Wedding invitation trends rise up and evolve just like fashion trends, with different colors, textures and styles forming the new "in" designs. Because today's bride wants a coordinated look for all of her print items, every important stationery piece -- from "save the date" cards to menu cards, place cards and thank-you notes -- is often designed in matching or color-coordinated styles.
While brides on a budget often ask whether emailed, free invitations are acceptable now, it's still a must to send pretty print invitations. Ceci Johnson, celebrity invitation designer and founder of CeciStyle magazine, says, "By sending a pretty, formal invitation through the mail instead of an online invitation, you show that you went to great effort to design them, and you create a gorgeous keepsake."
And guests love to see the gorgeous invitation that always thrills when it arrives in the mailbox. Designing the invitation has become a creative treat for brides and grooms who look to these top invitation trends for 2011 and 2012:
--Bright and bold colors. While traditional couples still love the look of ecru-colored invitations printed with formal black lettering, a big trend in invitations, according to the bridal website BecomingTheMrs.com, is bright and bold colors chosen for their match to the couple's wedding colors and perhaps to the season of the wedding.
The Knot, a popular website for wedding planning, says a recent invitation trend is for couples to choose bold colors and have the wording printed in white. Top hues for spring and summer are candy brights, and fall and winter call for jewel tones such as sapphire, eggplant, hunter green and cranberry.
--Sparkle. Invitation cards are intricately accented with tiny Swarovski crystals, mini pearls and rhinestones all hand-placed in the design. It might be a crystal sapphire affixed in the couple's monogram or starburst designs in crystal shine.
--Textures and layers. BecomingTheMrs.com says that invitations are no longer simple, single-card stock pages in an envelope, but are instead multilayered with touchable textures such as an overlay of frosted vellum or decorative seals. Raised borders in smooth, pearlized print add a touch of elegance, and the color motif might be shown in the added layer of color or pattern in the envelope liner.
For any panel type, the laser-cut printing technique is a huge trend. "It's so fresh, unique and innovative," says Johnson, who launched her Ceci Vivre collection, which coordinates the invitation's laser-cut design with other print items, as well as tabletop accessories, such as place cards and place mats for bridal showers.
"There isn't a way of defining cheaper when it comes to paper stock, but it's always best to choose nice paper stock," says Johnson, who also says that one type to consider is 130-pound paper. It's not so glamorous as satin or silk in fabrics, but it is high-quality."
Johnson says the best way to find the perfect paper is to feel it. Go to your invitation designer or to the art supply or stationery store to pick up, touch and feel different types of beautiful papers. "I love imported papers with shiny coats and recycled papers that don't feel like paper bags," she says.
Bright shades are in, and one online tool to help you match shades is Ceci Color Stories (http://www.cecinewyork.com/cecistyle/category/ceci-color-stories), where you can see a variety of palettes.
Another aspect of textures is embellishments to an invitation. Johnson says, "Ribbon and buckle invites are definitely out. They are so '80s and overdone. What's in is incorporating incredible techniques like laser-cut or foil stamping for that extra-luxe design element." She says that invitation design is now featuring hand-painted custom elements, as well, to illustrate an aspect of the couple's personal love story.
Start early in your planning, and make sure you order with plenty of time in advance. Remember that custom printing requires longer lead times than buying off the shelf. Typically, you should allocate about six to eight weeks for design, printing and calligraphy. Work backward from the date you want to mail them out. I always recommend starting sooner than later. Rush fees are never fun.
Sharon Naylor has written more than three dozen wedding books.