Cordially Invited

Use these designer tips to create positively exquisite invitations

By introducing a theme, color palette or motif, wedding invitations set the tone for your entire event. So consider all the design options before you sign, seal and deliver your big-day invites.

Pick Your Print

Invitation designer Ellen Black, co-owner of Lehr and Black Invitationers in Los Angeles, has designed custom invitations for the likes of Gwen Stefani and Brooke Shields. For Black, whose much-sought-after designs have established her as an authority on wedding stationery, the two most important design elements to consider when choosing your invitations are the printing process and typeface.

For formal invitations, Black recommends engraving, the most elegant (and costly) printing style, which produces a raised type. She suggests engraving in gold or silver leaf on 200- or 300- pound, 100-percent-cotton paper. Letterpress type, another popular option, results in an indented print and lends a more casual feel to invitations. Requiring the same weight paper as engraving (but one soft enough to be depressed), letterpress type works better with soft ink colors such as brown and celadon rather than bold hues like jet black and scarlet. These colors appear dull when pressed into pulpy paper.

Black loves to experiment with typeface: "Mixing fabulous fonts is key." She combines script- and block-style lettering to achieve the most elegant design.

Choose Special Details

Jewels, dried flowers or fabric make a statement on even basic invites. Swarovski crystals and rhinestones, which can be arranged as a monogram or simply used to dot an i, are a stylish way of establishing a color theme and adding a bit of sparkle. "To me, crystals are more formal and elegant; colorful stones are fun and playful," says Black.

Embellishing invitations with dried flowers is a natural way to work in color. Choose a bright-orange or hot-pink (instead of pastel) bloom for a modern twist. Black recommends adorning a chocolate-brown engraved invite with a vibrant yellow sunflower.

Touches of lace, organza or silk are perfect for invitations to a summer fete. All can be wrapped around your invites and tied in bows or made into pockets for enclosure cards on a tri-fold invitation. Lace or organza can achieve a romantic, delicate look; silk adds rich texture and a punch of color.

Upgrade Your Packaging

To dress up a standard invitation, Black uses envelopes and boxes lined with lace or colored silk. Envelopes made entirely of lotus silk (which is thin and flat) and boxes covered in linen or silk doupioni (a perfect fabric for embroidering a logo or meaningful quote) are ultrachic packaging options. Fasten your envelopes with a wax seal in yellow, teal or pink to make your invites even more memorable.

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