For the Love of Layers

Real Weddings: For the Love of Layers - Erika and RyanEach month our factory sends us a big box of wedding invitations—samples of orders we print for couples surely anxious for those blue boxes to finally arrive. When the box arrives, it truly feels like Christmas as we hold each invitation to admire. Not only are these the invitations we choose our Real Weddings features from, but they are also how we pinpoint trends in what brides are ordering.

One trend we are seeing a lot of these days is layering. Just like with hair, layers give invitations dimension and volume. For this process, our finishing department applies a process called duplexing: the larger card serves as the bottom layer, and the smaller—most often a different color—is affixed to it. Couples love the look because of the thickness it creates as well as its ability to showcase a wedding color palette while keeping the design classic and elegant.

Such was the case with Erika and Ryan, who enlisted the expertise of stationer Sarah at The Paper Merchant in Geneva, Illinois to create their ecru-atop-navy invitation. Not only is it layered, but it also features a gilt edge, a detail that adds such a stunning touch. Here, we talk to both bride and stationer about, among other things, creating this timeless look.

The Bride:

How did you and your fiancé meet, and how did he propose?
Ryan and I were introduced by mutual friends our senior year at Miami University (Ohio). We immediately had a connection and began spending a lot of time together. We officially began dating a few months before our graduation in 2012. Even though Ryan and I were going to spend the next year apart as we pursued further education, I had confidence our relationship would endure the long distance. Ryan and I made sure to see each other as often as we could. Our time apart made us realize how much we truly cared for each other. We began making plans to live in the same city. We now reside in Cleveland, Ohio where I work as a neonatal nurse and Ryan is a CPA.

Real Weddings: For the Love of Layers - Erika and Ryan

The day Ryan proposed to me began with a walk through my quaint hometown of Geneva, Illinois. When we returned to my parents’ house, Ryan led me to the patio where the table had been decorated with flowers, champagne, a letter, a picture of the two of us and a ring box. I was completely surprised and speechless. I read the letter Ryan had written me and when I looked up he was down on one knee! Ryan told me how much I meant to him and that he wanted us to spend the rest of our lives together. Of course I said yes. It was the happiest moment of my life! We then toasted champagne with my parents who were there to share in the celebration. I also found out that Ryan made a secret trip to my family’s favorite hometown jeweler to purchase the ring, which made it all the more sentimental.

Tell me about the process of choosing your wedding invitations. Did you have something in mind going into your first appointment? Did that change?
My mother has been a customer of the Paper Merchant for many years. We always knew we would order wedding invitations from them. They also have a wonderful reputation in our community. Living out of state, I had my mom go into the Paper Merchant to preview invitations with Sarah. They found several great possibilities, but one in particular stood out. On our next visit to Geneva, my mom could not wait to show Ryan and I what she had found. There were many lovely choices but we were all drawn to the same one: the ivory invitation with our initials at the top. Going into the process we knew we wanted an invitation that was traditional and elegant without any extras such as ribbon or lace. We also wanted a thick card stock. We feel this Crane invitation encompassed our initial thought.

Describe the invitation suite you ended up with and why you fell in love with that design. What in particular did you love about the “layered” look?
Our invitation suite is beautiful! The invitation is ivory, subtly trimmed in gold and layered on top of navy backing. It is printed in navy and has our initials at the top to make it more personal. I love the layering for many reasons. The navy backing makes the ivory stand out and sets off the gold trim. The navy backing also incorporates our wedding color and doubles the card stock giving the invitation the thickness we desired.

Real Weddings: For the Love of Layers - Erika and Ryan

Was there anything about the process of choosing your invitations that you weren’t expecting?
At The Paper Merchant the invitation process was truly a custom experience. I was surprised by the number of options that were available and how we were able to combine elements from multiple invitations into one. The navy backing and gold trim were not original to the invitation we chose, but Sarah was able to incorporate these details from other Crane invitations into our final product.

