Category Archives: Stationery n


I had a browse at invitation styles online and through a few free brochures and quickly decided what I liked. I created a mock-up using scrap paper and card to show Guy the shape and work out the sizes, and he approved of the plan (oh, he did not know what he had agreed to!). It was also a practical design – I didn’t want bits of paper falling all over the place, but I wanted it to be easy for guests to read and search for information through. In hindsight, I should have bought some thin magnets you can cut and put those on the backs so that they could be pinned to fridges!

We bought some blue card off ebay and hammered ivory paper from Ryman’s (shiny paper does not do it for either of us) and wrote a template on OpenOffice.

We had three pages tucked into a pocket; the front one was Dress: Sharp Suits and Dashing Dresses and included a scanned in picture of fancily-dressed gentleman and lady: the premise of this was a nice picture and to warn the women to wear shoes they could dance in and get between the venues in. If nothing else, I warned them. We also told them the bridal colour, because some people worry about this (I really didn’t mind what colour people wore, but I didn’t want people calling up to ask and/or fretting over it).

Behind Dress was Location: a map of Oxford I drew showing the station, Somerville and the Town Hall

(it is labelled on the invitations), which was scanned in and contrast-enhanced using Photoshop.

And at the back was the Invitation sheet with an RSVP slip at the bottom. Once the RSVP slip has been cut off, the Invitation with all of it’s information fits comfortably as the front slip rather than the back – you see, we thought about these things!

Wording of the Invitation page:

Ms C S

requests the pleasure of the company of

Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms Guest

at the wedding of her daughter
Rowena Lucy
Mr Guy Antony Fletcher-Wood

to be held at 11am on Saturday 19th May 2012
at Oxford Town Hall

Please arrive 20 minutes in advance to be seated.

RSVP by 14th February to Ms C S,
Street Address, Area, City, Postcode

If you wish to bring a gift, we have set up an online gift list which you can access using the list reference number ##### and password ****.

You may find the list at Please contact Kay on, or 07#########, if you have any questions.


Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms Guest
will/will not be able to attend.
Meat meal? Y/N Alcohol? Y/N
Other dietary requirements? ………………………………

So we set up a production line. Guy struggles with scissors because he’s left handed, but I had a little ruler guillotine which cuts much straighter edges. However, I wasn’t that great at aligning it so as to cut perfectly down the middle of a pencil line – and he was. So Guy spent hours and hours loading paper into the printer and cutting the sheets I printed into the various slips of paper and one nametag (because there was a little excess space and I just couldn’t bear to waste it).

Guy definitely did more work on the invitations than I did: my job was making the pocketfolds and using double sided sticky tape to attach the cranes.

I also used our homemade wax stamp to stamp a seal on the backs of the envelopes and wrote on all the addresses neatly.

The finished products!

One things I didn’t do on the invitations was put down the finish time – this was a silly mistake, and a lot of people contacted us to ask about it so that they could book trains and plan their day. People actually started trailing out after the meal had finished (being very apologetic about it, not that we cared as they’d stayed for the important bits: skipping two hours of socialising was fine by me!) and other went on to further partying that night.

We had about 85 invitations in the end, seven or so for overseas and including our own, which we made first and sent through the post with a second class stamp to see if it was okay and would reach us without complaint, a trick I had learnt from the forum! It was very exciting receiving an invitation to our own wedding, and we opened it with a letter opener so as to leave the seal in tact!

All our invitations

We carefully chose an RSVP date well in advance of the wedding, but gave 6 weeks to reply by. Nearly 25% of people failed to make this date, and when asked, many of them assumed we’d know, or assumed they could tell us when they felt like it or just turn up on the day!!! Some of those who didn’t reply in time were making profound efforts to make the date against all odds, but others couldn’t make up their minds or couldn’t be bothered to send back the slip. This made me very unhappy, as obviously we were paying a lot of money for these people to enjoy our wedding and had chosen people whom we respected and thought respected us. A few RSVPed yes and then didn’t turn up on the day at all. And these circumstances are, it seems, far from unusual at weddings.

And so, in the honour of our lovely guests…

Stupid Things Guests Have Asked

Do you have a gift list?

Um, yes we do actually. The details for it and a contact to ask questions about it are provided on your invitation.

Where do I send my RSVP?

Okay, so if you look at your invitation… there’s an RSVP ADDRESS. Where it says “Please RSVP to…”

Where is the wedding?

