The Art of the Invitation

“People are widening their concept of what invitations should look like, what materials are used, and which printing and finishing processes are involved,” said Suzie McKig of Twig & Fig.
“It’s a great time to be involved with invites because there’s a much greater desire for personal expression, which translates into so many fun options!”

McKig, the special quest speaker at “The Art of the Invitation” (a PaperSpecs webinar presentation sponsored by Neenah Paper) shared examples of the amazing invitations she has produced and talked about how designers can achieve a look that fits the tastes of the client and the tone of the event.

Her unique materials and methods inspired us all! McKig was kind enough to answer your offline questions as well.

Although etiquette dictates hand-addressing envelopes, do you print envelopes so that the fonts match the invitation?
Sometimes we do, yes. The trick is to find a way to integrate a tasteful material for the label so the result yields a thoughtful and well-designed solution.

If the client is on a tighter budget, what would you recommend as the best way to keep the cost down while still making the invitation unique and original?
I’d recommend combining the best unique papers within the budget with strong design that is digitally or desktop printed (inkjet). Keeping the focus on the beauty of type, color and unique textures can result in beautiful pieces without the expense of letterpress or screen printing.

I’m about to design my very first wedding invitation suite. I’m overwhelmed because I don’t know where to start. How do I find a printer? Where do I buy the paper? How do I determine the right size? This particular client has very straightforward needs and is on a budget. Thanks!
That’s a big question 😉 I’d go to a place that has lots of paper and envelope options and ask for some advice. Perhaps your local paper store or the chain paper source could be helpful so you could buy readymade items that are already cut to common mailing sizes and can be assembled by hand and printed on your desktop printer. As this is your first go at it, you’ll spend more time having fun picking elements out that mix and match and less time starting from scratch. Just design for their wishes and from your heart, and it’ll all work out 😉

What is best marketing strategy?
That depends on to whom you wish to market yourself 😉

How do you fuse fabric or other substrate onto paper?
Spray glue or PVA glue with a roller (Wear proper gloves and face mask for spray.)

What glue do you use when gluing the flat pieces together?
PVA or spray mount (extra strength)

Do you have a specific swatchbook only of invitations to select from?
Yes, we create a whole new album with a fresh collection each year.

Did you get problems with ink on the tea project?
We digitally printed the menus on a commercial toner-based machine so there were no problems with the ink running. It probably would not have been as successful had we used an inkjet printer.

What was the quantity on this tea-staining job?
150 menus (and a quarter pound of tea leaves)

Is there a specific paper suggested for the tea immersion technique?
I’d use a 100 percent cotton paper as wood pulp seems to dissolve more quickly.

You use so many different materials. How do you source your vendors?
Exhaustive research! My eyes are always open to new substrates and materials – even unexpected places like hardware stores – walking down the street, everywhere is your inspiration.

Where do you get that cork stock?

Where does one buy book cloth?
There are many companies that manufacture cloth; but for small quantities, I’d suggest

Can you recommend some vendors to buy these materials in small quantity? has a great variety of gorgeous papers. has beautiful book cloth and papers as well.

Suzie, where does one find suede envelopes?
That I know of, only at the twig & fig custom shop 😉

Are you using polymer plates or lead plates for the letterpress?
We use Photopolymer plates, which are made in house.

What laser etcher do you use?
We use a 12×24 Epilog.

Can you be more specific about who does the beveling?
We mostly do it in house.

How much stock do you allow for error in printing?
Letterpress: 10 percent
Foil: 20 percent
Offset: 20 to 25 percent

When you hand make the envelopes, do you diecut them in-house?

For these beautiful, very custom invitations, can you estimate how many you are doing?
We typically do 100 to 500 per event and several dozen per month.

How do you address envelopes that are made of cloth?
Good question! We typically make custom labels by cutting Stardream or another smooth stock then double-stick tape them onto the cloth.

Is the book cloth wrapped over something?
Yes, typically Davey board.

How much would something like the coaster cost?
The acrylic coaster with the 2-color letterpressed top card and Swarovski crystal surround ring averages about $30-40 each depending on quantity.

Do you bill by project or time spent?
Typically by time for design and hand finishing, then by costs for materials and printing.

I’d love to know how much you are charging per hour and whether you are charging for ALL of your time.
The hourly charge varies per project aspect, and per designer’s experience – anywhere from $50 to $150 and upward for identity/branding design.

Do you charge per invitation or do you charge a design fee and then per piece?
If the design is totally custom we charge a design fee and the package price for printing, special finishing, assembly, etc

If we have a project of say greeting cards for instance, is there a source that can create, concept, design our details, and suggest the right kind of paper or card? (We would take the files and print at our print shop.)
We can do a design-only project where we specify papers and process, yes.

What percentage of your business is the boxed invitation compared with the bespoke?
When people visit our boutique, about 70 percent are bespoke as we are all graphic designers and we get really enthusiastic about doing something special, tailored to the client. When clients visit our retailers, the larger percentage leans more toward out of box, as it’s more straightforward for the representative.

Could you post Suzie’s website?

To listen …

If you missed “The Art of the Invitation” webinar, it’s not too late! Just click here to have a listen to the full webinar. Special thanks to Suzie McKig and Neenah Paper for this terrific event.


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