Mapping Napa

Nick and Hadley were drawn to the ever-popular Bookplate, and chose a color palette of fresh green paired with a soft gray (apple and dust inks). Their set included a map, custom-designed by Parklife Press, to guide their guests around the Napa Valley wedding events.

The set is comprised of three pieces printed on extra thick, 600g paper: an invitation, an RSVP card with a printed return envelope, and a map to the wedding site. The map shows both an overview of the area in Napa — with all-points directions and major roads — and a detail section of the Inn and resort grounds, noting entrance and parking areas and the specific reception hall.

Bookplate has always been a popular style for Parklife Press; its clean, simple design — with plenty of white space — really highlights the beauty of the typography, and the color pop on the couple's names really draws the eye. And perhaps because the design is so elegant and uncluttered, the tiny flourishes pack a (visual) punch. Below, the edge painting on each the piece (the invitation, RSVP card, and map) shows off the extra-thick paper stock and unifies the color theme; the tiny green dingbat preceeding "Dinner to follow" draws attention to the reception note while adding visual interest; the typeface's blink-or-you'll-miss-them ligatures lend an old-world charm to a very modern design; and the extra-thin double rules on the map divide the sections in a beautifully understated way.

Bonus points for any fellow print nerds who noticed that our map design delivered two shades of green for the price of one, with the water — the Pacific Ocean, San Pablo Bay, and San Francisco Bay — shown in what appears to be a lighter tint. How did they do that, you ask? What alchemy have these mad geniuses wrested from their printing press? Short answer: a halftone screen. Longer answer here.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

Soiree for 70th

This was a fun invitation set to print. Designed by graphic designer Sarah Scott, it was a festive and classy way to invite guests to Suman's 70th birthday. Guests opened the outer envelope to find a sleeve — an Envelopments Portable Pocket with charcoal linen exterior and ecru linen interior, overprinted with fog ink – and withdrew the card. The striking invitation was printed in black and a custom green ink on heavy, 600g pearl white stock.

The design's details and touches abound — the v-opening of the pocket, the tiny script "and," the hat on the 70, the tone-on-tone printing over the textured enclosure — and it must surely have set the tone for a great party.

Photos by Sarah McCarty Arneson

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