Planning anything can be so tough! Since photographers are usually the first vendor to be hired, we get a chance to chat about lots of aspects of planning and a topic that has come up a lot lately is custom invitations.

For my wedding I decided I was going to DIY with a kit from Michael's. Worst $40 I ever spent, I think my husband used it to start a campfire with this year. We ended up with custom designed invitations after I procrastinated on the DIY route!

Ashleigh from CharmCat Stationery & Design agreed to let me interview her for our blog. Check out her beautiful work and give her a holler for your invitations!

Where are you located?

Currently Connecticut, but at the end of the month I'm relocating to the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia area

What is your name and what is your role in the business?

Ashleigh Pritchard, Stationery Designer and Owner

Tell me a little bit about what you offer our clients!

I offer brides and grooms a way to turn their personality as a couple into a work of art—their wedding stationery! The world of wedding invitations is incredibly overwhelming, and browsing pre-made designs trying to find something that speaks to you can feel super impersonal and really frustrating. So, I actually talk to my couples and get to know them through one or more sessions. I get to know who they are and create something that's just right for their needs. Plus, they don't have to stress over the options and etiquette because I do it all for them!

How early do couples need to contact you?

If they want to start with save the dates, about a year out. For invitations, 6-8 months out is ideal. Although I do some rush jobs, I find it's more relaxing for the couple if they don't feel pressured or overwhelmed by packing it in to a tight schedule.

What are two things you wish couples knew about paper products?

First, I wish they knew just how much time and dedication goes into the design and creation of paper products. Invites aren't something we just throw together. As stationers, we care about each and every detail that goes into our art. It's what sets us apart from each other, and from big box invitations! Second, don't be afraid to think outside the box! If you're an adventurous couple, get adventurous with your stationery. Stationers love trying new things.

Tell me about the designing process for invitations!

Personally, my process starts with talking! I have at least one session with my couples, either in person or over video chat, so I can get to know them, their story, and their wedding vision. I take notes about everything, because even the most random comment can turn into a design idea. I also get to know their needs and their wedding plans so I can make the best suggestions about what they need and don't need. After I make a few quick sketches, we talk about specific design details. I pitch a couple of ideas and we settle on a direction. The next step is to create a design proof: a more detailed, colored sketch that shows the style and layout of all pieces in the suite. I usually do this with a combination of colored pencils and computer sketching. Once that's approved, I start the artwork! Painting can take anywhere from an hour to four hours or more, depending on the design. Each piece gets painted, photographed, and turned into a hi-res art file. Then the art and text gets designed together. I go back and forth with the couple to make any tweaks they want and perfect the design for their tastes. Once everything's perfect, it's off to the printers for ink, foil, letterpress, or other printing method. Production can take up to six weeks in some cases, which is why it's good to start early.

Do you offer addressing services? wedding signage?

Yep! I offer all sorts of additional services, including printed wedding signs and digital addressing services.

Anything else I should be sharing with my clients about wedding paper?

Your wedding invitations are everything you make them! Choosing custom design means you don't have to settle for what's already out there. You get to make your invitations as awesome as you want them.