Formal, with Flourishes

Alexandra and Michael were planning a black-tie, traditional Catholic wedding, and wanted their invitation to reflect that style. Alex was drawn to the Fountain design — seeing how the layout's simplicity put the elaborate font on display, she was, as she put it, "hooked."

Deceptively simple in design, the typeface features intricate and playful ligatures and flourishes. The extra thick invitation cards were edged in gold, and that subtle sparkle was echoed by the envelopes' antique gold liners.

Alex found Parklife Press on the Martha Stewart Weddings website. As with any wedding, there were many decisions to be made — but when it came to the invitations, whether to use letterpress was never really a question. "My Mom is a calligrapher and has instilled a reverence to paper products in me that I was sure to embrace in our wedding planning process." The effect was everything she and Michael were looking for: formal and traditional, with impact.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Drawing Inspiration: Art, Cultural Traditions, Local Pride

From a creative professional's perspective, Sneha and Dylan were dream clients. The did research, they "shopped local," and they visited the studio — both to talk with Travis, and to see (and feel) letterpress samples in person. Most importantly, they had a solid design vision and provided concrete inspiration and references.

Parklife Press did custom designs for both the save the date card and the invitation set. For the former, Sneha and Dylan said they wanted "whimsical ... like the opening scenes of a Wes Anderson film." (For a graphic designer and film buff to hear this? He knows it's the start of a fun job.)

The list of inspirations for the invitation set was longer, but no less interesting to fit together. To start with, it was to be "a bit more formal" than the save the date cards.

For the couple, it was tiny details that made this set distinctive and personal. They wanted to incorporate "flower garlands from traditional Indian weddings." To do this, Travis used a blind deboss impression — thereby lending texture to the background and creating a subtle, striped effect which was in keeping with the design's formal tone. Sneha and Dylan chose the green and gold colors they "often see in the beautiful forests here," colors which they used in the wedding and reception. (The heavy-weight cards were edged in gold, setting off the deep green of the text.) And finally, they wanted to "give a nod to our new home in Durham by featuring a romanticized bull." That bull, extending a single rose, appears on both the save the date card and on the invitation's envelope flap return address.

Commissioning custom designs, especially when the turnaround time is short, can be nerve-wracking for clients. But it was a positive experience for Sneha, who said, "Travis was so easy to work with and incredibly quick to respond to our edits." And the resulting product really set the tone for their big day: "We have received more compliments on the invites than we could have ever imagined," she said. "He helped two very time-constrained and design-naive individuals make absolutely beautiful invitations we will treasure forever."

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Old World Charm in New York City

The beauty of a classic, calligraphic invitation puts the emphasis on the writing. Here, in a invitation based on Quill, with custom calligraphy by Monica Rachel Lima, the swirls and flourishes of the text sets the tone for an elegant and festive occasion. The black ink on thick, pearl white paper stock is set off by a metallic silver envelope liner.

The simplicity of the dingbat rule pairs well with dramatic flair of the calligraphic flourishes, and all the rounded corners of all the pieces ties the set together.

Accompanying reception and RSVP cards are done in a understated serif font with a vintage feel. The two styles coordinate to set the tone for a formal wedding in New York City.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Grass and Stone

Addie had always been drawn to letterpress. Having few letterpress options in Greensboro, they found Parklife Press when searching for studios in the Durham area. Working under a tight deadline and having little time to spare, they were pleased when Parklife's website showed a "clear design aesthetic as well as up front design details and pricing options," and felt that the format prepared them for a seamless consultation with Travis. They were immediately drawn to the Parker design because it was clean and simple, and they loved its use of typography.

They used grass and stone inks throughout. The green, used sparingly — for their names, the RSVP postcard-style return address, and for the invitation's edge painting — was a nice touch for their not-quite-spring wedding in March. "It felt really fresh and added just enough pop," Addie says. They ended up using the colors and color names as a thematic springboard — "grass and stone" became a motif at their wedding, with centerpieces of planters of grass, and stone-colored bridesmaids dresses.

The RSVP and welcome cards provided another showcase for the dramatic pop of typographic embellishment. This particular script font comes with an extensive set of alternative characters and ligatures, providing lots of options for the designer. Choosing which to use and where is key. Addie noted, "Travis gave great suggestions on how and where to add flourish to our names without it being over the top. We trusted him completely!"

Twist of Lime

Meghan and John knew they wanted letterpress invitations for their wedding, and had even seen Parklife's work before — a friend of theirs worked with Travis and used a similar invitation design. So when it came time to plan their wedding, they were a step ahead. Based on Whirl, the design features a conventional text layout with an off-center design bleeding off the corner. The motif is also repeated on the main envelope flap, as well as the RSVP and events schedule cards.

The swirly motif, when printed in pale lime ink, becomes springy and botanical, perfect for a late-spring wedding.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Timeless Black on White

Michelle and Stephen weren't familiar with letterpress when they began planning their black tie wedding, but a love of elegant invitations had been instilled in Michelle an early age. Her grandmother used to frame beautiful invitations she received, and Michelle had always admired those with simple black calligraphy on a white note card. Parklife's Vignette fit that vision perfectly: striking black ink against bright white paper, set off and framed with a blind deboss border.

The script font had a few flourishes, with one particularly unusual and interesting one: the ligtature connecting the cursive capital "S" and "p" in Stephen's name. A classic dingbat was used to add some visual interest and to separate blocks of information. It also tied all the pieces together — it was used on the invitation, the main envelope's return address, the RSVP card, and the accommodation information card.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Amore e matrimonio: Italiano e Inglese

Kevin and Francesca were looking for an invitation to echo the embroidery on the bridal gown. They found what they were looking for, basing their set on Parklife's Franklin design. The springy floral motif was also reflected in the design of the wedding cake and in the floral arrangements.

The other major requirement for the invitations was that they speak to two audiences, which had, as Francesca put it, "different traditions and etiquette requirements." The floral artwork was printed with a single plate in light celadon ink. But for the forest green text, two different plates were used — one in English and one in Italian. The enclosure cards were bilingual to speak to both audiences — one card invited guests to the reception, the other gave RSVP directions and other information. "Everyone invited, from every country we touched, made the comment that they'd never seen such a simple yet elegant touch and attention to details in the invitations."

"The invitations  for our wedding were probably one of the best things of the wedding organization," Francesca said. "We could not be any more pleased by the success of the first step of the best day in our lives. We have been recommending Parklife Press to whomever asks for refined letterpress work."

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson