Your wedding invitation is the first glimpse that your guests will have into what to expect on your wedding day. Alicia and Pat started A & P Designs four years ago and with their extreme passion, talent, and attention to detail, they have become one of our favorite paper design companies to work with. It was a joy to meet with Alicia and see their studio where they create and print all the invitations in house. Without further adue, take a look at this weeks Vendor spotlight of Alicia A& P Designs:
H: How did you start A&P Designs?
A: We started with our own wedding. We designed our own invitations and just fell in love with the whole process of it. We got a lot of really great reviews from our family and friends on the invitations and after our wedding was over I was like "That was really fun, I think I want to continue doing that!" So then (about four years ago) I started doing friend's weddings and it just snowballed into a business. I really fell in love with Letter Press and I bought a small press and I couldn't figure out how to work it so I asked Pat (my husband) to figure it out because he is perfect for it because it's very hands on. He took it, mastered, and fell in love with it and we just went from there!
H: Where does your inspiration come from?
A: I'm really inspired by the brides, definitely. Just hearing their love stories and their personalities and infusing that into the paper goods is what I love the most. The brides are spending so much time and energy putting all the details into their wedding and the invitations are the very first glimpse for the guests into what they are going to expect from their wedding, so I love being able to pull all these elements into a cohesive design that shows the bride and her style off.
H: How would you describe your personal "style"?
A: Overall, our design style is clean but with lots of artistic touches. All of our designs are all hand done. We don't like to use clip art. For example, if I bride says she really wants peonies on her invitation we would hand draw that, so everything we do is really like a piece of art. It's really individual, very personal and beautiful as well!
H: What keeps you passionate about designing invitations?
A: Everything about this really makes my heart happy. Im really blessed to be doing what I love with the one I love. To be able to do what you love and to be so passionate about what you're doing just continues to fire you up everyday. Even if we are working until 3am assembling invitations, it is a joy! I think when you love what you are doing, you are always passionate about it.
H: How do you stand out from other location stationary designers?
A: We're different because we do it all in house, both designing and printing. Also, it's all hand done. Whatever look the bride and groom are going for we will custom design it for them and really infuse artistic elements into their design. Also, with letterpress, it's normally very expensive, but because we do it all in house we really market ourselves as affordable letterpress. We love that print method the most. It's the most original form of printing and it completely enhances the look of an invitation just by that print method, in my eyes. So we wanted to make that affordable for everyone.
H: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: I love coming up with a design that I know fits the bride perfectly and is just what they were looking for. Also, I love when we are able to pull different papers and colors together to create a look. Still keeping the design really simple but using the papers, colors, pockets and details to really pull it all together- I love that as well! Also, to be involved with love, in an industry where people are happy and in love. I feel like it's just a happy little bubble!
H: What is the biggest "mistake" or oversight couples make when picking out stationary?
A: The first mistake is thinking they can't afford something so they just settle. When we have brides come in we like to show them everything we can offer and we set it up all a carte. So, basically, they can build their own package that fits their budget. I always like to say "reach for the stars and we can pull it back from there." The second mistake would be when brides are creating their invitations thinking the guests are just going to throw away the invitation. If it is nicely done then I don't think they are going to throw it away.
H: Are you seeing any emerging trends in the stationary industry?
A: We've definitely seen a huge trend in using foiling, a lot of brides are loving that right now! A lot of brides are also wanting to use bands or wraps around the invitations rather than the pockets. Also, even if the bride is planning a more modern wedding they still want that more traditional, classy invitation.
photo courtesy of Theresa NeSmith Photography
H: What is the process like once a couple contacts you to design their invitations?
A: Typically, we schedule a time for the couple to come in and we talk about their style and what they are looking for (how many invitations they need, what paper goods they are interested in, etc.) and then from there we show them lots of different styles and print methods they can do. We pick papers, colors, talk about the design, and then from there we email them pricing information (presented all a carte so they can choose what works best for them). Once they have said what options they want then we start on the design. Typically, the designs will take anywhere from one and a half to two weeks depending on if they have a really clear vision or not. Next, we send them three to five mock ups of designs. We start with just the invitation and once we have that decided on then we go ahead and design the rest of the invitation suite. We continue to make revisions based on whatever the bride wants. There is no cost for revisions, so we just work until the bride is 100% happy. Once they have approved their design then we get started on the printing. Typically, printing will take about 10-12 business days. It's smart to have the brides give themselves about 2-3 weeks for printing. Sometimes the bride will want to see a printed proof, and if so we will send that over before we print everything. We like to suggest that the bride starts working on their invitations about 4- 6 months out from their wedding date to give them time to design and print the invitations without being rushed.
H: What is the most important question every couple should ask their paper designer before hiring them?
A: The turnaround time, certainly, is important. Also, how the whole process works with that specific designer. It's important to know if a designer will allow them to customize it and if the designer is doing the work in house or sending it off.
H: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: I think, when you have a bride that is stressing out, because you want to keep them calm but not rush too much with the design and printing process to be sure there are not any errors. I'm would hate for a bride to say "the invitations were the most stressful." I love when I hear "this was the easiest part!" On the other side, it's hard when the bride is not responding or not moving along quickly and their time is approaching to start printing in time for the wedding.
H: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A: It's all very rewarding, but I think the most rewarding is when a bride or a mom comes back and says " I didn't even know what I wanted, but you captured it so perfectly!"
H: Can you tell us your most memorable experience?
A: That's hard, because I feel like every invitation is my new favorite! Some brides and I really connect and we are really a part of the whole process and get to know them and their families and they become friends and it's great!
H: Are you able to attend a wedding and sit back and relax? Or do you find yourself always think about weddings from a designer's perspective?
A: Oh yea, I'm always looking at the paper and printing process of invitations, programs, even restaurant menus!
H: What are five things you could not do your job without?
A: Definitely, my husband, Pat. The printers and computers we use. Coffee =). The brides- for sure! Finally, working with really good vendors and planners makes the whole job a lot easier- the bride is typically not stressed out because they know that the vendors are all speaking the same language.
-Written by Heather McBride, Associate Coordinator