A Hint of Japan in Chambly Québec

This posting is very special to me as it about the wedding of Marie-Claude (my little cousin) and of her now husband Patrick. From beginning to end the day was romantic, quirky and so fun. Having travelled to Japan, Marie-Claude and Patrick fell in love with the culture, design and of course the food. Their wedding took place in Chambly, where the famous Quebec beer is made. Their day was a blend of French Canadian culture and the Japanese influence from their travels. Marie-Claude and Patrick wanted to make their mark by having me design a graphic icon of themselves as a Japanese couple. This icon was then converted into a custom stamp which was hand stamped onto the back flap of their envelopes. Save the dates were custom designed into a postcard giving a "mailed from Japan" feel. The invitations were a bit more formal yet fun mixing various Japanese patterns together. And lastly their colour palette was made up of various blues such as rich royals and aquas.

How to Customize our "Off the Rack" Collection

I met with Nathalie in March who expressed she was on a tight budget with invitations because of the amount of guests she was inviting to her wedding. After choosing a design from the "off the rack" collection she then added a few of her own custom touches. Colourful twine (the twinery) was chosen to wrap around the invitation along with a "we're tying the knot" tag, which was a must. And to add more colour and oomf we also designed a custom stripe liner which was added to the envelopes. What a great way to semi-customize your invites without breaking the bank.

Royal Ontario Museum Romance

Highly influenced by their year of living in Paris, France ~ Fiona and Keith incorporated their very own french flare to their "big day" at the ROM. Colour palette was of rich golds, browns, champagne and copper. Invitations were ornate, elegant and beautifully letterpressed. Their wedding day stationery had a similar french feel introducing a bit of art nouveau within the design. Their wedding program really brought out their fun and quirky personality as a couple. This booklet which was titled "The Romantic Times" included information about their ceremony, family and entourage. Many other fun aspects were also found in this booklet such as a crossword puzzle, a truth or false quiz, gossip column, horoscope and a travel section.

Photographs by 5ive15ifteen Photocompany

Clever DYI Ideas

Graphic design for weddings comes in every shape and form. But there is nothing better then a tastefully printed piece with a clever thought behind it. I'm always looking for unique ideas that are practical and well thought out. I've gathered a few DYI ideas that may inspire you for your wedding day. Remember this is your day and time to shine so why not add a conversation piece to your cocktail hour, place setting or even your midnight table.

Monogram Design

If you're thinking of getting your very own wedding monogram designed - make sure its done well. Having a background in logo design I love designing monograms. Depending on the style and direction I'm given from my clients I usually start with looking at fonts that reflect the couples personality and flare. Once suitable fonts are found I then look at letters as shape and combine them so they relate to one another. Balance and symmetry is very important... as sometimes some of the letters need to be technically reworked so all shapes fit well together. If additional graphics, lines, ornaments or even a wedding date is added it is then important to keep all elements in order to make sure the final product is legible and within client's specifications. Below are a few or my most recent monogram designs take a look...

Wedding Day Ideas

Your big day is coming up! Your hard work and creative flare is coming together! But if you have a few loose endsyou may want to check out Snippet & Ink for inspirations. I love their inspiration boards as they have such fresh flare built for various wedding styles. These are so great to look at and may give you last minute ideas for your wedding day decor, floral and stationery. If you're thinking of doing some of these yourself I would say keep it simple and tasteful.

Printing 101 - specialty printing

As I close off my last blog posting on printing I thought I would talk about specialty printing such as letterpress, foil stamping and blind embossing. All of these print mediums require more skill and a lot of TLC. Below is information on all 3 printing methods with a few videos which will give you more of idea of how each printing process works: Letterpress - the oldest form of printing. Invented in the mid-15th century. This print medium prints from a hard, raised image plates which imprint into a more substantial paper stock making an imprint into the paper. Each job is set up on an old fashion press and designs are usually made up of 1, 2 or even 3 colours. Beautiful to the eye and touch letterpress is top notch. Click to learn more from this youtube video.

Foil stamping - is a specialty printing process that uses heat, pressure, metal dies and foil film. The foil comes in rolls in a wide assortment of colors, finishes, and optical effects. Foil is an opaque medium. Unlike thermography, lithography and letterpress, foil stamping does not use any ink. This makes metallic or lighter color foil great for darker or coloured papers. Foil can be used for a variety of finishes, including metallic, matte, glossy, pearlescent and patterns such as marbling. Click to learn more from this youtube video.

