The MoBster Diaries

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ready for the Holidays?

Have you made that list and checked it twice? I mean, of course, your Christmas card list. Gather that list, the cards, envelopes, return address labels or stamper, several good pens, and a fistful of stamps. Now, if you aren't already too pooped after that, you can begin the signing and addressing process. For tips on getting the job done, check out last year's blogpost, With Every Christmas Card I Write. 

Or, you can turn over the whole thing to someone else. At Elegant Scribbles, we love hand-addressing holiday cards for our clients. It saves them precious time and keeps us in the holiday spirit!

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

And Pretty Maids All in a Row

Have an upcoming garden-themed wedding or event? Guests can easily find their proper garden spot (or table) using seed packets as place cards. Whether your seeds are sun- or shade-loving, this floral escort idea assures a bloomin’ good time for all!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Organizing is Half the Battle

Well, maybe not half, but at least a third of the battle. Here is a  great way to organize large assortments of things - in this case, pens and art supplies. Find an over-the-door shoe organizer with clear pockets.

All the pens for Elegant Scribbles handwriting and addressing service were jumbled into various containers. I never knew which colors or pen types I had a my disposable without dumping everything onto the floor and pawing through them.

Enter the clear shoe organizer, and voila! Now when a client asks for a project written in spring green or metallic gold, I can easily check to see if I have the pens on hand or whether I need to make a quick trip to Sam Flax.

But think of all the kinds of things you can organize using this handy over-the-door contraption! All I need now is more doors to hang them on.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Stamp Act

Looking for an eye-catching way to dress up plain envelopes? Order vintage postage stamps and create a mosaic of color and pattern on that usually dreary upper right hand corner.

Go with a theme - this bride chose flowers for her invitations - or select by color or design. These particular groupings came from Verde Studio:

As long as the stamps total the right amount of postage, you’re good to go!

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

How to Find Your Place

Finding your assigned seat at a reception is becoming  more interesting. Party hosts are finding very clever ways to sort their guests into table groups, depending on themes or personal experiences to step things up a notch.

Elegant Scribbles hand-writes hundreds of place cards/escort cards every year. Most are traditional white or ivory cards - classic, elegant, and time-tested. But once in a while, we're asked to work with table cards and individual place assignments that are a little more creative. The trick is to find just the right way to express your personality or carry out your party theme.

Need ideas? Definitely check out creative place card ideas on Pinterest and other online sites. The key is to take an idea and make it your own. Sometimes, if's not the specific card that's unique but the way it's displayed. You'll find lots of ideas online for that, too. The two ways our clients use to put a twist on the standard place card most often are:

  • Attach traditional cards or tags to favors - wine glasses, little bottles of Tabasco sauce or sunscreen, key rings, or whatever fits the theme of the reception
  • Postcards of places significant to the hosts or theme - New York City landmarks, cities or attractions that have played a role in their lives, places they'd like to visit
  • Small envelopes with the name written on the outside, table number/name on a card inside the envelope. If you anticipate last-minute seating/table changes, this is the way to go. Simply switch out the cards inside the envelope.
However you choose to get folks seated at a reception, I do have a few guidelines for place cards/escort cards:

  • Remember the reason for a place card: to get the guest to the right table and seat, often in dimly lit rooms. Make sure the name and table number are big enough and clear enough for the person to read. No tiny cards.
  • Don't be so creative that the names are hard to figure out. I've been to a couple of weddings that took a few minutes - usually in the middle of guests crowded around the display - to understand the concept. Please keep the guest in mind while you're creating.
  • Avoid, if possible, place cards supplied by the reception venue. They are usually too small and often have an "M" pre-printed at the start of the writing line. My clients usually ask me to ignore the "M" and write over it. But why use the venue's cards? Plain cards - whether white, ivory, or other color - are inexpensive and will be much, much easier for your guests to read. 
Your guests will appreciate legible, practical place cards, whether you opt for the classic route or go for something more unique.

Have you experienced a creative place card plan at a reception or have ideas of your own? Please share!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: Getting Down To Business

If the holidays brought a proposal and something sparkly for your finger, congratulations! Now, it's time to get organized. Break out a brand new calendar and start planning ahead, because you have a lot to do.

I can't help with everything, but I can give you a few tips that might make things a little easier. Feel free to check out my experiences as Mother of the Bride leading up to daughter Kate's October 2008 wedding (earlier MoBster Diaries posts). That's as far as I can go with wedding tips. Except . . .

Except for planning your announcements, invitations, and thank you notes. As someone who offers a handwriting/addressing service,  let me encourage you to pencil in your plan for ordering all of your wedding stationery and giving yourself firm mailing deadlines as soon as you can.