Do you have any advice for brides-to-be on the invitation process?
My advice for brides-to-be is to have patience, an open mind and work with a reputable stationer whom you trust. I am grateful to The Paper Merchant, especially Sarah, for her expertise and guidance that was invaluable throughout the invitation process. Sarah was timely, made us feel confident in our decisions, and, most importantly, made the process enjoyable!

What moment are you most looking forward to on your big day?
Spending the day surrounded by our family and friends, walking down the aisle alongside my dad and most of all marrying my best friend!

The Stationer: Sarah
Real Weddings: For the Love of Layers - Erika and Ryan
Tell me about your first meeting with this bride and a little about the process you went through to get to the final decision.
The bride’s mother has been a great customer of the shop for many years. So when she stopped in and said she had a wedding in the works for her daughter, I was delighted to know they chose us to do the invitations.

The bride’s mother, Kris, began the initial search since Erika and Ryan live out of state. We went through and picked out a couple options for Erika and Ryan to look at during our next appointment. The happy couple came in to meet with me on their next visit to Geneva. After discussing the elements of the wedding and the look they were trying to achieve, it was decided that the Crane & Co. design aesthetic would be the most appropriate for this event. They wanted something elegant and traditional but with a little something extra to make it stand out from other invitations. When they saw the gilded gold edging on the Royal Avalon Suite invitation incorporated with the navy border they were looking for, the couple knew it was “the one.” Timeless, elegant and perfect for the type of wedding Erika and Ryan wanted to covey to their guests.

What questions do you always ask at the first meeting with the bride?
In a first appointment, I always discuss the basics such as when is the wedding? Where is the ceremony? Is the reception at the same place or a different location? Is there a budget I need to work with? From there I try not to overwhelm the customer too much. I let them browse and allow time to understand each company’s style.

It is usually during the second appointment when I begin to ask more detailed questions: What are your colors? What are the bridal party and groomsmen wearing? How are your flowers going to look? What are you looking forward to the most at the ceremony? The reception? From there, I can begin imagining what the event is going to look like in my head and direct the bride toward designs that would reflect that “look” they are trying to achieve.

Layered invitations seem to be popular right now. Why do you think this is such a popular choice with brides?
It’s a great way to add dimension and color to an invitation without making the invitation too over the top. A layered look, especially with Crane & Co. papers, just creates a timeless and striking invitation. The guest who receives it will appreciate the time and effort that went into creating the beautiful final product. It also helps to have a great color palette to work with. In this particular instance, Erika and Ryan chose classic colors. When put together with this wedding invitation suite, it became eye-catching and elegant.

What advice do you have for brides who are ready to make their first invitation appointment?
Always…always have an open mind and be patient. They go hand-in-hand when looking at invitations. I recommended looking about eight months before the wedding date. By then you’ll have an idea of what your save the date will look like and you can begin looking at wedding invitations.

In your first appointment, you just need the wedding date, an idea of quantity needed, location of ceremony and location of reception. These few details will be very helpful when looking at wedding invitations for the first time. It can give you an idea of pricing and what pieces you will need to order to create your invitation suite. Don’t feel rushed to have all the information during your first appointment, save that for when you are finally ready to order.

When it comes to choosing wedding invitations, how is today’s bride different from those five years ago?
It’s all about the details. Every bride wants the wedding, invitation included, where the little things make the biggest impression. Long gone are the days of vellum overlays and bland colors combinations… and hello creativity!

I think the brides of five years ago were a bit cautious when it came to how creative they thought they could be with their invitation suite. They tried to stay a little more traditional in fear that adding colors would distract or take away from formality of the event. How far you can take your colors and design ideas depends on the event. That’s why I ask so many questions about the wedding.

With Erika and Ryan’s wedding I knew that the ceremony was in a historical church in a beautiful setting, while the reception was going to be at an elegant venue with great food, music and atmosphere. So with their invitation, they accomplished that feel by using formal yet contemporary typestyles and adding the gold gilded edges to pop against the striking navy backer. Using the oversized cardstock made the invitation stand out when the guest received it in the mail.

Are you a bride or stationer who would like Real Weddings to feature a Crane invitation? Email us at

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