Blind Embossing - simply by creating a raised area using a die, blind embossing creates a subtle paper coloured image that can be felt as well as seen. De-bossing uses the same technique to create an indentation. This can be as emphatic or delicate as the graphics or words dictate. A careful choice of paper will enhance the effect (avoiding bright whites and very smooth materials). Click to watch this short youtube video.

Printing 101 - thermo engraving

Here are my best tips when it comes to thermo engraving: 1. This medium is printed on a classic printing press. Once printed, a salt like powder is applied to each print and then it goes through a baking process - which gives it a wet raised ink look and feel. 2. Invented in the early 1900's. This form of printing was popular for wedding invites in the 1950's and 1960's. This was most likely the print medium your grand parents and even your parents used for their wedding invitations. 3. If you're the ultra simple, urban or traditional bride. And require a higher quantity of invitation sets you might want to consider this form of printing. 4. I always make sure all fine elements such as fonts, monograms and custom graphics have an thicker outline. This adds substance, making the raised ink look even more noticeable. 5. Get your return and reply addresses printed on your envelopes. It's consistent and adds a great finishing touch. 6. Only 1 or 2 colours can be accommodated with this print medium. 7. Each colour needs to be set up as 100% of a PANTONE colour. Lighter colours or watermarks can be done, this would then be added as a second colour. 8. PANTONE colours are an agreed, industry standard set of colours that can be matched accurately by all printers. They are identified as a series of numbers. You simply reference to PANTONE 2985 instead of Sky Blue. This helps a great deal as one person's idea of what Sky Blue may be very different to another person, but with a number you can refer to the chart and you know exactly what you are getting. 9. Plates of your custom design will get produced and then set up on the printing press in order to imprint your wedding design. Each plate accommodates 1 colour. 10. This print medium is costed out per job, rather than per print.

Printing 101 - digital

Here are my top 10 tips when it comes to digital printing: 1. Printing happens from computer to printer - it is the quickest print medium. 2. Colours! - digital can accommodate a simple or a full colour palette. Best part - cost is the same! 3. A lighter percentage of your favourite colour can be easily achieved. This process is harder and more expensive with other print mediums. 4. Smaller print runs such a second set of language invitation cards, rehearsal dinner, BBQ, or brunch cards are ideal as cost is per print and not per job! 5. One-off prints are ideal for signage such as large, medium to mini signs. 6. Digital is also great if you'd like your guest addresses printed onto your outer envelopes. Each are different and require lots of TLC... digital is ideal and looks fab! 7. If you are looking for a white or a metallic look in print this cannot be achieved. 8. Printing a lighter colour onto dark cardstock is also unachievable. 9. Make sure your paper of choice is digital printer friendly. 10. Dark colour + full ink coverage is hard to acheive... streeks and blotchs may occur.

Simply Perfect ~ Wedding Planning

Joseph + Jaime Photography

Joseph + Jaime Photography

I recently interviewed Jodi Gagné from "Simply Perfect" who discussed her experiences and tips as one of Toronto's top wedding planners: MJ ~ How do you differ from other wedding planners? Jodi ~ We specialize in day management and coordination but know that a successful event demands an understanding of the details months prior to the wedding day. Therefore our levels of service reflect the belief in building relationships with our clients by supporting them and being available to them throughout the planning process. MJ ~ What is your favourite part about wedding planning? Jodi ~ I love creating a partnership with my couples. I love hearing about their ideas, their expectations and assisting them to bring their event to the next level. I love the orchestration of the wedding day with all of its beautiful details and the naturally charged energy as the day flows from one event to the next. I recognize that there are times when I have to inject pauses in the timing so the couple and their guests can savour the moment or overlap events for a more heightened effect. I love working with a team of professional vendors who feel the same way I do, who are committed and know that together we are creating such a memorable experience. MJ ~ Why do couples hire you? Jodi ~ I believe in the value of the service I provide to my couples. As a wedding planner you need to be professional, organized, have skills in communication, negotiation, a desire to find win-win-win solutions and a sense of humour. My couples recognize the importance of these traits in me and my company and know that I am committed to ensuring that each experience with Simply Perfect strives to be a positive one. It is my job to help my couples let go of the details on the wedding day so that they can truly be present and live in the moment. MJ ~ What is your best advice for couples getting married? Jodi ~ Trust. Couples work hard to plan the details of their wedding and take a lot of care in assembling their team of experts. As the wedding day approaches each couple needs to place their trust in the wedding team and know that they too are invested in providing the best possible service. A professional vendor is able to compliment each team members' strengths so that any glitches that may arise throughout the day are not noticed. MJ ~ How do you keep your weddings fresh? Jodi ~ Simply by listening to my couples, discovering who they are, their needs, wishes and non-negotiables. Add to this a professional team of experts, a dash of the magic of love and you have a recipe that is sure to win the hearts of the couple, their family and friends. MJ ~ What is your background and history as a planner? Jodi ~ I received a degree in Theatre Production at York University. I am a Stage Manager and Lighting Designer by trade which has served me well throughout the years. Weddings, after all, no matter the budget or the guest list can be the production of a lifetime! Respecting the importance of education I received a diploma as a Bridal Consultant in 2000 and continue to renew my education through workshops, seminars and conferences on a yearly basis. In 2004 I took it one step further and became recognized as an Accredited Bridal Consultant through the Association of Bridal Consultants, and have been a proud member since 1999. While in business, I have had the pleasure of connecting with over 100 couples and their families and feel truly honoured to have had the opportunity to share in their wedding day. Visit Jodi's website at Andreas Avdoulos Photography