Things to think about:
  • Nothing can happen until you have finalized your guest list. Need help getting organized? Here are my suggestions. 
  • Are you having an Engagement Party? You'll need to order invitations, address them, and get them in the mail as soon as possible.
  • What about save-the-dates? There are so many clever, wonderful ways to let your guests know to circle your date on their calendars now. What suits the couple's personality? Whimsical? Formal? Easy-going? The sooner you let your guests know - especially if travel is involved for them - the more likely it is that they'll turn up for the big event. 
  • Wedding invitations are complex things. Or not. Start looking at all the options now - even if your wedding is a year off - so that you'll have plenty of time for printing and delivery when the time comes to place your order. 
  • And all those thank you notes. Yes, you'll need to thank everyone who gives you a gift. Keep good records. Make sure you have everyone's correct address. Perhaps keep a spreadsheet so that you don't thank someone for the wrong gift. Check out my tips here.
  • Remember to include postage in your budget. It mounts up, truly.
And start thinking now about how all of these announcements, invitations, and notes will get written. Let me encourage you to hand-address them, rather than run them through the computer or printer. This is big, important, personal stuff. It deserves a personal touch. Find a friend, calligrapher, or a hand-addressing service to help out. Feel free to contact us at Elegant Scribbles for a free estimate so that you can include this in your budget, if you choose to go the hand-addressing service route.

Enjoy this exciting time. It can be stressful, but if you get down to business and get your plan in the works now, it can be lots of fun. Happy 2013!

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

With Every Christmas Card I Write

I love getting Christmas cards. I love sending Christmas cards. The problem, of course, is time.

By the time I choose the card (or design it on Shutterfly, or some such site), assemble the address list (which often includes double-checking all the odd envelopes with address changes tucked into my address book), buying stamps, and gathering a working pen, well, the whole process seems insurmountable with all the other things going on this time of year. Yet, I do somehow find the time to choose/assemble/buy/gather/write and get the cards on their way with a little time to spare.

Holiday cards are also an important way to remember folks who were a part of your wedding or landmark birthday celebration. It's been a big year for you, after all! And of course, year-end cards are a terrific way to reach out to current and former clients if you run a business. Again, the only holding you back is, probably, time.

Well, if you're determined to send out holiday cards this year, it's time to pull everything together. Here's what you have to do:

  • Make a list and check it twice. At least make a list of the people you want to send cards to so that you'll know how many cards to buy. You don't have to have the addresses typed onto your list, but you do need to know where to get your hands on all the addresses. Just stop and think. You can do this!
  • It's probably past time to design a card through one of the photo sites, so get thee out to a drug store, book store, dime store, department store or street vendor and pick up a few boxes of cards. You know what you like, so go with your instinct.
  • And while you're out stop by the post office for your stamps. If you don't like to stand in long lines, get the stamps from the USPS vending machines. Easy-peasy.
  • Now. To write. Gather your list of names and addresses, your cards and envelopes, a couple of good writing pens, and hop to it. Do not let yourself get overwhelmed by thinking you need to write a chirpy update on your life in each card. A simple "Love," "Yours," or "Merry Christmas" will do. At least the recipients will know you're still alive.
  • Mail them. Most important part.
Now. If you only have time to buy the cards and assemble the list, maybe a friend or co-worker is willing to help with the addressing end of things. Or, call in an addressing service, like Elegant Scribbles. At any rate, keep it as simple and easy for yourself as you can.

And who knows? Maybe next year you'll have a chance to see face-to-face that friend or client you haven't seen but have been exchanging cards with for years. Anything's possible!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Freshen Up for Fall

Now that autumn has blown some of the heat and humidity out of the way, Kate, Julie, and I thought we'd offer up some new hand-writing samples for Elegant Scribbles. Bolder stationery colors and brighter, metallic inks are being requested more and more often, so we want to showcase some of those options.

If you're planning a wedding, one of the first things you have to consider is letting people know about your big day. But you're really busy. Or maybe your hand-writing isn't that great, but you don't want to run your expensive wedding stationery through a printer or you can't afford a calligrapher. Well, that's what we do best at Elegant Scribbles. We offer a lovely, personal, cost effective way to address your save-the-dates and invitations and hand-write your place cards and thank you notes, including three distinctive cursive styles and three distinctive block lettering styles.

Or perhaps your company or organization is holding a gala event or fund-raiser. You know if you slap on computer-generated address labels, chances are good that your invitation won't even be opened. But a hand-addressed envelope is hard to ignore. Elegant Scribbles has experience addressing invitations with guest lists of 1500+. And we're here to help with the place cards, as well.

And the holidays are coming up. We love addressing holiday cards for corporate or personal clients.

What else could you use a personal scribe for? We've filled out certificates, written letters, and hand-lettered menu cards. We'd love to help!

