Jonathan Arnold, Dempsey & Carroll


Courtesy of Dempsey & Carroll

Dempsey & Carroll opened in New York City in 1878 and soon earned a reputation for providing the finest engraved stationery. For over 130 years, Dempsey & Carroll have been producing personalized engraved stationer, wedding invitations, announcements and boxed sets of themed cards. We spoke with General Manager, Jonathan Arnold, and asked him for his expert tips and trends he's seeing in wedding invitations. Here's what he had to say: —Anne Chertoff

The wedding invitation is the first detail of the wedding guests will see. In addition to date, time and location, are there any other important details it should have written on it or that is should convey?

The most important thing is that the invitation conveys the personalities of the bride and groom. The invitation sets the tone for the entire event, from the quality of the invitation to how much care and thought have been put into it. Traditional wording formats may appear rigid, so it is important to realize all of the design possibilities. The extent to which a couple can make the invitation reflective of their personalities plays a big role in how the invitation is received. This can be accomplished through the size and stock of the invitation, as well as through ink colors, typefaces, monograms and other design elements. If you can't find a motif that you like in your stationer's library, you may want to ask him about custom designing one for you.

The RSVP card can be printed/styled in a variety of ways—with a M____, meal options, blank cards—is one style better/preferred over the others?

Meal options can sometimes be useful, depending on the type of dinner you intend to have. However, the simpler the response card, the more elegant. We usually recommend...

There's more!

engraving a short line at the top or bottom, such as "Please respond by April 30th" and then leaving the rest of the card blank so that your guest can write a more personal note. In case your guest's handwriting is illegible or she forgets to sign her name, we also recommend including a small, discreet number on the back corner of the card.

What are some new trends in wedding invitations?

Dempsey & Carroll is known for maintaining the tradition of fine engraving, and most of our clients come to us looking for classic wedding invitations. That said, many brides drawn to the raw materials--high quality papers and engraving process--want to do something non-traditional. This can mean using an unusual typestyle, creating a custom design (a picture of her parents' house where she will be married, or a family crest, for example), or selecting a custom ink color. Lately we have been seeing a big demand for modern typestyles and a trend toward gray inks rather than black.

There are so many elements one could include in a wedding invitation - directions, maps, registry information - what should you include and what should you exclude?

The more enclosures you have, the greater the chance that your beautiful invitation will be lost in the shuffle. We recommend keeping it simple; include the invitation and possibly a response card. (Response cards are, after all, modern inventions; in eras past, one knew to respond on one's own stationery.) Directions, maps, and hotel information are best for a later mailing, perhaps only to attendees after you have received responses. Registry details are best distributed by word-of-mouth, although they can usually be found rather easily on the internet.

Many couples are looking for ways to save money on their wedding. Are there any cost-saving tips you can share regarding wedding invitations?

There are certainly ways to keep costs down, even with engraving. If you are using the very best papers, the invitation will feel luxurious even if it does not have a bevel or complicated monogram. Another way to save is to use loose colored tissue on top of the invitation and forego envelope liners. Keep in mind that the invitation is an heirloom that, unlike cake and flowers, will be treasured for years, so using acid-free paper and crisp engraving is worth it.

Bonus: What's the rule on monograms? Can you use your married initial on your wedding invitation or do you have to wait till after the ceremony to show it?

It is considered bad luck for the bride to use her married initial before the actual wedding ceremony takes place. She can, however, use it for anything after the nuptials, including on menus and place cards at the reception and on thank-you notes sent after the wedding. Monograms can make a beautiful embellishment on invitations, but you will want to restrict yourself to featuring the bride's maiden monogram only.

Visit to view the company's wedding inivtation collection or visit their flagship store at 1049 Lexington Avenue in New York City.

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