elizabeth gelineau



Mobile bay area wedding photographer

Invitations | Wedding Inspiration


February 20, 2019

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The Organized Bride Series

You’ve set the date. You booked the church and reception venue. Your besties are all set to be part of your bridal party. You start to think about sending Save the Dates. That’s when you find yourself visiting a stationery shop and looking at wedding invitations. Chances are that if you’ve wandered into one of these shops on a whim, you just might get a little overwhelmed. Since I’m not married, I’ve never had the experience of shopping for wedding invitations, but I know just how many options I considered just for my business stationery box! Who knew there were so many decisions one can make within just one purchase?!

Thankfully, my friend and fellow business owner, Lindsey Stiegler, is an expert on all things stationery! She helped guide me to the perfect selection. It felt like Christmas morning the day I received my stationery box. Every time I pull out a card to send a thank you note, or to welcome a new bride to the Elizabeth Gelineau Photography family, I smile at how perfect the stationery I’m writing on matches me and my personality. The same should be true for your wedding invitations because they truly set the tone for your special day.

I’ve recently been spending a lot of time at Lindsey’s cheerful midtown shop, Soiree Signatures, photographing several of her wedding stationery suites for her online shop. Every time I think I’ve picked a favorite, she brings out another that I love even more! During one of our shoots, I asked Lindsey for her best advice on selecting, ordering and sending out those special invitations. I learned so much about paper just from photographing all these beautiful pieces! Check out all the tips I learned from Lindsey in this post!

Allow Plenty of Time for Printing

I would estimate that the majority of the weddings I photograph have a guest list of roughly 150 to 200 people. If you’re mailing that many invitations, you’re going to need allow for plenty of turnaround time in order to receive your order and mail those invitations to your guests. Lindsey advises ordering your invitations and stationery at least three months ahead of when you want to send them out. Allowing more time is necessary if there will be some assembly required upon arrival. Also, keep in mind that turnaround times can vary depending on which printer your invitations are ordered from. Lindsey says that planning ahead and giving yourself enough lead time on invitations will give you the freedom to order the right invitation stationery and not just the one that will arrive on time.

Save the Dates

Many of my clients choose to use some of their favorite portraits from their engagement session on their Save the Dates, but some prefer a traditional card that will match their wedding stationery. Lindsey recommends sending out Save the Dates so that they will reach your guests six to eight months ahead of wedding day. If you’re planning a local wedding, six months is plenty of time. But for those couples who are having a destination wedding, or a large number of out-of-town guests, you’ll want to lean towards that eight months mark or longer. Ready to order your Save the Dates, but not ready to order your wedding invitations? That’s ok! Lindsey advises selecting a color palette and some basic design elements that can carry across all pieces related to your wedding.

Printing Styles

When you order your wedding invitations, you’ll find yourself choosing a printing style. There are four main styles of printing: Digital, Letterpress, Thermography and Engraving. Before my first shoot at Soiree Signatures, Lindsey taught me about these different styles. Budget is largely a factor in selecting your preferred style and the size of your guest list often determines your budget. Lindsey told me to think of digital printing as flat printing. There are no indentions/raised areas with this type of printing. It is also the most economical option.

Letterpress printing totally has my heart, which is why I ordered letterpress cards in my stationery box. It’s a classic choice and one that is sure to stand the test of time. Letterpress means the words are pressed into the paper, giving a nice texture to the invitation. Letterpress printing also has the additional option of adding gold, silver or rose gold foil.

Engraving also lends texture to the invitation, but it is nearly the reverse of letterpress. With engraving, a custom metal plate is made and the text is pressed into the invitation from the back of the paper, creating a texture that is raised on the front side of the invitation. Engraving is considered the finest of the printing methods. It is also a timeless selection. Fun fact, if you have your invitations engraved, Lindsey lets you keep the plate that was used for printing!

Thermography is similar to engraving and a style of printing that many refer to as “raised” printing. Unlike engraving, thermography does not use a metal plate, meaning it’s more economical if you like the raised look. Thermography does have its limits regarding color and paper types though, so keep this in mind when choosing your printing style.

Letterpress, Thermography and Engraving orders will typically take longer to produce than Digital printing orders. Lindsey recommends keeping this in mind when planning your timeline for ordering and receiving invitations.