For now, enjoy the colors of autumn and nip in the air. And remember, we write, you relax!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

True Colors

Deep blues, shiny golds, subdued browns, bright greens. Elegant Scribbles clients love colored paper stock for their invitation envelopes and place cards. One third to one half of our projects involve writing on colorful paper. The results are beautiful and striking but present a different set of problems from those using black ink on ivory stationery.

There's a knack to writing on colored paper stock, and it takes some trial and error to find the right ink for all the variations. Dark, rich colors often absorb ink - even paint pens - so that what might look fine as you're writing, quickly disappears to faint, unreadable markings. Metallic papers can do the same. A black Sharpie should write on anything, right? Nope. Many golds, silvers, and bronzes soak up even a bold Sharpie.

But take heart! There are inks for every paper stock. However, it often requires a bit of time to match ink to paper. I spend lots of time at Sam Flax testing pens on colored envelopes and place cards. The brightness of the ink on the paper, absorbability, whether the ink dries quickly or smears or bleeds are the main things that have to be tested on colored or metallic paper stock.

So keep that in mind as you choose your invitation stationery. And remember to give yourself or whoever will be addressing your envelopes and writing your place cards time to find just the right ink for your paper.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Invitation As Poster Art

My doorbell rang, and there stood a delivery man with a bright blue mailing tube. I was a little startled, because even though I was expecting a package, the one I was looking for should not be arriving in a tube. Hm. What could this be?

To my surprise and delight, the tube contained a wedding invitation. Not your normal wedding invitation, but a poster with all the details and an envelope with the response and information cards. What fun!

I admit to being a lover of thick, creamy engraved invitations, but I find that the traditional invitation is becoming a bit of a rarity these days, as couples opt for interesting, personal ways to get out the good word. At Elegant Scribbles we're addressing more and more invitations with wild-colored inks, light inks on dark envelopes, and clever enclosure cards that require more creative ways of hand-addressing.

How could I not want to be at a wedding that sends me a poster proclaiming the news? You bet I'm going!

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Dreaded Thank You Note

Any child receiving a birthday present or any couple opening a stack of wedding gifts knows that the downside to being showered with wonderful loot is having to write the dreaded thank you note. (Cue ominous music) It's not that the recipients aren't grateful for the time, thought, and cost that has gone into the gift or favor. It's not that anyone's shy about saying "Thanks!" It's just, well, there do seem to be a lot of roadblocks between opening the gift and slapping a stamp on a completed note of gratitude.

We write a lot of thank you notes for our Elegant Scribbles clients, so we understand how daunting the whole process can seem. A couple of big things put people off of writing notes right from the start. Let's see. There's time, of course. It does take time to assemble cards, stationery, and stamps, track down a pen that doesn't blob or skip, and then try to think of something to say that doesn't sound formulaic, silly, or ungrateful.

And skill. A good thank you note requires a little mental and physical skill. The note should contain a something personal (I always love your gifts, or How did you know this is my favorite game?, or We were so glad you could join us at the wedding!), so you have to do a bit of thinking about that. Of course, sometimes diplomacy is needed, especially if the gift is, well, just not the right thing (bunny slippers for a 12-year-old boy, or a couple's 16th gravy boat). And the handwriting should be fairly legible, so that the thankee can read what the thanker wrote.

Face it, just thinking about the whole process can cause even the most stout-hearted nose-to-the-grindstone type to run through a gamut of procrastination techniques, like cleaning toilets and mowing lawns. May I suggest a few tips that might light a little thank you note fire under any notewriter?
  1. Distinctive note cards or paper: There are lots of ways to create either folded- or post-cards via various photo sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak, etc., using your own photos and designs, so go forth and have fun. Let kids help design their own cards, and they'll be proud to show 'em off (even if they have to write a thank you note to do it). 
  2. Great pens: Go to a store with a good selection, buy a few different tips and ink types, then take them home and try them out on your stationery. Select the one(s) that feel right to you. And the most expensive pen may not always be the one that suits you best.
  3. Stamps: Have them handy. Order online from USPS or design your own (yes, you can do that). Nothing slows down the thank-you-note-writing process more that knowing that you have to make a trip to the post office to buy the stamps. No excuses now!
  4. Template: OK, yes, you're going to need to spend a little time crafting your note. If you create a template or two, you won't have to sweat so hard over each note. I'm not talking a cookie-cutter note, but a guide to simplify things. Elements of the note do require specific information, for example what the gift was and a brief personal line, but the framework can be the same for all the notes. It doesn't have to be long and involved: a greeting, opening line of thanks for the gift, something special or particular about the gift/giver/event, closing line, and signature.
  5. Address List: Names, addresses, and the specific gift.
Yes, yes, yes. It seems a lot up front, but trust me. Gather all your stuff (and have fun doing it), create your template, and start writing. Once you get the system down - say, after a couple of birthdays or bridal showers - you'll be able to zip off a lovely, much appreciated note in no time.