Asked by an usher!

It turns out that her mum had perloined the invitation… So obviously, instead of asking her mum for it she Skypes me to ask the details, which she can’t write down because of bad RSI.

I thought the wedding was next Saturday?

No. This Saturday. The 19th.

Another usher!

Sorry I missed your wedding.


We haven’t got married yet…

I thought it was in February?

No, that’s the RSVP date!!!


Structure and Timings

Circumstances thus prevailed that in the last summer of Oxford, the opportunity arose for the best kind of wedding research – another wedding! We were quite excited to go along, especially since we’d each only been to one wedding before, and I made sure to note all the little details and especially the pattern of the day, since Guy and I had really very little idea of the structure of a wedding.

It was a great day. One thing we did note, however, was the importance of organisation. The ushers need to know exactly what they’re doing and how the day will pan out so that they can provide support to you and your guests throughout it. What is more, buying matching ties/buttonholes/other items for the ushers is very important because it allows guests to identify them to ask questions.

I am a very organised person, and I was determined that our wedding day would live up to my high expectations. So we decided to tackle the issue with military organisation.

In their wedding album, Guy’s parents have a copy of the Op Order his dad wrote for his ushers and best man team (all friends from the army). We had absolutely loved this, and so decided to have some fun too. Each of the ushers and our best man and woman were given an instructions pack, indicating their roles and responsibilities chronologically throughout the day as gauged in mock-military tone. The pack included

– Step by step instructions for the day with initials/job roles to indicate who did what
– A contacts sheet, which contained the numbers for each other (with their names and roles) and of important contacts on the day: the florist, the Town Hall, Somerville, the rickshaws, the car hire company and the caterers.
– A list of the formal photographs we wanted with the groups arranged in a sensible order (Guy thought stripping people away would be easier than adding them in) for people to be gathered (do note to define terms though: we used “wedding party” to mean something similar to “bridal party” (i.e. all the ushers and best people) and some thought we meant everybody – every single guest. Oops).
– A quick guide to setting up the cake stand for Cecily (pretty simple, but you never know).

The pack contents were printed nicely on our wedding paper and handed out in plastic wallets (in case it rained) with the owner’s name on it (to avoid fights).

Not everything was done military style though! We produced non-military Orders of Celebration (neither of us liked the term ‘Order of Day’ – I thought it sounded German and Guy thought it sounded military) outlining the breakdown of the ceremony and then the various other components of the day so that the guests would have a clue what was happening and when. We printed enough for just over one between two and I think they were mostly snaffled as keepsakes.

And now I come to the other important thing we had learnt about weddings – don’t abandon your guests!

A lot of people are not familiar with the wedding location, so unless you have a church literally across the road from your reception venue, they will often need a bit of help. We did provide a map in the invitations, but felt it was important to go that bit further. If the venues had been far apart and parking was available, we might have organised car pooling, but as it was, Somerville is only a 15 minute walk from the Town Hall – in a dead straight line. So instead we arranged for ushers to guide the walkers and provided transport for a few people, with priority to ourselves, people we needed and elderly relatives.

And really, it’s a bit silly to hire pretty vintage cars for a 15 minute walk – they can get very expensive!

So we hired rickshaws.

The parasol you see here only got put up for the rickshaw rides, but I’m so glad I bought it (even hunting high and low for the off-white my mum insisted upon to match my dress and hat – which are different off whites from each other anyway). As we moved through town I had this big white orb around me and people recognised that we were a wedding party and cheered! It was lovely!

Some of the best rickshaw pictures were taken by my uncle Kevin, for our photographer was needed at Somerville to start taking the formal shots and spent much of the time we spent in a rickshaw in one herself. Kevin seems to have been very excited about the rickshaws and I have chains of second by second shots of them on their way.

We also used a rickshaw to transport my mum and me to the ceremony in the morning. I get carsick and hated the idea of getting into a taxi with a roof when I was nervous, so this was an extremely fun alternative!

The rickshaws were supplied by oxoncarts. Initially we had a lot of trouble getting hold of them (the only way to get an intial response is to leave an answer machine message – something neither of us like to do!), so I was very nervous about them being unprofessional and not turning up on time, especially for the morning journey. However, they were absolutely fine and in very good time on both occasions; we ended up leaving for the Town Hall a bit early because he was there waiting and I had to manoeuvre my mother away from another coffee (which would have got left or made us late)!