What About Calligraphy?

I have always been obsessed with calligraphy! It is one thing I’ve always wanted to learn to do, but I don’t think I have the patience for it. You know those calligraphy videos on Instagram? I could watch those all day long. Why are they so mesmerizing?! When I receive an invitation in the mail that has calligraphy on the envelope, it always feels just a bit extra special. If you’re planning to add calligraphy to your wedding invitation order, you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute!

The reason calligraphy is so special is because it is handwritten! With traditional pen and ink calligraphy, an actual person is sitting at their desk carefully addressing each and every envelope. Just imagine how much time that takes for an average size wedding with roughly 100 invitations! For this reason, calligraphy services are typically priced per envelope. If you’re looking for the elegance of calligraphy script, but don’t have the budget for traditional calligraphy, ask out options for digital calligraphy.

Calligraphy is not just for invitations! Personalize your wedding with day-of pieces, such as place cards, table numbers and menus. Ask your calligrapher about additional paper details that can add that extra special touch! I personally love a place card! Each time I’m at a wedding that has them, I save mine as a wedding memento.

Fun Extras

There are so many fun things to see inside Lindsey’s shop on Florida Street in Mobile, Alabama. I love popping in when I’m in search of a quick gift (because everyone can use stationery!), or when I find I’ve run low on my thank you note stash.

Once inside Soiree Signatures, you know this is the place to come if you’re planning a party! In addition to all the beautiful papers, they also carry a variety of personalized party items that can be customized to coordinate with any wedding invitation suite. Who doesn’t love a wedding day koozie?! I have collected several from all the weddings I’ve photographed! Other custom items include stickers (for sealing wedding invitations), wax seals and stamps, just to name a few!

Assembly Time & Postage

When my cousin got married a few years ago, a lot of us ladies in the family gathered at her house to assemble her wedding invitations. We had quite an organized team and completed the task in a few hours. In total, it took about eight of us to complete the process in a reasonable time. It was so fun to spend that time together and chat about how excited we were for wedding day. If you have a team that’s organized and can get things done, you’re probably planning to assemble your invitations yourself and that’s awesome!

But, if you’re even just a little pressed for time and don’t have a posse of ladies that can teamwork the whole assembly process, then you may want to consider adding that service to your invitation order. At Soiree Signatures, their White Glove Service gives you the luxury of picking up those invitations and taking them straight to the post office! If you’re a bride who is getting married during a season of life where you’re graduating from college, starting a new job, undertaking a move to another state, or you just have an insanely busy schedule, ask your stationer about assembly services. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you have that extra time!

Don’t Forget Thank You Notes!

You’re receiving gifts at showers. Wedding gifts are arriving on your doorstep daily. You need to write thank you notes before it gets overwhelming. It will get overwhelming if you procrastinate on this all-important task. Get yourself exited about penning those thank you notes, by ordering stationery that coordinates with your wedding invitations. I am personally a fan of a stationery box. In fact, I ordered one for myself! The reason I love the stationery box is because you have the option of customizing four different sets of note cards all within one box.

For brides, this would give you the option to have some cards with your new married name monogram, some with your maiden monogram and some with your future husband’s monogram. If you’re writing thank you notes as you receive gifts, then you may be sending several out before you’re married. A stationery box will give you the flexibility to have some cards to use for pre-wedding and some to use for post wedding. Since your future husband’s name will not change, he will be able to use his set of cards both before and after the wedding.

Writing thank you notes is a task that many brides dread. If you’ve procrastinated on writing those thank you notes, don’t despair. I encourage you to go out and buy yourself some pretty stationery and get writing! Thank you notes are always appreciated by those who receive them and the more personal you can make the note, the better.

Lindsey says that the most important thing to remember when beginning the invitation selection process is that stationers are able to work with all types of budgets. If you know your budget at the outset, that will help your stationer guide you to the right printing style, paper type and design elements.

I love that being in the wedding industry has taught me so much about so many different things. I enjoy being able to pass along that knowledge to all the brides-to-be out there. If you found this post helpful, drop me a note in the comments!


  1. […] date. As owner of Soiree Signatures, Lindsey has quite a busy schedule. Since she’s also in the wedding industry, it meant that picking a time that worked with both of our schedules, plus Joey’s schedule, […]

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