And who knows? After one or two wonderful thank you notes, Aunt Mabel may forego giving you bunny slippers and opt for something you'll really like!

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Candle in the Dark, a Pen to the Paper

As fast as life flies by in winter, spring, and summer, it takes off at warp speed during the autumn. Three months of successive major holidays hardly leaves time to catch a breath. One moment you're stitching up a Halloween costume and carving a jack o'lantern; the next, you're cleaning up after a splendid Thanksgiving feast and heading like a rocket into the Christmas rush.

The dark is upon us. The days are shorter, but our to-do lists are longer. To maintain health and sanity some things simply must be cut from those lists. But what?

Well, one little thing Elegant Scribbles can do to help is to pick up our pens and address party invitations, holiday cards, wedding save-the-dates and invitations, place cards, and anything else that requires neat, readable handwriting. Busy brides, harried party-planners, and anyone facing a stack of Christmas cards that must be addressed can turn to us for fast, affordable hand-addressing.

So think of Elegant Scribbles as a little candle in the dark, enabling busy, cheerful people to mark "address envelopes" off their lists and enjoy this festive season.

Now, if I could find someone to do my Christmas shopping . . .

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Holiday Card Tips for Your Business

If you own a business - small or large - it's time to plan your holiday card card strategy.

Let's face it. Sending holiday cards is a relatively painless marketing effort. Everyone expects to receive some kind of seasonal greeting during November and December. My insurance company always sends a Thanksgiving card. Christmas or generic "Happy Holiday" cards come from most every business around. And my last employer sent Happy New Year cards. It's the time of year where snail mail rules.

For current clients, a card is a great way to thank them for their business over the past year. For potential clients, a business holiday card serves as a reminder of your company's services and products. But there's a distinct line between a typical marketing flyer and a business holiday card. Here are a few tips to keep you on the right side of the company holiday card line:
  1. Shop early. It takes time to select just the right greeting, choose the best way to showcase your company name and/or logo on the card, and ensure the cards will be ready by November, at the latest.
  2. Choose the best card stock you can afford. Nothing says "So what?" like a flimsy greeting card. And the last thing you want your clients to think when they see your company name attached to something is "So what?", right?
  3. Unless you represent a religious concern or faith-based non-profit, keep the seasonal greeting secular and neutral. Your clients are probably spread across the faith spectrum, so you want to make sure you don't offend anyone by either being too religious or by making fun of any religious tradition. Yes, it may be considered politically correct, but this is one time where a little PC will benefit you and your business. Show your faith (or lack thereof) with your personal holiday cards, not the ones for your business.
  4. Humorous cards are fabulous and memorable. I've seen some great ones over the years. However, if you choose to go the humorous route, keep well away from anything that might offend. Political, sexual, and religious humor are no-no's for business holiday cards. No matter how funny, a card based on something that might offend isn't worth the loss of a client. There are lots of ways to be funny and appropriate, after all.
  5. Be sure to hand-write a personal note or signature on the cards you send out. Recipients appreciate a bit of personalization within a corporate holiday greeting. It will separate you from those businesses that just pre-print the company name and churn out computer labels, showing that you put some thought into the greeting.
  6. Do not enclose a business card or any other advertising. Yes, a seasonal greeting is a basic marketing strategy, but it's primarily - in the eyes of a client - a holiday card. Save the advertising and glad-handing for another time. Truly wish your clients a happy holiday, and leave it at that.
  7. Double-check the accuracy of your mailing list. If your card is going to other business clients, address the cards to the business address, not their homes. Of course, if your clients are individuals rather than businesses, a home address is proper. 
  8. Always hand-address the envelopes. Your return address should be pre-printed on the envelopes, but your clients' addresses should be hand-written. Like a personal note and signature, a hand-addressed envelope shows more thought than a computer-generated label. If you don't have the time or talent to hand-write them, find someone who can. Elegant Scribbles is always happy to lend a hand and a pen!  
  9. Use stamps rather than running the cards through a postage meter. Again, it's more personal and festive than a metered label.
  10. Get your cards mailed early! If you send Thanksgiving cards, get them in the mail no later than the first week in November. For December holidays, mail them the day after Thanksgiving (it's nice to be one of the first cards to arrive on your clients' desks!).
Planning ahead - from ordering cards to dropping them in the mail - will ensure your greetings arrive in plenty of time and will relieve a lot of your own holiday stress.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Showcasing Our Work

Just created a little commercial  on Wedding Wire to showcase Elegant Scribbles' work.

What do you think?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mastering the Ampersand

A few weeks ago a client specified the use of ampersands when hand-addressing her wedding invitations in keeping with the design of the return address on her envelopes. Elegant Scribbles rarely uses the ampersand on wedding invitations, since we follow the more formal addressing guidelines which require spelling out the word "and," streets/avenues, and state names. I have to admit that I was a little worried about the ampersand request. That little curlicue thingy that substitutes for "and" is something I don't write well.

