Working Backward for the Perfect Save the Date

Nearly 40 percent of engagements occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, and if you’re one of those people, I say, “Congrats!” But also, “Hold your horses on that save the date.”

It makes sense that you want to announce your new engagement to the world—and make sure all your friends and family know to start planning ahead for you wedding. Time and time again though, brides come into the studio months after they sent out their save the date. They fall in love with an invitation look and feel, but it doesn’t flow at all with what they sent for their save the date. They want a branded, cohesive look, but that proverbial ship has sailed. With just a little bit of patience and planning, this could have been a different scenario.

Your save the date should not define the look of your invitation. It should be the other way around.

Most brides also want to coordinate all the other paper products at their wedding: the menus, programs, place cards and welcome notes they leave their guests. Creating consistency between all these products has a lovely design appeal but creating consistency between your save the date and invitation can also be a major favor to your guests.

When the ink, paper, font and colors—and especially the formality—of your invitation and save the date are consistent, it helps brand the wedding in your guests’ minds. They’ll have a better understanding of whether it’s a formal or casual event and what type of couple you are.

With a funny engagement photo; open san-serif font; bright color scheme and a reply post card, your guests will know they’re in for a casual affair. If your save the date is low-key and informal, but your invitation traditional and very classic, guests might have a hard time knowing exactly what you mean by ‘Semi-formal Attire’ or even what kind of gift to give. 

Coordinating these pieces really does show concern for your guests and that you want to help them be as comfortable as possible. After all, in the words of Brene Brown, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”

If you really want a perfect save the date, I recommend making design decisions regarding your invitations even before your engagement photo session. Engagement photos are wonderful, but most people get them for their save the date cards. So why wouldn’t you want to know ahead of time whether your card is going to be vertically or horizontally oriented, how much white space you need at the top or bottom and what color clothes to wear?

Typically, I like to have a clear vision of where we’re going in terms of style, colors, fonts and overall design of invitation before anything else. Then we work backward towards a save the date: applying those design elements to create a coordinating save the date. I’ll ask clients to email me their top three to five favorite photos from their engagement session, and I’ll design the save the date using their fonts and inks, integrating the photo into the mood/feel that works best.

Just another helpful hint: here are some timelines and the basic information you’ll need to start the design work on your invitation and save the date (You’ll need much more info to finish the invitation!).

Save the Date

Mail by: 6 months to a year before wedding (no more than 1 year before, at least 2 months before invitation)

Design time: 2 weeks
Print time: 1 week
What info you need:
·      Date
·      Location (at least city and state)
·      Engagement photo session scheduled (ideally soon after we meet or even prior to meeting)
·      An idea of the wedding formality

When to start designing: 7 months to a year before the wedding


Mail by: 8-10 weeks before wedding (mail is unreliable, give more than the 3 weeks for reply!)

Design time: 1 month
Print time: 2 weeks
What info you need:
·      Date
·      Location (at least city and state)
·      Idea of the wedding formality
·      Idea of number of invitations you’ll need  
·      Whether you’re doing buffet or seated dinner

When to start designing: 4-7 months before the wedding

If you’re a bit behind schedule, that’s okay. Click here to schedule an appointment with us, and we’ll help get you back on track. We are currently working on late spring and summer weddings, along with a few fall…let’s get rolling together!


The Curse of Competence

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. -2 Corinthians 3:5

Many years ago, I was bemoaning to a friend of mine about how overcommitted I felt. On top of the two small children to raise, the full-time business to manage, and the marriage to cultivate were the additional tasks of leading our adult Sunday school class and then leading a group of college age students during the week. Finally, there was the mandatory ‘volunteering’ in the church nursery bi-weekly. It was a lot.

My friend was quiet, looked at me for a minute and just said, “The curse of competence.”

She explained further: when you prove yourself to be competent in one way, people will seek you out to help with other things. You will be asked, and you will be asked often. And of course, the lesson is that your boundaries have to be strong if you plan to retain any peace in your life.

But what about when you don’t feel competent at all? What about when the world looks at you as if you are knowledgeable, capable, and wise but you just feel like a big phony? What about the curse of false competence?

Let me explain: Ask me to lead a Bible Study and I’ve got it nailed. Pray publicly or speak to a crowd? I can do it. Talk about cash flow or business marketing techniques or even my creative process… now I’m breaking into a cold sweat. Because the truth is, I’ve owned a small business for over 15 years and I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I often feel like a fraud.

I’ll introduce myself at a party and occasionally someone will say something like Oh my gosh! I love The Happy Envelope! You did my sister’s wedding invitation, or, Your calendar has meant so much to me, or, My niece interned with you and had a great experience! Which are all delightful things to hear. But in the back of my head a little voice says, “Too bad you have no idea what you’re doing.”

I read a book a couple months ago called The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile. It’s all about the Enneagram, which is sort of a personality typing system. (Never fear—you’ll hear more about this later, I’m sure, because I’m completely and totally obsessed). Through this book, I learned that I’m an Enneagram 3, The Achiever or Performer. And as it turns out, this feeling of phoniness and fraudulence is totally normal for a 3. It’s called, “Imposter Syndrome.” Lots of 3s feel this way. It’s part of our makeup; it’s part of who we are.

This was eye-opening. To put language to something that I’ve always felt was a secret and hidden personal flaw—to call it out and name it out loud—was very freeing. And as it turns out, I’m not incompetent—I just feel that way.

What should we do when we see something in our nature—in our heart—that needs to change? Well, I started with my Maker. I began to pray about this feeling of incompetence. I began to pray about the gaps in my knowledge and the things I want to grow in. And you know how God responded? Very gently, with that verse at the top of the page:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. -2 Corinthians 3:5

And then this one:

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:19

And finally, this:

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. -2 Corinthians 9:8

In other words, He said to me: I’ve got this. You don’t have to. I’ll equip you with what you need, and I relaxed a little. I breathed easier. And then I ordered a copy of the Small Business Financial Management Kit for Dummies because that I’m pretty sure that won’t hurt, either.


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Coming soon...

Dropping into your email box this Thanksgiving Thursday is my very first blog post, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! Be sure to subscribe below for thoughts on gratitude and contentment, how to spell stationery correctly, tips on writing thank you notes and properly addressing envelopes, ponderings on enjoying life to its fullest… you know, all the Happy Things!

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