filled me with excitement and dread, as I knew that this was a major part of the big day that needed to be perfect. I looked at many examples and liked the different uses of typography and personalisation such as the theme or using the colour scheme for the wedding. Many of the invites were lovely but I just felt that existing examples didn’t really represent our wedding exactly as I wanted. I set myself the difficult task of designing a really personal invite, which gave clues as to what the day and venue had to offer.

In this blog I will let you into my thought process, how I began to get my ideas down on paper and how I made the stationery entirely personal to our wedding. I’ll even let you know the tools, techniques, hints and secrets that I used in Adobe Illustrator! 

Once my fiancé and I had decided on the venue, the theme of “An English Summer’s Garden Party” fell into place. The venue was Sutton Bonington Hall, situated in the beautiful Leicestershire countryside.  Driving through the village, we instantly fell in love with the old brick walls, endless fields of sheep and old telephone was absolutely idyllic! The hall was so impressive with its quaint artefacts, the atmospheric old library and vast pretty gardens. Walking around the venue we soon came up with a list of wonderful elements that we just had to include in our special day, like rows and rows of bunting draped in the conservatory, birdcages as table centre pieces filled with English roses and an old post-box for guests to post their cards into.

We decided that we wanted a pocket fold invite with three inserts, the inserts being the gifts, the accommodation and the menu. I now had a template of space that I needed to fill with scrummy wedding symbols that would make the stationery personal! Together with traditional wedding symbols such as bells, the cake and the wedding bands, I began to sketch other personal touches such as the bunting, the birdcages and the post box as mentioned earlier.

Before the guests had even stepped into Sutton Bonington Hall for our big day they were given lots of visual clues about the special occasion and the venue. Here is the finished invite, which we were chuffed to bits with! As you can see, I was hugely influenced with what I saw at the venue and it is clearly reflected in our invite.

Not only did I design the invitations but also the finishing touches of the day that really bought the whole theme together.

Table place name cards


The image for the thank you card

So, here’s how I did it! 

These are the tools we are going to use in Adobe Illustrator…

1. Begin with sketching out the elements you want to include using a black fibre tip pen. Do a few versions to get the sketch exactly how you want it. You will need to get it roughly how you want it as although Adobe Illustrator is wonderful it doesn’t work miracles! If in doubt, keep it simple or better still trace around a photograph or an existing image.

2. Scan in your masterpieces using a good dpi (dots per inch) - it should be at least 200 dpi.

3. Open up your scan in Adobe Illustrator and whilst your image is selected (if it’s not, use the selection tool to click on the image so there are boxes around the corners) go to Image > Lock. This acts as if you have taped your original down to trace over it – it basically stops it from moving and doing your head in!

4. Select the pen tool in your tool bar – this allows you freedom to draw out your sketches and make them changeable. When you use the pen tool you are drawing vectors which are shapes, curves, lines etc. that can be adjusted afterwards and have colour and patterns applied to them. Begin by choosing a contrasting colour to the black outline you have – I always use a red colour. Do this by double clicking the colour of the stroke and clicking on the chosen colour. Choose a non-fill, as we only need an outline at this point.

I normally use 1 point (which is the thickness of the line) and choose the middle button for Cap and Corner. This makes the line nice and smooth and looks good at the corners of your work.

Now, the pen tool is my best friend in Adobe Illustrator – we have been together for some time and work very well together. However, some people may wish to de-friend Mr. Pen almost immediately because he can be a bit troublesome to control. Take your time with him...believe me, he’s worth it!

Here are the rules for using Mr. Pen:

Click where you wish to begin and then come off your mouse. I always go clockwise around my shape and start at the top.

Think about where your next point (‘anchor’ which is the fancy pants word) needs to be -knowing this will come in time. In a circle there would need to be 4 anchor points at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and if it is a curvy shape you will need one every time you begin the next part of the shape.

Click and drag at this point and don’t let go until the line being created lines up with the original shape you are tracing around.

HINT: Now, I’m a little naughty and you’re not supposed to do this but before I draw a new curve I click on my last point to end it. This way, the new curve is completely fresh and it doesn’t predict what I want to draw but ssshhhh keep it a secret!

All the blue circles you can see are the anchor points

5. CTRL + Z (Edit > Undo) is your new best friend! Use it as often as you wish!

6. Repeat step 4 and 5 until your shape is complete. A shape should always be whole so when you return to the original point a circle will appear on your cursor indicating you are about to complete the shape and once you click the beginning point the shape will be whole.

7. Use the direct selection tool (white arrow) to click and drag any of the anchor points back onto the original sketch. 

Pull the lines around by click and dragging the anchor points handles 

8. The hard work is now done so all that is left is to recolour the shapes. Using the selection tool, click on a part that you have drawn and use the stroke and fill to colour it in. The stroke size is also good to play around with especially if you want to make dashes and dots!

Here’s the dotted settings I used and the dashed settings too!

9. Finally, you might have created an image that is made up from different parts like this bunting. 

There are 4 triangles, the stitched line effect on each triangle, the letters RSVP and the tape they are attached to...this is around 13 separate elements! So, with the selection tool (black arrow), select all of these separate parts (using the SHIFT key if needs be) and go to Image > Group. This way when you are moving the image around the page you won’t lose anything.

10. Transfer these individual sketches onto a template of your invite. It could be an A5 piece of card, a pocket fold or a themed invite...ensure you do this bit properly as we don’t want tears of sadness when you first see the invites printed! has a whole archive of different templates; click here to have a gander. If what you had in mind is not there then don’t worry, you can make a template yourself. However, make sure you get in touch with your printer and find out the bleed line (normally 3-5mm) and don’t go over this line with your design.

Just in case you don’t know what a bleed line, it is the pink line around this card. It acts as a boundary. Any of your design outside of this line will not be printed. 

Hey presto! It’s all done, well aren’t you proud of yourself? 

Thank you for reading this blog! Thank you also to for asking me to write this and if you want to get in touch please email me at or visit my website at



19 Mar 2014 10:08
Really like the personal touches and hand drawn elements. Thanks for the tips too!
David Brookes
19 Mar 2014 10:41
WOW so detailed :-) love this post
C Hiazos
19 Mar 2014 14:38
Like David said, the detailing is amazing.

A big well done.
Alex Wilkie
19 Mar 2014 15:50
love this....more in depth blogs please
19 Mar 2014 16:49
Nice job -I love Illustrator.
Jenna Gold
21 Mar 2014 16:17
I love your artwork! I was so pleased to see a blog post from you and the insight into your process is great. Thanks so much! x
Karla Hall
28 Mar 2014 14:08
Amazing work! Many thanks for your top tips
26 Oct 2015 13:51
Fab tips, great advice ~ thanks for sharing :)

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