So I set to work practicing. First I did a little research, checking on all the symbols that can pass as an ampersand, just to see which one I could master in a fluid form of writing. The backward "s" version didn't work for me at all. After attempting writing it over and over for about 10 minutes, it became clear to me that it was never going to leap smoothly off my pen.

I moved on to a version of a backward "3." The trick to this version of the ampersand is in whatever little flourish you add to the basic symbol. The good news is that I managed to master the backward "3" quickly, neatly, fluidly. But which curlicue to add? I practiced several variations and settled on a tiny squiggle at the lower tip of the mark.

The only worry I had was that the bride-to-be might want my ampersand to match the one on her envelope. If it was a backward "s," I was in trouble. I decided not to bring it up to the client until I received the envelopes to address. Imagine my relief when the ampersand printed on the back of the envelope was almost exactly like the one I'd mastered. Whew!

Since that first ampersand request, I've had two other projects that required the use of the symbol - gift tags and place cards. I'm not sure I've really mastered it, but making friends with that little flourish-connector has really come in handy.

So, how's your ampersand today?

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Friday, July 29, 2011

The Postman Must Be Paid

Just when you think you've balanced out the number of invitations with the per/person cost of your reception, you're faced with not only the high cost of invitations, but the cost of all those stamps, as well. Sigh. Does the ring of the wedding cash register never end?

Prepare yourself for stamp-sticker-shock.

Things got complicated a few years ago when the US Postal Service changed its rates from weight-based only to a size+weight-based system. It wasn't so long ago that a piece of mail 1oz or under - whether the envelope was rectangular, square, round, or weirdly shaped - was covered by an average first class stamp. Not anymore.

If the envelope is something other than standard rectangle, you have to pay more for postage. It has to do with the width/length ratio as it feeds into the postal machines. A square or almost square envelope? The machine can't tell which way to feed it into the machine, so add $0.20 to the standard $0.44 rate.

Of course, weight has to be considered. If your invitations are jam-packed with reception information, RSVP cards, table assignments and - yes - the actually invitation, you'll need to weigh it to ensure you have enough postage to get them to your guests. And don't forget: if you include an RSVP card, you'll need a stamp for that, as well. Yes, gone are the days that guests paid postage to let the bride know whether or not they were attending the joyful event.

My advice? Once you get your invitations, assemble one (include all the various cards, envelopes, tissue paper, etc.), take it to the post office, and weigh it to make sure you buy adequate postage for both response card enclosures and the whole shebang.

The USPS has a page on its website specifically for wedding mail. It worth reviewing so that you don't get any nasty surprises. The page also includes information about custom stamps from Zazzle, if you have something other than standard stamps or the rings/flower stamp for your invitations. Yes, custom stamps cost a little more, but Elegant Scribbles can highly recommend Zazzle, since Kate used them for her wedding invites. (And the stamps were gorgeous!)

Whether you use standard or custom stamps, do take the time to figure out how much to budget for postage, not only for the big invitation, but for save-the-dates and thank you notes. The postman must be paid!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Organizing Your Guest List

Thank goodness we live in the age of computers that lets us organize and format lists in a variety of ways. We don't have to rely on a trusty hand-written address book or a page full of white-outs on a typed page.

But as you pull together your guest list (the hardest part of planning a wedding, remember), you'll need to figure out which format and organization style works best for you. Many wedding sites like WeddingWire and The Knot offer a place to build your list into a database. Or you may opt to format your list in a spreadsheet program like Excel, or type it out in document form.

It doesn't matter how you organize it - alphabetically, by family, number of guests, geographical location, or eye color - but it must make sense to you and to whoever will be addressing your invitations. As a hand-addressing service that wrestles with wedding guest lists all the time, we Elegant Scribblers have a few guidelines to offer that will make your list's organization obvious to any and all.

1.  Many spreadsheet and databases let you add all sorts of information columns to your list - table numbers, gifts received, etc. - but please stick to these categories for the list you plan to use for addressing your invitations to avoid confusion:
  • Salutation (Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, the Reverend, the Honorable, etc.)
  • First name(s)/Last name(s): Make sure that the list is clear regarding married couples with one last name (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith), couples/partners with two last names (Mr. Robert Smith and Ms. Lois Jones, Mr. Robert Smith and Mr. Louis Jones, etc.), and families (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith and Miss Caroline Smith, or The Smith Family). If children are to be listed on the envelope, include their first and last names (Miss Caroline Smith and Mr Samuel Smith). Whatever the family make-up, make sure your list is very clear about how the guests are to be addressed on both outer and inner envelopes.
  • Street Address, including apartment number, directional (NW, E), and building name if applicable.
  • City, state (or country, if outside the U.S.), and zip or postal code. If you have guests from states in the northeast with zip codes that begin with 0 (like New Jersey), please double-check your list to make sure that the 0 is showing up at the front of the zip, since some spreadsheets ignore a 0 at the beginning of a number.
  • Response card number, if you're numbering the response cards to correspond to the guests on your list. 
2.  Use 11pt or 12pt font size. We sometimes receive spreadsheets with 8pt, 9pt, or 10pt font size, making the list hard to read, so we take the time to reformat to larger fonts. Whether you're using your mom, your best friend, a calligrapher, or Elegant Scribbles to address your invitations, be kind to your invitation addresser's eyes, and use a larger font.

