Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Stationery guidance and invitation etiquette from Portland’s Papier & Fleuriste


The wedding invitation is the first piece from your wedding day that family and friends receive. They open the envelope and inside they find crucial information about your day, but beyond that, the invitation is a preview of the wedding day experience.

Valerie Kyros has had her hand in most aspects of the wedding business. Aside from being a bride once, she’s worked as a caterer, wedding cake designer, and pastry chef; she even told us she’s considering event planning. Yet what sparks our conversation today is Kyros’s wheelhouse as a former designer and now owner of Papier & Fleuriste—wedding invitations. Kyros has helped hundreds of couples and creates almost 100 invitations a year.

Inside Papier & Fleuriste in Portland, Kyros opens up a binder filled with invitations from weddings past. Each is as different as the weddings themselves. A nautical blue and white invitation evokes a beachfront wedding; delicate cursive type suggests a formal evening, and cards with multiple embellishments for private messages or event maps offer personal touches. “The invitation sets the tone—how formal or informal? Is it a full weekend of activities? Are children included or is it an adult event? We work a lot on the additional pieces to help convey information the couple needs their guests to know, such as special directions to ferries or buses. Then we make sure the couples receive what they need back from their guests such as menu choices or guests’ names,” says Kyros.

Skimming through just one of Kyros’s binders offers endless ideas—and there is a whole shelf of binders. But Kyros is not there to overwhelm. “Looking at so many examples will help couples create their own vision for their suite,” says Kyros. She tells us she’s there to offer her design expertise and to manage the production process. Here are her tips and suggestions for making your invitation one that you will still be in love with decades down the road. “An invitation is an historical document for a new family—we take that seriously.”

Before coming in for a consultation with a professional, what should the couple do to prepare?
Look for inspiration in magazines or online, but remember that anything found online doesn’t account for the actual feel of the paper and texture of the print. It can be really hard to tell from a photo the details of the design. Also, start preparing your address list for pricing estimates, and remember that the number of households that will be receiving invitations typically isn’t the same as your invitation list. Finally, decide who is choosing the invitations—the couple together, or with a friend or parent. Then budget time for the process—it usually takes two or three consultations. Make appointments and keep in mind that January through May are the busiest times for stationers.

What is the timeline for invitations?
Start as early as possible. The craft printing process can take up to eight weeks, so the earlier a couple starts the more relaxed and thoughtful the design process can be. Also, rush fees can be very expensive, and when the process is rushed there is a greater likelihood for mistakes. Save the Dates can be sent up to a year before an event, and are especially important here in Maine, where many people are coming from away, and travel and accommodation arrangements need to be made early. Invitations are usually sent between eight and 12 weeks ahead of the wedding (this date is often dictated by when the caterer or venue needs to know how many people are attending). The reply-by date is usually 30 days ahead of the event. Allowing too little time for your guests to reply and make arrangements can cause problems.

How should invitations be addressed?
Invitations can be addressed by the couple or a member of the family, a calligrapher, or digitally addressed in a font and color to match the invite. Digital addressing is a cost-effective way to send out a pretty envelope (it can cost one-third less than a calligrapher). Preparing the address list can take a lot of time and should be started early in the process. Papier provides great resources on the various etiquette rules about how to properly address your guests.

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