I Have a Plan

We did some work on our seating plan. It’s starting to come together really well. The Fiance found lots of different maps of Oxford and cut them to size for the tables, which we then mounted on blue card and blue tacked to the backing paper, upon which i had carefully outlined a to-scale room plan (we will be sticking it together properly later). We even made little blue chairs to tag peoples’ names onto.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking now.

A Fayre Deal

So on Sunday I went to a wedding fayre at the Crowne Plaza hotel, Birmingham. This was my second wedding fayre – the first being at the Cotswold Lodge, Oxford, and very early on in our planning. This time we’re close to the end, so we told suppliers we were there for the finishing touches, which may be stretching the truth a little. We didn’t really have any intention of buying anything, but we decided to look, just in case, and cheifly we were there for an outing, a glass of champagne, and the general excitement of being an engaged couple out doing an engaged couple thing (it never occured to me that it would be worth going to a wedding fayre with anybody other than the Fiance, then again, he remembers someone at his old work whining about having to drive her sister to wedding fayres every weekend, so maybe nobody would want to go!). Then again, we went to the Cotswold Lodge wedding fayre with no intention of buying anything, and that’s where we found out about the rickshaws.

When IS the best time to go to a wedding fayre? When you’re at the venue stage? Or when you’re looking for photographers? Or jewellery? Surely things like jewellery are going to get sorted much much later than photographers? So perhaps there isn’t a right time or a wrong time (well, there is a wrong time: there’s before you’re engaged or when you’re already married)…

The Crowne Plaza Hotel stands in the middle of Birmingham, elevated from the street on top of a massive concrete car park. This wasn’t a very good start, and I wasn’t that impressed with the inside of the hotel either, though the bar was okay. On the other hand, I was very impressed with the management – the hotel representatives at the fayre were friendly and interested, very hospitable and welcoming. The kind of people who made me think: Yes! I’d love to leave organising something important in their hands: I’d feel completely relaxed and assured they’d do a reliable job, probably better than I would. And I am very, very highly stung. Or so I am told…

We also got two glasses of champagne each instead of one, and the second one was massive because they “might as well finish off the bottle”.

There were several interesting stalls at the wedding fayre, and we went round and chatted to all of them, but in a quick summary – there were some very nice but not especially exciting floristry, table decor and cake stands (we did get to try a cake, and I did admit we wanted to make ours and she gave me some advice), a singer, a guitar and flute playing pair, a rather fun DJ twosome who sounded veyr together about providing cover for emergencies and stressed that you could GET HOLD OF THEM, which is apparently a problem with DJs. There was a wishing well hire place, with a wishing well in our colours, a caracaturist who couldn’t spell “stationery” and a Sikh family business who put pictures onto glass (except it wasn’t real glass, but it looked like glass). There was also someone who made bridal jewellery, and although I said I didn’t like pearls, was very keen for feedback because it was her first wedding fayre. There was a woman called Karla Saunders who ran an exercise course for getting fit in the run up to the wedding and a few stationers I had a sniff around for final ideas for orders and table plans. Also, a couple of photographers.

There was also a rather interesting stall which caught my eye covered with fascinators priced from £5.99 and hair pieces et cetera. They will actually come to your house and let you try on all sorts of bits in a group of girls. They were called Fascination. They didn’t have a website on their card, though, just a telephone number. I loved the mini top hats.

Now, one of the photographers deserves a few extra words. This is Jon Keeling Photography – and whilst we’re not even considering them, I’m going to big them up. Why? Because when we told them we had a friend doing our photography they gave us something.


You may need to open the image location in a new tab and zoom to read it – but the gist is, a helpful list of things to check through with your photographer to make sure the contract’s in order, you’re covered for eventualities and they have everything they need to do their job well – from the expertise to information about the venue. It is VERY comprehensive, and whilst we have gone through all this stuff already, it’s definitely worth checking off their list too.

I think it’s a great thing to do. In the end, if we make sure our photographer is good, we’re reassured because of the help we’ve been given, and will recommend them (um… like I’m doing now?), and if we’d found a fault in our photographer and decided we weren’t happy, we’d have someone we find trustworthy on hand (would’ve been a bit last minute for our wedding, but you get the idea). So anyway, I just wanted to say Thank You for this to Jon Keele Photography.

Call a Spade a Spade

Sometimes I’d like to give the wedding industry in general a bit of a shake, and this is sparked off in particular by one of my pet peeves: calling a spade a spade, or – why are table plans never actually plans?