3.  Add grid lines to spreadsheets to separate the individual guests and addresses. This ensures that whatever format you're using, the names line up with the correct addresses.

4.  Print the list to double-check that categories aren't misaligned or have merged incorrectly during printing. Most of the lists Elegant Scribbles receives come via email attachment, but we always work from a printed list. Sometimes the list looks fine on the computer, but once it's printed the names and addresses don't line up, or odd character fonts show up. Printing is a good way to make sure your names and addresses are in order.

By all means utilize all the category options available to you as you organize your wedding guest list. But when it comes time to address the invitations, whittle those options down to the essentials to ensure that everything is perfectly clear to whoever's addressing your envelopes. After all, the goal is to get your invitations to your guests with correct names and addresses.

Questions or ideas? Elegant Scribbles is here to help!

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Save-the-date and Invitation Timelines

Tick-tock-tick-tock. You've nailed your wedding date and booked your venues, caterers, and florists. And how's that guest list coming along, hm? Well, whether or not you've made a final decision about adding your mother's best friend's brother and wife to the list, it's not too soon to get to work on the paperwork.

A couple of events to super-Sharpie onto your wedding timeline are mailing dates for your save-the-dates and invitations. Let's start with what has to come first: the notification that you are getting married and the date of the wedding.

Save-the-dates are a relatively new idea for most weddings. Seems to me they've shown up within the past ten years. Now they're seen as indispensable, especially if most of your guests will be coming from out-of-town and/or you're having a destination wedding. Folks' calendars get filled up pretty quickly these days for all sorts of reasons, so a formal heads-up is a great idea.

So. Look at your wedding calendar. Count back 6-8 months from your wedding date. Yep. That's when your save-the-dates should be in the mail. Don't have 6-8 months? I'd recommending sending out save-the-dates as late as 4 months out. Any notice will be appreciated by your guests. Just don't send the save-the-dates out the week before your invitations. Yeah, that's cutting it a bit fine, plus why spend the cash at that point?

Now. Wedding invitations. Rule of thumb is 6-8 weeks before the wedding. Mailing them too soon might cause them to be filed away and forgotten; mailing them too late - especially if you haven't sent a save-the-date - might result in too many RSVP "regrets."

Remember that for both save-the-dates and wedding invitations, you'll have to factor in the printing and shipping time of your invitations from your favorite stationery source. Sometimes it can take up to two months for all that engraving and fancy scroll work, so be prepared.

Of course you already know that wedding invitations should be hand-addressed, whether you choose a friend, a calligrapher, or a hand-addressing service like Elegant Scribbles. The addressing, assembling, sealing, and stamping time must be considered as well.

Bottom line: don't leave the save-the-dates and invitations until a couple of months out from your wedding date. Once you have a date and venue, go ahead and get your wedding stationery (save-the-dates, invitations, place cards/escort cards) ordered. Finalize the list, buy the stamps (for both response cards and complete invitation), and feel free to turn the addressing over to someone else.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Global Wedding Invitation

Many brides and grooms have family and friends who live across an ocean or a US border. To get that wedding invitation from AnyTown, USA, to AnyCiudad, SomewhereElse, not only takes wings and jet fuel, but a correctly addressed envelope, as well.

Not quite sure of the right way to address an invitation for, say, Botswana, Taiwan, or Norway? Well, you could start with the US Postal Service's Addressing International Mail for tips about address placement and general addressing rules. This site will help you with the basics.

But I stumbled upon a site for International Address Formats that proved a huge help during a recent wedding invitation project where 50% of the guests had addresses overseas. What I like about this site is that it gives a country by country listing of addressing protocols, important since there are so many variables, country to country.

Sometimes the street number comes before the street name, sometimes after. Sometimes the postal code should be on a line by itself, sometimes right after (or before) the city name. Knowing the specifics will ensure your invitations arrive in a culturally-correct, timely fashion.

So if you have one or two or a slew of overseas folks on your guest list, double-check your addressing protocols with a trusted source, like USPS or the International Address Format site. That jet fuel needs all the help it can get!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Should Wedding Invitations Be Hand-addressed?

