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Stationery & Bomboniere

Photo: Carla van Dyk Photography

From gilt-edged formal to funky retro floral, your wedding stationery will send a clear signal as to your wedding day style. So before you set off on the paper trail, make very sure that you’ve decided on your wedding’s theme and colour scheme.

You’ll need to decide on the range of stationery you’d like - ‘Save the date’ cards, invitations, RSVP cards, place name cards for the wedding and for the reception, ‘thank you’ cards, reception menus, hymn sheets, order of service booklets and cake boxes are all possibilities - and factor this cost into your budget. As well as suiting your wedding theme, each item in your stationery range should be co-ordinated in terms of its colour, design and style.

If you’re planning an elaborate wedding, your invitation should match in its formality and lavishness. An informal wedding can be signalled with a simpler invitation, perhaps with some attractive artwork or a clever motif. Your words, the quality of paper stock, and the typeface you choose should all combine to reflect the spirit of your special day.

Wedding stationery paper is available in a variety of grades, textures and a rainbow of hues. From traditional black on cream to metallic prints, trace paper overlays, translucent inserts, or hand-made papers … there are some absolutely gorgeous options.

When picking your paper, remember that you’ll need envelopes to match. Also remember that the larger your invitation, the more expensive it will be to print and post.

Do you have the soul of an artist? Then you might want to create your own wedding stationery. If so, there are specialist stores that stock all the papers and decorations that you’ll need, plus they can generally help you with design ideas and practical techniques. Some stationers also offer DIY packages – and having access to their expert advice can be handy.

However, preparing your own stationery can be extremely time consuming, especially if you’re planning a large wedding. So the alternative is to hire a professional stationer. All you then have to do is decide on the style and range of stationery you want.

Shop around for price, quality and professionalism before settling on a stationer - who should be able to show you a wide range of samples. After choosing a design concept and paper, pick a typeface that’s easy to read and creates an impression compatible with the style of your wedding. Your wedding stationer or printer can advise you on this. To maintain your theme, use the typeface you choose for your invitations for all your stationery.

The wording of your invitation can be formal or less formal, depending on which approach suits your wedding style. However, all invitations should include the wedding date, who is getting married and where (not forgetting the address of your alternative wet weather venue if you’re marrying outdoors), your reception details, and an RSVP date and address.

Dress code should also rate a mention, and it’s always helpful to include directions to both the wedding and reception venue (with a small map if possible). Some couples also include a separate RSVP card as well as details of their wedding gift registry.

Formal invitations are generally engraved. However, calligraphy, thermography (a raised print), embossing, laser printing, and gold or silver foil stamping can all add a unique and memorable touch.

Offset printing is generally the most cost effective printing option. However, before having anything printed, make sure you see proofs of your stationery – which you should check very carefully to ensure there are no errors. You should also calculate exactly how many of each item you will need, then add on some ‘just in case’ extras. If you run short of anything, having more printed separately can be quite costly.

Decide on the wording and final design for your invitations at least three months prior your wedding. This will allow plenty of time for printing before the invitations are due to be sent out, which should happen around six to eight weeks before the big day.

You may like the idea of decorating your invitations with a ribbon. The same ribbon could then be used for your Order of Service booklets, place cards, table centerpieces, and possibly in your bouquet.

Alternatively, you might decide on something very different and opt for embossed metal or timber invitations, which can look sensational.

And for the ultimate sweet treat, send a chocolate wedding invitation packed in a beautiful presentation box. These edible invites feature wording embossed in either white or milk chocolate on a dark chocolate background. In case temptation overcomes your guests, a copy of your invitation is printed on paper and included in the box.

Bombonieres, or favours, are the small gifts that are typically placed beside each table setting at the reception, or can be given to your guests with their slice of wedding cake. Some couples like to hand out bombonieres personally as they greet each guest, while others place them at each guest’s table setting or on a table by the exit door. However you may decide to give your guests their gifts, bombonieres are a token of thanks and appreciation from you both and are taken home as a keepsake of your wedding day. For this reason, no matter whether you choose something simple or a little more elaborate, the gift should be in keeping with your wedding style.

One of the theories regarding the origins of bomboniere traces the tradition to 17th century Europe when the aristocracy are said to have given bomboniere to celebrate birthdays, christenings and marriages.

In the Italian tradition, wedding bomboniere, an expression that roughly translates as ‘sweet favours’, consisted of five or seven (even numbers were considered unlucky) sugar-coated bitter almonds wrapped in white tulle. This bitter sweet combination symbolised the life of the married couple, while the white tulle, like the bride’s veil, symbolised purity.

You may like to uphold tradition and opt for almonds, but bomboniere can be anything that you would like to give to your guests. Specialist stores carry a delightful range of bomboniere and the variety will amaze you. Fragrant or novelty candles, mini photo frames, funky flip-flop notepads, silver matt favour tins, decorative magnets, miniature flowerpots and key rings are just some of the many options.

Bomboniere is limited only by your imagination. Brides have been known to bake their favourite cookies and pop them into decorative boxes (one for each guest). Jars of rock candy with both your names stamped through the candy are a popular choice, as are chocolate place cards engraved with each guest’s name.

Other favourite favours are miniature liqueur bottles (each tied with a ribbon and a name card), tulle bags filled with chocolates, and fortune cookies in small white boxes personalised with your names and the date of your wedding.

When budgeting for your bomboniere, allow one for each guest or one per couple and add at least half a dozen spares. You may want to keep one or two pieces yourself as a momento.

Because bomboniere is given to convey your good wishes, appreciation and friendship, it’s a wedding day detail that deserves attention. The presentation of bomboniere should be a thoughtful and individual creation that complements the theme of your wedding


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