But this is the kind of thing I see all over the place. When I first came across it, I thought it was just a few couples being lazy and feeling that getting the necessary information out there was more important than showing people the actual layout in detail and making it pretty.

But pretty is definitely a focus. Table “lists” are written on mirrors, draped around birdcages (um, cages: a beautiful wedding symbolism *sniggers*), dangled in suitcases, bookmarking novels and so on and such forth et cetera. The creative lengths that have been explored are impressive, but they are all lists.

Strangely, and like so many other wedding-related things, table “lists” have become so ingrained that people are unable to think outside the box. Even when someone specifies they want ideas for seating PLANS and do not want LISTS they are shown “ideas” which are lists.

Personally I find that absolutely maddening.

Table plans as plans really appeal to me, not only because they give guests a superior slice of information (who they’re sitting beside, what way they’re facing, where their table is in the room – and whilst some lists do this latter, some don’t, so you can never be sure), and not only because they avoid the obvious issue of hierarchy with which guest is “head” of his/her table, but basically because they are MAPS.

Did you ever make treasure maps as a child? You know, where you dip the paper in tea, and then burn the edges (I loved burning the edges; I think my mum was a little bit wary I might turn into a pyromaniac, but luckily I had ni interest in burning things when it wasn’t for the sake of making something). I would design intricate worlds with hazards like volcanoes and swamps, trying to embed clues about how to find the treasure and make up stories about children ending up here and going on a quest. I loved treasure maps. I adored treasure maps. I want our wedding plan to be a MAP.

Maps are cool.

Even when you’re all grown up.

Waxing Up

I’ve just cut all my bits of ribbon for the Orders and waxed them up! Having used the Fiance’s giant lighter to melt the wax and dip the edges in, I soon found this tiring for mass production and got annoyed about frequently burning my thumb. So I came up with a different scheme, which worked excellently: I placed some wax in a low, slope-sided ramekin dish and stood the dish in a pan of hot water, such that the water came halfway up the side of the ramekin dish and heated it on the hob. The wax melted, and I was able to dip the edges of the ribbons in the bowl of hot wax.

I took it off the hot hob and turned teh fire off to do this so that steam didn’t ruin the ribbons and burn my hand, and also to ensure I didn’t boil the pan dry whilst I was concentrating on something else (because I would NEVER, never make a mistake like that…).

To make sure the swallowtail was efficiently waxed up to the centre, I folded the ribbon wonkily in half, holding it with my finger and thumb so that I could dip one side and not the other (see pic). Since the wax cools almost instantly, you can then fold it the opposite way to dip the other half in.

I arranged all my finished ribbons on the edge of the (recently cleaned) work surface whilst I was doing this so that the soft wax wouldn’t seal against the surface so that it would form an oddly-shaped face when I peeled it off.

Also, look at my many many ribbon!

Ordering About

I’ve finished a draft of our ‘Orders of Celebration’ (we wanted Orders of Day rather than Orders of Ceremony, but I think ‘Order of Day’ sounds German, and the Fiance thinks it sounds military, so we made up a name of our own. I also like considering the day a celebration – it’s basically admitting that the day is a party bignormous, without making it sound cheap or insincere).

In the final version, the paper will be hammered ivory like the invitations/place names/menus/other stationery bits, rather than white. The ribbon on this example isn’t atcually stuck on, what with it being a draft and all that, but I’ll probably just apply a blob of glue or a little double-sided sticky tape to the ribbon on the back before it’s threaded through the slit.

I used English font for the title and small caps Corbel for the main body, with selective use of sizes 11 to 8.5 and occasional bold. I think the picture is just small enough that you can’t read people’s names! A few details need to be checked, and maybe we’ll add more names if we can, but it’s basically okay to print (2 per page; we’ll need 40 of them for one every other seat – thus 20 sheets of paper – I was going to do 1/3 sheets of paper size, but simply had too much to say!).

If you want to do something like this yourself, here’s a tip for the tip: use wax. Having cut the swallowtail carefully I really didn’t want it to fray, so I melted some wax using a lighter, allowing it to drip onto a piece of scrap paper. Very quickly, whilst the wax was still wet, I dipped the edges of the ribbon in to seal the loose threads. I had to do this a few times as turning the ribbon to get wax right up to the centre of the swallowtail is tricky and the wax cooled speedily!