Simple answer? Yes.

I’ve heard all the arguments against hand-addressing and for pre-printed labels: nobody pays attention to the envelope, handwriting etiquette comes out of a pre-typewriter/computer age, anyone who cares about a label stuck on an envelope is petty. Well, the list goes on and on. Just follow some of the online discussion groups. It’s enough to sadden the heart of a lover of pens, inks, and fine paper. Sigh.

But let’s put this to a simple test.

You go to your mailbox, pull out a stack of mail, and start flipping through it. Bill, bill, flyer, ad, flyer, hand-addressed envelope, bill, ad, bill. Which one comes to the top? Which one do you open first, even if you don’t recognize the handwriting? I guaran-damn-tee you that hand-addressed envelope gladdens your heart in a way that no pre-printed label (even if from a friend) does. 

Why is that? Because it’s personal. It’s warm. Real ink on real paper. Someone took the time to address a card, letter, or invitation to you. Even if the script is hard to read, that’s the envelope that gets your attention. And isn’t that the feeling you want from your friends and family as they pull your wedding invitation from their mailboxes? “Oh, boy! Something wonderful!”

kate baptism addressing 4Your wedding invitation is the most important invitation you’ll ever send. You’ve spent hundreds of dollars on just the right paper, printing, design, and shape of these invites. It takes a wizard to assemble all the pieces correctly, tucking those darned thin tissue separators in-between the various response cards, directions, reception meal preferences, etc.

And you’re going to slap a pre-printed label on this work of art? Well, you may as well run off a few hundred “Come to Our Wedding” flyers on the old Xerox machine. All the expense for lovely paper and printing is for nought.

Elegant Scribbles Variety (v)If you have lousy handwriting, don’t want to bother, or are short of time, you have several options:

Call in your friends! Or family. You must know someone with lovely, readable handwriting. Ask a friend or two, a cousin, even friends’ mothers, to hand-address your invitations. Folks are always asking you “How can I help” in the run-up to your wedding, so take ‘em up on it. Have an invitation-addressing party (no wine until everything’s addressed!). This is your least expensive option. However, I suggest a gift card or bottle of wine as payment for this valuable service.

Call in a calligrapher. This is the most expensive and time-consuming route, but there is some beautiful, interesting calligraphy out there. Check online for a calligrapher near you. Most have websites with samples of their work.

Call in a hand-addressing service. I say this not in my own self-interest as partner in a handwriting/addressing service called Elegant Scribbles. Hand-addressing services are available in most places, or, like Elegant Scribbles, can serve clients in other locations. A hand-addressing service is sort of the best of both worlds – you get lovely hand-addressed invitations at a fraction of the cost of a calligrapher, plus a quick turn-around time.

Square LogoOf course, Elegant Scribbles would love to help with your invitations, but even if you opt for a friend, a calligrapher, or a local hand-addressing service, I beg you to hand-address those glorious wedding invitations of yours.

People will notice. Whether they admit it or not.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Hardest Part of Planning a Wedding

The guest list. There. Simple as that.

Not the dress. Not the caterer. Not the ceremony and reception venues. Not crazy vendors (though they do come in a distant second).

I guess you could argue the hardest part is finding a life-partner, but you should have that sorted before planning the wedding. If you're the only one contributing to the guest list, the level of difficulty goes way down. But usually two sides are building that list. And those two sides may have 3, 6, 12 people contributing names and addresses to one half of the list. Why, the pressure's enough to cause the stoutest constitution wither.

The very foundation of the service we offer at Elegant Scribbles - hand-addressing invitations - is the guest list. We cannot put pen to fine paper stock until we have a list to work with. Which means that your timely invitations can't be assembled and mailed. Until we have . . . The List.

Pulling that list together takes more time and effort than selecting, ordering, and receiving that lovely stationery. The guest list, after all, is a budget issue. How many people can you seat in the wedding venue or afford to feed and water at the reception? Once you determine the bottom-line number of folks you can invite, then the battle really begins. Prepare yourself for bargaining, pleading, and the downright ruthless striking off of names. Also be prepared for missing addresses, errant zip codes, and interesting spellings. Quadruple-check everything.

You may have always thought your best friend's last name was spelled "Green," only to find out that it's really "Greene." Better check that. Is it your aunt, your uncle, or both who rate the title Dr.? Better check that. The zip code for Boise doesn't look quite right. Better check that.

Wedding invitation addressing protocol is quite complex. Most stationery comes with the proper way to address outer, inner, and response envelopes. To get an idea of what you'll be facing etiquette-wise, check out resources online. One of my favorites is My Gatsby, but wedding sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire can clue you in, as well.