Joseph + Jaime Photography

Joseph + Jaime Photography

Custom Wedding Illustrations

Why not add flare to your invitations. I find getting an illustration personally hand drawn or painted is always a great way to get your invitations looking super duper original! Maybe you have a favourite artist and illustrator? Or better yet maybe a friend or a relative who would be honoured to create a chef d'oeuvre for your wedding stationery. I personally like the simple look so I often hire Pam Lostracco, a long time friend, designer, illustrator and artist. Here are a few key tips I recommend when working with an illustrator. Make sure the artist or illustrator's style reflects what your in search of. Specifics need to be well understood so maybe put together a mini visual library? Ask to see very initial sketches prior to finalizing illustrations just to make sure they are what you're looking for. You may also want to ask for the original artwork for a keep sake.

Guest, Reply & Return Addresses!

When you are brainstorming or in search of the perfect wedding invitations you usually first look at the design, style, colours, paper, envelopes and custom liners. But have you thought of addressing? There are 3 parts to wedding stationery addressing. First is your return address... this address is usually the bride's parent's address or the bride and groom's address. The purpose of the return address is simply if any of your invites don't make it to your guests addresses they will be returned and you can then relocate them in the right direction. I feel these are very important... as this will save you on getting more invitations printed in the long run. Secondly there are reply addresses... getting these mailed back to you will indicate who is attending, not attending, menu choices etc...The reply address like the return address is either the bride's parent's address or the couple's address. And thirdly are your guest addresses. Etiquette indicates that these usually get hand written by the bride. Some of my brides love to do this type of thing and others really don't. So I often suggest getting a family member or a friend who has nice hand writing and who wants to take on this job. But if no one is game you can simply get them printed onto your envelopes. I like to keep addresses consistant with invitation design so I always use the same fonts and colours. Depending on the initial design, I sometimes like to add a few graphic elements from the invitation package. So keep in mind that your envelopes can look as beautiful as your invitations!

Map Card?

The question is.... do I need to include a map card in my invitation package? The answer is yes if you have many out of town guests or if your wedding is taking place in a very unique setting or away from your home location. Your invitations should obviously set the tone... and will be kept in a safe place until your wedding day. Your guests will remember your wedding date (well lets hope!) and will refer back to check your ceremony time and location as well as your reception info. So if you feel a map is needed make sure its done right. Map design should always be kept simple which means it should include major roads (intersections). I love to include a ceremony and reception icon that visually describes each location. Call me "Martha" but I really do think your map card should reflect your invitation design to a "T" and also include addresses and maybe a website and phone number. Driving directions are also very common and found on the backside of every map card design.

New Off the Rack Designs!

We've recently doubled our "off the rack" collection. This collection was specially designed for couples who want to spend less on invitations or have a shorter time frame. Our pre-set colour palette options were inspired by this year's hottest colours. At only $4 per set you can come in to view proofs and paper samples! Visit our "off the rack" section for more information about this collection.

Classic Outdoors

Carly and Steve's wedding took place at Carly's family farm. Their invitations needed to have a definite outdoors look which we combined with a classic floral design. Carly's colour palette was composed of emerald green, amethyst purple and sapphire blue which is what made this design stand out most. We stayed on budget by keeping the format and printing simple. And we made the ensemble consistent and fresh by using a white felt textured cardstock throughout.

