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Star Stationer Marc Friedland's Guide to Wedding Invitations

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South Park creator Trey Parker's wedding invitation by Marc Friedland.
South Park creator Trey Parker's wedding invitation by Marc Friedland.

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Known as the "godfather of the invitation," celebrity stationery connoisseur Marc Friedland boasts a star-studded client list that includes Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lopez and Elton John. His namesake couture communications business (this year marks its 25th anniversary) has been revered by a host of Fortune 500 companies and esteemed organizations, which inspired the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to hire Friedland to revamp the Oscar envelopes and winner's announcement cards for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Academy Awards.

He's also Hollywood's go-to designer for frame-worthy wedding invitations. To elaborate on his sound advice provided at the Unveiled bridal event, we asked Friedland to share his ultimate rules for creating star quality communications.

1. Consider your guests. I believe that the wedding is really a gift from the bride and groom to their family and friends. Everyone already knows that it's your wedding, so rather than say "me, me, me" or "us, us, us" create something that feels warm and embraces your guests and includes them in the experience. This should be reflected in your invitation through words and imagery.

2. Consider the wedding date. This is more of an overall rule. Holiday weddings can be tricky. If your guests are parents that have full-time jobs and you book a 4th of July wedding, you dont want them to feel imposed upon, as they might not want to miss their only time with family to come to your event. Instead, consider a date that your guests can anticipate with ease. They'll appreciate it when they open that save-the-date!

3. Consider the send-out date. The date you send out communications depends on when the wedding is or where your guests are coming from. If it's a destination wedding, say, in the Caribbean during Christmas time, I would send out a save-the-date six to seven months in advance. If most of your guests are local, a good rule of thumb is to send materials out at least eight weeks in advance.

4. Save time. Although some couples prefer traditional distribution, I recommend sending out the save-the-date electronically and leaving the official invitations as hardcopy keepsakes. My new collection with Evite Postmark launches in August, and we're doing some amazing electronic pieces. It will be just like my custom stuff, but digitally delivered.

5. Create a theme. At Marc Friedland, Inc. we encourage our clients to consider an over-arching theme or "event brand" so that all details tie into one integrated experience with a unique visual and stylistic voice. This can be expressed through color, style and text. For example, when we created music producer Timbaland's wedding invitations, he decided on a "Heaven on Earth" theme, as the wedding was located in Aruba. This theme helped dictate the color and aesthetic for all the various elements that went into both the communications and event as a whole.

6. Work together. Whenever possible, I try to meet with both the bride and groom in an effort to capture both of their senses of style in the materials. It's interesting to see how couples collaborate (or don't collaborate) on this piece of the process and it's also very telling in terms of how they may navigate their lives together. Create something that both of you feel comfortable with. After all, invitations should be inviting. It should promise that the experience will be worth partaking in.

7. Make it special. How people communicate and the level of detail my company tries to bring to the table is just as important as the gown, food and music. My experience is that long after the wedding, people may forget what they ate or wore, but having this keepsake—whether its the invitation itself or menu with the bride and groom's name on it—is a true treasure of that experience. Seeing it brings back all the memories. Some of our clients end up framing their invitations. A few of our more elaborate pieces have even landed on eBay as collector's items!

8. Avoid gimmicks. For instance, if your wedding is on the beach, don't put sand in your invitation! Imagine the clean up involved when someone opens that letter. However, every romance is an individual adventure, so don't feel like your invitation has to be devoid of individuality or has to be extremely formal because thats how everyone else's is. Keep it stylish, smart and personal.

9. Practice etiquette. Include wording in your invitation that is going to make people feel the most welcomed. Take the high road in terms of grace, inclusion and warmth. If you use that as a guide instead of overwhelming yourself with politics, you'll have a good radar system. For example, if someone has divorced parents, rather than call out specific parent names in the invitation, simply word it as "Together with our families, we invite you." It's also fun to include a quote that captures the essence of your romance—or the destination. If you're planning a destination wedding in Venice, maybe there is a really great excerpt from an Italian opera that you could include to cleverly set the tone.

10. Spell it out. Finally, in terms of attire, dont make the invitation wording terriby confusing. If you like black tie, call it black tie—don't say "semi-formal from the waist up." Keeping it vague or ambiguous creates unnecessary anxiety. A well-informed guest is a happy guest!
· Marc Friedland [Official Site]
· Marc Friedland on Sprucing Up the Official Oscar Envelope [Racked]
· Vera Wang Gowns and Lisa Vanderpump Advice at Unveiled [Racked]