Many brides build their list on Excel or some other spreadsheet, or type them out using Word or a similar word processing program. Some use wedding websites like The Knot to create a database of names and addresses (and more). However you choose to do it, make sure it's easy to read and access. And that you've quadruple-checked the details. Once that's done you're ready to address the invitations.

Yep. It's easy-breezy as soon as all the names and addresses are on the spreadsheet or database. I wish you all good luck with it, brides- and grooms-to-be!

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Turning Wedding Experience into a Business

This MoBster learned a lot in the year-and-a-half run-up to Daughter's wedding. Most of what I learned I've shared here, but something unexpected grew out of our wedding experience. A new business was born.

No, I'm not a wedding planner. Yikes! Hats off to folks who do that full-time. But I found another niche that has become a nice little sideline for Daughter and me. We got the idea because a) the amount of time - and sometimes money, if brides opt for calligraphy - it takes to address and stuff wedding invitations, and b) we both have good handwriting.

Kate and I hand-addressed her invitations rather than sending them to a calligrapher because we like the look of natural handwriting. It seemed a more personal approach. Might this be something we could do for other brides who don't have the time, money for a calligrapher, or good enough handwriting to do this themselves?

In December 2008, I put an ad on craigslist here in NYC offering my handwriting services. I had no idea whether anything would come of it. Believe it or not I got two quick jobs from the ad: one for addressing baby announcements and one for writing thank you notes for a recent bride (she provided the copy, I just wrote it long-hand for her). Elegant Scribbles was born.

Over the past 2 1/2 years, the business has ticked right along. Daughter joined the endeavor last year, so now we have an Atlanta branch. While we also address for corporate and non-profit events (and we have some great clients!), most of our work stems from brides-to-be - engagement party invitations, save-the-dates, wedding invitations, and thank you notes.

Over this Memorial Day weekend, I'm addressing, stuffing and stamping 175 wedding invitations for a couple here in New York. But location doesn't matter for Elegant Scribbles. Most of our clients are from New York and Atlanta, but we've had clients from Illinois, California, Florida, and other states. Daughter and I have very different handwriting styles, and neither are location-specific. Have pens, will write and ship!

So you never know what will grow out of your wedding experience. Besides a great marriage, of course!

And if you're really interested in our work, visit Elegant Scribbles at, our ad on The Knot, or follow us on Facebook and @elegantscribble on Twitter.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And Baby Makes Three

I just realized I never updated The MoBster Diaries on the blessed event. Yes, Liam Samuel was born on February 21, 2010, at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia - the same place his mama was born. All went well. The former bride and groom and new baby are happy and thriving!

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Say Yes To The Dress Obsession

For some weird reason I have become obsessed lately with the TLC show Say Yes To The Dress . Help me figure out why.

I mean, Daughter's wedding was over a year ago, and she said yes to her dress the year before that. We never set foot in Kleinfeld. It was tiring and confusing enough visiting the three shops in Atlanta - Anne Barge, Priscilla of Boston, and one other (I can't remember).

Bride was lucky enough to find the gown of her dreams - well, the basis for the gown of her dreams - at our first stop, Anne Barge. From then on, it was just an exercise in determining whether or not subsequent dresses measured up.

They didn't.

We didn't run into any sales pressure, except at the shop whose name escapes me. (A connection? Probably.) Anne and her bridal consultants worked with Bride all the way through on the look, fit, and embellishment of the dress. They also worked with MoB on a payment plan. A great experience, all the way around.

Watching SYTTD gives me a good scare. It shows me what the experience could have been. Oy! Brides come in with huge entourages - mothers, cousins, sisters, husbands-to-be! - to help her choose. This is always a disaster, as family members forget that it's the bride's choice, not theirs.

Fortunately, Daughter only had three of us with her. And I, for one, would never second-guess her style choices - she is light-years ahead of me. As long as we could scrape up funds to pay for the dress, then it was up to her to choose the style. I knew she'd never pick anything tacky or inappropriate.

So I watch SYTTD in horror, mostly. It's frightful - the families, the petulant brides, the bazillion dress-choices. But I still can't turn away. Yikes!

And at the end of the show, I sit back feeling veeeery self-satisfied - grateful for Anne Barge's lovely little Atlanta atelier, wonderful staff, and superb craftspeople, plus a level-headed, style-conscious Daughter. The experience and the dress were pure treasures.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Has it been a year?

Yes, a year ago today we were living on Xanax and candy corn, just four days away from the big day. How did we survive??

Both former Bride and MoB (we've graduated to Wife and Mother in Law) are grateful we can put our feet up this year and reflect on how wonderfully things came together for the Big Day.

As the couple approaches the First Anniversary - celebrating with a new home and a baby on the way - we are all so thankful for last year's big event and all the loved ones who were a part of the day. Your presence and prayers are what we'll all hold most dear in the years to come.

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