Wedding planned by Jodi Gagné of Simply Perfect Photographed by Cathy Chatterton of Capture Wedding Photography Flowers by Petals, Stems and Leaves

One Fine Day ~ Event Planning and Design

I recently interviewed Melissa Samborski from "One Fine Day Event Planning and Design" who discussed her experiences and tips as one of Toronto's top wedding planners: MJ ~ Why do couples hire you? Melissa ~ I think couples hire us because they trust us to bring their vision to life. Most couples are career driven so that doesn't leave them much time for planning. MJ ~ How do you defer from other wedding planners? Melissa ~ We offer sound experience when it comes to planning. Our couples tend to have larger budget weddings and multi day celebrations so understanding various cultures and traditions is very important to the couple and we seem to do that very well. MJ ~ What is your favourite part about wedding planner? Melissa ~ I get to work with so many different styles of weddings from modern to vintage to over the top. The exploring process is really fun! Each couple has a vision and bringing it to life is the best feeling. Going from the drawing board to the day of the wedding is a great feeling. MJ ~ Can you tell me what the latest wedding trends are? Or what is in and what is out? Melissa ~ In is vintage, bold colours and organic/local foods. Out are the days of chocolate fountains and signature drinks. MJ ~ What is your best advice for couples getting married? Melissa ~ Enjoy the day, take time to reflect and let the planner worry about all the details. MJ ~ How do you keep your weddings fresh? Melissa ~ Traveling!! I can experience new foods, fashions and cultures. MJ ~ How do you get inspired? Melissa ~ From my couples, they all have a story to tell and each one is unique. I can take a common wedding element yet personalize it for each couple. MJ ~ What is your background and history as a planner? Melissa ~ I started off in catering when I was in university and worked my way up through the ranks. After almost 10 years of working for various companies I took the plunge and start my own company. Understanding the biggest part of the day which is the catering and logistics is a huge benefit to me as a planner today. And lastly Melissa's final tip ~ A planner also needs a great team of vendors as well. From the Invites to the dress, each element works well on its own, but as a group they really need to be tied together to make the day seamless. Visit Melissa's website and blog

Custom Ink

This save the date design is extra special because it was designed for my little cousin Marie-Claude and her future husband Patrick. These guys looooove Japan... they took a trip there a few years back and we thought they would never come home! So lets say their wedding theme was a pretty easy one to pick out. Colourful and full of Japanese related design elements, I feel the highlight of this piece is their custom monogram. We researched various Japanese characters in order to find the two that best described Marie-Claude and Patrick. I then re-drew and combined both characters together as a monogram illustration. We then had this wonderful mini stamp custom made to ink the back flaps of their aqua envelopes. The best part is the fact that they will be able to ink many of their upcoming wedding stationery pieces as well as keeping the custom stamp as a wedding souvenir.

Country Boy Meets City Girl

Krystal and Cameron definitely made sure their stationery reflected their style, interests and personalities. Cameron a guys guy from Meaford who loves hockey. Krystal a city girl from Etobicoke who loves skiing and wanted to add a certain elegance to the mix. After developing their colour palette, our focus was creating a timeless and memorable wedding monogram. A country chic design soon came together... from the invitation package to day-of menus, table numbers and escort cards.

Choosing Fonts

Of course I love fonts. But if you don't look at them on a daily basis... yes these stylish little letters can be very overwhelming items to choose from. I would say there are 3 categories... 1. the classic combo... 2. the casual duo... 3. the modern solo. Fonts are very important as they relay your message; so make sure they gel with the overall style of your wedding invites. Choose fonts just like you choose your shoes and handbags. They are one of the most important accessories.

Thoughts on Reply Cards

When it comes to reply cards I always prefer to go with a simpler approach rather then a busier looking card. But on the other hand I've also designed reply cards that needed to include menu options, or dietary restrictions, shuttle bus options as well as next day brunch reply. Yes probably a bit overwhelming. Well for starters make sure to include a proper reply date. Reply cards are usually expected back one month before your wedding date. Below are design options as well as various wording examples you may want or need to consider.

Formal The favour of your reply is requested by March 2, 2012


Attending________ Regrets________

Numbers attending________________

(the letter "M" stands for Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss.)

Simple Kindly reply by March 2, 2012



Simple Casual RSVP by March 2, 2012

Yes_______ Sorry______

Casual Please send in your reply by March 2, 2012

Happy to attend__________________________

Sadly won't be attending_________________

Menu options 1. Please circle/indicate your meal choice 2. Please advise us of any dietary restrictions? 3. Do you require a vegetarian meal? 4. Please indicate a meal for each guest

Additional options 1. We will be taking the complimentary shuttle yes_______ no_______ 2. We will be attending Sunday brunch yes________ no__________